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Book List: 12 Books That Have Changed My Life (And Could Change Yours, Too)!

Have you ever read a book at just the right time in your life, when maybe you were sad, confused, or were looking for an answer? Reading has always been my hobby but in times of darkness and depression, reading becomes my escape. If I'm stuck at home, with a book I can travel to another country or even a different time. I could meet new people, real or fiction. And even at times in my life when I'm incredibly happy, a book can still change my life with its meaningful message or even just its humor. Looking at my bookshelf and seeing some of these titles pop out at me, I got inspired to write this list. Every single one of these books means something different to me, and I thought I'd share these books that will have forever shaped me into the person I am today.

I also decided that I would just include books that are either young adult or adult fiction, so heads up on that (who knows, maybe in the future I'll write a list of my favorite children's books or my favorite nonfiction books!).

Please enjoy this list of some of my favorite books. They changed my life in way or another, and maybe if you read one or a few of them, they'll change your life, too.

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

This is one of the best books I've read about pursuing your dreams. Set in 1906 and parallels with a tragic murder, sixteen year old Mattie is held in her small town, by the responsibility of taking care of her family, while she dreams of going to college and pursuing her dream of writing. She finds work at a local hotel (and also the eye of a handsome boy) but as she learns more about the murder and the victim, a guest of the hotel's, it puts into motion her decision whether to stay with her family or follow her dreams. Both heartbreaking and inspiring, Mattie is a heroine you root for, brave and imperfect, even if leaving means abandoning everything she's ever known. This is a book I turn to when I'm feeling stuck in life and need to be reminded that it's okay to put yourself first.

Atonement by Ian McEwan

This was one of the hardest books I've ever read through, but once I finished, I was so glad I pushed through. Dense with detail and history, it's a beautifully written book that will break your heart with the unfairness that one misjudgment can alter everyone's lives in unthinkable ways. Young Briony Tallis's precociousness and naivete about an injustice she thought she saw, leads to her sister's lover's imprisonment and their forced separation during World War II. Briony must come to terms with what she did and what she said that one night, and even if no one is there to listen, she must atone for her sins and for what transpired. And not only was this book incredibly powerful and sad, the movie version, in my opinion, offers the most faithful adaptation of a book to screen movie. (It's also my favorite movie of all time so I may be a little biased)

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

Not only does this book make me cry every single time I read it, it also is a Gothic romance and ghost story set during World War I and the Spanish Influenza epidemic, with a spunky, modern heroine with aviator goggles at its helm. It's a fantastic book and if my description doesn't make you want to read it, then I don't know what will. Go read this book. You won't be sorry. Seriously, you'll bawl your eyes out in the best way possible. (Also, note to self: must buy aviator goggles)

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Forget what you saw in the movie and read the book. There was so much more to the story than just the romance, from the circus workers to the treatment of animals and Rosie the elephant. Some books make you go "girl power!" but this book will make you go "yeah, elephant power!" and raise your trunk in solidarity (no trunk? Oh, you're not an elephant. Sorry, my mistake).

The Giver by Lois Lowry

I remember finding this book on our family's bookshelf when I was younger and wondering what kind of book this was, with an old bearded man on the cover. Not knowing in the slightest was it was about, I went in with a blank slate and came out with my mind blown. In a world with no choice, with your path and everyone else's decided for you, Jonas decided to change his and hopefully everyone's else's in the process, no matter what the cost. It amazed me how Lois Lowry could seamlessly weave in topics of euthanasia and assisted suicide in this supposed Utopian world and make it such a conversation starter for both kids and adults alike. (Yes, this is technically a children's book, but I've always considered it more of a 12 and up book so I'll classify it as young adult)

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Yet another tear inducing book on this list but the story is breathtakingly beautiful so it's worth it (just load up on tissues first). Young Liesel lives in Nazi Germany and as she steals her first book, Death takes notice of her and follows her journey to her new foster family and life. But her world is suddenly changed when her family hides a young Jewish man in their basement. Each of Liesel's stolen books mark a time in her life and Zusak writes with such ease (with Death's narration) that the story flows perfectly until the last page, where you just want to burst out crying from the horror and wonder that is life (don't let my emotional response deter you. I'm actually trying to get you to read the book. This is a glowing review, believe it or not!).

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

If you're a human being that can somewhat function in normal society, you've most likely been in a relationship and been through a break up. Each break up is hard, but there's something about your first relationship and heartbreak that's just so devastating and real that you played it over and over in your head, questioning what went wrong while you cry to Taylor Swift or some other musical artist relevant to the time you went through during your breakup. This book encompasses all that I ever thought and felt during my first (and subsequent) breakups. Though it is hard to believe that Min wrote this entire letter of their relationship to Ed in one car ride, she perfectly captures that "us against the world" mentality of a new relationship and young love, along with our ease to look past a blazing fault in another person. Another book you will need tissues for, and maybe also some time set aside to look back at the time you dated that one guy for two weeks and how you could have made it work. (You couldn't)

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

As someone who has dealt with mental illness throughout my life, Sylvia Plath is the only writer I have ever read who has perfectly described what depression actually feels like. Plath wrote a troubled but modern heroine based on herself in a time when feminism hadn't even happened yet. Though the book may be dark, the light at the end is the perfect metaphor for conquering your troubles.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

A classic you have to read in school is rarely a book that will somehow change your life. But this book did and I will forever be grateful. It proves that sometimes doing the right thing won't bring about justice, but just the act itself is a protest that speaks volumes and can start a ripple of change.

Going Bovine by Libba Bray

If I told you the plot of this book you'd most likely go "huh"? Which is fair, because when I first heard the premise, I straight up returned the book to the library and thought, "nah, I don't think I'll read it." But I checked it out again and read it and I'm so, so glad I did. Libba Bray is a writing goddess and can make a psychedelic roadtrip, a manic pixie angel, and mad cow disease heartfelt and fun. It's proof that Libba Bray can write anything. ANYTHING.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I think you know why this book is amazing. If you haven't already read it, please do. Then you'll definitely know why. Okay? Okay.

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

Okay, okay, just hear me out first, alright? Yes, it's about a young girl who becomes possessed by a demonic entity. Yes, it's full of gross out imagery, a little girl doing foul things with her body and a crucifix, and projectile vomit and blood. Yes, you won't be able to sleep for a very long time after reading it (or even when you're still reading it). But this book is about more than that. It's a complex story of yes, demons, but also a story of a priest who doubts himself and his faith as he investigates whether little Reagan is indeed possessed (spoiler alert: she is). Plus, there's also a murder investigation going on and you'll learn more than you'll want to about Black Masses. This was the book solidified my love for horror and my interest in all things exorcism and possession stories and movies. So if you ever wonder why I like all things creepy and dark, you can probably blame this book. Thanks, Mr. Blatty!

What did you think of my list? Have some of these books changed your life? Were some of my book choices weird? (I know they were, haha) Let me know!

Stay Weird,
2 comments on "Book List: 12 Books That Have Changed My Life (And Could Change Yours, Too)!"
  1. Well, i know you little but still i think you missed one obvious book from your list: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone :D

    For me, one of the book that changed my life is The Left Hand of Darkness by LeGuin, and the most important: Ports of Calls by Jack Vance.


    1. Hahaha so true! But I think it goes without saying that any of the books from the Harry Potter series would make it onto pretty much any book list I write ;) Maybe except for lists like "the worst books ever" or something like that!

      Oooh I'll have to check those out! I think almost any book is worth reading if it's changed someone's life :)

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting!!


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