Hello friends! Today’s post was inspired by the rare, incredible feeling I get when I read a book and I immediately know I’ll cherish it – if not forever, at least for quite some time. 🥰 For me, these are more than five-star-reads: I can be quite lenient with those and give them out to books I have minor issues with. These instant favorites, on the other hand, are the books I’ll shout about to our readers, my friends, my mom, as well as books that I’m likely to gift to my loved ones.
Of course, I have more than ten all time favorite novels, but the ones I picked for this post are the ones that immediately gained that status. (For instance, the Psy-Changeling series is one of my all time favorite pieces of media, but it’s not on this list, because it took the series a few books to gain that status.) Some of these have been with me for years, while others I’ve only recently discovered. These books are special, at least to me, which is why it’s so strange that I’ve never dedicated a post to them on this blog. That, of course, changes today, so without further ado, let’s jump into this post!
The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune
Will I ever stop screaming about The House in the Cerulean Sea? Doubtful; you’ll just have to bear with me. The book follows Linus, a perfectly ordinary man, who is sent to evaluate an orphanage for magical children. This is a pretty typical job for Linus… only this time he is forced to spend a whole month with children that, quite frankly, scare the hell out of him. Gosh, have I already said how much I love this book? Because I do, so so so much! From Linus, through Arthur (the master of the orphanage), to the children, every single character in this novel is so precious to me. I loved seeing the bonds that have already existed between the characters as well as the ones that were just forming, and I keep going back to reread my favorite parts. The House in the Cerulean Sea became an instant favorite, as well as a book I managed to push at multiple people (+ there are a few friends I’m still working on, lmao.)
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo fully expecting to love the book – after all I’d seen nothing but praise for it in the blogosphere – but even so, it managed to surprise me just how great this book is. The novel follows aging Hollywood actress, Evelyn Hugo, as she recounts her life, including the relationship with the love of her life. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a much darker book than The House in the Cerulean Sea, but they are on the same level in my mind, as they had a similar impact on me. I laughed, I teared up, I was angry… I felt all the feels while reading this book, and I put it down knowing that it’s one I’ll gladly recommend to my friends and family. Since then, I’ve made quite a few people read it – and even gifted it to some, haha – and I’m so happy because every single one of them loved this book.
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
I was debating between The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go for this post, but ultimately, I think the former is a bigger favorite of mine; in any case, this goes to show what a bit favorite of mine Ishiguro is. I love his writing and the way he always transfers me into his novels and makes me feel everything the characters are felling. (All of his books are on my tbr, though I’ve only read these two by him so far.) The Remains of the Day is a historical fiction novel that follows a traditional English butler in two timelines – between the two world wars and after World War II. For a rather short novel, The Remains of the Day certainly packs a punch and again, it is a book I’ve recommended to many of my loved ones.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
I knew I’d probably enjoy Rebecca when I picked it up, but woah, I did not expect to be blown away by it the way I was. I read this back in 2018 when I was participating in the 24in48 Readathon and when was stuck in a reading slump. While my slump negatively impacted my enjoyment of multiple books at the time – and destroyed my desire to read completely – Rebecca was an exception. This is a slower-paced novel, but one that has an atmospheric quality and a tense tone that made me unable to put it down. In January, 2020 I went to watch a musical adaptation of Rebecca at the theater, which made me an even bigger fan of this story. (Actually, the title track “Rebecca” was my most listened to song on spotify last year.) Unfortunately, the musical never premiered in an English-speaking country, but if you ever have the chance to see it, I cannot recommend it enough.
Jade City by Fonda Lee
So far what this list is proving is that I frequently listen to book bloggers’ recommendations and they work well for me, because Jade City is yet another novel I picked up because of book bloggers’ praise. (So far, the only exception was The Remains of the Day – I read that for uni.) In any case, this is a high fantasy that follows two rival crime groups who are battling for the control over their country. I love how well-developed and morally grey the characters are in this series and how Fonda Lee is not afraid to break the readers’ hearts; there was a character death in Jade City that I’m still mourning. 😭 I’m so excited for the final addition to the trilogy, especially because Sabrina and I agreed to reread the first two books before jumping into that.
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
Anxious People is the latest addition to this list, but nonetheless it’s a book I know will remain part of my all time favorite list for years and years. While I’ve enjoyed all of Backman’s novels, by far my favorite by him is Anxious People. It’s as if Backman has collected all the best elements from his other books and included them here. While we have a big-ish cast of characters, they are all made to feel like real people; they are imperfect and not without faults, which is exactly what makes them humans. I loved how, by the end, I managed to care for even those that really put me off at the beginning. Besides this, I’m always in awe of Backman’s ability to write the relationship between the characters, and he did this especially brilliantly here. I cannot recommend Anxious People enough, and also, small suggestion: if you can, listen to the audiobook! It has one of the best narrators I’ve ever encountered.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
I have a love/hate relationship with Neil Gaiman’s books – some of them work wonderfully for me, while others end up being massively disappointing. In 2015, Coraline was my first book by him, and the one that remains the most memorable to me to this day. Coraline and her parents move into a new house, which might seem like an exciting thing at first, but the house proves to be quite dull and lonely after a while. So when Coraline finds a tiny door leading into an alternate universe of sorts – with a seemingly better version of her life – she grabs onto it with both hands. But things aren’t always what they seem, and this other world and it’s inhabitants might be spookier than Coraline could have ever imagined. Even though this is a middle grade novel, it does get pretty dark and creepy at times, which is obviously something I adored.
The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher
The Twisted Ones was easily one of my favorite books of 2020, and I’m absolutely planning on writing a mini review for this book alongside Kingfisher’s more recent horror novel, The Hollow Places. But until then – The Twisted Ones follows a young woman on a mission to clean out her deceased grandmother’s house before it can be sold. While there, however, she discovers her step-grandfather’s journal that warns her of unnatural and horrifying creatures living in the woods next to the house. What first seems like an elderly man’s rambling soon turns real as our heroine starts having strange experiences. I loved how atmospheric and darkly frightening this book was and how it sucked me in and didn’t let me go until the very end. It immediately jumped onto my all time favorites shelf.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
While I don’t think I post tons of mystery-thriller content, some of you might be aware that I love those genres. I’m not 10000% sure if Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl was my first adult mystery-thriller (likely not), but it is the book I credit with starting me on the path of devouring more and more books from this genre. I loved how twisted and complex the plot and the characters were, and while I think the movie was okay, it certainly didn’t to justice to the book. My absolute favorite thing about Gone Girl is that it doesn’t get ruined if you know some of its twists – I knew what is probably the biggest twist in the novel, and yet, I enjoyed the heck out of reading this book. I need to reread this, because it’d be fun – and scary because what if it disappoints – to see if it’s still up to my taste.
The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin
I read The Fifth Season in 2019 and The Obelisk Gate in 2020, and I love both of those books so damn much, so I’m hoping to tackle the final novel this year. This is such an engaging, fascinating fantasy series, but how dense and detailed the world is means that I always feel the need to take a break from high fantasy after I finish one of these books. In any case, that is exactly what makes these books so special – the world is so complex and well-crafted, which makes this one of the best fantasy series I’ve ever read. Another great thing about the series is that the characters are incredible: they are interesting, well-developed and most of them are also morally gray, which is my favorite type of character. Anyone who enjoys denser fantasy worlds should give a chance to The Fifth Season.
Isn’t it a great feeling when you read a book and immediately know that it’ll stand the test of time and remain a favorite for a while? What are some of your instant favorites? Have you read any of mine?