5 Books That Changed My Life

When growing up, you always want to attach yourself to something, or to find someone or something to relate to and emulate them as a way to understand yourself and the foreign concept of identity. Whether it’s movies, TV shows, music, or literature, we all want something to identify with, to help us feel a part of something greater than ourselves and to guide us in trying to find an identity as a young person. There are certain books that in my mind are placeholders or book-ends on certain chapters of my life– books that had a really powerful impact on me and have stuck with me as I’ve grown up. Not surprisingly, most of these books are some form of an angsty teen coming-of-age story but nonetheless, they inspired me and altered the way I view the world, even to this day. 

Woman holding a white mug with breakfast food and a book open on a bed

  1. 1. Perks of Being a Wallflower

    I read Perks of Being a Wallflower when I was fourteen and just starting my freshman year of high school and as cliché as it sounds, this book really changed my life. At the time, I had never read a book that I so closely related to or made me feel as understood and accepted. I remember reading this book and feeling such a deep, personal connection to the story as it was very similar to my freshman experience and I cherished that. Every teenager should read Perks of Being a Wallflower at some point because it is such a quintessential coming of age story and most young people can relate to it on some level at some point in their adolescence. 

  2. 2. Catcher in the Rye

    Another absolute classic and required reading for any young person, Catcher in the Rye. This is probably the book that has had the strongest impact on me because it really did completely change the way I viewed the world and my entire perspective on adolescence. I reluctantly read Catcher for the first time in a high school English class and I became captivated by the character of Holden Caulfield and his cynical, satirical teenage narrative. I identified with Holden on a lot of levels but part of what I fell in love with about him was how much he reminded me of specific people I went to school with because he is such a universally understood character in youth culture, but in a very original and unique way. Catcher in the Rye and J.D. Salinger revolutionized the entire coming-of-age genre, but at the time, it was a very controversial book because of its depiction of teenage culture and mentality. 

  3. 3. Lord of the Flies

    As I’m sure you’ve gathered from the list thus far, I’m a big fan of coming-of-age stories and the classic Lord of the Flies is no exception. I read this in 8th grade and it really sparked my love and passion for reading and despite the extenuating circumstances of the plot, I still found it an extremely relatable and important testament to the potential cruelty of growing up. 

  4. 4. Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood

    As a southerner, this book really resonated with me in terms of the main character’s relationship to her background and southern culture, but it is also a book that is very universal because it is very female-centric. It explores the complexities of women from all walks of life and celebrates female friendship in a raw and truthful light as well as the intricacies of mother-daughter relationships. Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood is a book that encapsulates so many different stages of a woman’s life, including the joyous moments of youth that make you feel invincible and the moments of harsh, unforgiving reality. 

     

  5. 5. The Secret History

    A book about mystery, friendship, trust, and betrayal, The Secret History is one of my favorite books of all time. Not only is the story riveting and the characters wonderfully quirky and original, but the writing is inspiring. It’s an incredibly suspenseful and complex story and the author Donna Tartt also weaves in beautifully intimate moments between the characters, all of whom are college students, in order to create a story of mystery and depth. 

     

The power of art is indisputable. Literature has been revolutionizing society and inspiring people since it was first produced and continues to do so, possibly even more so today than ever before.

I always love to hear what books or pieces of art have been influential in shaping people’s lives and I’m always looking for recommendations so please reach out and share your favorite books, movies, or anything else that inspires you!

Want to keep up with HCBU? Make sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, check out our Pinterest board, and read our latest Tweets!