In an effort to get our fellow word nerds to know Team DIY MFA a bit better, we decided to commandeer one of the #5onFri slots and talk about our favorite books. Predictably, each member approached the notion of “favorite” in a different way and each of us chose a different favorite.
We’re a team of rule breakers and no word nerd has a single favorite book, so we’ve also included a few runners up.
If you decide to check out the books we recommend, we hope you’ll do so via their Amazon Affiliate links where if you choose to purchase via the link DIY MFA gets a referral fee at no cost to you.
Without further ado, here are our picks:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me at all. What might surprise you is that this wasn’t always one of my favorite books. In fact, when I first read it as a teenager, I thought it was infernally boring and much preferred the heart wrenching melodrama of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.
I think a love for a good book is like a marriage. Sure, you might get swept off your feet at first, or you might not. But what matters is that you keep coming back, that you keep working at understanding it and finding that deep, honest connection. Pride and Prejudice was not my favorite book at first, but it worked hard to earn my love and because of that it stands apart from all other books in my estimation.
Runners up: As a true instigator, I’ll rebel against the norm by having no other runners up. There are too many to count and my tastes change far too quickly for me to give any other book a fair run at the title. Plus, these days most of my reading is dictated by what we have on deck for the podcast.
If you’re curious about what I’m currently reading (and want a sneak preview of books that might be featured on DIY MFA Radio), you can follow me on GoodReads, where I list the books I am currently reading and the ones I have finished.
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Trying to pick from my favorite books, it was practically a toss up between this one and The Grapes of Wrath. But what I love about this one is how Steinbeck so vividly retold the story of Cain and Abel and masterfully wove in the story of his own family in the Salinas Valley. The storytelling is so rich and poignant. Excuse me—I think I need to go reread it right now.
Runners up: Here’s where I’m going to cheat a bit. The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving; How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran (plus everything else she’s written); Slouching Toward Bethlehem by Joan Didion (plus all of her other essay collections; I didn’t name my cat after her for nothing); This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett; The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson; and everything by Cheryl Strayed.
Jeanette the Writer
A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
When deciding on my favorite books, I decided “favorite” is a strong word, but if you really just need one favorite, it would be this one. The entire Barsoom series is incredible, most notably for its creativity and entertaining writing style.
For my runners up I’m going to give a few different adjectives instead…
Most Imaginative Book: Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World — Two seemingly different stories interwoven in the most artistic of ways.
Most Transformational Book: Who Moved My Cheese — A book so good I buy used copies whenever I see them so I can have a stash to give out to people.
Most Emotional Book: A Man Called Ove — I laughed. I cried. I told everyone in my life to read it.
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
Obviously I had the same struggle picking a favorite, so I went with the book I read in the last ten years that showed me what great writing is.
Sedaris is renowned for his wit, clarity, and keen ability to express life’s painful realities which are often three things I look for in a good book. I picked this particular collection of essays because it is a great example of stories that on the surface appear to be disparate, but when you see the connection it smacks you in the face.
I also had a mean French teacher once, so I get it.
If you haven’t read it, I won’t spoil it for you, but I recommend that you not only read it but get the audio version and listen to it. You won’t be sorry.
Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby
Another collection of hilarious “essays”. Samantha’s wit is comparable to David’s so I feel compelled to make sure she gets a mention on this list. This was a recent read for me, so a lot of what she talks about is still fresh. I could only hope to be so talented in narrating my life’s events and cutting through the bull. 10/10 recommend.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Arguably my favorite classic. Again if you haven’t read this, please do so. I could say a thousand things about Jane Eyre, but I will just say that in my opinion Charlotte Brontë is highly underrated and if you are looking for a book with unforgettable, painfully true images you can’t shake, this is the book for you.
Going Home by Danielle Steel
A guilty pleasure. I have to admit that I have a soft spot for this book, because I stole it from my Mom and read it cover to cover as a teen, and it made me want to be a writer. It was Steel’s debut novel and so it has a different flavor from the rest, and definitely reads like it was written by a hungry aspiring author. The story is also world-shattering and unforgettable. I’m sensing a theme here…
The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult
This was so, so hard. I picked the book of two ways for three reasons 1) I always feel like I’m trying to decide between one of two futures. (And I love Quantum Mechanics) 2) Because I had read it in the last ten years and I judged it against my other favorites by comparing how many lines I underlined and how enthusiastically I recommended it to everyone (including my 21 year old nephew who…I mean…no, he does not want to read this book). Needless to say it was much underlined and many pages folded down because I either loved the way she wrote it or what she said hit me like an arrow right in my mushy old heart. This book WILL make you think and feel the feels.
Fierce Fairytales by Nikita Gill – this poetry will kick your butt in a good way.
The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George – a book about how much the character loves books AND it’s in Paris? Sign me up please.
The Emperor’s Handbook by Marcus Aurelius – My go-to when life gets rough I have read it cover to cover over a dozen times.
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness – A historian trying to deny her wild and magical side AND a handsome vampire? Where. Do. I Sign. Up?
We hope you enjoyed our book recommendations. Again, if you choose to purchase any of our favorites we hope you do so via their Amazon Affiliate links above.
As always, thank you for supporting DIY MFA!