Books That Changed My Life

Not all of my favorites, just a select few that are worth mentioning.
  1. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
    I was 13 years old, a little lost and in need of some direction. My freshman English teacher, Mr. Pontow, handed this book out and assigned us the first 4 chapters. I cracked the book that night, and devoured it in one sitting. I ended up reading it 3 more times as we studied it in class, and countless times since. The story of Francie Nolan, a girl who found solace in reading and made the best of her life, spoke to me in a way I couldn't explain, but I knew Francie and I were kindred spirits.
  2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
    I met Jane as a junior in high school. Everyone loves beautiful, fast-talking Lizzy Bennett from Pride & Prejudice, and considering she ends up with Colin Firth, I kinda get it. But ordinary Jane is every girl. "I am no bird; and no net ensnares me. I am a free human being with an independent will." Jane is exactly the role model a teen girl needs. She breaks down gender stereotypes, she fights for what she wants, and she isn't afraid to speak her mind. Jane does what makes her happy.
  3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
    I love stories about sisters, because it's such a unique bond, and it's all the more special if you have them. I fell in love with the March girls and their unique family in a backwards way - I saw the Winona Ryder movie first. But I immediately checked out the book, and immersed myself in Jo's world. My youngest sister and I fought often, like Jo and Amy, but we grew up, grew out of it, and realized we were more alike than we knew. The March girls always knew, and they made sure I did too.
  4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
    I actually got this book first, before I received the Sorcerer's Stone. This was a Christmas gift from my oldest sister, and I remember staying up all night because I couldn't stop reading it. I loved it so much she got me book 1 for my 11th birthday a week later, and I stayed up all night then too. This world was so immersive that I revisit it often, because the magic I felt on that first read is still there on the 100th. I'm still waiting for my letter, though.
  5. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
    As a senior in HS, I elected to take AP English and Honors Contemporary Lit because I just loved reading and writing about books. My Contemp Lit teacher changed my life that year, giving me so many great books in and out of class for me to devour and discuss with her. This is one we read in class. It's a bit dated and even a bit sexist, but what it did was challenge the way we see the world and each other. A great way to send seniors off into the real world, and a message that's stuck with me.
  6. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
    I was pretty depressed during most of my time in San Francisco. I moved for a job I ended up hating, and I only found a few really good friends, so more often than not I ended up at Green Apple Books on 6th & Clement on a Friday night, wandering the stacks, reading a few books, buying many. I kept seeing this book and it had great reviews, so I caved and I read it. This unconventional but realistic love story gave me hope that things really could get better for me,and they did.
  7. Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
    I got to meet @avadellaira this summer with my sister, and tell her in person how deeply this book touched me. There's a quote that I have from this above my bed "And maybe what growing up really means is knowing that you don't have to be just a character, going whichever way the story says. It's knowing you could be the author instead." -- every time I am upset about my life, I look at that and remember I'm writing my own story, and I can change it.
  8. The J Boys by @BridgetMorrissey
    4 years ago, my sister sent me an email about a dream she'd had. She wrote it down because she thought it was maybe the spark of an idea, and after reading what became the basis for this book, I agreed. That fateful day made her an author, and fulfilled my lifelong dream of being an editor. It'll never be published, but I'm forever grateful to LJW and her story, because she rekindled my passion for the written word (even if my sister never remembers that 'cannot' is one word and not two).