All book lovers know the feeling of finishing a book that you know made an incredible impact on you. You close the book and sit in silence for a few minutes as you think about what you just read. Not everything we loved reading impacts us in such a profound manner, but everyone can identify at least a few books as the source of a life changing experience. Here are a few books that changed my perspective, inspired me, or gave me all of the feels…
1. Every Day by David Levithan
David Levithan’s thought-provoking novel about a teenager named A who wakes up in a different body every day of their life will cause you to rethink your life and speculate what it would be like if you were in A’s situation. It gives a perspective that is unlike that in any other book. This is my favorite book. I recommend it for anyone who has ever felt like they don’t belong.
2. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
This novel will make you want to travel to other countries and create experiences just like Ginny, the main character of this excellently-crafted journey of a book. She receives thirteen envelopes containing instructions that take her to England, Scotland, and Amsterdam, to name a few. It is thrilling to wonder where Ginny’s little blue envelopes will take her next.
3. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
Maybe one of the best books ever written for children, Where the Sidewalk Ends is a poetry collection that transcends its genre and can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. For a lot of book lovers, this was one of the first books to inspire them and they continue to read it throughout their lives. It is a book that is passed from generation to generation, along with others written by Shel Silverstein. Shel takes a look at some of the issues and concepts that children deal with and puts a unique spin on them. In the world of fantasy and at the same time realism, children and adults alike have enjoyed this book for decades.
4. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
In this graphic novel filled with emotion, a young girl living in Iran after the Islamic Revolution deals with personal and social issues regarding her culture. As a semi-autobiographical story, Persepolis shows a realistic view of what it’s like to live in a gender-segregated community as a young girl. The book takes us on a journey that is gut-wrenching, thought-provoking, and fascinating.
5. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
Hyperbole and a Half is a hilarious book filled with a variety of comics, stories, and drawings that tell it like it is and show the private thoughts of a young adult that almost everyone can relate to. Don’t be surprised if you read it all in one sitting. It is probably the funniest book I have ever read.
6. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Clearly this is a classic, but it is underrated since many young people believe that old books can be stuffy and boring, but this is an incredible mind-opening book about depression and the mental health system. It is also a semi-autobiographical book that shows the struggle Sylvia Plath dealt with in her life. The theme of suicide resonates among those who are aware of Plath’s history because she committed suicide about a month after the book was published.
7. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
This book takes you into a world where everything is strange and nothing really makes sense…and it’s awesome! All the twists and turns of this book make it nearly impossible to stop reading. Many writers have said this is the novel that inspired them to write science fiction. It is the quintessential book for all sci fi geeks.
8. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
The eighties seem so romantic in this book about teenagers who form an unlikely connection. It will make you laugh and cry. The writing is excellent and the characters are intensely relatable. Be prepared to shell out some time when you start reading this book, because I read it in one day and couldn’t devour it fast enough.
9. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Widely considered the best anti-war book ever written, this satirical book will blow your mind. This is the perfect book for a book club because it can spawn some fascinating discussions about the meaning behind the themes in the novel. Slaughterhouse Five will definitely make you think. It is a fun but deep read that will leave you wanting more.
10. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
“It was a pleasure to burn.” This is the opening line of one of the best books ever written. It is a social commentary on technology and social structures in the 1940s and ’50s. A dystopian novel that creates an atmosphere of dread, it exhibits an exaggerated view of the way the world is obsessed with technology and how the government tries to hide information from its people. It is a scary book and it is frightening how accurately Bradbury predicted future events and inventions. This is a riveting read that I highly recommend.