To All The Books I’ve Loved Before

I promise you this is the last blog post that’s somehow related to Jenny Han’s book.

I’ve been meaning to put this post together for a little while, but the list of books I’m about to shove into your faces is way longer than I thought. Who knew that so many books inspired me to keep reading!

I wanted to put together a list of all the books I’ve read and loved and somehow impacted my life. Either they turned me onto a new genre or they changed my perspective, these are the books I’ve loved before. These are the ones I carried around with me for an endless number of days. These are the ones that are heavily annotated with my dog ears and highlighter.

I love these books. There aren’t many that really shook me up, but these books wiggled their way into my heart and I wanted to share these books with you.

The books pictured are only the tip of the iceberg. This was what I was able to find from my stacks and also much older books. A lot of the books I read now do inspire me to keep reading, but I wanted to share with you the books that really kickstarted it all. I do hope you enjoy. Have you read any of these before? Will you be reading some in the future?

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

I read this book when I was in high school for my final senior year English paper. The objective of the paper was to get a feel of what’s about to come in college; hours spent in the library, researching quotes, creating theories, and then sourcing all of it. It was such a huge ordeal, but I finally did write that paper. This book gives me so many wonderful memories of my time spent writing it. While I never want to write a college-style paper again, I think that I would approach this one much differently now.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Every once in a while I get the hankering to read a classic. In this case, I decided to take on Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, the story of a young man haunted by his dead lover and eventually goes insane. It’s probably my favorite book by the Bronte sisters despite the fact I’ve never read Jane Eyre. Don’t question my logic here, just know that this book was good.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleline L’Engle

This book is credited as the first book I remember reading. Granted, there were others like The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, but this is the one I remember reading on my own and thinking, “wow, books are super cool.” Also, having a strong female character that finds it within herself to save her father, her brother, and her friend from a person intent on destroying everything has got to be the most compelling and influential story of my life.

Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins

I remember wanting to read this book after seeing the movie 50 First Dates because it makes a little cameo. Nothing more than showing its cover on the screen and it was enough for me to be intrigued. What was this book about? What I didn’t know is that it would lead me down the road to more obscure reading. I feel like Still Life with Woodpecker can live in a genre on its own and during my mid-20s when I was wilding out and alone, I found comfort in the obscure.

On Writing by Stephen King

Even if you’re not thinking about pursuing a career in writing, you should definitely check out this book. I’ve never read any Stephen King novels, but this book made me think of him as a modern day Ernest Hemingway. Yeah he may not remember writing some of his most famous books (like Cujo), but his method of writing is so different that you will read this, do drugs, and then possibly write a novel.

Also, you found out a lot about how he found inspiration to write some of his novels, stories from his personal life, and how he perceives his life in the future.

On Beauty by Zadie Smith

There was this one summer where I was trying to read Zadie Smith’s other novel White Teeth and I just couldn’t get into it. However, it didn’t throw me off from the rest of her body of work so I decided to read On Beauty. This was probably one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read. It’s not my first time reading literary fiction, but I just so fondly remember reading this book and being so blown away by how prolific and interesting Zadie Smith wrote. I ended up falling in love with her writing after this novel and eventually will get back to reading White Teeth.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

You will see this book everywhere on my blog. I talk about this book incessantly because even though it’s a much more modern novel, I still carry it along with me. I can never stop thinking about it and it really did open my eyes to certain things.

Many people dub books written by authors of color as “important” just because it’s written by an author of color. However, Homegoing is important because it shows you the two sides of slavery. It shows you what those decisions to have slaves meant for the African people. I cried thinking about coming to this country completely stripped of everything you ever knew. It’s so important because it showed me what slavery really was like and how it impacts the lives of African American people today.

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I read this book while I was in college, but not as required reading. There was a period in my college career where I just didn’t care about classes or assignments, so I read in class instead. I read books I wanted to read and while some books were duds (like Catcher in the Rye), Love in the Time of Cholera was a breathtaking story about two young people who loved each other, but fell under different circumstances. While they both lived their lives, they never forgot about each other hoping to reconnect in the future. It’s richly dense writing, but beautiful in all of its storytelling. It’s probably my favorite love story of all (next to Wuthering Heights).

Beloved by Toni Morrison

I like to credit The Joy Luck Club as my first book in diverse literature, but Beloved was the first book that really punched you in the face with Africa American life post-slavery. It’s also the first Toni Morrison book I ever read and absolutely loved. She’s such a dark storyteller and it’s not a horror because it’s been fictionalized. It’s scary because it’s so true. While you may not believe Beloved is actually a real person, she represents the past, the suffering, and the heartache of losing a loved one during the most traumatic period of their life. Definitely read this one to be changed.

Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence

I decided one winter to read Sons and Lovers and I don’t regret it. I’ve always wanted to read D.H. Lawrence after I saw Reese Witherspoon in Pleasantville pick up one of his books and really get into it. It was an author that switched her from black and white to color. It was how she found her true self and embodied it. So I wanted to read it and see what all the fuss was about. I’m so glad I did because it’s one of my favorite classic novels.

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

This is actually a collection of letters written by Cheryl Strayed when she was still “Dear Sugar” on The Rumpus. However, what Cheryl Strayed accomplished while being Dear Sugar was inspire and motivate everyone that wrote to her. Be it about love and relationships, being a writer, or being alive, Cheryl Strayed has the sort of straightforward advice that I love. Stop making excuses and do the damn thing kind of advice. I’ll cherish this book and I refer back to it from time to time when I’m feeling particularly down on myself.

Dune by Frank Herbert

Okay, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I read DUNE. All I read was that it was about a young prince who goes to this planet where they produce a drug called Spice. What I read, though, was an amazing book about a privileged kid who gets a dose of reality. That reality also includes a lot of sand worms, political power plays, and a tiny bit of romance.

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

I don’t know how I picked up this novel, but one day I decided to read it and I discovered my love for fantasy YA. Yeah, it could have easily been The Hunger Games or Twilight, but something about how complex and well-thought the world was in The Bone Season that it made Bella and Katniss look like fantasy amateurs. I love a wild and tough girl who can defend herself. I love how the magic works and because this was my intro into a better fantasy series, I think I’ll always love it.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

I tend to tell people that this was the first book I ever read about diversity specifically my own diversity. And for the most part, it’s true. I’ve read so many Toni Morrison novels and even rave about Homegoing, but nothing hit more home to me than The Joy Luck Club when I was 15 and trying to figure out who I am.


5 thoughts on “To All The Books I’ve Loved Before

  1. Interesting idea for a post! You have great taste in books. I’ve been wanting to check out Zadie Smith’s work for a while now, and I’ll probably start with On Beauty after reading your thoughts.


  2. If you loved Homegoing, you’ll probably love The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill. I read that book a few years ago and absolutely loved every word of it. It was such an engaging, emotional ride and I recommend it to people all the time!


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