I’m a big reader. If you know me, you’ll know that I usually have some form of book with me wherever I go. And if I’m not reading, then I’m usually writing instead.
So to celebrate all things books, and also the release of the amazing John Green’s new book Turtles All The Way Down (because why not!), I’ve decided to put together a list of 5 books that inspired me to be both a reader and a writer.
They are largely young adult/childrens books, and I didn’t put that in the title because the genre tends to put people off. A colleague recently asked me if I read YA for research, and although it its incredibly beneficial to me for that reason, I also love it, too.
Being a teenager is such an important time of anyone’s life, in fact, I challenge you to show me anyone that hasn’t somehow been affected in any way by their teenage years. And for me, YA has no boundaries. One of my MA tutors told me the only thing off limits with this genre is sex, but I’ve seen that popping up on pages lately, too.
So if you’re looking for a new read, I recommend you start with one from this list. I have read, and adored, them all. And I might even sneak a cheeky ‘adult’ book in there too for all you YA non-believers.
1. Paper Towns – John Green
We should start this list with Paper Towns, considering this list has been done in celebration of Green’s new release!
Paper Towns tells the story of Quentin and his undying love for Margo, who one night climbs through his bedroom window and takes him on a revenge-fuelled road trip. However, Margo goes missing the next day, leaving a trail of clues in her wake. Quentin goes on a journey of discovery, trying to piece together who Margo really is, and also tries to find his missing friend.
The novel is set in Orlando, which is a delight, and ironically made me think a lot about my hometown St Helens and the need to escape that I felt as a teenager.
Favourite line: “It is so hard to leave—until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.”
2. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
Arguably one of my favourite books of all time, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is undoubtedly brilliant.
The story sees the protagonist, Charlie, swept up into the lives of Sam and Patrick, the former of whom Charlie develops feelings for. It’s told through his POV, which has a unique and vulnerable outlook on life, and there is a HUGE twist at the end of it which really blows your socks off. It’s a wonderfully written book, and I can’t recommend it enough.
Favourite line: “So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”
3. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – Douglas Adams
This book really took me by surprise. I’ve never seen any of the adaptations on TV or film, so I went in without any preconceived ideas – which is the best way sometimes!
I started to read this book after a friend lent it to me, and I was thoroughly delighted.
This isn’t a YA book, and it’s the only adult entry that makes it onto the list, but it has to be here because it is incredible, hilarious, and sci-fi – which people should read more of.
It focuses in on the character of Arthur Dent, who ends up travelling around space with Ford Prefect, his best friend that turns out to be an alien. And it’s utterly mad and bonkers and brilliant all at the same time.
Favourite line: “A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.”
4. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone- JK Rowling
How could a book list ever exist without the Queen herself, JK Rowling? I’m pretty sure you don’t need me to recap the story for you here, but just in case…
A young boy called Harry Potter discovers he’s a wizard and goes to school at a magical castle known as Hogwarts. He soon discovers that his parents were killed by one of the darkest wizards known to man, Lord Voldemort, and that he’s going to come after him again, too.
It sounds quite sinister when you put it like that, doesn’t it? But if you haven’t read the Harry Potter series you really should. There’s just so much more detail compared to the movies, and they’re a lot funnier, too.
Favourite Lines; “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”
5. Peter Pan – J.M. Barrie
We’ve all seen Disney’s version of Peter Pan, so it may come as a surprise to some to find out the original story does have some very key differences.
This includes Wendy being shot of the sky, Captain Hook poisoning Peter Pan, and more. Again, here’s a brief recap just in case you don’t know who Peter Pan is. (Just leave now.)
Peter Pan tells the story of Peter, Wendy, John and Michael. Peter takes them all to Neverland, in the hope that Wendy will become their mother. Of course, she develops feelings for him and he for her, and Tinkerbell, Peter’s fairy, gets jealous and does her best to get rid of Wendy.
I won’t give anymore details, but I recommend revisiting this childhood classic. You might just find it’s not quite how you remember it.
Favourite line: “The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.”
Book, glorious books!
There are, of course, other books I adore. Sherlock Holmes and Winnie The Pooh to mention a small few, but these are some standout novels that will broaden your mind and entertain in equal measures. Enjoy!