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The other day, I was thinking about how reading has been so integral in my life. In times when I felt all alone, I had my books to keep me company. In times when I just needed an escape, books were there. Books have been so important in my life.
Today I want to share with you, the books that have changed my life. It was really hard coming up with this list, because I read a ton. But these are books that stood out to me in some way. In some cases they taught me something, in other cases, they just made me smile when I needed it. But I’ll explain all of that and my reasonings below.
But the takeaway is, if there are books on this list that you haven’t read, try them out! See if they have the same affect on you.
One more caveat. I’m sure there are some books that I left out, so don’t take this as an all inclusive list. Maybe some day I’ll do a part two.
The Encyclopedia Brown Series by Donald J. Sobol (for kids)
I’m going to start at the beginning. This book make me realize I could figure out anything I put my mind to.
In case you’ve never heard of this series, Encyclopedia Brown is a child detective. He’s really smart and he goes around solving ‘mysteries’ for the neighborhood kids.
My dad introduced me to this series. When I first started reading the series, I could never figure out how Encyclopedia solved the cases. But at some point I realized that everything I needed to know was right on the page in front of me, I just had to pay attention. Eventually I would pick up on the clues just like he did.
This was really eye-opening for me as a kid and it gave me a lot of confidence.
I’d HIGHLY recommend this series for kids. If you have a child who isn’t really into reading, this is a book that just might change that. Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective is the first book in this series.
All your perfects by Colleen Hoover
All your Perfects made me come to terms with feelings I didn’t even know I had about fertility.
Before reading this book, I’d heard people say that they’d cried through books. But I didn’t really understand that. This book absolutely made me weep. But even more than that, I looked around a few times because the main character, who was struggling with infertility, was having the same thoughts that I was having.
The way the thoughts were described on the page resonated with me so much. It was like the author was in my head. It was a little unsettling, but in the end it was very therapeutic and eye-opening for me.
The Storyteller’s Secret by Sejal Badani
To date The Storyteller’s Secret is my favorite book. And as you know, I’m very hesitant to name favorites.
This book was so beautifully written. There was the reconciling of past with the present, forbidden love, questions and secrets. It was real life. It questioned preconceived notions that I had and it literally transported me to India. The sights, the sounds, the smells, I really felt them all.
This book helped me understand another culture in a way that I hadn’t before. Also, when I think about this book, I see the pictures in my mind so vividly, it’s like it was a movie. But that’s just because the writing was so amazing.
**I discovered this book through my free ‘first reads’ book that I get every month from Amazon Prime. Between the free book every month and the library they have for Prime members, it’s a great place for free books. If you haven’t tried it out yet, this link will give you a 30 day free trial.**
A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer
I read “A Child Called “It” when I was a teenager and I’ve never forgotten it. I’m the first to admit that at times I can have a Pollyanna view of the world. But reading this book made me realize that there is pure evil in the world. It also made me very protective of my, at the time, unborn children.
After reading this book, I became more aware of the bad things that can happen to children and I also felt a desire to help any child I could.
This book is not an easy read. There are many trigger warnings. It’s very sad and disturbing. But it really gives insight into some of the awful things that children are going through. Sometimes unknown to any of us.
I am Malala
“I am Malala” made me appreciative.
I’ve heard it said that ‘somewhere someone is praying for the same thing that you’re complaining about’, this book proved that point. What right did I have to grumble or be unappreciative, when somewhere in other parts of the world people were waking up hoping to live to see the end of the day?
How often had I groaned about having to go to school or classes, when people are literally risking their lives for that same right. This book really put things into perspective for me, and it taught me so much.
I feel like this one is self-explanatory. But this is the book that I’ve tried to model my life after, and the one that I learn something from every time I open it.
When I was younger my parents did a great job of giving me age appropriate ones, and one that I have the fondest memories of was the one I used in elementary school. There were characters that would pop up in sections of the bible and put things into an elementary schoolers’ perspective. I loved it. I’ll link to that here.
Let the Circle be Unbroken by Mildred Taylor
I read this book when I was quite young. It is from the perspective of a young girl, Cassie, who is living smack dab in the middle of the Jim Crow laws. She has a feisty spirit and sees things through the eyes of a child, but the world around her see her as something less.
This was a great first glimpse into what my ancestors had to face. It was very sobering, and because I was a similar age to Cassie when I read it, it made me feel like I was there.
This is not the first book in this series, at the time that I read it, “Roll of Thunder Hear my Cry” was the first. Since then, more prequels have been written. But “Let the Circle be unbroken” just was more intense to me. It made me appreciate so much about my life.
These books changed my life. All in different ways, and usually at different times. And what’s even better is, if I went back and read all of these books again today, I’m sure I’d get something completely different from them now.
As I mentioned before, this isn’t an all inclusive list. But when I started thinking about books that had changed my life, these were the first that came to mind. These are the ones that I think everyone should read.
So what books changed your life? Let me know in the comments. And have you read any of these books?
I’m so greatful that reading gives us such amazing insight into people, situations and other cultures. Even though I’ve been stuck at home for most of 2020, I’ve still been able to travel the world, and travel back in time, just by flipping one page at a time.
Make life sweet and learn all you can.