Four Books I Just Added to My All-Time Favorites List

March 16, 2017 Book Lists 33

Four Books I Just Added to My All-time favorites list
Ever since I started Sarah’s Book Shelves, I’ve had a list of my All-Time Favorite Books sitting on my menu bar (under Book Lists). I haven’t added a single new book to this list since I started blogging. Or, removed one. But, in theory, I do believe that my All-Time Favorites list can and should evolve over time.

I’m the type of person that has to let a book sit with me for awhile before I truly know if it will be a lasting favorite. With some books, I love them when I read them, but they eventually fade from memory. With others, I continue to think about them and recommend them to others long after I’ve read them.

It’s this second category of books that has a shot at making my All-Time Favorites list…eventually (the most recently read book on this list is Tiny Beautiful Things 8 months ago). The books I just added to my All-Time Favorites list have a couple of things in common:

  • Gorgeous and/or “yes, that’s exactly how it is” writing
  • Parts that bothered some people (The Dinner‘s slow start, My Sunshine Away‘s long Hurricane Katrina tangent, and The Wife‘s dreariness)…but totally worked for me
  • Books that I frequently recommend to others

Four Books I Just Added to My All-Time Favorites List


My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh (my review)
My Sunshine Away is a book that floored me with its gorgeous writing, endeared me to its nameless narrator, had me anxiously wondering who raped Lindy Simpson, and took me home with its teenager in the late 1990’s setting. It was one of my favorite books of 2015 and I’ve been recommending it like crazy since.

The Dinner by Herman Koch (my review)
I read this book 2 years ago and its still one of the books I recommend most to people looking for a juicy book club selection. Koch’s sometimes cringe-worthy writing style reads as refreshing to me and this novel has the perfect balance of scathing social commentary, discussable issues, and a perfectly pace plot. 

The Wife by Meg Wolitzer (my review)
Recently, I’ve had a fast growing love for short books that leave a huge impression. The Wife is the first book that comes to mind when I think about these types of books. And, it was the right book for me at the right time…addressing issues like the expectations of the role of the wife in society and balancing family and career in “yes, that’s exactly how it is” statement after “yes, that’s exactly how it is” statement.


Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
I was hugely hesitant about reading this book. Advice columns? Ugh. But, I hadn’t experienced Cheryl Strayed’s advice columns. This is a book I wish I’d had next to my bedside table in high school (ok, fine, college too) and I believe is the book to read when your life isn’t going exactly like you’s hoped.

PS – I did remove a couple books (Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult, The Gold Coast by Nelson DeMille, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand) from my All-Time Favorites list. They were favorites of mine at the time (and still get a fair amount of love from me), but have, like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, faded a bit from memory over time.

What books are on your all-time favorites list and when was the last time you bestowed a book with all-time favorite status?

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Four Books I Just Added to My All-Time Favorites List

33 Responses to “Four Books I Just Added to My All-Time Favorites List”

    • Sarah Dickinson

      Loved Everything I Never Told You! And please please try the Strayed. I resisted it for so long b/c of the advice columns thing and regret waiting.

  1. bermudaonion (Kathy)

    I don’t keep an all-time favorite list but agree that something like that has to be fluid. I haven’t read any of the books you’ve added but really want to read Tiny Beautiful Things.

  2. Susie | Novel Visits

    I always hate it when people ask me what my all-time favorite book is. It’s such an impossible question. The idea of a list is a much better idea.

    The only one on this list that I’ve read is The Diner and I definitely see why you’d add it your all-time list. I’ve seen you recommend the others before. I guess I need to get on that!

    • Sarah Dickinson

      It’s like asking a New Yorker their favorite NYC restaurant! The follow-up questions go like this: what kind of food?, what neighborhood?, casual or fancy?

  3. Rochelle

    I absolutely loved Tiny Beauty Things-it’s a book I recommend frequently, although I do get the side eye or weird looks when I tell them it’s a compilation of advice columns/self-help. But I loved that Sugar is no-nonsense and has the ability to cut through everything to see what the real issues are, and oh the writing is just beautiful. Loved this book to pieces.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      Can completely see how you’d get the side-eye! I was the one giving that side-eye forever. But, I adore her and her non-judgy style.

  4. Aj @ Read All The Things!

    I don’t keep a favorites list, but I have a feeling it would change a lot. Something that seems like a favorite right now might not be in a few months or years. It would be hard for a book to beat The Handmaid’s Tale as my all-time favorite. It was a case of “right book, right time” when I read that one.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      Loved Handmaid’s Tale also! And I agree some books are perfect for the time, but may not be as great later. A couple of the novels on this list I’ve re-read within the past few years and they held up.

  5. Michelle

    I would totally agree to My Sunshine Away and The Dinner. The former is the first book in forever that had me pausing to copy down sentences I wanted to remember. I thought the writing was brilliant. As for the Herman Koch, he became an auto-read after that one novel because I loved it so much.

    I still need to read the Strayed memoir. As for Meg Wolitzer, she is hit-or-miss with me. I skipped The Wife because of that.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      Agreed on Sunshine and Koch.

      And I tend to like Wolitzer, but have only read The Interestings and The Wife. I actually liked The Wife better than The Interestings…even though I still loved Interestings.

  6. Kathy @ Kathy Reads Fiction

    I loved My Sunshine Away, but it didn’t hit me as hard as it hit you. I’m having a hard time finding that all time book this year. I don’t think I’ve “really” had that book since A Little Life. Now, that’s a long time to go without an all out amazing all-time book hangover.

  7. Catherine

    Thought-provoking topic! I may have such a list on GR, but I haven’t looked at or edited it in a long time. And yet, I can think of a couple recent (last two years) reads that would probably fit. I think I’m too mentally lazy to focus on it.

    I’ve not heard of My Sunshine Away but am now going to head to library e-books. Damn you!

    • Sarah Dickinson

      Let me guess – A Gentleman in Moscow would go on yours?!

      I’m trying to decide if you’d like My Sunshine Away. There’s an awkward teenage boy narrator. It’s one of those books where there is a crime but it’s not the center of the story. More coming of age than whodunit.

  8. Tara

    I have never tried to tackle an all-time favorites list; I love that you allow yours to evolve, acknowledging that certain books have more meaning at certain times in our lives. I’m also thrilled that My Sunshine Away has made the list! I love that one, too.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      I’d love to see your list – at least as it stands now! Have a feeling it would bust up my TBR.

  9. Tanya Patrice

    ai love the idea to keep a list like this. I’m trying to think of recently read books that I’d add to mine, and probably Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead would make it.

  10. Donna @ OnDBookshelf

    I really liked My Sunshine Away and The Dinner, but probably not with the same enthusiasm as you. However, Nineteen Minutes is a definite on my all-time favorites list. I will never look at school bullies the same way again. I really need to read Sue Klebolt’s (sp?) memoir about her son, who was one of the Columbine school shooters. I think I would gain even more perspective.

  11. Lostinliterature108

    You are the reason I read My Sunshine Away and I’m sure you’ll remember me messaging you all my thoughts about it. The Katrina part didn’t bother me at all, though it did stand out as an obvious detour. I was far more enthralled with the replay of the Challenger Explosion and the effect it had on elementary students because I was so effected by that as a high school student.
    Read The Dinner as well, and, whoa.
    Haven’t read Tiny Beautiful Things, though I’m interested, and I’ll get to The Wife eventually, as I am trying to read all of Meg Wolitzer in order.
    Another great post!

  12. Beth F

    I can never figure out what my favorite book is. So yes for a changeable list. I’m not a Strayed fan … but I know I’m in the minority.

  13. Naomi MacKinnon

    Now you have me thinking what I’d put on my own list. A good idea for me to keep in mind (with all those other ideas I haven’t done anything with yet)!
    I still have My Sunshine Away on my list from when you raved about it 2015, and since I’ve read and loved the other 3 books on this list, it’s likely I’ll love that one too!
    Gone to check out the rest of your list…

  14. Diane

    I read and loved all your fiction favorites, the exception was The Wife, haven’t read it yet!

  15. Arianna

    LOVED My Sunshine Away!!! What an unexpected gem, huh??

    I also enjoyed The Dinner, and I realize it stuck with me quite a long time…I still recall how striking some of it was. Wow.

    I’ll have to add the Wolizter; I’ve never read anything besides The Interestings (which I thought was a bit over-hyped, but still very good).

    As always, thanks for your great insight into literature! 🙂

  16. sandy

    Here’s my all time favorite list. We share some similarities. Thanks for some new book recommendations too.
    My favorite books of all time

    Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
    In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
    The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
    The Dove Keepers by Alice Hoffman
    One Flew Over the Cukoos Nest by Ken Kesey
    Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
    Into the Wild by John Krakauer
    Under the Banner of Heaven by John Krakauer
    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    Life of Pi by Yann Martel
    Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon
    Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
    Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
    Great Small Things by Jodi Piccoult
    Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls by Mary Pipher
    Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit by Daniel Quinn
    Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
    Cutting for Stone by Abraham Varghese
    The Color Purple by Alice Walker
    The Onion Field by Joseph Wambaugh
    The World According to Garp by John Irving
    The Help by Kathryn Stockett
    The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

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