Some books are important to me not because they are the best I’ve ever read or because they are the best that were ever written (but that doesn’t mean they aren’t the best ever written either). The following list is a collection of books that were with me during complicated times and have special importance to me personally.They each touched me for their own reason, or because they are associated with a specific time in my life.
I read this book when I was just starting high school (maybe I was a little young), but it was a tough time because I was completely new to my school and though the fresh start was liberating, it was also very scary. I spent most of my time that year nestled in the school library, reading. The Lovely Bones is a gut wrenching book and it really impacted me at this fragile time in my life. If you’re not familiar, it is narrated by a young girl who was raped and murdered, she watches the investigation of her case unfold from heaven (I think she is in heaven?).
This narrative works very well as a book, but not as a film. Skip the film, seriously… just skip it.
An honorable mention is Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak is a book I think everyone should read.
This book is the first book I really, really annotated. I read it in AP Literature my senior year in high school and it was the book that really made me think about being a literature major. If you’ve ever read it, you know it contains some deeply haunting images. It is also filled with incredibly rich language.
This is another transitional book and another book on the road to my becoming a literature major. This is a book I read in my first semester of college in a world literature class. I barely remember the plot of this book, except for the fact that it was brimming with scandal, but this was another book I annotated heavily and I remember having very vibrant discussions about it in the class and it was one that made me realize how excited I got about literature.
These two are fun and silly and fast paced collections, and very popular books (so I assume you’ve heard of them). They passed my time the summer before I transferred colleges and they kept me company for hours when I worked the counter at Borders, the same year the company went out of business. Since the store hardly had any customers, it was a very boring summer and these books kept me from agonizing over the huge change ahead of me.
Film adaptations on both of these are not half bad either!
I read Jane Eyre for the first time in my Gothic Literature class, my sophomore year in college, then read it about five more times that same year. I think I might have written two essays about it too. Needless to say, it is dear to my heart. I am fascinated with it partially due to the rich language and because it’s dark and brooding, but also because I really needed to figure out who controlled the relationship between Rochester and Jane. It took me several reads to determine and prove to myself that Jane has agency and power in her relationship and how.
Finally, I cannot skip the short story collection I wrote my thesis on. These stories will sit with me forever. Some are short and incredibly sparse, some long and ridiculously dense. They all require multiple reads and a critical eye and I think they all leave you wondering… what just happened? A must read, and an amazing author, I cannot recommend this book more. It occupied a whole year of my life, and I think it will occupy my thought for years to come.
Are there any books that got you through a tough time, taught you a valuable lesson, or books you’ve associated with a particular period in your life?