Each of the five books in my list have inspired me by showcasing one or more qualities that have fed my fascination with fandom, reading, and writing. It was not an easy decision.
There’s a book challenge going around various social media sites right now that requires you to list the 10 books that have affected you the most. Here at Hypable, we’re kicking off our own version of the challenge. While we may be doing only five books, we’re also going to tell you why they affected us — and maybe we can convince you to read them, too.
When I was first asked this question, I thought it would be easy-peasy. Five books that define me? Not a problem. Except it was. Once I started looking back over the myriad of books that I read as a child and the more diverse selection that I’ve read as an adult, I realized that narrowing down my list would take some serious thought. So, after a rather long process of elimination, I narrowed it down to 5 books that I think define me as a reader, a writer, and most importantly, a fan.
There are some glaringly obvious omissions from this list. You won’t find my favorite Harry Potter book, which is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by the way, or anything from the Nancy Drew series, or my newest favorite author, Cora Carmack, but rest assured that they remain favorites even if I don’t see them as defining influences.
‘The Enormous Turnip’: A fairytale of Russian origin
As far as fairytales and children’s stories go, The Enormous Turnip is probably not one of the most well known, but it holds the most special of places in my heart. In the 4th grade, I was given the opportunity to enter a storytelling competition. I practiced after school for a month with the 3 or 4 other kids who signed up, and my teacher always reminded me to ‘pull that turnip!’ with a little more vigor every time. After memorizing the entire story and stepping up in front of the crowd and judges, the vivid memories of engaging them as I imitated pulling that turnip out of the ground have stayed with me. The need to engage people and entertain has never left, and I owe it all to the tale of a farmer whose turnip just wouldn’t stop growing.
‘The BFG’ by Roald Dahl
The BFG is a book that has stuck with me for the long haul. Roald Dahl is a childhood hero of mine, and his books are imaginative and fun. I always appreciated his ability to make the craziest aspects of his characters seem incredibly real. It stimulated my imagination to know that even a giant whose family snacks on little children can be a good guy whose favorite activities include blowing pleasant dreams into the windows of little boys and girls. I think this book can be credited with my fascination with characters and making each one unique in how they take on the world around them.
‘Bet Me’ by Jennifer Crusie
Of all the books on my list, this one has definitely been read most often. Sometimes a book defines you by how it makes you think, and sometimes it just becomes a part of your soul. Bet Me is the latter. The first time I read it, I enjoyed each and every plot complication there was. I’m a sucker for a good romance, and this is one of the best in my book. The plot doesn’t feel contrived, and it doesn’t veer off course just to fit in some extra sexy times. This story is all about a man and a woman that despite their stubborn ways, find themselves with no other option than to submit to the good thing staring them in the face. The best kind of romance if I do say so myself.
‘A Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood
This book was read as an assignment for a class in college called Canadian Fiction, and it changed a lot of the ways I used to think about the world. Margaret Atwood wrote a novel that, despite being homework, engaged me in ways a book never had before. The dystopian tale is set in a world in which women are restricted immensely and basically are used as breeding stock. They have no freedom, aren’t allowed personal relationships, and aren’t even allowed to read. The story of Offred (which is not the narrator’s birth name, but rather the mark that she is the Handmaid ‘Of Fred’) opened my eyes to the injustices that can exist right before our eyes. I credit this book with helping me to shed the blinders of youth and see that there are always causes worth fighting for.
‘Where She Went’ by Gayle Forman
Last, but most certainly never least, is a book that I read just a few short months ago. While it hasn’t settled into its official place on my list of favorites, it touched me in a way that books seldom do. Mia and Adam’s story in If I Stay sets the scene for what I feel is the true treasure in this pair of books. While the tragedies of their past haunt them, the music in their lives helps them to soothe the pain that they can’t seem to bury. Music has always been a vital part of my life, and will always be, so to meet two characters that seem to understand just how powerfully a song can affect a person was a real find. The atmosphere crafted by Gayle Forman is heavy and dense, choking the second chance that you can see is all these two people need. When I picked up the book, the last thing I expected was the raw emotional power of two souls ripped apart by shared pain. Honestly, I don’t know what I expected. The book I got, however, will always make me laugh, cry, and gasp in all the right places leaving me one incredibly satisfied reader, which I’m happy to say defines me to a tee.