the words that shaped me

i read this post a few weeks ago and it stuck with me because whatever your chosen profession or hobby, it’s interesting to step back and think about how you got started and what is was that motivated you to begin and how it all shaped you.

these are the books that set me on my current path.

HARRY POTTER series by j.k. rowling.  i found this series when i was in college right as the third book was about to be released and it made me thank my lucky stars that Sister E was so much younger because it gave me an excuse to read YA. but as i kept reading, i realized rowling had broken down the barriers and made it okay to write YA and admit you loved the YA genre. her attention to detail, her fully developed characters, her humor, and the magic. these books are a tour de force and she deserves every single penny she’s earned.

HUNGER GAMES by suzanne collins. i’m not talking about the series here, i’m just talking about the first book. this book made me forget i was reading and i never remembered turning the pages; i was just there side by side with katniss as she forged her way forward. she’s a tough, solid, resourceful character and not one prone to romance, in short, she’s refreshingly different from most of the other YA heroines. only suzanne collins could turn a premise as grisly as this into a book that’s beloved by all. this is one book i can (and have) confidently recommend(ed) to anyone.

IF I STAY by gayle forman. this book ripped my heart out and then stitched it back together and i never saw it coming. i’d heard about this book, but the original jacket didn’t catch my attention, so never gave it a second thought. i’d browsed through it at the bookstore before, but i always put it back. it wasn’t until about a year later (at the commanding of a librarian friend) that i finally picked it up. i didn’t put it down until i’d finished it + a box of tissues.

THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by jandy nelson. this book is one of the most gorgeous things i’ve ever read. it’s sad and heartbreakingly funny and inappropriate and relatable and awesome. jandy takes normal, everyday language and makes it lush and evocative. this is exactly the kind of writing i want to do.

THE SCORPIO RACES by maggie stiefvater. this is the most recent addition to the list, but it’s a welcome one. this book drips with emotion — good, bad, and ugly — and is stunning in its starkness. at the end of the day, this book is hopeful, which is the best we can ask of ourselves and our lives.

what book or decision or moment set YOU on your way?