I was inspired to write this post by The Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt for September 12th. Unfortunately, it’s no longer Tuesday. But I typed this, and I’m still posting it. Take that, universe.
Below are 10 books or series that hold a special place in my heart, mostly because they’ve formed and shaped my love of books over the years. Without most of these, I wouldn’t read the way I do now – so, I’m glad I discovered them when I did.
1. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Even before Harry Potter, this was one of the first books I ever remember being assigned for school and enjoying. I recall locking myself in my bedroom for an entire day and rushing meals, just to find out what happened next. It was the first time I’d ever been so invested in a group of characters – though definitely not the last.
2. Bunnicula by James Howe
My friends and I were obsessed with the Bunnicula series in grade school. It’s hard to explain, currently, what was so appealing about a vampire rabbit that sucked the juice from vegetables, but…at the time, that shit kept me up at night.
3. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
If this wasn’t the one of the first times you cried over a book, you were doing the whole childhood thing wrong.
4. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
I’d always read on and off as a kid, but when I discovered Harry Potter, my whole world changed. I realized I wanted to craft stories as clever and heartfelt as J.K. Rowling, and I’ve been working toward that goal ever since. I would 100% cite this series as the starting point for both my love of reading and my love of writing.
5. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
For a long time after finishing the Harry Potter series, I was convinced I’d never again find books as engrossing. When I discovered Cornelia’s Funke’s writing, I realized I was wrong. Sure, her books were no Harry Potter. But they were the first books that ever came close to being as good, and they showed me that I could get lost in worlds outside of J.K. Rowling’s magical universe.
6. Paper Towns by John Green
I carried around the majority of John Green’s books in high school, but Paper Towns always hit me the hardest. Perhaps it was the most relatable of his stories, at least for a girl who couldn’t wait to graduate high school and start over elsewhere. This is probably the only John Green book I’d still read today.
7. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
This was another novel I read over and over again in high school. I’d never taken a highlighter to pages before, but there was something so genuine about Chbosky’s writing. I wanted to remember every last quote.
8. Crank by Ellen Hopkins
Ellen Hopkins’ books explored topics most YA fiction wouldn’t dare to at the time. They exposed me to a whole new host of stories, and they were probably my first experience with tales told in verse. I also wrote my college acceptance essay about Crank, so one could totally argue that I have Ellen Hopkins to thank for everything past the age of 17.
9. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
When I went to college, I took a long break from reading. Who had the time when there were friends to be made and bars to be hopped? But when I started The Hunger Games during a spring break at home, I devoured it. And then the second one. And then the third. This series reignited my love of reading when I needed it most, and it opened me up to so many YA novels that had never been on my radar before.
10. A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
A Song of Ice and Fire was the first adult, high fantasy series I’d ever read. Years and years later, I’d finally found books I adored as much as Harry Potter – well, the first three anyway. George R.R. Martin’s story was gritty and raw, and it addressed the problems of the real world within a fantastical setting. On top of that, it represented all types of women and portrayed them as real people – not some archetype that originated decades, or even centuries, before. I believe that last fact was my selling point, but these books completely changed the way I viewed storytelling.
What are some books that shaped your reading experience? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!