You have them too. The books you adore. The ones you won’t lend out because you can’t stand to part with them. The ones you always recommend to others even if they didn’t ask. The ones you’ll reread an unlimited number of times because you never get tired of their magic. The ones that spoke to you, changed you, and opened your eyes to something spectacular. They say a lot about you.
Acceleration by Graham McNamee
What it’s about: A teenager working in the lost and found of a subway station finds the diary of a budding serial killer. He uses the diary to stalk the stalker and stop him before he can kill his first victim.
Why it’s important to me: At one point, I didn’t know YA existed. This book changed that for me. I couldn’t pinpoint my favorite type of book until this one. After I read it I wanted more like it. And I’ve been searching for exciting YA ever since. It opened me up to my favorite genre and showed me the type of book I wanted to write. It remains my favorite book.
The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith
What it’s about: How do I even describe this book? It starts with the main character being kidnapped and escaping. What happened to him and what he did to the man who took him after his escape, traumatizes him. He leaves with his best friend on a planned trip to England where he meets a man who gives him a pair of mysterious glasses. They transport him to an alternate reality full of hellish images, pain, and a terrifying fight for survival. The main character spends his time jumping between that world and the real world, but it messes with his mind and physically takes a toll. He starts preferring the world of Marbury and all its horrors, continuously struggling with what’s real and if he actually escaped anything at all.
Why it’s important to me: I can’t talk this book up enough. I can’t praise the author, Andrew Smith enough. This book blew my mind. After I finished it, I couldn’t read anything else or write anything for weeks. It was so good I knew nothing I read after would compare, and anything I might write would suck. I have never been more impressed with a piece of writing. It’s the type of book I carried with me everywhere even if I only got to read two sentences here and there. I’ve vowed to read anything Smith writes. He earned favorite author status, and his books never disappoint.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
What it’s about: Come on. At this point, I don’t think you need me to tell you what this book is about.
Why it’s important to me: This is the first Harry Potter book I read. It isn’t my favorite in the series (Order of the Phoenix is if you’re wondering. That one should have been called Harry Potter and the Year of Teen Angst). Back in middle school I actually hated Harry Potter. Not for the story; I had no idea what it was about. I just hated the fact that in every store you went in there were huge displays and merchandise that went way beyond books (bed sheets, pillows, lunchboxes, etc.) and that anywhere I went people were talking about these books. I guess I didn’t want to like them just because everyone else did. You know, stick it to conformity and all.
But eventually I gave in, which might arguably be the best form of peer pressure ever. Sorcerer’s Stone was already checked out of the school library, and I wasn’t that worried about being lost because I wasn’t that keen to read it anyway. But Oh.My.God. I’ve never been happier to say I was wrong or to jump on a bandwagon. I couldn’t stop reading. I couldn’t get enough. I was hooked. And suddenly, damn it, I wanted that lunchbox and those pillows. I was a fan. Those books are some of the best storytelling ever.
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
What it’s about: A girl experiences a traumatic experience at the end of summer before her first year of high school. It causes her best friends to turn their backs on her, and she falls into isolation. She doesn’t talk a lot, but spends time in her own head trying to sort through what happened and how to move on. It’s a book about inner strength, finding your voice, allowing yourself to trust, and healing.
Why it’s important to me: I connected with the main character really deeply. Not because of what she experienced, but because of her inner struggle with letting people in and speaking up. I was a quiet guarded teenager, and I felt like this character was advocating for me. I wanted to see if she pulled through because maybe that meant I could too. She helped me find my voice.
The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci
What it’s about: The class freak and bully victim, Chris Creed, disappears. The whole book is a mystery as to what happened to him, what is discovered along the way, and how far the other characters are willing to go to find the truth. After all these years I just found out there’s a sequel.
Why it’s important to me: It’s the first book that made me cry. It’s the kind of book you want to read through all at once because you need to know what happens. It genuinely surprised me, and I remember sitting there with my mouth open and my eyes watering. That kind of reaction is huge. I didn’t know books could get that kind of emotion out of me, and I love it now anytime one does.
What are your favorite books and why? How did they change your life? Post your responses and any book recommendations below!