1. A Song of Ice and Fire (George R.R. Martin) – Sure, the series is exciting, but it was the characters that snagged me. Now I’m just sitting here with the rest of the world, waiting for The Winds of Winter to see what happens next in Westeros.
2. Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling) – I grew up with Harry, Ron and Hermione, and their world will stay with me forever. Corny, I know, but it’s the truth. Even beyond those three, Ms. Rowling created such memorable characters you can’t help but love them. Hagrid, Fred and George, Dobby, Dumbledore, Sirius…etc.
3. Tess of the d’Urbervilles (Thomas Hardy) – Oh holy crap. I could do nothing but respect Mr. Hardy’s incredible writing, but Tess…holy crap.
4. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen) – This one is a no-brainer.
5. Daughter of the Forest (Juliet Marillier) – I repeat: I sat reading this for five hours straight, unable to walk away. Sorcha’s struggles and courage carried this, making it almost unbearable (in a good way!) and yet compelling me forward.
6. Macbeth (William Shakespeare) – This counts as a book, right? And who is going to argue against Shakespeare?
7. Breathing (Rebecca Donovan) – Oh boy. I had issues with Ms. Donovan’s writing at times, but never with Emma. She was everything I didn’t know I was looking for!
8. Inkheart (Cornelia Funke) – Ah, so many colorful characters! Elinor, for one, and Gwin the marten, but Dustfinger the fire eater always steals the show. Always.
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon) – Jamie and Claire! ‘Nuff said!
10. Rebecca (Daphne du Maurier) – What’s so awesome about this one, the character that drives the story is dead before the story ever starts! It’s simply her memory that has such an influence on everyone else! And, ahem, I’ve had a crush on Maxim de Winter for ages…