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reading month, reading, readers, books, book, i love to read, best books to read, read classics, the fault in our stars, john green, winter girls, ernest hemingwayDid you know March is National Reading Month? Of course, if you’re like me, every month is a “reading month!”

National Reading (Group) Month was established in 2007 by the Women’s National Book Association, which aims to “increase public awareness of the joy and value of shared reading, provide opportunities for individuals to join an existing reading group or start a new one, [and] to encourage libraries, bookstores, and organizations to host special reading group events.”

As writers, it’s practically a prerequisite that we love to read. You could even say it’s part of the job. And as the great Stephen King once said, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” That last part is subject to muse availability, of course.

One of the best ways to celebrate National Reading Month is to read, re-read, and share the books you love.

I tend to read a mix of different genres and writing styles, but the books that resonate with me the most are ones with lush language, unforgettable characters, vivid imagery, and a story that changes me somehow by the time I’m done reading.

Because I couldn’t pick just ten, the list below are my top eleven favorite (fiction) books of all time (in no particular order). I could spend hours and days reading and re-reading these books.

Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson – Gorgeous prose about an all-consuming affair between the narrator (who remains genderless) and a married woman.

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn – A stunning novel about the life of the Binewskis, a family of carnies born and bred with the purpose of being beautiful freaks.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – The compelling but tragic YA novel of a young love that blossoms between two cancer-stricken teens.

Asta in the Wings by Jan Elizabeth Watson – A dark but touching read told from the viewpoint of seven-year-old Asta, who has been kept hidden from society, along with her little brother, by a now-missing mother. (Similar to Room by Emma Donoghue)

Winter Girls by Laurie Halse Anderson – One of the most beautifully poetic fiction novels about the close but dark and deadly bond between two friends who compete to be the thinnest.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – A very dark, thrilling read about a marriage gone wrong and the two key players who play each other well…too well.

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant – Dinah, from the Book of Genesis, tells the story of her growth into womanhood—in more depth than the Bible gives—from her point of view.

She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb – A wonderful, funny, and heartbreaking read about Dolores, an overweight heroine, who goes on a wild ride of self-discovery and renewal as she blossoms from a girl to young woman.

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien – A beautiful novel about the various things carried by some very memorable US soldiers in Vietnam.

The Pact by Jodi Picoult  – A hauntingly heartbreaking novel about two families torn apart by a suicide pact.

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway – A simple but stark read about a Cuban fisherman and the lesson he learns as he chases a giant marlin out to sea.

Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think? If not, feel free to celebrate National Reading Month by sharing some of your favorite books of all time in the comments below.