Books chosen for their staying power. Read any of these and you may think about them for weeks, months or even years afterwards.

The TOP TEN BOOKS include non-fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and mystery genres. There is even the first book of a private detective series for casual readers who merely want pure entertainment.


The Goldfinch

Classification: Adult contemporary fiction, literature, art history. Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

by Donna Tartt (born December 23, 1963 in Greenwood, Mississippi)

The Goldfinch refers to an actual Fabritius painting of a goldfinch chained to a perch, which is perhaps a metaphor for the life of the main character.

This painting is displayed in a room of the Metropolitan Museum of Art when 13 year old Theo Decker miraculously survives a terrorist attack and explosion that kills his mother and many others. Somehow Theo escapes with this painting after encounters with the dying and the injured and the incident leaves an indelible mark on his life. He keeps the painting but is haunted by guilt because he kept it.

Theo lives with well-off friends for a while where he feels like an outsider but then is whisked away to Las Vegas to live with an indifferent father. There he bonds with another young social outcast with unsavory Eastern European connections who helps him survive the angst of his teenage years. He ends up back in New York to work in the antiques industry and reunites with an injured young girl he saw during the explosion.

Throughout this time he is often worried that he will be caught with the painting or that someone will find out he has it in his possession.

Many people have compared this book to a Dickens novel due to the tragedies and endless coincidences that are piled on Theo as his life unfolds. There are mysteries and suspense as well as excursions into the world of art history and antique dealers in this finely crafted novel. It is worth the time to savor fine literature sprinkled with unforgettable characters.

Donna Tartt is also known for writing The Secret History and The Little Friends.