I have received many questions since I started my blog as to where my name came from. It seems so disconnected from my goal. "The Honest Reader": what does that have to do with mental health? So I thought I would do a fun post that would explain my name and let you know a bit more about me.
I call myself The Honest Reader because I am obsessed with reading and writing. I started writing short stories in elementary school, and was always an avid reader. I was home schooled, which meant that every few years I needed to undergo state testing in order to prove that my parents were teaching me necessary skills. We were tested in reading comprehension, spelling, math, and writing. In 5th grade, my spelling and reading comprehension was scored on a college level scale.
I have read hundreds of books in my life (another fun part about home schooling, you have to track all of the books that you read in a school year to make sure that you are getting enough materials. I read over 1500 books between 1st and 12th grade). It is a passion that has never gone away. There are not many genres that I will not read, and the ones that I haven't I am currently pushing myself to try out.
The name The Honest Reader came from combining my three greatest loves: writing (this blog), reading, and being truthful about my life and experiences in order to help others grow. I have always been an open book because I believe that we experience circumstances in life to grow and to help others.
So, as a fun way to get to know me, here are some of my favorite books of all time, split by genre, and a little bit of an explanation as to why I love them.
This post does contain affiliate links, which I may get a commission from.
My Favorite Classic Novels
A Tale of Two Cities will probably always be on of my favorite books. I first read it in the eleventh grade, where I later wrote a poem and put on a short performance of the poem. I love A Tale of Two Cities because it provides a sense of history, but also is told in such a gripping way. Dickens spins several different stories throughout the course of the novel that end up on a collision course as you race towards the end. The final scenes of this book leave me in shock and tears every time I read it.
I have attached above the "No Fear Shakespeare" version of Hamlet, which basically gives you the original version and also has a side of the page that translates the Shakespearean language. I have read Hamlet five or six times, and I really could not describe why I love it so much. I honestly think it is just a great story (it is also amazing to see in theater).
My Favorite Sci-Fi Reads
Flowers for Algernon is a book that I read fairly recently for the first time. I was not sure if I would be interested or not, but I am so glad that I picked it up. Flowers for Algernon tells the story of Charlie, a man with an extremely low IQ, and Algernon, a mouse who was given a new scientific treatment to raise IQ. Charlie recieves the same procedure as Algernon, and all is going well until Algernon begins to rapidly decline. A thought-provoking book that brought me to tears several times, it is well worth the read.
The Girl With All The Gifts has since been turned into a movie, which I have yet to see so I cannot provide a review on that. However, this was yet another book that provides the spooky sense of a world we cannot imagine, while still bringing in loads of emotion. The story follows Melanie, a little girl who has "gifts" (which I will not share for the sake of the plot), but those gifts make her dangerous to others, leaving her kept in a cell.
My Favorite Mystery Books
Most of you have probably heard of Gone Girl before, as I had. I read it for the first time a month ago and it became a favorite. This book had me literally sweating in December. The story is of Nick and Amy Dunne, the former whom goes missing the day of their five year wedding anniversary. Beautful, kind, and the main character in a famous children's book series, everyone is wondering: Where is Amy?
I read The Lovely Bones for the first time in middle school. Probably not a good parenting decision on my mothers part, as the book revolves entirely around the rape and murder of 14 year old Susie Salmon. The book is written from Susie's point of view in heaven as she desperately watches her family try to pick up the pieces and find her killer.
My Favorite Historical Fiction
I fell in love with this book in middle school. Hang A Thousand Trees with Ribbons is the story of Phillis Wheatley, the first African-American poet. It tells the story of her life, and the trials that included being captured in Africa and experiencing the Middle Passage on her fall into slavery. An insightful look into the life of an intelligent and creative African American woman in a time when a racist society believed there was no such thing, Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons is an emotional and educational read.
All the Light We Cannot See is another recent read that has quickly made it to my favorites list. This book tells two different stories in France during World War II: Marie-Laure LeBlanc, a blind girl who flees Paris with her father, and German Werner Pfennig, who moves from a coal mining town to a training school for Nazi elites. While these stories are gripping separately, they become truly memorable when the two young people collide.
My Favorite Romance Novels
Disclaimer: I hate romance novels. I think they are stupid. However, there have been a couple that I have come across that I have enjoyed.
Water for Elephants was one of the books that I read on my honeymoon (I guess I was feeling sweet). While not a conventional romance, there are still sweet moments. It is told in a very "The Notebook" way, from the memories of 93 year old Jacob Jankowski. Jankowski used to be a part of the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. A sweet, nostalgic, yet exciting tale, Water for Elephants is now a book I keep displayed in my bookcase in the living room.
Before you get on my case about putting a book on this list that was turned into a cheesy romance movie, I will defend myself by saying I read the book before the movie came out. What I like about Me Before You is that it talks about important issues, medical assisted suicide, physical injuries, and whether or not you should stick by a person when all they can focus on is what has been stolen.
My Favorite Non-Fiction Novels
Unbroken has since been turned into a movie that was extremely popular, however, the book is worth the read. The book follows Air Force lieutenant Louis Zamperini, who goes through incredible trials after his plane crashes into the Pacific Ocean. A story of hope, loss, and human resilience, even people who have seen the movie should pick up a copy of the book.
This book had me hooked. I listened to it on Audible, and it literally kept my mind so focused that I had a hard time panicking while going to the Court House for my marriage license. I'll Be Gone in the Dark was written by Michelle McNamara, a talented journalist who spent her life trying to get to the bottom of the case of the Golden State Killer. McNamara tragically died a few years ago, with the case unsolved. The Golden State Killer was caught in 2018.
My Favorite Biographies/Autobiographies
While technically a memoir, Death Be Not Proud has been one of my favorite true life stories. Told by John Gunther, it is the story of his highly intelligent and witty son, Johnny. Johnny is excelling in university when he gets diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. Death be Not Proud displays the importance of hope in the hard times, and how strong the bond of a family truly is.
Helen Keller has captured my imagination since I was in elementary school. Her intelligence and tenacity was so admirable, and her story incredible. It would only make sense that The Story of My Life, Keller's autobiography about her early life, including her time with Anne Sullivan, would be equally as astounding.
Disclaimer: I am OBSESSED with thrillers. This list could be about 50 books long. However, in the spirit of conformity I will limit it to two. But if you ever want book advice for this genre, ask me.
An oldie but a goodie, Silence of the Lambs thoroughly disturbed me. You may already know the story since it came out a decade before I was born and has been made into several movies. But truly, no book has made my skin crawl more than The Silence of the Lambs. Hannibal Lecter will crawl into your mind as you read, and honestly you may forget to be wary of the cold blooded cannibal at times. Watch out though, his brain never sleeps.
Disclaimer: I would marry Stephen King if I could. I adore his books and aspire to own every single one of them. The Outsider came out this year, and I read it directly after finishing IT. This book ruined my sleep for days. I read the entire thing in the course of three days, which is a lot considering it spans 560 pages. If you haven't read one of King's newest, please do yourself a favor and grab a copy.
This is a compilation of a few of my absolute favorite books that did not make the cut for the list above. Please check them out, they are dear to my heart and tell a lot about my personality!