Who and What: Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
I'll be honest. I love stories, but far far FAR more than stories or characters I love language. I especially love books that mix modern sorts of stories with language that comes from a much older time and fairy tales that know they're fairy tales. Because if you honestly lived in a fairy tale sort of world there are certain rules you would know. Never turn away old women asking for a night's shelter, never say thank you to fairies, kisses are the best way to break spells and that carrying a hunk of milky cheese around is a good idea when you might be meeting giants. This is one of those books that allows the characters to be aware of the rules.
Sophie is the oldest of three, and is well aware of the fact that destines her to be the least successful of her sisters. As such she is somewhat content to talk to the hats she makes in the hat shop she will one day inherit while her sisters go off to learn trades that will help them seek their fortunes. Only, she isn't all that happy with the lonesome task. One day fate intervenes in the form of a witch and a curse and sends her off on a journey that introduces her to the famous and feared wizard Howl.
There are morals to the story and briliant themes filling the pages, but they are not why it makes the list. Not at all.
Behold! The story you thought of when you saw the title!
Don't get me wrong, I adore this movie. Love love love. But it really only has the plot set up in common with the book. I'll not say the book is better than the movie. They are so very different and follow such different methods of story telling and contain such different themes that it's pretty hard to compare the two. I will say that if you enjoyed the film you are very likely to enjoy the book.
So if you like quirky, reluctant heroines, handsome wizards, talking fires and the things they get into, or even if you just want to see what on earth the differences might be, I highly recommend picking up both the book and the movie.