The Hunger Games by suzanne Collins - I know this book has become hugely popular, but before it was, my best friend lent me a copy and said, "You'll hate the writing, but the story is really interesting." It has since turned into one of my favourite books. Even though it is in first person present, which can feel a little awkward, and I loathe Katniss more than any MC I've ever read, I love this book. It's such a great book. For me, great books are all about story. If the story is incredible, the other things just don't matter. This book has a kind of Lord of the Flies plus Battle Royale feel that brings its own uniqueness, which I love.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K Rowling - What list wouldn't be complete without Harry Potter? My younger sister was the one to get me into the series. She basically grew up on them. When the first movie came out, I remember watching the scene where Harry lives under the stairs and his cousin runs down them and jumps on them. I thought, "What the heck is this? This is AMAZING." I know it's kind of messed up, but after that, I read the books. To this day, I think Prisoner of Azkaban is my favourite.
The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong - This book came to me randomly one day when the publisher was letting people read them for free online from their website. Once I started reading it, I didn't stop. I sat in front of my computer for five or six hours to read this book, it was that good. It was dark and interesting and the characters were great. I am always interested in stories that blend reality with the paranormal and try to convince readers (or the main character) that they are just crazy and it's not real. Kelley Armstrong is a wonderful story teller. After I finished the book, I had to go out and buy it and the second book, then wait months for the third one to come out.
The Stand by Stephen King - This is probably the second Stephen King book I read as a child (It was the first). Yes, I said "as a child." Sure, I read Goosebumps (LOVE!) and Sweet Valley High or Babysitters Club (LOL), but I mostly read whatever my dad was reading. It was usually Stephen King or Dean Koontz. But to this day, The Stand is my go to reference for successful and interesting post-apocalyptic fiction. This may even be reflected in my Dark Ascension series. The Stand has everything: Action, Love, Survival, Good vs. Evil. It's just an overall awesome book about the struggle between good and evil and survival.
Fablehaven by Brandon Mull - This book was a case where I bought the book because of its cover. I mean, the story sounded interesting too, but it was the cover that made me want this book. The illustration is just so cool! But in the end, the book turned out to be something amazing. It had a slight Chronicles of Narnia feel to it and fairly accurate lore of mythical creatures. Fablehaven contributed to my realisation that I wanted to take writing seriously. It's great for any age too.
There were a few other books that didn't quite make the top five but are definitely in my top 10. They include Everything's Eventual (specifically "1408" and "The Road Virus Heads North") by Stephen King, Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, and Inkheart by Cornelia Funke (which is one of the most beautiful books I've read that captured a love for books unlike any other), Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, and It by Stephen King.
[Reader Response]: What are some of your favourite or most influential books you've read.