Posted by: Jeanie F | August 31, 2018

Picking Favorites


Has one of your kids ever asked you, “Which of us do you love best?” Impossible question to answer, when you love them all, all of the time (except that time when Sherry put the tack in front of Everett’s chair because he cut the hair off her favorite doll, and you had to rush him to the ER for a tetanus shot . . ).  Every year I try to cull through my posts and choose the book that is my “favorite,” a tough job because I love so many, even the ones that don’t always meet all of my standards. Most books, even the greatest, often come with a flaw or two. We can overlook them when, for the most part, the writing is good, the plot engaging, the characters well-drawn, and we close the covers after the final page with a sense of satisfaction.

I realized recently that I have kept a list of my “favorite” books for many years (you can find the list here). When I went back to look it over, I was surprised to find that I still agreed with most (although not all) of the choices I made for my favorite book each year. I had stopped after 2014 (maybe because, at the time, I felt like nothing could ever be better than We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, which I so loved), so I decided it’s time to update.

Here are the 2015 – 2017 winners, linked to the full review:

2015: Child of God by Cormac McCarthy

What I said about it:

Cormac McCarthy is never what you would call a pleasant or enjoyable read. If you decide to read a McCarthy novel you know you are about to take a walk on the dark side of life. Child of God, McCarthy’s third novel, is a dark tale: shocking, disturbing, revolting. It is also lyrical, poetic, humorous (okay, sick humor, but still . . .). When you read McCarthy you are going to encounter some of the most beautiful writing you’ve ever read, telling you one of the most horrific stories you have ever heard.

I know this doesn’t sound like a stellar endorsement, and I wouldn’t recommend it for the squeamish, but it IS amazing, engrossing, and incredibly well written.

2016: Plainsong by Kent Haruf

What I said about it:

 It was such a joy to reread this wonderful book, to revisit the McPheron brothers and Victoria Roubideaux, to admire Maggie Jones strength and Tom Guthrie’s strong character. I almost literally devoured the book, so happy to be reading great writing about characters I loved treating each other with kindness and respect, coping with problems in human ways, trying again and again to get it right.

2017: A Tie!

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

What I said about The Underground Railroad:

Colson Whitehead, author of this disturbing novel, has done his homework, combing through the slave narratives collected by the Federal Writers’ Project in the 1930s for background information. He does not spare his readers the harsh truth.

What I said about Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine:

I’m writing this post on my iPad while on vacation in Maui, so forgive me if the formatting comes out a little weird and the review short, but I really couldn’t wait to tell you that you should read this book.

First of all, it is a great vacation book in that it is funny and quirky and light. But it is also much, much more than that. It is heartbreaking, human, and transformational.


  1. The only book that I haven’t read is Child of God. I really liked all of the others, but Eleanor Oliphant is probably my favorite of the others. Perhaps that’s just because it’s the book that I most recently read of your choices!

    • Eleanor Oliphant is probably my favorite because I read it in Hawaii! While I can’t exactly recommend Child of God because it IS a dark and disturbing book, if you feel up to a challenge it is also a powerhouse story.

      I’m in the market for some good books, if you have any recommendations. You and I usually like the same things.

      I’m currently reading Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, recommended by my friend Rosemary, also a great resource, and loving it. But it won’t last forever!

  2. Plainsong is so beautiful. You’ve made me want to read it again!

    • I know what you mean. I’ve read it twice!

  3. Great to see your top favorites. Sorry to say they were not mine, but I did see some of my faves on your older list and some I will add to my to read pile. Iis hard to choose a favorite with so many good ones out there.

    • On any given day I could come up with an entirely different list. Would undoubtedly add Where the Crawdads Sing to the list if I was making it today. Thanks for a great recommendation!

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