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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

As an English Education major, I read constantly in a wide range of genres. While I always have a hard time picking my favorite book, it is easier to point to (some) books that changed my life. Whether I have read them for school or for personal enjoyment, these 10 books are unforgettable. These books left a lasting impact on me and my outlook on life in some way. Scroll through to check out a range of classics, young adult novels, and contemporary fiction that I recommend due to the way they shaped my life.

Lovely War by Julie Berry
Viking Books for Young Readers/Amazon

Lovely War is a recent read of mine and outside my typical genre as it is historical fiction. That said, it is a beautiful love story told by Greek gods and set during World War I. The uniqueness of the storytelling stood out to me immediately. Alongside the unique storytelling approach, this novel revealed the soul-crushing emotions that come along with love. I had to set this book down several times just to feel, absorb, and exist in the book’s moment.

“She believed if she could comfort them, then she might one day receive comfort.”

Lovely War, Julie Berry
Daisy Jones and The Six by Talyor Jenkins Reid

“Love is forgiveness and patience and faith and every once in a while, it’s a gut punch.”

Daisy Jones and the Six, Taylor Jenkins Reid

Daisy Jones was recommended to me by a friend, and since finishing it, I have not regretted reading it. This is just stunningly written and an immersive experience. The interview style of storytelling stands out in contrast to many other novels and lends itself to being a quick read. I can say honestly that I cried, laughed, reminisced, and loved as I read this novel.

The Stranger by Albert Camus
Vintage/Amazon

Many high school students read The Stranger, and I am no different. I read this short book in my AP English class, and it made me fall in love with philosophy. Perhaps some of it was my teachers doing, but my worldview changed fundamentally as a result of this novel.

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

A couple semesters back, I read Invisible Man for a class centered on ethnic American literature. This novel presents an interesting view to race relations and injustices. While its critical review on race is vital to the book, it also thrives on its existential thought processes. The nameless narrator balances the big life questions while dealing with his feelings of invisibility. Quotes like the one below continually resonate with me.

“I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer.”

Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers/Amazon

This beautifully written young adult novel is incredibly insightful. Its presentation of grief, struggle, and mental health unlike anything I ever read before. The poetic language of the novel lends itself to stunning mental imagery and highlights a flowing nature of language.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Washington Square Press/Amazon

BookTok promoted this book, so I decided to pick it up. I was also glad that I actually read it because I did not want it to end. I could have lived in this book’s world for so much longer. The books flashes of the past with hints of the present left a resounding echo behind in my mind. I consistently think of this book and have plans to reread it soon.

“Sometimes reality comes crashing down on you. Other times reality simply waits, patiently, for you to run out of the energy it takes to deny it.”

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid
All the Bright pLaces by Jennifer Niven

When people ask me what my favorite book is, I usually say All the Bright Places. This novel was the first book that made me feel seen in my experiences with mental health. While I would recommend checking the trigger warnings on this one, it showed me that I was not alone. I consider this my comfort book still. It’s power reminds me consistently that I am here and have the opportunity to live a beautiful life even when it may be hard. This book will sit with me even when I feel most alone in the world, so I could never forget it.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Perhaps this is a cheesy answer for an English major, but this book taught me so much about language. From start to finish, I was enthralled by the way Fitzgerald writes even if the story was not my absolute favorite. (I think the green light thing is played up too much). However, I will always look to this book as a beautiful representation of language; I often wish I could write like Fitzgerald. 

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
Hurricane Season by Nicole Melleby
Algonquin Young Readers/Amazon

Hurricane Season is an eyeopening middle grade book. I cried my way through parts of it because even though the main character is a 6th grader, the novel reflects on her watching her dad struggle with mental illness. The father and daughter must also confront what it means to love each other. The story interweaves LGBTQIA+ issues and mental illness with the art and life of Vincent Van Gogh in a way that is not only well written but emotional.

The GRace Year by Kim Liggett
Wednesday Books/Amazon

I hardly ever hear anyone talk about The Grace Year but this has to be one of the best, most captivating Young adult novels ever written. This fast-paced novel offers a poignant picture of what it is to be a young woman in a society that does not treat women fairly. 

“Your eyes are wide open, but you see nothing.”

The Grace Year Kim Liggett

Ultimately, these 10 books are completely unforgettable because if their use of language, the way they made me feel, and their impact on my life. I highly recommend you check them out too!

HCXO, Natalie

Natalie Flory

Millersville '23

Natalie Flory is a senior English Education major with a minor in English as a Second Language/Linguistics at Millersville University. In her free time, Natalie loves reading young adult books, crocheting, writing, and spending time with family and friends.