By Tiffany Coelho
Most book lovers remember the first time they fell in love with reading. For me, the magical moment happened the first time I went to the public library the summer before middle school. All I remember from that summer was boredom, until I started checking out book after book after book. Ever since, I have become a true book lover: a book lover who has learned a great deal from the books she has consumed. Here are 5 books in particular that changed my life.
1. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief
Rich Riordan’s debut novel was the first novel I just couldn’t put down. His book series was also the first book series that made me love books. I was thrown into a world of action, adventure, and young brave heroes, like Percy Jackson and Annabeth Chase, who always stand up for what they believe is right. As a young kid from the suburbs, I was not familiar with such an adventurous world where kids like me were the main focus. All of the character in Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief were around my age when I read it and they were all so brave. Their bravery has stuck with me and has taught me always stand up for what I believe in.
2. I’d Tell You I Love You but Then I’d Have to Kill You
Ally Carter’s first novel in her Gallagher Girls Series made me love being a girl. Carter’s amazing books promote female friendships and women taking charge of their own stories. Cammie Morgan, the protagonist, is training to become a spy at an all-girls spy school. Her school highly values sisterhood and being good at whatever you are interested in. This novel helped me see that my existence as a girl is valued and that it is important to focus on my female friendships. I’d Tell You I Love You but Then I’d Have to Kill You empowers young girls and lets them know that they can do anything they set their minds to.
Julie Murphy’s novel Dumplin’ is a rather recent read for me that completely turned my perception of myself upside down. I have always been a plus size person and I have not always seen my size reflected back to me in the media. This lack of plus size representation has caused me to struggle constantly with my own body type. Dumplin’s main character, Willowdean Dickson, is a plus size girl who struggles with her body type just like I have. At the end of the novel, Willowdean came to the conclusion that she shouldn’t let her weight affect her from living her the life in the way she wants. Her conclusion resonated with me and allowed me to think of my plus size-ness in a more positive light.
4. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Benjamin Alire Saenz’s breakout novel is a beautiful read focused around heart wrenching topics. It features Ari Mendoza, a teenager who is always bored and always mad. My 15-year-old self and Ari had a lot in common. His anger comes from a lack of communication with his parents and some teenage angst over his sexuality. As I read Ari’s struggles unfold with his family and his own perception of who he is, I realized I was also trying to find my own identity in the world. He eventually becomes closer with his family and realizes a part of his identity that creates more of an understanding about himself. Ari’s continual questioning of his own identity caused me to start questioning my own relationship with my family and my identity. Questioning myself has made me learn more about myself than before I started Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.
5. Anna and the French Kiss
Before reading Anna and the French Kiss, I disliked reading romance novels. Romance was just not the genre I wanted to focus my energies on. But then, I read Stephanie Perkin’s version of romance and I have been hooked ever since so much so that contemporary romance novels are now my favorite books to read. Anna and the French Kiss combines romance with humor in such a perfect way that it reminded me of the romantic comedy films I now love. This novel opened up my eyes to more genres than just the classics, fantasy, and adventure novels I had been reading.