One of the reasons I started this blog was because I wanted to talk about books and hope that the habit of reading would someday change another person’s life as it did mine. Today being World Book Day, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the books that have made me who I am today to illustrate the power of literature. This isn’t a recommendations post as such, but if there’s one thing that I want you to take away from this is that stories have the potential to be the catalyst people need to make their lives better. I would urge you all to pick up a book today – any book – and give it a chance. Maybe it could be the one to improve your life the way the books mentioned below helped me.
1. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
This book started me on the journey to becoming a lifelong fantasy lover. It also turned me into a book addict. It took me to a faraway place where kids who were my age overthrew great evil and became Kings and Queens. I was only 10 when my fourth grade English teacher read this to my class and the memory is still fresh in my mind as if it happened yesterday.
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2. American Panda by Gloria Chao
I read this book at the perfect time when I was in the middle of making a decision that could potentially change my life forever. Not only did it strengthen my conviction to pursue my dreams, but it also gave me a deep understanding of what it feels like when your loved ones don’t agree with your decisions. It’s heart-warming, funny and unapologetically Asian.
Related: Author Chat with Gloria Chao
3. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
This book is escapism at its finest. I saw the movies first, which inspired me to pick up the books and I was never the same person again. The writing style transported me to a richly detailed fantasy world where even the smallest deeds had great power to alter the course of history. This will always remain my favourite series because it unlocked my imagination and expanded my thinking in ways I couldn’t dream of otherwise.
Related: 5 Books to Read If You Loved The Lord of the Rings
4. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
This book was the first time I tried out an audiobook and the young adult science fiction genre. I had heard rave reviews about this series from the online bookish community and the audiobook was also lauded by everyone who had read it in this format. I signed up for an Audible free trial and decided to check out whether audiobooks worked for me or not. I think calling this an audiobook is an understatement as it is more like art in the form of sound. The production quality of this one is truly incomparable and I’m yet to read any book that matches its brilliance. Audiobooks have become an essential part of my life now that keeps me reading even when at the busiest times and I’m grateful to this book for paving the way.
Related: Book Review – Illuminae
5. The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
This was another first for me in the sense that I, as an international blogger, was selected to be a part of the street team for one of my highly anticipated 2019 books by one of my favourites authors of all time! I also snagged an interview with Roshani at the same time and I was over the moon when I received the confirmation emails. This gave me all the validation I had ever craved as a book blogger and I can’t express in words how thankful I am for all the wonderful opportunities this platform has brought into my life. This is a fantastic book that exceeded the sky-high expectations I had built up in my head from the time this book was announced. I really wish everyone gives it the chance it deserves instead of it becoming lost in comparison to another famous young adult heist novel.
Related: Author Chat with Roshani Chokshi
6. The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
I failed at buddy reading this book and picked it up on a Booktuber’s recommendation for a readathon. This blew me away with how angry it made me at the end of it. I’ve always been a feminist even if not as outspoken as I’d like. This story made me realise the importance of rising up against the patriarchy. This is the kind of book that I want not only women and young girls but men around the world to read as well.
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7. A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman
I fell in love with reading all over again after I finished this book. After I started work, I wasn’t able to make a lot of time for reading and it definitely shows itself in the number of books I’ve managed to read in 2018 compared to 2017 (the year I graduated). However, this gem of an anthology made me proud about my distinct Asian upbringing and the diversity of culture within the largest continent in the world. There was a blend of genres and all the stories were #OwnVoices, with an author’s note at the end of each which spoke briefly about the myth or folktale that inspired it. This was my entry point into anthologies and it made me curious enough to add quite a few to my TBR this year!
Related: 5 Diverse Anthologies You Shouldn’t Miss in 2019
8. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
Dan Brown is the sort of author who isn’t the best at his craft yet manages to write a bestseller every time. I started with The Da Vinci Code as usual but this is my favourite book by him for a variety of reasons. This gave me the push to explore the answers to deep metaphysical questions that I used to reflect on in the gap between closing my eyes and falling asleep. It intensified my love for science which I maintain to this day in some shape or form despite having studied to become an engineer. It also made me scour the depths of the Internet to know more about secret societies, which blossomed into an interest in human history.
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9. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
I came across this book lying casually on a table at my parents’ and innocuously picked it up as I had nothing else to read over the summer without my usual school library books to keep me company. While I’d say that as I’ve grown up, I’ve come to take the teachings in this book with a grain of salt, it did turn me into a better person. I was an angsty and angry teenager for the better part of my high school years and this book turned my thinking completely upside down. It made me aware of how a simple thank you can make all the difference and how to harness the power of positivity to quiet my chaotic mind. I do believe this is the kind of book everyone will benefit from reading.
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10. Magnus Chase and the Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan
I have always loved Uncle Rick’s stories but this book is the most special one till date. His books include wonderful diverse representations of marginalised identities and this was no exception. This was the first time I read about a gender fluid character and was introduced to genderqueerness. Living in a sheltered and conservative society, books are one of my few gateways into learning about the world at large, especially when it comes to marginalised communities. I also ended up with a signed copy of this book quite by accident and can’t thank my good fortune enough!
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Have books changed your life? Do you remember the ones that made a lasting impact on you? Let’s discuss in the comments section below.