Marion’s Sixteen All-Time Favorite Novels (Part Two)

by | Nov 27, 2023 | Book Reviews, Marion's Favorite Books, Marion's Favorites, Marion's Reading Life Blog, Wisdom From Kammbia Column | 0 comments

The number 16 symbolizes trust, intuition, balance, and leaning into your own wisdom. In addition, it’s a number that isn’t commonly seen on all-time lists, but I thought it was the right choice for my list of favorite novels.

I just posted part one of my all-time favorite novels list. Here is the second half of my list and represents the fiction that has stayed with me as a reader.

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber: Can a marriage be saved even if you are doing God’s will and serving him to the best of your ability? Faber’s novel provides a thought-provoking and heartbreaking answer to that question. Book of Strange New Things combines post apocalyptic fiction with evangelical Christianity through the lens of a marriage that I could not stop thinking about after reading the book for a second time earlier this year.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah: There are a lot of World War novels published in contemporary fiction.  I will admit that I have not read many of them. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is a book I read a few years ago. It tells the story of sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, and their harrowing journey during the German Occupation of France. Throughout the novel, Hannah skillfully develops the characters of the sisters as they progress on their journey. I could not stop reading this book once I got started.  It’s uncertain if The Nightingale has been recognized as one of the top historical fiction novels published in the last ten years. If not, it deserves that kind of recognition.  A must read for historical fiction readers.

Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin: This was the first novel I reviewed when I began writing my blog in January 2011.  I have always included it in my all-time favorite novels list, no matter how times I have updated it since I began writing my blog.  Winter’s Tale is a novel about early 20th Century New York City. It’s a love story, a moral story, a time travel story, and a story of redemption all wrapped together. Peter Lake’s journey through the city shows how the fantastical and everyday life can co-exist to create a work of literature.

Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay: This novel taught me the second chances are always worth giving to a novel. It is easy to DNF a book that doesn’t grab hold of you immediately as a reader.  However, I have learned as a reader that sometimes you have to be in the right frame of mind for a novel.  Children of Earth and Sky provided evidence for second chances. Kay set this novel on the backdrop of the Italian Renaissance and the Ottoman Empire. The story is told through several characters, such as Pero Villani, Leonora Valeri, and Danica Gradek. Pero Villani, a young artist, has been commissioned to paint the great leader of the east, Leonora Valeri, who was passing for a doctor’s wife, becomes a spy, and Danica Gradek, a female warrior, searches for her brother, who was taken away from the family as a child. I became a Guy Gavriel Kay reader after being captivated by his beautifully written novel that weaves together religious conflicts, political games, and finding one’s place in this world. I strongly believe that serious readers should add him to their TBR lists, as he is one of the best contemporary novelists writing today.

Sula by Toni Morrison: Has there been a prominent novelist beloved by the literary world that you could not connect with their work?  I have to admit Toni Morrison was the author of that distinction for me.  Before Sula, I had read three of Morrison’s novels, which were great but did not resonate with me. However, that changed with Sula. Morrison tells the story of best friends, Nel Wright and Sula Peace, growing up in the all-black town of Medallion, Ohio, in the early 1900s. I have never read a novel that explores the dynamics of female friendship as masterfully as Morrison does. Sula may not be seen as one of Morrison’s masterworks, but it is the finest second novel I have encountered by any writer.

 A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami: I was late to the Murakami fandom. Fiction writers rarely have a fan base as dedicated as musical pop stars or professional athletic teams. Murakami is such a writer alongside Stephen King and Neil Gaiman with that kind of fan base. Count me as a new member of the Murakami fandom after reading A Wild Sheep Chase. A Wild Sheep Chase tells the story of an unnamed protagonist who receives a postcard for an insurance ad. However, the ad includes an image of a sheep with a star on its back. The postcard draws the attention of a shadowy figure who demands the unnamed protagonist go find this unusual sheep or suffer the consequences. The protagonist begins a journey that takes him to the remotest part of Japan to find this sheep. What he discovers is something that shakes him to his core and reveals an identity he had not realized. Murakami exposed me to a literary world I did not know existed, and I understand why he’s so acclaimed internationally.

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell: The Sparrow tells the story of Emilio Sandoz, a Jesuit priest, who leads a first contact mission to the Planet Rakhat. However, he returns to Earth as the only survivor and is blamed for the mission’s failure. The priest reveals his side of what happened on the mission to his father superiors of the Catholic Church in Rome and undergoes a crisis of faith that becomes more apparent by the end of the novel. Russell writes a bleak, but powerful novel about one’s faith being put to the ultimate test.

The Wood Wife by Terri Windling: Fantasy is my favorite genre to read. It is more known for series work than standalone novels.  However, I have always been on the lookout for well-written standalone fantasy novels and The Wood Wife by Terri Windling fits the bill. The Wood Wife tells the story of a writer, Maggie Black, who inherits the Tucson estate of a reclusive poet named Davis Cooper. Maggie just ended her marriage to a famous musician and was looking to start her life over by writing the biography about the poet’s life. Windling draws upon various mythologies to tell a story about how the power of art, how it can drive one into madness if not channeled properly. In addition, this story explores the theme of new beginnings in a remote location and the possibility of life’s rejuvenation in unfamiliar surroundings. The Wood Wife is a fantasy novel that should receive more recogntion for its intelligence, thoughtfulness, and maturity.

These are my sixteen all-time favorite novels in alphabetical order since I started this blog in January 2011.  The first eight novels are in part one of the post and it has been a joy reading these stories. Reading is vital element in my life as a reader and writer. I hope this list will get other readers to try a novel they might not have heard of. If that is accomplished, then I have done my job with this list.



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Marion Hill