Several of the blogs I follow have been doing The ABC Book Challenge, where you take one letter of the alphabet and mention the books you’ve read and the books on your TBR which start with the letter. This seems like waaayyy too much work for me (but props to anyone doing this challenge), so I thought instead I would go through all the books I’ve read and share my favorite book starting with each letter of the English alphabet. Also, I wanted to pick books I haven’t talked about much on my blog (so, for example, instead of picking The Alienist by Caleb Carr for A, I’d pick a book I love that I haven’t talked about, especially a book which I think is underrated).
Asterix The Gaul (#1) by René Goscinny
Genre: Comics, Comedy
This entire comic series falls into this category, actually, most all of them start with the letter A (Asterix…). This is a comic book series, originally written in French, which follows the people of a small Gaul village under Roman occupation, as they fight to keep their freedom with the help of a magic potion with makes them super strong. It’s a comedy, certainly, and one of the most absurd books I’ve ever read, and yet it is also hilarious and cute. If you haven’t read this series and you like slap-stick comedy, I highly recommend it.
The Ballad of the White Horse by G.K. Chesterton
Genre: Poetry, Historical Fiction
Anything by Chesterton is great, in my opinion, but this happens to be the first book I ever read by him. Formatted as beautiful poetry, this is an epic poem, and tells the tale of King Alfred’s battle against the Danes in 878. I’m not a massive fan of poetry, but this is by far the best epic poem I have ever read. The rhyming, the alliteration, and the vivid imagery are all so breathtaking! While this is historical fiction, is does draw from the real life historical battle as well, which makes the story feel even lusher.
The Castle Corona by Sharon Creech
Genre: Children, Fantasy, Fairy Tale
When I first discovered this at the library as a child, I found myself in love with both the adorable story and the illustrations. The story follows two orphans who live outside the medieval castle of Corona, who go to work in the castle and get embroiled with the rather eccentric royal family. It is told very similar to a fairy tale, and I still go back to my copy of this book just to read my favorite parts. If you like fairytales and humorous fantasy, this book is certainly for you. It’s one of the few books that I like just as well as an adult as I did as a child.
Deryni Rising (The Chronicles of Deryni #1) by Katherine Kurtz
Genre: Classic fantasy, high fantasy
Katherine Kurtz is one of the most famous classic fantasy authors, and though I don’t read that much fantasy, this book is one of my favorites. I actually never continued with this series, as I tried to read the second book and didn’t like it. But this book is just as good a stand-alone read as it is the beginning of a series. It follows Prince Kelson as he tries to ascend the throne after his father is mysteriously murdered, with the help of his father’s advisor, Alaric Morgan. It is such a great book, and rather short too, so it makes for a quick read.
Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle #1) by Christopher Paolini
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
I remember reading this book right before the sequel came out, and I absolutely fell in love with it. It’s about a young man, Eragon, who lives in a fantasy world where dragons have been wiped out. He finds a dragon egg, which hatches for him and together he and his dragon Saphira embark on an adventure. The 2006 movie sucked, but I loved the first book. I tried reading the sequel before DNFing it 50 pages in (I may go back to it eventually). But the first book is so much fun!
First They Killed My Father (Daughter of Cambodia #1) by Loung Ung
Genre: Nonfiction, Autobiography
This book is written by a woman who survived the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Both her parents as well as two of her siblings died, but she and several of her other siblings survived. It’s an amazing book, but also quite serious. I read the sequel as well, called Lucky Child: A Daughter of Cambodia Reunites with the Sister She Left Behind. While I enjoyed it, this book is definitely better, especially as it covers such serious concepts from the perspective of a child. There was also a documentary made of this book, but I haven’t watched it.
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
Genre: Fantasy, Theology
If you want to get into C.S. Lewis’s more adult books (outside of Chronicles of Narnia), this is the book I recommend to start with. It’s a fantasy book following a man who has died, as he journeys through the afterlife and observes those around him. It’s fantasy combined with theology and philosophy, and makes for a rather amusing and sobering read. It’s also less than two hundred pages, making it a pretty quick read as well (though I have noticed most of Lewis’s books tend to be shorter).
Hour of the Horde by Gordon R. Dickson
Genre: Science Fiction
I found this book while scavenging through my father’s old collection of science fiction. I don’t read a lot of science fiction, but this one surprised me by just how good it was. It follows Miles Zander, a man from earth chosen to join a fleet of humans and aliens alike to go hold off a horde of space travelers who consume every planet in their wake (of which Earth is next). It’s a rather simplistic plot, but for me it was all the characters who Miles meets on his ship that I loved so much. It makes me want to try to read more old sci-fi books.
I Married a Korean by Agnes Davis Kim
This book is probably the most underrated book on my list, with only six ratings on Goodreads. It follow Agnes Davis Kim, a woman who, while in university met and fell in love with a Korean man. They travel back to Korea, where they marry during a tumultuous time in Korean history. Not only is the book filled with the author’s sketches of her life in Korea, but the book is also filled with lush details about everyday customs and life of Koreans (like how Koreans did their laundry). It’s such an amazing book, though it might be hard to get a copy of it.
Jane and the Unpleasantness of Scargrave Manor (Jane Austen Mysteries #1) by Stephanie Barron
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction
This series follows Jane Austen’s life as she solves baffling murders. I loved this book, as well as many following it, though the series definitely did get less interesting as it continued. But it is one of the best cozy historical mysteries I have read, blending fiction and history perfectly. Just the detailed language reminiscent of one of Jane Austen’s novels makes it a must read for any Austen fan. It’s also underrated, I think, alongside so many more popular historical mystery series, contains so much better characters than your average cozy mystery.
Killing the Rising Sun: How America Vanquished World War II Japan by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard
Genre: Nonfiction, Historical
I love reading about World War II history, and I’ve read pretty much every book in the Killing of Historical Figures Series. But this one is my personal favorite. It tells the narrated story of America’s final days of the war with Japan. It’s a serious book, and so interesting. Plus, apparently I haven’t read that many books that begin with K. Who would have guessed? Saying that, a lot of the scenes are highly fictionalized, which bothered me slightly, since there is no way we know of the actual dialogue during certain moments of the war.
The Lilies of the Field by William E. Barrett
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian
This is one of the sweetest books I have ever read. Some might be familiar with the movie version starring Sidney Poitier (for which he won an Oscar) from 1963. The story follows a poor Black handyman who stops by a farm owned by a group of Catholic nuns, who just happen to be praying for someone to help build them a church. What follows is a heartwarming story of a troubled man building a church in the desert. It’s also only a little over one hundred pages, so it’s a quick read as well.
The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot (The Three Investigators #2) by Robert Arthur
Genre: Children’s, Mystery
The reason this is the second book of the series is because it is the only one which I have read, and not due to lack of trying. I have searched everywhere to find more of these books (they are probably at a second-hand bookstore), but they aren’t at the library. This book series is similar to the Hard Boys, but I actually like it better because the three main characters are so much more interesting. And this mystery is probably one of my favorite children’s mysteries ever. I just wish I could find more of this series!
Genre: Children’s, Fantasy
Surprisingly, I have read very few books that begin with N. Anyway, I watched the movie before reading the book and while the movie is nice and happy, the book is actually more of a cautionary tale of how power corrupts. It’s also a quick, light read. Most people seem to have read this book, but if you haven’t heard of it, it tells the story of Bastian, a modern day boy who finds an old book and begins reading it, only to realize he has become part of the story itself. It’s an interesting book, and not as light and happy as the movie would have you believe. It’s a book I never liked as a child, but not that I am an adult, I can really appreciate its messages.
One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey
Genre: Picture book, Children’s
As a young child, this was one of the first books I ever read. It’s about Sal, a little girl from Maine, who is going to the beach with her father and baby sister, when she realizes her tooth is loose. It’s an adorable story, and one whose pictures I used to love even before I could read the words. I probably still have a copy of this book down in my basement, but I haven’t read it in years.
A Posse of Princesses by Sherwood Smith
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Sherwood Smith was one of my favorite YA authors when I was a teenager. This book as well as The Trouble With Kings were my favorite books to read and read again. This particular book follows Rhis, a princess of a small kingdom, who journeys with many other princesses to the coming-of-age party for a prince. When one of the princesses is kidnapped, the rest must go to rescue her, pursued by all the princes. It’s a story that tells of both friendship and romance alike, and it’s both a bit hilarious and fun to read.
The Quest for Shakespeare by Joseph Pierce
Genre: Nonfiction, Christian
So this book was very interesting. It theorizes Shakespeare’s religious beliefs by examining both his life and the content/themes in his plays. Pearce theorizing (and other historians have as well) that Shakespeare was secretly Catholic. Remember, Shakespeare lived during the Elizabethan Era, where anyone who was not Protestant (and especially Catholic) was persecuted and often not allowed to hold any type of job. It’s a fascinating book, and one of the few Q books I’ve read that I really enjoyed.
Red Land, Black Land: Daily Life in Ancient Egypt by Barbara Mertz
Genre: Nonfiction, historical
Most people probably are more familiar with Barbara Mertz under her pseudonym Elizabeth Peters, where she wrote the Amelia Peabody series. But in real like, she was also a historian of Ancient Egypt and she wrote two non-fiction books on that topic, one of which is this one. It’s a great book, because I think a lot of books on Ancient Egypt focus on the lives of the elite, whereas this book follows the lives of the average people. It’s also got some great pictures inside which illustrate Mertz’s points. If you are interested in Ancient Egypt, I highly recommend this book.
The Shadow of the Bear (A Fairy Tale Retold #1) by Regina Doman
Genre: Fairytale Retellings, Christian, Romance
I usually dislike fairytale, retellings, because they are usually pretty bad. But with this series, especially this first book, I make an exception. The book follows teen sisters Rose and Blanche (Rose Red and Snow White), as a secretive young man called Bear arrives on their doorstep. Regina Doman is a Christian author, and one of my favorites because none of her books feel preachy. And, if you love fairytales, you should definitely check this series out.
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne
Genre: Classic, Science Fiction, Steampunk
I loved this book in high school, and have read it several times since. It follows Dr. Aronnex on a trip to discover a sea monster, only to find the vengeful Captain Nemo and his submarine the Nautilus instead. It’s such a fun classic! I only wish that I could read French in order to read it in its original language. But, for now, I must be content with reading the multiple translated versions of this book that I own.
A Useful Woman (Rosalind Thorne Mysteries #1) by Darcie Wilde
Genre: Historical, Mystery
I completely forgot about this book until I was scrolling through Goodreads and saw it under U books I’d read. This book follows Rosalind Thorne, a penniless young woman who manages the affairs of some of the powerful women in London at the turn of the 19th century (so Regency era). Of course, she stumbles onto a murder and must solve it. I remember really enjoying it when it first came out, but for some reason I haven’t kept up with the series. I really should, since I did enjoy reading this first book.
Vampire Stories by Arthur Conan Doyle
Genre: Short Stories, Horror, Classics
Doyle is probably most famous for creating Sherlock Holmes, the great Victorian detective. But did you also know he wrote a massive amount of short stories not connected to Holmes at all? Well, this is a collection of all his horror stories revolving around vampires. If you are a fan of Bram Stocker’s Dracula, I highly recommend this book. Some of the stories are truly chilling and I don’t think there was one in this collection that I did not like.
Writings from Ancient Egypt edited by Toby Wilkinson
Genre: Nonfiction, Classics, Historical
I’ve read a lot of books on ancient Egyptian writing, but none that I liked more than these translations. Wilkinson takes many of the ancient writings of Egypt (from tomb inscriptions to war narrations to even religious songs) and translates it in this great collection. It definitely took me a few weeks to go through, just because of how dense with information this book is, but it is worth the time if you are interested in understanding ancient cultures.
xxxHolic, Vol. 1 by Clamp
Genre: Manga, Fantasy
Can you believe that this is the only series I’ve ever read which starts with an X? Gosh, it’s lucky I read this Manga or I would have to skip over X. Anyway, there was a phase in my life (back in high school), when I was really into Japanese comics. And no creators did I enjoy more than Clamp, a group of Japanese women who have done various series (Magic Knight Rayearth and Wish, to name a few). The one thing I like about their series is that usually they are relatively short (twenty books or less). So many Manga series go on forever! Anyway, this series follows a young man who sees ghosts and a witch who offers to help him. It’s a really interesting series, which is 19 total books.
Yellow River Odyssey by Bill Porter
Genre: Nonfiction, travel
Bill Porter is probably most famous for his English translations of many great Chinese classics. But this book happens to be one of my favorites by him. It follows his journey up the Yellow River in China from it’s mouth high in the mountains and then through nine provinces, examining the culture and history as he goes. It’s a beautiful book to read and so informative. If you are interested in world travel, I highly recommend this book!
The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman
Genre: Nonfiction, historical
Again, this is the only book beginning with Z which I actually enjoyed, though I honestly find this book to be equally fiction as nonfiction. For example, there is dialogue taken from the story which the author could not have known. However, it’s a beautifully written book, though a bit dense and slow-moving for the most part. But it tells of a very horrifying time in Polish history during World War II. There is also a movie, which I watched and did enjoy, but I still say the book is better.
Wow, this took me a total of six hours to write, both with research and doing my mini-reviews. But it’s fun to look back on some of the books I really liked that I haven’t mentioned on my blog. Next Saturday, I’ll be putting out a similar blog post, though this one will be the opposite of the ABC books I hated! So look forward to that!
Have you read any of these books? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more madness and, as always,
Best wishes in your life full of adventure,