These are the books that hold a special place on my bookshelf. They have inspired me as a writer and they have entertained me as a reader. They have encouraged me, changed my perspective on life and helped create me into the passionate reader I am today.
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
I have read this book every year for the past five years. It gets me every time with Eugenides’ whimsical and dreamy language, as the story of understanding female adolescence is told through the perspective of the obsessive, neighborhood boys. The story unravels as the boys share their memories of the Lisbon sisters, during the summer they sought to understand them and what it means to be a teenage girl.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I read this book in high school and several times since. The story is told through the perspective of death in 1939, in Nazi Germany. When Liesel's foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel's world is both opened up, and closed down as she navigated this cruel world during a horrific war. This is definitely a classic.
The Red Tent by Anita Diament
The Red Tent is a fascinating tale of the resilience of women. Diament creates a world for Dinah, a woman only briefly mentioned in the chapters of Genesis in the Bible. Told in Dinah's voice, this novel reveals the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood—the world of the red tent. I haven’t encountered many biblical adaptations before and this one kept me hooked as I learned of the ancient traditions of being a woman. It left me reminiscent of the past, but also grateful I’m part of the future.
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
After first reading this book in middle school, I became fascinated with the fact that S.E. Hinton was only fifteen when she wrote this novel of friendship and being an outsider. The Outsiders is about two weeks in the life of a 14-year-old boy, Ponyboy Curtis and his struggles with right and wrong in a society as he navigated through his world of greasers and socs, gangs and street fights.
Fight Club by Chuck Palahnuik
I’m pretty sure most people know about Fight Club after seeing the David Fincher film starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton. (If you haven’t seen it yet, drop what you are doing and do so.) I like this story because it's a reminder of what we actually need in life. We are more than just our clothes, our jobs, or our cars. In a materialistic society, it's nice to be reminded, in Palahniuk's own unique and intense way, that we aren’t anything special. We are just humans.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
I’m going to be cliche and say that this book changed my life. But it really did. At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. This story is about resilience and the power within yourself. I read this once a year to remind myself that I’m strong, that I possess the strength to carry on.