Top Ten Tuesday: Most Recommended Books

March 26, 2013 Frightening, Historical Fiction, Romance, Tear Jerkers, Top Ten Tuesday 72

Greetings, Bookworms!

It’s Tuesday, and you know what THAT means. No, no, it is not time for tacos. (But dangit, now I want tacos!) It’s time for Top Ten Tuesday with The Broke and The Bookish! Today they’ve asked me to list out the ten books I recommend most often. So. Without further ado…


1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I have foisted this series upon countless friends. I love to recommend it because it’s got a little bit of something for everyone. It’s one of those rare finds where I’m confident most of my pals will enjoy it. There are few things as awkward as giving someone a book and hearing they hated it, you know? Outlander has a little sci fi, some historical fiction, a touch of steamy romance novel, and, well, Jamie Fraser. (Siiiigh)

2. Harry Potter by JK Rowling. This is kind of a throwaway answer because it’s not like it’s possible for someone to have never heard of Harry Potter. However. Anyone who seems skeptical about the series? I implore them to read it. Like… I’m sincerely concerned about people who don’t enjoy HP. How can you not like MAGIC and WHIMSY and AWESOMENESS?!

My patronus is a penguin. Demetors don't stand a CHANCE against the impossible cutness... And pecking.

My patronus is a penguin. Demetors don’t stand a CHANCE against the impossible cutness… And pecking.

3. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. This book is amazing and I think everyone should read it. Everyone. I’ve loaned out my copy on multiple occasions. It’s a cautionary tale for the ages, my friends.

4. Pope Joan by Diana Woolfolk Cross. Some of the best historical fiction I’ve ever read. It’s about an accidental lady Pope. Timely, what with a new Pope being elected and all.

5. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Occasionally, people will ask me for recommendations on classics I really enjoyed. I won’t lie, it’s a long ass book, but it’s totally worth the read. If you’re familiar with the musical already, it gives you a great back story on Fantine, which is fabulous. Oh and did you know that Gavroche and Eponine are siblings? I know. I. KNOW! Crazy right? You need to read this.


Cosette is still little more than a plot catalyst, though.

6. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I try to get people to read this all the time. It’s another one of those that I’ve found is almost universally appealing. This one, of course, requires you to have an entire box of tissues on hand as you engage in the catharsis of bawling your eyes out. Worth it.

7. Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. This book tells the most incredible love story. Miller did such a great job of drawing her characters’ personalities that you get completely engrossed in their love story. You follow Achilles and Patroclus from childhood and watch their relationship grow and mature. Just beautiful. And yeah. It’s about two dudes. Which is a nice change of pace from what I normally read, you know? (You probably need tissues for this one too.)

8. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. It’s just really well drawn historical fiction. I love it to pieces. It’s another chunkster, but it moves fast. Don’t be intimidated by its length, you’ll enjoy yourself! (And then you’ll be really grateful that you have indoor plumbing and floors that aren’t dirt and stuff, because the Middle Ages were DIRTY, y’all.)

Starz did a mini series based on the book. Eddie Redmayne played Jack. You're welcome. (Image from

Starz did a mini series based on the book. Eddie Redmayne played Jack. You’re welcome. (Image from

9. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell. No, having seen the movie is NOT the same thing. Not at all. It leaves out Scarlett’s first two children, for heaven’s sake! (That’s really not a spoiler, they aren’t major plot points, and the fact that they aren’t makes Scarlett all the more Scarlett-y.)

10. World War Z by Max Brooks. I don’t read a whole lot of zombie literature, but I thought this book rocked in a big way. I’m a huge fan of The Walking Dead (TV series, I haven’t read the comics) so the zombie lore intrigues me. I thought this book gave an awesome and realistic account of how a zombie apocalypse might go down. You’ll probably have nightmares. Fair warning.

There we are- ten books I recommend to people on the regular. What are some of your favorite titles to pass around?

72 Responses to “Top Ten Tuesday: Most Recommended Books”

  1. Mr. Alfredo Man

    Couldn’t agree with you more regarding “Pillars of the Earth” Katie – definitely a worthwhile time spend. Follett always does a superb job with character development ( try reading “Eye of the Needle”), and in this book he does t disappoint. You’ll actually be concerned for his historically fictitious characters as they navigate their ways through the Middle Ages!

    • Words for Worms

      I know! I so want tacos. I don’t actually want zombies because they’re scary… But a Walking Dead marathon with tacos? Yes. Yes, that needs to happen.

      • Ashley F

        Oh that totally needs to happen. I could handle reading World War Z while eating tacos. That would be a good middle ground.

  2. comehometobooks

    Looks like THE BOOK THIEF is making lots of lists (including mine). Makes sense since it’s such an excellent story — and it’s about BOOKS! GONE WITH THE WIND is also a really good choice.


  3. anothercleanslate

    I love Pope Joan, The Book Thief and of course the classic Gone With the Wind. I recently read Defending Jacob by William Landay and loved it. Would definitely recommend.

  4. Sarah Says Read

    I love this list. And *high five* for us both listing Outlander at #1!

    OK so now I need to read Pope Joan, Song of Achilles, and World War Z all like as soon as possible. Thanks for making my to-read list longer Katie!! Sheesh.

    Now I’m off to wonder what my Patronus would be… hmmm…

    • Words for Worms

      Ha! Yes! High Five! Sorry for expanding your list… That’s a lie. I’m not sorry. But you totes need to figure out your Patronus. Do you at least have your house assignment? I put myself in Ravenclaw.

  5. Liesel Hill

    Great picks! Love HP (of course), love Les Miz, and though I haven’ t read the books, i saw the STarzz version of Pillars of the Earth and LOVED it. Totally love Eddie Redmayne! Would you recommend reading the books even though I already saw the series? Happy Tuesday!
    My TTTs are at Musings on Fantasia and LKHill.

    • Words for Worms

      I absolutely recommend reading Pillars of the Earth even if you’ve seen the miniseries. It was a good adaptation, but the book gives more depth.

  6. Book Swoon

    Great books. I also read and loved Outlander, Pillars of the Earth, and Gone With the Wind. I know the size of those books scare some people off, but you just have to take your time to savor them!

  7. ashley

    Harry Potter definitely! I’m always quick to recommend The Catcher in the Rye (all-time favorite) One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest is another favorite. And a few that started my love for dystopia are 1984 by George Orwell and I loved reading Farenheit 451 in school! Confession time: I also have an extensive Nicholas Sparks collection. Who doesn’t love The Notebook? Lol

    • Words for Worms

      I read Catcher in high school because I was all angsty and I thought I should. The only bit that really stands out to me is that Phoebe’s pajamas had red elephants on them. 1984 was fab and 451 rocks. Sparks isn’t my cup of tea, but I’ve read a number of Harlequins, so, I’m not throwing any stones.

  8. Rory

    I keep thinking maybe I should give Gone With the Wind another chance, I just bated Scarlett so much! The Book Thief perpetually makes my TBR list. And who can resist Jamie…

    Have you seen the previews for World War Z? Do you think they even read the book….

    • Words for Worms

      Oh, you’ll continue to hate Scarlett. She’s awful, but in a way that makes you love to hate her. The Book Thief is totally worth it. And World War Z the movie? I’ve heard some really bad things. The book was so good, but I’m pretty confident they destroyed it. I mean, I may see it anyway, because, zombies. But still. I hope they at least make the zombies freeze in the winter. I’ll be really mad if there’s a snowscape and zombies are lumbering around.

  9. Lisa G

    Our lists are eerily similar. (like I’m talking 1-6 are all things I recommend regularly). I also recommend David Gibbins’ “Atlantis” its kinda Dan Brown meets Indiana Jones and underwater. Loved it. If you haven’t, and like those action adventure types, give it a try!

  10. daddio

    #1 going to look for Atlantis right now!
    #2 maybe right after tacos …
    #3 liked your bookshelf more disheveled
    #4 better hurry to finish Lenten penance … More Jane Eyre! LOVE to erase this penguin hugged!

  11. Charleen

    I was really kind of shocked at how much I enjoyed Gone with the Wind. I read it as part of my quest to read more “classics” (I put that in quotes not because GWTW isn’t a classic but because I still haven’t gotten up the gumption to read anything pre-1900… high school kinda killed all those old books for me, and there’s so many good books that I DON’T have to stumble over centuries-old language to try to understand, let alone enjoy… and now I’ve gotten off track, I’d better start over…)

    I read it as part of my quest to read more classics, but it really pulled me in. I think I could just totally relate to the idea of assuming your life is going to go one way and then it ends up completely different. Granted, my life wasn’t derailed by a war, but still.

    I’m really intrigued by Pope Joan, I may have to add that one to my TBR.

    Also, having a penguin patronus would be amazing.

    • Words for Worms

      I was really surprised by how readable GWTW was too! I was really expecting it to be kind of inaccessible, but it read really easily. I think pretty much nobody’s life goes exactly the way they expected it to. It’s part of the universal human experience, you know?

      • Charleen

        Yes, exactly. And I know GWTW was about so much more, but that was really the heart of the novel for me. And what are you going to do when your world comes crashing down around you (whatever “crashing down” is for you)?

  12. Monika

    Yes and yes to The Handmaid’s Tale and The Book Thief! Love those!
    I have yet to read Harry Potter (blush) but they’re on my Nook ready for me whenever… 🙂

  13. Darlene

    My turn to pick for Book Club will be in May and I’m picking The Book Thief. I also always recommend Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers and The Original Winnie the Pooh. I have recommended The Fountainhead, (sorry) to someone I thought would genuinely appreciate it and I am recommending The Chosen by Chaim Potok to anyone reading this. I had never heard of it before my current reading challenge. I LOVED IT. Then I found out Robby Benson starred in the movie. My enjoyment of him dates me I’m sure but no matter what age he is, he is dang cute.

    • Words for Worms

      Now now. I didn’t hate The Fountainhead. I just hated all the characters and found Rand’s philosophy not to my liking. As a book I couldn’t put it down. Probably because I was mentally screaming at the characters to STOP BEING DOUCHEBAGS the whole time :).

  14. therelentlessreader

    Yes and yes and yes again. This is a fab list my dearie! I haven’t read #’s 1 or 10 though..uh oh! And I’m planning on getting to Les Mis THIS year darn it. I promise!

  15. Lori

    Yay! Gone with the Wind, Outlander, Pillars of the Earth and Les Miserables! Get out of my head already. All chunksters = my favorite kind of read. The only chunkster I would add to this stack would be Beach Music by Pat Conroy which is probably the book I recommend the most. I am now convinced I’m the only person on earth who didn’t care for The Book Thief.

  16. milobaines

    I’ll always recommend anything by Terry Pratchett. Starship Troopers and The Postman are also high on my “You should totally read this, YO!” list.

      • Milo

        I own almost the entire collection and have re-read them probably a dozen times apiece, if that helps sell him as an author.

        I think what I love most about his Discworld series is how well you as a reader can relate to the characters and their situations even though it’s based in a “midieval” setting. He uses satire the way surgeons use their scalpels.

  17. Christi

    Love your list! HP, Handmaid’s Tale, and Gone with the Wind have been favorites of mine for years. I’ll definitely have to check out these other picks. 🙂

  18. justJen

    Hum, aside from Harry Potter and the Book Thief I haven’t read ANY of those, how my life has been lacking! My fiction recommendations and frequent giftings include Lamb, the Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore, The Outsiders by SE Hinton, Pastwatch by Orson Scott Card, Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick, A Dog’s Purpose by Bruce Cameron, A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, Christine by Stephen King, Chocolat by Joanne Harris, The Blue Girl by Charles de Lint, and Going Postal by Terry Pratchett.

  19. Jenny

    Oo. I don’t know what books I most commonly recommend to people. The Book Thief is on the list, definitely, but I think generally I try to strenuously recommend books that I feel aren’t getting enough play. I recommend Hilary McKay to everyone, for instance, because not enough people have read Saffy’s Angel.

  20. serendipityridge

    I loved song of Achilles. Such a moving story as well as a completely different point of view analyzed. I was bawling by the end of it. And of course Harry Potter rocks. I wanted to read World War Z. But not I’m scared lol thank you for your insight.

  21. justjase79

    Geez, I’ve only read one of these (although another 4 are sitting on my shelves). Good to see an Atwood on there, her book The Blind Assassin is probably the book I recommend the most.

    • Words for Worms

      I hate to admit that The Blind Assassin is probably my least favorite Atwood, but it’s the truth. However. A least favorite Atwood is still a whole lot better than a lot of other things, so, you know.

  22. annesquared

    I’ve enjoyed all of what you have mentioned above, but dearly love the Outlander series – well enough to read and reread. The Harry Potter series was a staple my children grew up with, learning to read about the time the first was published. As older teens they are still great fans of the books. (As each one was released I would have to purchase 3 so we each could read the new one – no one could wait their turn. But the money wasn’t wasted – the old “friends” have seen more use than a video game in any other household.)

  23. Mary E.

    Don’t forget Zusak’s other masterpiece: I Am the Messenger. It is awesome! And if we’re talking classics, we can’t overlook Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. It’s one of the best ‘pulse of the generation’ books ever written, and every time I explore it with students in my high school lit classes, I find myself ‘p-p-paralyzed with happiness’ as Daisy Buchanan says.

      • Mary E.

        You will love Messenger. It’s all suspense, and the ending … oh my! What a surprise. Our students often tell us that the book is the only one they’ve actually read in years, and many say it changed their lives.

  24. Darcy Perdu

    I loved Pope Joan! It was a fascinating read! I was surprised to see it on your list, because I thought it was a pretty obscure book – but now, thanks to you, maybe mroe people will read it! Thanks for the great book recommendations! — Darcy at

    • Words for Worms

      It was given to me by my Women’s Studies prof in college. I wrote a paper on women in religion, and she gave each graduate a book as a gift. It’s been one of my favorites ever since!

  25. jchurchi

    The books I always push on people… hmmm. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintanance. The Perks of Being a Wallflower… Kitchen Confidential (I have foodie friends)… Narcissias and Goldmund by Hesse (actually I usually just push Hesse!). and the Graphic Novel series – Fables as well as Sandman.

    • Words for Worms

      I recently had Zen recommended to me. And Perks? I’ve adored that since I was a teenager. It’s one of the few books I’ve read more than once :).

    • jchurchi

      Ohh… I also love to recommend “There is something about Kevin”… truly a gutsy book. Who ever writes about being the mother of a boy who goes on a killing rampage at a school. It’s fiction, but its a book that makes you say.. holy crap that’s ballsy to write about. Then it turns out to be really good. Love recommending that one. Except to expectant mothers… You will freak them out.

  26. Poke My Mon

    I always recommend the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson for anyone who has even the slightest liking for fantasy. Also, anything by Terry Pratchett for, well, anyone who has a sense of humour.

  27. RebeccaScaglione - Love at First Book

    I have to say I think love stories usually are crappy and sappy and boring. But (and that’s a HUGE BUT!) I LOVED The Song of Achilles so much that I wanted to shout it from a rooftop. Seriously. That book is the best love story I have ever read!!! And it’s a book that I cannot stop talking about. At all. I buy it for friends as a gift, too.

    Plus, I 100% agree with your #1-3 on the list!

  28. jennifer

    Great list! HP and Handmaid’s Tale are in my top 10 too – along with A River Runs Through It, which is so not a clunker. Seeing that movie is also not the same thing, even if it does have Brad Pitt….

Talk to me, Bookworms!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.