The list author says: "I read a lot, and I have a lot of opinions, so I can't believe I haven't made a list like this before. If you are even a little bit like me (see "qualifications" above) or you want to get a peek into my psyche (you probs don't), these are the books to read."
"I have quite a penchant for books about English gentry set around or between the two World Wars. I like them even better if they are love stories, and adore them if they are funny. These two novels are all these things. Nancy Mitford is seriously sidesplitting. This is by far my favorite book of all time."
"Not only is Atonement about English gentry between the World Wars, but it is also a love story, matching three of my four criteria for the perfect storm of a novel. It isn't terribly funny, as it is a tragic romance and a meditation on guilt and forgiveness, but it has its moments. Ian McEwan's current masterpiece, with a damn fine twist at the end."
"One of the only books I've ever read that has made me cry, multiple times. Douglas Coupland is such a gifted writer and storyteller that he is capable of writing comedy and tragedy at the same time--irresistible humor combined with deep, deep pathos makes Hey Nostradamus! a truly remarkable work of fiction."
"The best known and least respected of Shakespeare's tragedies, because it is so incredibly beautiful and romantic, and at the same time so practical. The characters are as fully formed and finely sketched as Hamlet, and the fact that it's written off as an "immature" tragedy just shows how much our society still underestimates the thoughts and emotions of children and teens."
"Miss Marple's last mystery, and by far the best of the Christie ouvre. Sleeping Murder is so chilling, and yet so remarkably calm and unflappable, much like Miss Marple herself. Read it last, or you'll be spoiled forever."
"I'm nothing if not the biggest sucker for verisimilitude, and Goldman's romantic comedy mines that sophomore English term for all it's worth, remaining steadfastly committed to the fantasy world of Florin and the completely invented Florinese writer, S. Morgenstern. Truly an accomplishment."
"Every time I read Jane Eyre, I have a greater and greater appreciation for Charlotte Bronte's brilliance. For any writer who wants to learn how to perfect their characters, this is the how-to manual, wrapped up in a fantastic, Gothic-y story."
"Love it. But what people need to see is that this is just ONE romance, not, you know, a how-to guide to falling in love or having a relationship. Duh. Enjoy it for what it is, and for the bounty of literary value that it holds between its pages. Austen was a truly amazing writer. Her prose speaks for itself (ha! of course it does)."
"I must seem marvelously emo to put this on my list, but it really is great. Plath's finely tuned poet's ear makes this novel downright musical at times, and her keen understanding of pain is put to great use here."
"Jesuits in space. This novel tackles the idea of faith and science coming together as one and then splintering apart so deftly that it's hard to believe someone actually wrote this, that it didn't just materialize out of thin air as a natural product of the universe. Her prose is so smooth and polished, and her understanding of character so unfathomably deep (see what I did there?)."
"My second favorite Austen, Emma gets a bad rap sometimes because she's almost as insufferable as Fanny Price, but less so because of the glitter that has rubbed off on her from Cher Horowitz. Nevertheless, Emma is my favorite truly flawed character in the annals of literature, and the fact that she grows, but is not perfected, throughout the novel is a testament to Austen's commitment to reality."
"It is a testament to Niffenegger's extreme talent that everything that happens in this novel is completely believable, disregarding the fact that time travel is not possible and even if it were it probs wouldn't be an affliction born of defective genetic code."
"If I could put Nine Stories, Franny & Zooey, and Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenter's & Seymour: An Introduction on this list together whilst leaving off Catcher in the Rye I totes would, but I must say that Salinger's Glass family tales are very, very good. That rhymed."
"Really, anybody who has ever wanted to write anything ever should read all Alice Munro has ever written, but we can start here. This is the best collection of Munro's stories that I've read to date, but they're all fantastic, and I have no qualms about calling her the greatest living short story writer. She really is THAT good."
"Ah, that weighty symbolism, that prose tightened and edited within an inch of its life, those quotable quotes, that completely unreliable narrator I DON'T CARE WHAT MY SISTER'S 10TH-GRADE ENGLISH TEACHER SAYS...modern American masterpiece. OBVS."
"BEST. SHAKESPEAREAN. COMEDY. EVER. I am also a sucker for any adaptation of this story, no matter how dumb, which is why I loved Motocross'd and She's the Man (although the latter is legitimately funny)."
"Can't believe it took me so many years to read this book. How can a novel with no redeemable characters end up being one of the greatest love stories of all time? Through the magic of being a masterful Bronte, I suppose."