It seems this question has been popping up a lot in my life over the past week. It all started Monday when my English professor assigned us with an essay to write about our life experiences and how they have shaped our views and biases regarding controversial issues. Immediately the wheels in my mind started turning, and I decided that it would be a brilliant idea to write about the books that I have read and how they have shaped me as a person. For those of you that don't know, I am an avid reader, and I truly believe that a good book changes who you are and how you view the world around you. Buzzing with excitement about my essay plan, I returned home Tuesday night to check what my Journalism discussion question for the week was. To my surprise the prompt was "Name Five Books That Have Changed Your Life". I then logged into my Facebook and found that my friend Andrea had tagged me in a status requesting that I name my top ten favorite books because, as she so eloquently put it, "our taste in literature often conveys a truer sense of who we are than the projections we choose to display." So without further ado, here (in no particular order) are some of the books that I feel have shaped me as a human being. Keep in mind that this is only a short list, and choosing which books to put on here really was like choosing between my children.
1. The Book Thief- Marcus Zusak
It is hard to capture with my own words the beauty and profoundness of this book. Narrated by Death, the images portrayed in this novel of friendship, love, and loss in Nazi Germany are wonderfully vivid and horrifically tragic. I laughed, I cried, sometimes at the same time, as Zusak's brilliant imagery opened my eyes to the power of a child's love and the resilience of individuals when faced with tragedy that I cannot even begin to comprehend.
2. Perks of Being a Wallflower- Stephen Chobsky
Since the book was released as a movie I will be the first to admit that it has become highly overrated (If I see one more tumblr post of the night sky covered in the words "we are infinite" I might actually kick a baby) However, when I read it in 10th grade it came as a revelation. I really identified with the main character, Charlie, and his experiences touched me in a way that I can't quite explain. This book was like my bible through my early years of high school, the wisdom within it helped me through some of my hardest days, and for that I will always be grateful.
3. The Giver- Lois Lowry
I read this book in 7th grade and it was the first school required reading book that I genuinely enjoyed. Reading about a dystopian society which eliminates all pain, choice, and human emotion was an eye opening experience that really changed the way that I view my own emotions.The choices that Jonas is forced to make throughout this book are inspiring and heartbreaking, and through him and the choices he made, I found a story that will stay with me for a very long time.
4. Room- Emma Donaguhe
This was one of those books that left me with a hole in my chest as I turned the last page, having been so deeply touched by the characters that I was unsure how to comprehend the fact that their story had come to an end. The entire story is told from the perspective of Jack, a just-turned five-year-old who is living in Room with his Ma. What Jack doesn't understand is that he and his mother are actually being held as captives in "Room", the only home he has ever known. The immense lengths that Ma goes to protect her son despite the horrors she is faced with and the immense bravery that Jack displays made this a story that sucked me into its own world and forced me to reconsider my own.
5. The Harry Potter Series - JK Rowling
Having started reading these books in first grade, I can honestly say that I cannot imagine a life for myself that didn't have them in it. These books shaped who I am as a human being. I have read and reread them countless times and every time I open one of them, I manage to find a new piece of magic within the pages. They showed me the meaning of friendship, family, loyalty, and most importantly, as cliche as it sounds, they gave me a home within their pages. I wish that I had the words to explain all that these books have done for me, but my own words fall short as I attempt to capture the massive impact that they have had on my life.
So there you have it, I hope you enjoyed reading about my favorite books, and I hope that this has inspired you to read a few of them. Hopefully they can do for you what they have done for me.