All Time: Contemporary Books

All time: unsurpassed up to the present time; matchless; unparalleled.

somewhere southern all time: exceptional in Rebecca’s opinion, having made an indelible mark in Rebecca’s memory or life, appeals irrationally to Rebecca’s personal taste or whims.

All that is to say these “all time” lists are collections of books, albums, meals, etcetera that I have actually read, absorbed, eaten, etcetera. The lists are not based solely on quality, critical opinion, or general consensus. The gems appearing on the lists are my favorites, and they made the cut for reasons that may make sense only to me.

somewhere southern all time contemporary books:

1. She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb

I’m not sure how old I was at the time I first read this book. Too young, I think. Probably eleven or twelve. From that first reading, I was completely engrossed in the story, and it set the stage for my love of books that let me inside the life, pain, and journey of characters.

2. In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

Pollan’s book has been an impetus for change in the entire framework of my food-related thoughts. Since early adolescence, I’ve been obsessed with health and food, for mostly wrong reasons, and his book was the extra perspective I needed to finally change the way I approach food and eating. Everyone should read this book.

3. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Epic and multi-facted. Set mostly in Africa. It’s too good. What really marks it in my mind is how Kingsolver seamlessly interlaces so many elements. There’s passion, family dynamics, international politics, all presented through Kingsolver’s masterful storytelling. The characters draw me in, and the politics and cultural issues challenge me, which is precisely what I like a book to accomplish.

4. Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Sometimes you get too comfortable with your beliefs. You can spout them off, but they’ve been around so long you forget how tremendously they should shape your daily life. If you’re a Christian, Chan’s book will give you a refreshing shake and hopefully a new, motivated approach. If you’re not a Christian, Chan’s book will give you a look inside authentic faith, which is first and foremost about showing love through our actions. Crazy Love played a big part in helping me rekindle some important commitments in my life.

5. One Day by David Nicholls

No book has ever made me fill an empty, quiet room with uncontrollable laughter quite like this one. At one point, it went on for approximately five consecutive pages. Strange, but you know something is truly hilarious when you laugh raucously without the social influence of others. Aside from the humor, Nicholls creates his characters authentically (you’ll hate yourself for loving the male lead) and pinpoints many youthful truths in an endlessly entertaining style.

As soon I hit “publish,” I’m going to cringe thinking of all the books I could add to this list but such is the nature of list-making. I’m pretty sure I can get over it, though; Grey’s Anatomy is coming on.


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