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March Madness: Best book ever

Jenn has been reviewing books for over a decade, the last four years at Jenn's Bookshelves. She's an strong supporter of independent bookstores; her second home is One More Page Books in Arlington, VA where she moderates the monthly stor...

Let the voting begin!

March Madness isn't solely for basketball fans! Jennifer Lawrence has polled hundreds of avid readers, posing the question: What is your all-time favorite book? The responses are below. Now it is your turn. Help decide which book is the best book ever!

Using a very scientific social media poll, the sweet 16 titles (those most mentioned) have been determined. These 16 books, in brackets of four books each, will go head-to-head, narrowing the pool down to the Final Four... you get the drift.

As you can see, the list below contains quite the varied group of books. Books have been broken up into four categories/brackets consisting of four books each. After this round, the Final Four Books Ever will be announced. It is up to you to determine which books will prevail.

The sweet 16 are...

Modern classics

Modern classics Book covers

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

Things change when, during a Little League baseball game, the mother of one player is killed by a foul ball from another player — the young Owen Meany, a dwarfish boy with an unusual voice. Owen is certain he is God's instrument, destined to be martyred.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

A group of seemingly different women join forces to write a tell-all book about what it's like to be a black maid in the South. This book has potential to change their lives and the small town in which they all live, forever.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Set in WWII Germany, Liesel is a young foster girl living outside of Munich. She survives by stealing from others. She learns to read with the help of her foster father and discovers the healing power of books.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

1950s Barcelona: Daniel Sempere, the 10-year-old son of a widowed bookstore owner discovers a novel, The Shadow of the Wind by Julián Carax in a sanctuary for books. He learns of a disfigured man, burning every copy of Carax's book that he can find. As he grows older, he becomes obsessed with investigating the mysteries of Carax's life — a life that is remarkably parallel to his own.

The children are our future

Children are our future covers

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as child soldiers in order to fight in a battle against aliens that has been raging on for a century. Ender Wiggin is one of these child soldiers. He's a pure genius and wins every battle he enters. But is this enough to protect Earth from destruction?

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

All that remains of what was known as the United States is the nation of Panem — Capitol surrounded by 12 Districts. The Capitol keeps the Districts in line by forcing them to each send up one boy and one girl to fight in the Hunger Games, a video-cast fight to the death. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen unwittingly becomes a contestant. Used to fighting for her own survival, she must learn from her teammate, Peeta, that it is still imperative to have a bit of humanity, despite being surrounded by death and despair.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter, an orphan raised by his unloving aunt and uncle, has no clue of his true identity. All of his young life has been spent living under a staircase. He soon discovers he is a wizard, and is carted off to attend Hogwarts, a school for wizards. It doesn't take long before Harry becomes immersed in this magical world and his true destiny, his birthright, is revealed.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Four children are sent off to the country to live with a wealthy, eccentric professor, after London is bombed. During a game of hide-and-seek one of the children, Lucy, discovers a wardrobe. When she opens the doors, she reveals the snowy land of Narnia. Narnia is full of mythical creatures and talking animals... and an evil White Witch. When Edmund is abducted, the remaining siblings must embark upon a true battle against evil in order to save Edmund and the land of Narnia itself.

Well-loved classics

Well-loved classics book covers

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

The story of a poor orphan girl who overcomes tremendous barriers, including cruelty, starvation and loneliness, in order to obtain independence. Upon entering a fierce romance, she must decide which is more important — love or independence.

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

In an unrelenting saga of man versus beast, an aged Cuban fisherman goes up against his nemesis — an elusive marlin.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

A classic novel about racism and the loss of innocence in a small Southern town. One of the most frequently challenged books in the last half-century.

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Anne Elliot is a grown woman in her late 20s and no longer in her prime. She had a chance at love, several years ago. She was smitten with the handsome Frederick Wentworth. Unfortunately, due to Wentworth's financial status, the two were not permitted to wed. Years later, the two are reunited. Wentworth is now a captain and his financial wealth has increased. Still angry at Anne for rejecting him, both Anne and Wentworth must see through the veils that have been created to the genuine love that exists for them both.

Exhilarating epics

Epic Books covers

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

A symbolic retelling of the biblical story of Cain and Abel, set in California's Salinas Valley. Spanning the American Civil War and World War I, the conflicts of two sets of brothers are portrayed — a true depiction of good versus evil.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Set in the Civil War South, a story depicting the devastation of war, the power of survival and of rehabilitation surrounding the life of a materialistic Southern belle, Scarlett O'Hara.

A Good American by Alex George

A multi-generational story of a German family simply trying to live the dream: finding a home, establishing a family, in America.

The Stand by Stephen King

A man escapes a biological testing facility, spreading a mutated flu that will wipe out the nation within a few weeks. The survivors, a meager 1 percent of the population, find themselves part of a battle between good and evil — a battle that will determine the outcome, and the survival of the entire planet.


Thanks for voting! Be sure to come back later to see which books have made it to the Final Four.

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