I ❤ reading. I read books, mangas, and fanfics, and I re-read things I haven’t read in awhile. To give you an idea, since this January, I’ve read or re-read 111 books and mangas — this doesn’t even include the fanfics I read. Becca asked me to teach her my ways, but I don’t really have a “way”, haha! ^^; I simply read before I sleep, on the weekend, and in coffee shops. I make the time to read because it is something I really love to do, and there’s nothing better than reading a book that significantly impacts me in life-changing ways. And this post compiles my top significant books that have affected me deeply.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
This book started my love for reading. Until third grade, I actually hadn’t cared much for books, and I’d only read Archie comics. But one day, my third grade teacher read to us Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, and I was instantly hooked on reading since. Dahl’s writing style, plot, characters, and wordplay captivated me. I realised then that books are awesome, and it made my imagination go wild! This book led me to like Dahl’s other works like Matilda, The Witches, and The BFG.
The Diary of a Young Girl
Hoo boy — this book, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, really opened up a can of worms for me. This book encouraged me to start keeping my own diaries, which eventually led to blogging. Granted none of my diaries were as eloquent as Frank’s, but I’d tried, haha! This book also made me become a World War II and Holocaust aficionado. I read up as much as I could about Anne Frank and the Holocaust, which led to me read the next book . . .
Anne Frank Remembered
Anne Frank Remembered by Miep Gies and Alison Leslie Gold is a memoir about Gies, one of the helpers who hid Frank and her family and friends. This is a book I re-read almost every year because I really like reading about Gies’ perspectives about World War II and what she did to help hide her friends in Amsterdam. She also shared her life as a child refugee and what happened after the war. Gies’ straightforward narrating allowed me to relate to her easily. As I get older, I find that I prefer Gies’ memoir over Frank’s diary.
The Giver by Lois Lowry is the utopian-dystopian novel that came long before The Hunger Games and other similar novels, and it blew my mind. This is the book (along with “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut) that showed me that utopian/dystopian societies can be frightening, especially with the concept of sameness. I’ve always liked Lowry for her Number the Stars novel, but The Giver made a huge impact on me and opened my mind to so many new concepts.
I read Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut in my high school senior English class. My teacher was a huge fan of the book, but she mentioned that it was a book we’d either love or hate. I fell into the “love” category because the book fascinated me. It’s a truly bizarre anti-war book with time-travelling and aliens, but the black humour is absolutely brilliant. In fact, when we had to silently read to ourselves, I was the only one in my class laughing. I guess I had a weird sense of humour even back then!
I happened upon Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez in my high school library, and I just about fell over when I saw it there. This is a teenage gay romance story, and back in 2003, I’d never have thought to see this in a military base school. Just, whoah! By then, I’d read slash fanfics, so I was into shipping characters in homosexual relationships, but this was the first official gay romance book I read. I really enjoyed this book to where I read its two sequels, but the first book will always hold a special place in my heart.
The Sixth Extinction
Normally I am not a big fan of non-fiction books, but The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert really opened my eyes up to the current climate changes in our world. I knew that global warming would affect all of us, but I didn’t realise just how much until I read this book. I learnt about how the corals are bleaching because of the rising ocean temperatures, how bats are dying because of a fungus that came from another continent, about trees moving up in elevation because of the hotter temperatures — these are just a few facts Kolbert touches, but they stayed in my mind as I began to see the seriousness of climate change.
The Baby-Sitters Club series
Ah, the good ol’ BSC books — I couldn’t leave them out. Literary-wise, these books aren’t anything special, but they are special to me. Even today I re-read these, and I enjoy them because of the diverse cast in the books. I have to admit, these didn’t make me baby-sit, but they did give me references to American cultures and showed me what life is like in suburban USA. I haven’t read all of the books in the series, but I am almost done — just need to read four or five more books to complete the series!
I wrote about my love for this series last year, so I had to include this on this list. These were the first science-fiction books I enjoyed, and even now I constantly think about this series’ universe and its characters. I am hoping Scholastic will release the whole series on the Kindle in the future because I’d pay to have good digital copies of them. I’d totally do a massive re-read on them — or at least re-read the first 30 books, haha!
Harry Potter series
Last but not the least, the Harry Potter books have been a huge part of my life. This series defined my online life in a huge way. I was a part of its fandom from 2001 to 2015. I read and wrote fanfics, interacted with other like-minded fans, speculated and thought about this wonderful, magical universe, and fell in love with its characters. This series and its fandom is what led me to focus my master’s degree capstone on fanworks and youth development. I am no longer in the fandom, but my time spent in it will never be forgotten.
What books made an impact on you and how did they affect you? Did any of them give you a major epiphany? Share in the comments!