For the classic literature fan:
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Dickens is always a commitment to get through, and I have started over half a dozen of his novels to stop a hundred pages in indefinitely. But I found this story engaging and interesting enough to bring me all the way to the end, with my heart attached to the narrative all the way through. It follows the life of young Pip, as he deals with the common obstacles of coming of age: responsibility, family, romance, friendship, money, and shame. So, while I highly recommend it if you identify as a fan of Dickens or other Victorian writers, I recommend it with a bit of trepidation to those who would not.
For the appreciative of absurd and hilarious narratives:
The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde
A crime drama like you have never read before, it is hilarious, absurd, and quite clever. Although it is part of Fforde’s “Nursery Crimes” series this could hardly be more for children. The humor and story telling is witty and the mystery of the story will keep you guessing. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a fun summer read.
(It is worth noting, that almost every single thing ever written by Jasper Fforde is worth reading.)
For the fan of dark fairy tales:
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
This is basically a fairytale for adults, complete with monsters and inexplicable events intruding on the mundane routine of life. It has some darker moments, but I found it absolutely gripping and wonderful to read. I recommend it to readers who are comfortable with the alarming and inexplicable.
For the reader of non-fiction:
David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
Gladwell provides fascinating examples of Davids and Goliaths as to the point of making us examine how we judge our own advantages and disadvantages. Although it is a secular book, I found connections to my spiritual life and enjoyed every moment. It is a great read for anyone, really.
For the lover of trivia:
The Book of General Ignorance by John Lloyd
Not only is this book ideal if you love trivia, but also if you don’t enjoy reading for long periods of time. The short sections provide fascinating information presented in oftentimes a hilarious way. By the end of the book you will have a lovely supply of small talk information and have a slightly better understanding of the world around us.
For the devotional reader:
The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis
This book represents for me the ideal marriage between entertaining fiction, and convicting theology. The words of these demons will surprise, convict, and amuse you as you are led to examine your life through the eyes of the devil. It is a great read for someone looking for a slightly unorthodox devotional.
For the short story reader:
40 Years Later: The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze by William Saroyan
The reflective edition has the joy of containing pieces from the author as a budding writer, and an experienced writer. His stories and reflections vary dramatically in tone and subject matter, but all capture the struggle to create and to live. His painting of American culture is equally beautiful and breathtaking.
For the imitator of accents:
You Say Potato by Ben Crystal and David Crystal
Written by the father/son duo, the book offers an interesting introduction into linguistics and accents. They focus on UK accents, but their greater commentary fascinates as well. The only downside is that you might find yourself trying on different accents with new fervor after having a read.
For the feminist fiction reader:
The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
By far the most interesting and intriguing re-interpretation of Ulysses that I have read, Atwood tells the epic story through the lens of Penelope. This novel changed the way that I understood the classic poem, and raised questions about contemporary issues facing women as well.
For the curious about gender, sexuality, and faith:
The End of Sexual Identity by Jenell Paris
Once I decided I wanted to delve into the the complexities of gender and sexuality, this was the first book I turned to. Paris carefully, but confidently, opens the discussion for this issue, and her own concerns about faith are prevalent and honest, without seeming overpowering or underwhelming.
For the collector of words:
Logodaedaly by E. Gilbert
Everything about this book is lovely: the binding, the design, the content. Gilbert’s love for language pours out of the pages as she resurrects forgotten words and crafts short stories around each one. The book is pure delight for anyone who appreciates obscure words and delightful anecdotes.