Lord of the Rings: Nothing will ever equal this epic. It’s more than just perfect worldbuilding, amazing characters. It’s modern ancient literature, by which I mean it perfectly encapsulates the tone of medieval heroic tales, with all their epic figures and grand last stands and embodied history. It’s fantastic. I’ve written about them several times here, and even shared a bit of a fanfiction I wrote.
Anna Karenina: This has left an impact on me like few other books have. Tolstoy does a phenomenal job of showing the many lives weaving in and out of each other, and the internal struggles each person faces. I don’t think I’ve read another book that’s made me go: “Yes! Exactly! I’ve felt that way!” so many times.
Usagi Yojimbo: This series is a fascinating blend of goofy, historical, and realist–a samurai rabbit in Edo Japan, wandering his way through tales magical, tragic, or deeply personal. The whole series is worth reading, but the Grasscutter books are especially interesting. I wrote about them here.
A Canticle for Leibowitz: How even to explain this book? Monks in a post-apocalyptic wasteland struggle to preserve ancient blueprints and technical diagrams. You see how their work influences the path of history. It’s sad and hopeful, bizarre and realistic. It’s a a gripping tale of beauty and death. Read my full thoughts here.
Humans of New York: I suppose technically this is a web serial, but it’s a lovely work however you slice it. An accessible photojournal that perfecly captures the variety and humanity of the modern world, while making you aware of the stories going all around you each day.
The Book Thief: Rudy. My god, Rudy.
Is there any book that has so bizarrely and yet perfectly played with language? So perfectly pulled on heartstrings?
Not for me. I almost physically attacked my sibling for interrupting me while I was reading through the end scene.