Thursday, September 23, 2010

Five Books That Changed My Life

Lately I haven't had much time to read, although I always carry a book with me in case I encounter a five-minute period when I'm not walking somewhere. Most days I only read during my 20-minute bus ride and my 30-minute lunch break. Even worse, I haven't read a book that I absolutely LOVED since Mockingjay. I find myself returning to old favorites rather than squandering my reading time on something I might not like.

So here is a list of five books (or series) that changed my life in one way or another.

1) The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce
In sixth and seventh grade I had a mysterious chronic illness that kept me home from school for weeks. My mom would call me from the bookstore and name off titles, trying to find one that I hadn't read yet. (Sadly, we didn't have a library nearby. How is that possible?) Alanna: The First Adventure was one of these. I blew through everything Tamora Pierce had ever written (at that point, only two series) and wanted more--so I started to write it. I have been writing ever since.

2) Mandie and the Foreign Spies by Lois Gladys Leppard
Back up four years, to second grade. My grandmother kept me in books when I was young, and she made sure that I always had the next book in the Mandie series. In this one, Mandie and her friends are in France and get into some trouble. Mandie finds herself in an abandoned tunnel with a bad guy and must scream for help--in French. I was aware of foreign languages before second grade, of course, but after reading this book I had to learn French. So began my love of languages which eventually turned into a linguistics degree.

3) Smack by Melvin Burgess
I already talked about this book in my previous post. It's a stark and honest look at teen drug abuse, and it is the main reason I've never done drugs. But it's also an important book because, when it came out in the 90's, there wasn't much in the way of Young Adult fiction. My local library (I'd moved across the country to a place that had libraries) had a lot of British YA. As the genre gained popularity in Britain, it followed suit in the States. So this is my homage to British YA, of which I read a lot.

4) Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Those of you who know me in real life know that I spent a year abroad in Scotland during college. This series is the reason that I chose Scotland, despite the fact that another country would have made more sense for a Slavic Studies major. But I was so intrigued by the history and people of Scotland that I couldn't pass up the chance to live there for a year. I'm thinking of rereading this series.

5) Sunshine by Robin McKinley
Before vampires were lurking around every corner, I was obsessed with them. (Now that they're popular, I turn my nose up at vampire novels as if I hadn't spent half my life reading every one I could get my hands on.) Sunshine came into my life during my sophomore year of college, just after my mom and sister got into a really terrible car accident. Then, I read it to escape from a situation that made me feel helpless. Later I reread several times: when I was alone and sick in a foreign country, when my best friend died, when a long-term relationship ended and someone broke my heart. You wouldn't think that a vampire-hunting novel would be so comforting, but Sunshine gives me hope that a normal and underachieving person can do amazing things.


Jordyn said...

I've never read any of these books (gasp!) but perhaps I should. SMACK looks insanely intense.

Lale said...

I absolutely adored everything Tamora Pierce has written when I was younger, and I still buy them when they come out. She definitely made me a firm believer in girl power, and is probably the reason I took up fencing! Thanks for sharing the love :)