I took a look at my bookshelf the other day, and apart from realizing that I need a second (and possibly third) shelf, I specifically looked at the top row on my bookshelf, where for years now the "best books ever" have rested. These range from Harry Potter, to my favorite Jodi Picoult books, to The Diviners by Libba Bray, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson, and Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. Recent additions are Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry, If I Lie by Corrine Jackson, and Send Me A Sign by Tiffany Schmidt. When my copy of The Archived by Victoria Schwab arrives, it will earn a place there, too.
The "top row."
What's the common denominator? These books are all there because they made me FEEL. And whether that meant grinning at a particularly awesome place, or crying my eyes out multiple times, or sighing happily when the boy and the girl finally kissed, I realized that my favorite books, the books I CHERISH, are the ones - regardless of genre - that filled my heart, or tore it to pieces, then put it back together.
I'm addicted to the FEELS. I read dystopian to feel my heart race, paranormal to imagine "what if...", fantasy to GO SOMEWHERE, romance to swoon, thriller/horror to be scared, contemporary to think, and cry. Each genre brings me something different - a high or a low, but the truth is, I'm at my most emotionally satisfied when I'm wrung out from everything this book or that made me feel...when I can't contemplate starting a new book until I've recovered from the emotional hangover the one I just finished left me with.
Me during one of those "grinning/squeeing" moments I so treasure.
Sometimes I read just for fun. Sophia Kinsella's novels always make me giggle, for example, but there isn't a lot of character growth, or anything going on underneath the surface plot - and that's okay. Fun books are my break from a heart stuffed full of emotion. If I always read the emotional books, I'd be like Dean Winchester around a Magic Fingers bed...because when I love something, I tend to want to get my hands on ALL of it that I can.
But in all seriousness, I remember, and will re-read books like Hemlock, Before I Fall, and Tempest, because, in some small way, they each changed me. They made me think. They made me cry. They made me look at my life. They leave me curled up in the fetal position. And on some level, I crave that emotional catharsis.
Discuss amongst yourselves! Do you love emotional books, or do you prefer chick-lit or more fluffier novels? Do you love being heart-broken or squee'ing during books? What are some that would be on YOUR "top row?"