As an English teacher, I have firm beliefs that everyone is truly a reader. For those who say they don’t like reading, it’s merely because they have yet to find that book that really impacts them. Because of this, I have decided to create a list of books that significantly changed my life, and why these books had such an impact on me. Between fiction, non-fiction, fantasy, and even graphic novels, it is difficult to choose just a few that left an impression on me, because every book seems to leave me with some sort of resonating feeling. However, this list is a strong compilation of those that really stick to the heart.
Sandman by Neil Gaiman
The Sandman is a graphic novel that ran for 25 years and definitely breaks the mold of what graphic novels used to be. Gaiman has extensive knowledge of mythology, culture, and religions, and uses his characters in The Sandman to really illustrate how powerful the impact history has on the modern world. The main characters are called The Endless. They are seven siblings that represent the core values of people: Destiny, Destruction, Dream, Desire, Despair, Delirium, and Death. Dream is the main character, and the reader watches his story unfold throughout all of history. Anyone who has ever been inspired by a dream is displayed in his story: William Shakespeare, Egyptians, Folklore, even the dreams of a domestic house cat. Reading this story was an emotional roller coaster for me. I saw similarities in the relationship between Dream and Delirium (siblings) that my brother and I also experienced. Gaiman made me feel like I was involved in an inside job, moving right alongside the characters.
Mumbo Jumbo by Ishmael Reed
Mumbo Jumbo is a historical fiction novel based in the United States 1920’s jazz era. Written with some traditional slang, the characters travel from New Orleans, to Chicago, to Harlem and to any other place jazz heavily influenced in the united states. It’s a social argument story as well, showing the struggle that mainstream culture experienced when they realized that jazz was on the rise and soon, white people would be listening to black people music. For anyone interested in social change and revolutionary history in America, this book is a must read. Reed impacted me because I could now see through someone else’s eyes. As an author, he is also a social activist who supports multicultural education and teaching history inclusively.
The Sword of Truth Series by Terry Goodkind
Where most of my generation followed Harry Potter to Hogwarts, I followed Richard and Kahlan into the unknown world of the Confessor. This series has twelve total novels included. I finished them in a summer. When the stories were over, I suffered the consequences of being heavily invested in characters and found myself reflecting back on what lessons they had learned, how they overcame amazing odds, and found myself wishing that I had the adventures they did. I became more daring in my personal life because honestly, books just change you like that. I figured if Kahlan could withstand all that her villains threw at her, why couldn’t I do the same? This is a fantasy series that resonates seriously in the real world.
Everworld by Katherine Applegate
I read this book as a teenager, and then read it again as an adult. This is one of those gems that did not at all lose it’s meanings. The story is about a group of teenagers who accidentally follow a witch into another dimension. Growing up in love with stories such as Narnia, Alice in Wonderland, and The Wizard of Oz, I hated that characters would leave these fantastic worlds and come back to the humdrum of regular life. In Everworld, the characters function in between both worlds. When they sleep in the alternative dimension world, they are awake and going through daily life in the “real” world. This way, they can use the resources of modern technology whenever they needed to research a solution to a problem they were experiencing in the new dimension. This one is also mythological based; many of the characters they meet are gods from old religions. This book made me utilize my access to technology more. I looked up every character I did not know. In fact, this is how I know everything about Thor and can manage to keep up with those movies as well.
While this list could go on and on, I’ll have to skip going into details on Mercedes Lackey, Melanie Rawn, or Chuck Palanuik an hope that sharing my top favorite novels will get you interested in reading until you find what impacts you the most. A perfect book is out there, and the adventure for finding it is worth the read.