When I was younger, although it may be hard to believe, I was even more socially inept than I am right now. Because of this, I turned to reading to stay occupied. It is now at the age of 19 that I realize that reading has not always just been a hobby but has had a huge hand in my social and mental development throughout my adolescent years. Here is a compilation of the books that have utterly destroyed me (in the best way possible):
10. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (yes, the entire series)
It almost seems unfair that an entire series can be in the running, but you try and pick one of these seven books and then come talk to me. Rowling herself wrote these books at a time when she felt immense grief, I have always found the series to be something of a coping mechanism for loss and feelings of hopelessness.
9. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The first time I read this novel, I was an unsuspecting seventh grader who needed something to do while going to the beach. My grandmother handed me this book. A few hours later, my cheeks were soaked in tears having just read a tale of redemption and the enduring love of brotherhood that takes place in Afghanistan. To this day, the one thing I take with me from this reading experience is that life will always be a muddled mess and it’s okay to make mistakes, but in the end, it’s never too late to try and fix what we broke.
8. The Shack by William P. Young
Regardless of what you believe in, this novel creates a wholesome and unconventional idea of what happens to us when we die. Young takes creative license with the original Biblical stories and crafts a plot that will leave readers questioning. It becomes clear after reading this that anger is a wasted emotion, and even the worst circumstances, albeit painful, will aid in our growth and faith in quite literally anything.
7. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Buckle up, folks. Flynn pulls out all the stops and if you’re anything like me, you will most likely sweat and hyperventilate throughout this entire read. Aside from the chill factor, Flynn brings attention to relationships and betrayal amongst loved ones. More often than not, people choose their path in life; as crappy as that may seem, Flynn reinforces the idea of “you made your bed, now lie in it.” Granted, I don’t know if the person to see out your punishment will be your sadistic spouse, but honestly, who knows?
6. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
We meet Christopher McCandless, a college graduate of Emory University. Up to the point of introduction, McCandless lives a rather privileged life, so why does he decide to leave everything he has ever known to essentially be a hitchhiker? Krakauer brings attention to a story based on real life events, and even three years after I read this book, I wonder whether McCandless was a pretentious piece of garbage or someone who desperately needed something more tangible than the white-picket fence suburban Hell he was living. Regardless, after reading this tale, it’s inevitable that you will question what you value most in life.
5. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
If you have never heard of this novel, I’m surprised due to the fact that if you go to any Long Island beach during the months of July and August, you will find at least two middle aged women fully entranced by it. Albom takes the simple idea of the butterfly effect and utilizes it to prove that the smallest actions will lead us to our eventual road.
4. Tuedays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
I’m an emotional person, I’ll admit, but Albom definitely shattered my heart and glued the pieces back together as if I were a puzzle when he wrote this masterpiece. A memoir, Albom recounts his experience with a dying mentor and in only a few months, he learns more about life from someone close to death than anybody could ever expect.
3. A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux
Sue me, I’m a hopeless romantic. Originally having read this in the ninth grade, I was stuck on the idea of time traveling and all sort of almost cringe worthy topics. Today, I see this novel as much more than just some silly romance. It has led me to believe in developing serious connections with people and pursuing the concept of “not what it seems.”
2. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Have you ever hated something while doing it only to look back and appreciate it after the fact? Well reading Dostoyevsky’s work was a little like that, so much so that I would have probably preferred having to watch paint dry at the time. With age, I’ve decided that this novel is symbolically and holistically genius. Covering the duality of human nature and redemption, readers will fully understand how good people can do bad things and vice versa.
1. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
As a girl who never got over the mystifying concept of never growing old, fifth grade Meg just couldn’t help being obsessed with Babbitt’s novel. Babbitt highlights the quintessential quirks of being human, inevitably breaking my heart when I realized that life is only sweet due its fragility. Something experienced time and time again will lose its sweetness. “Do not be afraid of death, be afraid of the unlived life.”