Quite simply, my favourite book. And as such it gets the honour of being the first book on my Booklikes shelf.
I first read this book when I was 14 years old and it was assigned to my English Literature class. My classmates all hated it, but I was completely blown away. So much so that while we were only supposed to read the first three chapters for discussion the next day, I went and read the entire thing.
From the the opening scene where Henchard gets drunk and sells his wife, I was completely captivated. I knew that his act would eventually come back to haunt him, but I was still hoping against hope that eventually things would turn around for him (yes, this was the first Hardy book I read. I soon learned that this never happens in his books).
I have re-read this book countless times. I still have my battered paperbook copy from my schooldays. And I still cry when I get to the part where Elizabeth Jane reads Henchard's will.
This book introduced me to Thomas Hardy, and I am forever grateful.