Whenever I think about this question I always feel like I should go for a "grown up" book like Pride & Prejudice or Moll Flanders or Persuasion, all of which I loved, but my heart always comes back to A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It's just such a lovely story and an amazing book.
And, no, it is not about an actual princess who wears pretty dresses and goes to parties. And yes, I'm still bitter about this 15 years later. (In our first English Lit lesson at college the teacher asked us all to name our favourite and least favourite books. I said that although I know it's a children's book I really like 'A Little Princess' and she went 'Ok. So does she wear dresses and go to parties and stuff?' and I was incensed. First of all that an English Lit teacher had never heard of this book, but also that she apparently thought so little of me that my favourite book would be something that a five year old reads. I mean, I know I said it was a children's book but that still covers a wide range of literature. The Harry Potter series are children's books. Little Women is a children's book. The Hobbit is a children's book. Why would you immediately assume that someone who's chosen to study English Literature would say that a book about a princess dressing up and going to parties is her favourite? Ugh.)
Wow, I wasn't expecting to rant about that today. But, like I said, I'm still bitter. And probably will be for the rest of my life.