Happy Birthday to Me! Today I am 32 years old, which sounds kind of crazy in my mind but I don’t feel 32 so there’s that. I feel like I can partly attribute that to the fact that most of my interests are the interests of teenagers – like YA books and movies and scene kid music – so it keeps me young and partly attributed to the fact that I am in better shape than I’ve probably ever been in my entire life.
Today I wanted to share with you guys some books that changed my life. There are SO many books that shaped my life. I’ve been reading my entire life, since I was roughly around 2 years old. Because of that, books are been a huge, huge, huge influence in my life. So to celebrate my 32nd rotation around the sun, I’m talking about 32 books that have made me the person I am today.
These are no particular order but there are definitely ones toward the top that mean more to me, of course, but all of these had an impact on me in some way, shape or form.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling
This boy wizard came bursting into my life when I was only ten years old and taught me more and did more for me than any other character or book ever has or ever will. That will never change. Six tattoos isn’t a small amount and that’s for many many reasons.
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
The movie led me to this book and this book made me realize that you didn’t have to write like someone who wrote the classics in order to be a novelist. You can write as if you were talking to your best friend and I was never the same after Meg.
Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce
Besides Harry Potter, I was almost afraid to read fantasy – I didn’t love Narnia and LotR was okay – but then I found this book and it changed my life. It introduced me to one of the best fantasy writers out there and introduced me to the genre I love most.
The Baby-Sitter’s Club Series by Ann M Martin
I joke often how my first stories that I wrote were basically BabySitters Club fan fiction but its honestly not far from the truth. I still own all of these books because of how much they meant to me as a kid and pre-teen and it inspired me to start my own babysitting club.
The Sweet Valley High Series, created by Francine Pascal
I daydreamed every day as a young pre-teen on what it would be like to be a twin and live the fabulous high school life of Jessica and Elizabeth and, alas, my life didn’t quite turn out that way but these books were definitely the forefront of YA and what would soon become my obsessions with stories with twins in them.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
I have never read a book that made me feel so seen. Cath felt and still feels like me in so many ways, in so many ways it almost is eerie and I finished this book in tears because it just felt so good and so relieving to feel like I was seen for the first time, really and truly.
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
I have to say this book – one, because I absolutely love it and two, because young adult literature just wouldn’t exist in the way that it does without this book and its success. So many authors, including myself, credit this book for giving them the confidence to dive into their own stories. I’m so grateful for that.
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
I never knew that I needed science fiction fairy tales until I read this book and then my life changed – this book made me fall in love with alternate tales. It also has been one of the biggest influences in my own science fiction writing and I don’t think The Awakened would’ve been the same without this series.
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Where would I be with Scarlett O’Hara? This book (and movie) is problematic, I understand completely, but it is one of the most epic books that has ever been written and it is written during one of the…most interesting points in our history and there’s just no main character like Scarlett. Plus reading this book at 13 made me realize that I was capable of so much more than I even knew.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I’m sorry but if there is a woman in this world who hasn’t had their life changed by Pride and Prejudice in some way, they just haven’t lived or maybe haven’t even read this book yet, which is blasphemy. This book created one of the strongest, smartest female characters we’ve ever known and it was written so long ago. Perfection.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Leigh Bardugo has changed my life completely – I named my kitty after Kaz. I think Leigh writes some of the best YA fantasy out there and I can’t imagine ever writing like that but she does inspire me to the ends of the earth to become better at writing fantasy. This book just has it all.
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
To say that this book saved my life would not be an exaggeration. I found this series during one of the hardest times in my life and it kept me from sinking, from drowning. It gave me new life and I will always be 100% grateful for it. My love for it also led to a lot of amazing friends as well so I’ll never ever give this book up.
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Without this book, I wouldn’t know Zoey Deutch, my number one crush and the love of my life, so its good that I read it. In all seriousness, this book brought back my love for vampire fiction and I’m so glad it did because I shouldn’t other people dictate what I love and I really do love vampires.
Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen
The first time I read Sarah Dessen was in eighth grade – a friend lent me this book – and I have been reading every single book of hers since. She has been one of my biggest influences in how I write contemporary YA and she is another reason why I love young adult fiction so so much.
All Lined Up by Cora Carmack
This book is a little bittersweet to me now but it still is so important to me, so important that I got “No Easy Days” tattooed on my inner right forearm, because this book didn’t just make me swoon – though it did do that – it made me feel powerful and capable and hopeful and I won’t ever lose that.
The Giver by Lois Lowry
My seventh grade homeroom teacher read this aloud to us during SSR (along with Holes) and I’ve been in love with it since then – I met Lois Lowry back in 2014 and basically was a complete mess because I think this is one of the best children’s books ever written.
Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
I love Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda and the rest of Becky’s books but…this book. THIS BOOK. I’m excited for the Love, Simon show but I am very, very sad that it is not including anything from Leah on the Offbeat because this book is perfection and because it has a bisexual character that I connect to in so many ways.
What They Don’t Know by Nicole Maggi
Have you ever had a book reach into your soul, into your heart, and tell you, I see you. I hear you? Because this book did this. A book about the tough choice that is abortion, it was very familiar to me and it reached into a part of my life that is still emotional to me. Its also just such a hugely important book about a hugely important subject that needs to be talked about more.
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L Sanchez
I sometimes struggle with my identity as a Latina woman because technically, I’m only half. Then I read this book and I felt like Erika saw my soul, saw what it was like to grow up in a predominantly Mexican household, living up to the expectations of the culture. I love love love this book.
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
This has been a huge influence for me, not only as a fantasy writer, but as a feminist as well. Its such a strong story about these amazing girls in a time where girls weren’t supposed to be more than artwork.
Legend by Marie Lu
There is no dystopian novel like Legend. I like dystopian literature anyway but there is just nothing like this series. For one, she saved Los Angeles, which never happens. And two, Marie is just a brilliant writer and this series just stays with me.
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
I don’t know how to explain how much these mean to me. I came to them midway through the Heroes of Olympus and I just fell in love. I love the way Rick writes and I love that he really reaches children and he changes the way we read and we learn and I love it.
Pony Pals Series by Jeanne Betancourt
I freakin loved these books as a child and I will always love them, no matter how cheesy and ridiculous they are. I wanted a pony, just like any other child, but these books are just so full of kindness and friendship and sacrifice and they’re kind of like an after school special but I just love them.
Winger by Andrew Smith
I had never read anything like Winger until I read Winger and not only did it introduce me to a whole different kind of contemporary fiction but it also introduced me to one of the best humans on the planet. Andrew is such a fantastic, life changing author but he’s also such a great friend and has always 100% treated me like an equal and that has meant everything to me in my own journey to be an author.
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
To say that this book inspired me would be an understatement. This was another early contemporary novel I read in my journey to being a YA blogger and I fell in love with it. Its still one of my favorite books of all time – and the movie was done so well – and it inspires me every single time I write anything contemporary.
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
This was my favorite children’s book growing up and its still my favorite kids book. I think its the BEST of Dr. Seuss and literally I probably could still recite it from beginning to end.
Divergent by Veronica Roth
American Girl: Samantha Series by Susan S. Adler and Valerie Tripp
Just as Long as We’re Together by Judy Blume
The Alphabet Series by Sue Grafton
Scorched by Jennifer L Armentrout
Conversations with the Fat Girl by Liza Palmer
I think this might have been one of the first books I read with a fat main character and that will always, always, always stay with me, 100%. It made me feel less ashamed about being the size I am and even just being young and not knowing who the hell I am. This book was incredibly powerful to me.