Ten Books I am Grateful For

Today, I will be daring enough to choose just ten (just ten!) books from my babies. As I have mentioned in my previous post, doing so is like choosing among your children who you love best. I don’t have children, let alone a husband yet, but I can imagine it could be difficult. And very painful.

Yet for this season, I would like to give the spotlight to ten books which influenced, inspired, and encouraged me to read more as well as become a better person. These incredible and original thoughts which came from creative and brave authors must be put in a pedestal and let others praise them. It is past the time for me to do this.

Now, without further ado (and before I start to think deeper of other books I have read), may I present to you my top ten list.

  1. Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. Nothing can compare with the influence these seven magical installments from J. K. gave to me. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone might be one of the full novels I have read during my early years in grade school. It encouraged me to read more and opening my young mind with many possibilities at the same time. It aided my imagination to stretch wider. Without this series, I might not be fond of reading as much as I am now.
  2. Without Seeing the Dawn by Stevan Javellana. I love this book and proud that the author of this novel is a Filipino. Set during WWII, it told a story about how Filipinos lived during Japanese occupation in the country. I love historical fiction and having read one about my country’s past made me aware of what my ancestors had to endure during those times. It also made me realized that most of the important values portrayed by Filipinos at that time are evaporating in the current generation. It made me think with a pain in my heart that as the world develops, the values of some also degenerate.
  3. Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. I read this when I was sophomore in high school and I never regretted that I did. It was my first Albom book. Perhaps I am to echo what others already said about this book or his other creations, but his writings are very inspiring and enlightening. I found myself reflecting how I lived for the past years and how I could’ve made it better. Then I got the Mitch Albom Fever. I have poured over all his published books, cried a river in ALL of them, and recommended those to my friends.
  4. Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan. This is also a series consists of the first with five novels with two extras and graphic novels in between; and the second with another five. The first series is about Greek mythology – their gods and demigods, while the second is about their Roman counterpart. Since I was little, I was fascinated with mythologies and having those stories (and lessons) be incorporated in a work of fiction, and a YA at that, made me jump with glee. I read the first installment, The Lightning Thief, when I was 17 or 18, and it rekindled my passion and interest in mythology. It was a very educational as well as entertaining read. After I finished the book, I came wanting for more. And so I indulged myself and just last month, I finished the third installment of the second series!
  5. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. This is one of the two books my Creative Writing teacher in high school required us to read. The other one is #2. At first, I found the book dull. It’s such a thin published book – more of a thicker pamphlet actually. During my first time to browse its contents, I think I wrinkled my nose while making that tsk tsk sound. It was like half of its total pages are used for photos of a seagull! But since it is a school requirement, I have to read it. And found myself surprised. With just few powerful and evocative words (and lots of pictures, just to remind you again), it made me feel like the seagull – a being who wants to be free from the rules. No, this is not the Communist Manifesto and it won’t change your political views. Instead, it made me feel confident that I am not alone in my quest to follow my heart – we are all different and being unique is not that bad, that sometimes some people just recognize a higher purpose for their creation than others. And they do something to make that purpose fulfilled.
  6. The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth. It was in my second year in university when I first read this book. I was, as often at that time, in my school’s library browsing over titles in the literary section (and not in textbooks and references, ha!) when I stumbled upon this novel. The book was old, with its yellow pages and delicious smell. I read the blurb and when I found it interesting enough, grabbed it for a check-out. I used two or three days (I wasn’t a full-time reader at that time; I still have grades to maintain in order to grab a Latin honor) to finish it and when I did, I had this crazy smile on my face when I whispered to my best friend, “I want to be an assassin.”
  7. Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. This is another reading requirement in my university’s History of Political Thoughts class. I remember having a hard time finding a copy of this Norwegian novel in our local bookstores. When I had mine, I was like two or three chapters behind my class and I had to catch up as our professor was fond of book quizzes. It is a work of fiction intended mostly for the young minds to be exposed to philosophy and the great thinkers. It has a number of chapters of various and important philosophers starting from Socrates. The reading requirement turned out to be an adventure-filled, thought-provoking experience for me.
  8. Remember When by Judith Mcnaught. I have finished this book courtesy of my high school classmate who lent it to me. It was my first historical romance novel ever read and it made my young heart soar with hope and dreams of meeting my dream man in the future. I am grateful for the author, whose total published novels I have read almost in half, for she introduced me to the world of historical romance.
  9. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. Another book requirement, this time in my Reading class in high school. I admit it was extremely boring at first. I was brought up reading American and English novels that having a Chinese-inspired story made me dull and uninterested. I read it for the sake of writing a book review with sense, but something changed at the middle of the book. It’s like a late bloomer; the pace of the story caught up in the middle. Or perhaps I just got used to reading pre-revolutionary China and names I couldn’t correctly pronounce, but anyway. I became to like this book because of its honest and unsentimental views of the Chinese society at that time. It seems so real – the love, infidelity, and pain found in the book. I was 13 or 14 when I read this and I wasn’t prepared to be overwhelmed with the cruel reality in the world even during that time. It made my eyes and mind open and realistic that not every story has a happy ending.
  10. Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux. I admit I haven’t read The Time Traveller’s Wife despite others’ high recommendations. It’s not my cup of tea. Even though I read historical romance, at least the stories still sound possible unlike time travelling. Apologies for those who like Niffenegger’s masterpiece, but this is just my point of view. However, I didn’t know that one novel, a historical romance at that, had this time travelling element and I was up for a surprise: I fell in love with the book – its plot and characters. I was crying like an idiot at around two or three in the morning, wanting to scream at the injustice at the ending. Then I vowed to give time travelling stories a chance.

So there go my top ten books. I’m sure if I hesitated to write this now I will be able to replace and/or add other novels in there so I have to finish this fast before I changed my mind. It is really difficult!

How about you guys? With Thanksgiving just around the corner, isn’t it timely to give our thanks to our loyal companions and their masters?

And speaking of Thanksgiving, I have an ongoing giveaway which all of you are definitely invited to join. Click here for the giveaway post or here to be directed to the rafflecopter page. See you there!

103 thoughts on “Ten Books I am Grateful For

      1. yes i adore Johanna Lindsay as well ^^ but really the Knight in Shining Armor is the best! Kate and Leopold sorta reminds me of it — an ok movie but not nearly as good as Jude Deveraux’s brilliant book ^^

  1. Love your list, 최다해 gongjumonica, and it brought back some great memories for me. The first time I read, “Jonathon Livingston Seagull,” I couldn’t imagine what I could get out of such a strange little book, but I think it has had a lifelong influence on me. I also love some of your other choices, including the Harry Potter series, all of Mitch Albom’s books (and plays) and “The Day of the Jackal” (your taste is eclectic). Reading “The Good Earth” as a school assignment had a profound assignment. The experience showed me that good literature can take the reader away from her world and put her in another time and place, to vividly see and feel what a character is going through. My list would include lots of stories by JD Salinger (esp. “Franny and Zooey,” Kurt Vonnegut and F. Scott Fitzgerald. You are a good writer, by the way!

    1. Whoa! It seems you have read almost all of the books in my list, am I right? I am glad you appreciated them as much as I do, especially The Good Earth! Yes, my taste is much eclectic. I can read middle-grade books like Percy up to Fifty Shades which I didn’t even imagine I could finish.

      Bach’s photo-filled short story may look like a children’s book, but it is filled with life’s lessons one may find in a 500+ page book. I am catching on my reading and had finished The Catcher in the Rye last week. I will write my short review on it by the end of the month. I will try more JD Salinger and F. Scott Fitzgerald!

  2. Sorry I couldn’t manage to do your giveaway thing, hope you’re not upset. We share the same love for Sophie’s World, so that’s great! 🙂 In the future you may want to read The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran and Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. They’re amazing!

    Subhan Zein

    1. Hi, Subhan. It is okay, no problem with that. I love Sophie’s World, but I am afraid to note that as time goes by, I am beginning to be swallowed in thick fur of the rabbit rather than its tip. 🙁

      I have read, but not finished, Love in the Time of Cholera, but I already included it in my to-read-again list! I have heard of Gibran, but haven’t read any of his work though.

  3. Judith Mcnaught is pretty cool and her books are always so interesting. Harry Potter is on everyone’s bookshelf. If it isn’t that person needs to hit up a bookstore and get those books. I think Linda Howard is also really good at the romance thing, she’s written a lot of great novels. Great list, gongjumamma. 🙂

    1. It always make my heart flutter whenever I read a gongjumamma here. You really make my day, Suilan Lee!
      I agree that HP must be in almost everyone’s bookshelves. Oh, I’m so glad to hear someone else loves Judith Mcnaught’s books. I am to read Until You and Something Wonderful soon. 🙂

  4. Since I feel reading the book in its original language is usually much more enjoyable I read all the Harry Potter books in English. I love the books, and my English improved. 🙂

    I also loved Sophie’s World, but I haven’t had the chance yet to read any of the other books you mentioned. Many await.

    1. Oh, that too! My vocabulary words increased just by reading Harry Potter. Since English is only my country’s second language, it is beneficial for me to learn more words when I was young.

      Did you love the ending of Sophie’s World? I didn’t expect it though I wasn’t surprised in the trick.

      1. Hahaha! 🙂 A slightly bigger number than yours, but no, not a hundred. 🙂 I don’t think I can make a list like that, until I am around 75 or so. :)))

    1. Hi, Rita. Sadly, I haven’t. My friend discouraged me from reading The Fault in Our Stars because it might kill me. I have read Nicholas Sparks’ Dear John and it felt heavy on my heart that I had nightmares every night in a week!

      Still, I will be brave and try to read that book.

  5. What a great list! I really want to read the Riordan books – a friend’s son, who is 11 years old, has been telling me about them, and how much he loves them, so now I am intrigued!

    1. Hello, Ricari. Please try re-reading Sophie’s World.I know that it became a bit dull in the middle especially when the Philosopher just went on and on with the facts about the great philosophers, but please hold on!

      have you tried other books by the same author?

  6. This is slightly off-topic, but will you please remind me to bring Something Wonderful by Judith McNaught on Monday? Oh, and do you really want Paulo Coelho’s Brida? If you do, I’ll bring that, too. (Or perhaps give it away in a promo…just kidding!)

  7. What an amazingly lovely post, Nica!!… I love your way of writing. You know, I have read all 7 Harry Potter books. I havent read any of the other books you mentioned. But I am quite interested in The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth. I laughed so hard when i read the I wanna be an assassin part. Hilarious!!

    1. Sweet Naz. Thanks for always being present in my posts. If there should be a follower award, you’ll surely win it! 😀 The Day of the Jackal is a historical fiction and suspense. It is about an assassin hired to kill Charles deGaulle when he was put in office.

      1. Fountainhead is by Ayn Rand. Its a brilliant novel. You’ve got to pick it up 🙂

        Midnight’s Children is by Salman Rushdie. This is an amazing novel if you would love to see a blend of history with fiction and science. It is pretty soon to be released into a major motion picture on the same name! Check out IMDB and Amazon for the same.

        Hope you pick at least one of them and give a try! 🙂

  8. What a great list! I discovered Judith McNaught over 10 years ago and I have read ALL of her books. She’s great! I also love Julia Quinn and Lisa Kleypas. One of these days I’ll get around to reading Harry Potter!

    1. Wow. ALL of them? I envy you! I am still in the process of completing them, but I am far from the finish line! It is also irritating if the book isn’t available in bookstores here in my country 🙁

      How I love Julia Quinn! I think I have read 80-85% of her books now, and would love to finish all. I have read one Lisa Kleypas so far, but would like to add more. What’s your favorite from her work?

      Please please try to read Harry Potter! He’s my childhood crush 🙂

  9. Hey Monica, thanks for dropping by. Looks like we have two things in common; we both like Harry Potter, and love all things Korean. I lived with a Korean family for 4-5 years and learned to speak and write fairly fluently. Unfortunately, it’s been a lot of years since I’ve gotten to use it. I can recognize and sound out the writing, but can’t remember what most of it is 😛 My wife, who is Korean, was born in the US so she doesn’t speak a lick of it 😀 Anyway nice blog you have here.

    1. Hi, Drew. WOW! It is my first time to meet a man who is fascinated with everything Korean. Seriously. I have met mostly women and I am glad that men do love Korean culture, too 🙂 How did you live with a Korean family, if you don’t mind my asking? You are lucky if you had a homestay like that.

      Aha, a Korean wife! Now that’s interesting. Even if she was born in US,culture still runs in her veins. I had a Korean boyfriend so the cultural influence was that great.

  10. I like Peal Buck’s books, although I haven’t read Good Earth yet. Have you ever read Spring Moon by Betty Bao Lord or Family by Pa Chin? They are the best Asian literature I’ve read so far – and I really enjoy Asian literature; I have a whole shelf in my library dedicated to it 🙂

  11. It is so hard to pick a favourite book isn’t it, or even a selection! I love some of the books on your list – Sophie’s World is brilliant – I have it on my bookshelf. I’ve wanted to read Jonathon Livingstone Seagull for a long time, maybe it’s about time I actually borrowed it from the library and read it!

  12. Hi! I saw that you starred my post about Days of Blood and Starlight (which I highly recommend, by the way) and thought I’d pop over to your blog to see what it’s all about. I’m thrilled to find another book-aholic. I am always looking for new books (and am something of a writer myself – more on that in future blog posts) and good writers to learn from. Thanks for stopping by, and keep up the reading and writing!

    1. Hello there, Amira. That blog post of yours is really eye-catchy to us readers. I have heard a lot of things about the book and would love to read it – I even put it in my Want-to-read shelf in goodreads! However, I learned it is the 2nd installment already so I have to catch-up and read the 1st.

      Thank you for visiting my blog and I am happy to find another booklover. Hopefully in the future we can share some of our book reads and comments on them.

      Good luck in writing and reading!

  13. A bookworm after my own heart. I love the list, mostly because you have Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and Mitch Albom. And you reminded me about the romances I’ve read back in college, Judith McNaught and Jude Deveraux. 🙂 I’d love to read the other books on your list when I have time, maybe I’ll include them in my to-read list next year. 🙂
    Anyway, thanks for dropping by my blog.

    1. Hi, Shieram. Thanks for swinging by. I am glad to know you appreciate Rick Riordan’s series. I am crazy waiting for the fourth book to be out next Fall! I have also heard they are already filming for the Son of Neptune.

      I hope I have inspired you with my list and feel free to add them in your TBR pile. 🙂

  14. The Good Earth was such a great book! And of course HP as well as The Five People You Meet in Heaven! I haven’t read the others. But I just love Mitch Albom, he’s amazing. Have you read (or are you even interested in reading) The Casual Vacancy?

    1. Hi, Rebecca. All you said is correct. I am interested in reading The Casual Vacancy, but I still don’t have a copy. My hands are still full of urgent books to be read for reviews these days and will try to read JK next month maybe. How about you?

      1. I read it and reviewed it actually. I thought it was a good book but nothing too special. Some people dislike it, but I read it with a very open mind, pretending I didn’t even know the author previously.

        We all have different parts of our personality that we show at different times. I like to read books all the time, but I also love jails and jail shows, and drug movies, even though I’ve never done drugs or been to jail. It’s just another part of me. I think that J.K. is showing another part of her with the book, a part we haven’t seen before. And I think that people are critical of that when they shouldn’t be.

        I’m glad I read the book, and I’d read her other things after this as well, but I wasn’t thrilled with the novel.

        1. Oh! Remind me not to dig in your posts so I won’t stumble upon a spoiler. Kidding! 🙂

          Honestly, I have tried reading her newest novel in an e-copy. I was in the first 20 pages when I felt a pull for another level. Perhaps it’s just my attention span at that time, but I felt uninterested. I can’t judge it yet though. I’ll try to bring myself to pick it up again.

          1. I never do spoilers! So no worries, you can read all my posts free and clear! I despise spoilers! They’re not fair because you lose the chance to experience it for yourself.

            Just stick with it. Some people love it, some dislike it. I thought it was good but not great, but it’s worth the read if you’re a J.K. fan.

            1. That’s a good thing then! I hate spoilers, too that is why I am planning how to do my book reviews in a way that I won’t be giving much of the story.

              I will try to finish it, but not now. I admit that at first, I was afraid to read her new novel for fear that it won’t be at par with HP. But still, I’m a JK fan through and through.

              1. I do my reviews mainly by sharing an anecdote and then telling some of the story, and every time that I think a spoiler might slip out, I ask a question instead of saying what happens, like “Will Bob ever be able to find his sister?” Something like that!

  15. What a wonderful list! I am sorry to say that while I have heard of many of these books, I haven’t read them. It looks like Harry Potter and both Percy Jackson series are the only places we cross paths. I do recommend checking out Michael Scott’s “Secrets of Nicholas Flamel” series, too. I’ve only read the first three books, but I have the other three waiting to be read – there are just so many great books to discover!

      1. Yes, so far Scott has been good. My niece, who is in college, recommended it to me and I really like it. It is a series of 6 books written for a similar age group as Percy Jackson. What I especially like about it is that Scott puts real historical people in it (Machiavelli, Shakespeare, etc.) and makes them magical and immortal. But the strongest magician in it is Nicholas Flamel’s wife Perenelle which, as a female myself, I like 🙂

  16. Thanks for dropping by my blog. Wow, you are very well-read! And I am glad we share a huge love of Harry Potter 🙂 Thanks for these reading suggestions. I work in a bookshop, so will be on the hunt for some of these tomorrow! Your blog is a great place.

    Lucy x

  17. Romance has never been my thing, but I was drawn to a Lynn Kurland book for some reason that I cannot remember and got hooked on her stories. She writes historical romance and some are time travels, too. She’s not all “heaving bosoms” and mush, though. She has great sword fight scenes! She tells the story of love, not lust. She also writes a sci-fi/fantasy series that I have not read yet.

  18. Thanks for checking out my blog!

    Jonathan Livingston Seagull is a wonderful story. My first grade teacher gave it to me to read just to see what I made of it. I’ve never forgotten. 🙂

  19. I’ll suggest something that is very different from what is on your list of ten: “The Denial of Death” by Ernest Becker, a Pulitzer Prize-winning classic on how we humans deal with issues of mortality. A heavy subject, but a book that a number of people I know have told me is the most important book they ever read.

  20. The first two (possibly the third as well) of the Harry Potters were brilliant. After that they turned to custard, yuk. Mr Seagull I loved—did you see the movie, sung by Neil Diamond? Should still be available on disc …

  21. Thanks for liking my recent post. I love this list. I have read and loved several of the books on the list as well. I am reading The Good Earth right now. I have put Without Seeing the Dawn on my wishlist, since I don’t have a book for the Philipines yet this year. Looking forward to more of your posts!

  22. Nice blog. My mother-in-law grew up in Laoag in the thirties and forties. If you would ever like to read the story of how she came to marry her Japanese husband after the war, I’ll send you a copy.

Share your thoughts, I would love to read them!