Whether you enjoy reading or not, there is one thing that we all have: a favorite book. That one perfect story that swept you away when you first read it and never quite let you go.
Since I've entered college, I've done a lot of reading - you know, textbook reading. Reading that article or chapter seven for the third time to prep for the test that I absolutely HAD to get an A on to get the A in the class...to no avail. I miss being able to read on my terms when the book in my hand was one that I had chosen.
1. "East of Eden" by John SteinbeckGiphy
I read this for the first time in my senior year of high school and fell so in love with it that it inspired my first tattoo. It reinforced the idea that one word can mean so much more than its definition. The word in question: "But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—'Thou mayest'— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if 'Thou mayest'—it is also true that 'Thou mayest not." The word timshel, and the story I read it in reminded me that my life is my own. My choices are mine and mine alone, and fate is not something already set; it is a blank slate for me to fill in.
2. "The Passage" by Justin CroninGiphy
This is not your typical apocalypse series. For one thing, they aren't zombies, but closer to vampires, and are driven by a hunger for blood instead of brains. They move with a hive mind, each connected back to one of the Twelve - the Twelve being the death-row inmates that the government chose to make superhuman. There is no race against time to stop the Twelve and their armies; death and heartbreak is inevitable, and when all is said and done, the survivors can only do just that: survive, keep each other safe, and try to find small pockets of happiness amidst the bloodshed that keeps coming back, years and years into the future. It's a three-book series and one that I find something new every time I go back.
3. "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte BronteGiphy
Speaking of heartbreak, this demonstrated better than anything else that love is not simple and life can be cruel for no reason at all. Jane struggles throughout her childhood and finally gets a good-paying job with a boss that seems unwelcoming at first, but quickly falls in love with Jane, and Jane with him. But there are complications from his past marriage and she leaves, unwilling to be with a man who has lied to her. When she finally returns, it is after a series of events that changed her, and her lover has changed as well. Love is not simple - it evolves, and we with it.
4. "Harry Potter" by J.K. RowlingGiphy
This will always be the series that inspired me to write my own stories. I remember reading "Goblet of Fire" in first or second grade during a long trip to Alabama; my mom had to come to the school to convince the librarians to let me check it out because it was in the "big kid section" and I was just seven years old. I was still young when "Deathly Hallows" was released and it was read with my family on another trip to visit family. We took turns reading out loud while our mom drove, and I was the one to read Molly Weasley's iconic line - if you've read the book, you know the one. This continues to be a defining aspect of my life, years later and long after the story ended.
5. "A Song of Ice and Fire" by George R. R. MartinGiphy
I learned a long time ago that not all of my favorite characters will make it to the end of the book (see the series mentioned above) but this series is like a punch in the face at least ten times in every book, usually more. There is a power behind each character, each point of view bringing the pieces together. Each death has a reason and a price. I got in trouble multiple times when I first read the series in high school. I couldn't put it down, first "A Game of Thrones" and then "A Clash of Kings" until summer came and I could finally read freely. Don't get me wrong, the show is good, but there is so much that it does not capture about this series.