Have you ever felt like you were meant to read certain books at a particular point in your life? Like you found these books at just the right time to make an impact? Or do you even feel like sometimes, certain books find you?
For me, I’ve always been under the belief that certain things happen sometimes for a reason. I’m not sure if I believe in fate, or the powers of the universe or whatever, but sometimes things are too much of a coincidence to simply be left up to chance. Like how I could have picked up literally any other book at that time in my life, but for one reason or another, these particular titles jumped out at me, begging to be read. And I’ve been forever changed because of that.
So buckle in, because I’m going to get personal with you about five of the books that have changed my life. They all came to me in a time I really needed them, and for that reason, they’ll forever have a special place in my heart.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The Flywheel was the first book I ever read with a queer female protagonist, and reading that when I was 16 just meant the world to me. Although I’ve grown up believing I should be free to love whoever I love regardless of gender, I read this book at a time where I was really beginning to question my sexuality and how I identified. It was just so important for me to read a book with a queer female protagonist at that point in my life, and I’ll always have a special connection to this book because of that. Plus, it was one of the first #LoveOzYA novels I ever read—so that was amazing too. The Flywheel helped me figure out how I identified and that my sexuality was valid, and ultimately it was one of the many things that led to me being comfortable and open about my identity today.
This book couldn’t have come at a more important time for me. Although I’ve always found it hard to talk openly about my struggles with my mental health on social media because of the way those platforms so often just show the best in people’s lives, I don’t hide the fact that I struggled with severe depression in high school. And now, in my second year of university, I’m still recovering from that. Reading This Savage Song reminded me that even though my mental illness sometimes made me feel like I couldn’t breathe—like there was a monster inhabiting the dark corners of my mind—I would get through this. Like August struggled with his own demons and the threat of “relapsing”, I was battling with mine. August’s story told me that I couldn’t let the darkness win, and that struggling with depression didn’t make me a burden.
I read Radio Silence just as I was starting my first year of university, and it was everything I needed in my life at the time—and more. Starting uni was incredible and scary and disappointing all at once. I hated high school and I thought uni would be some kind of phenomenal experience, but it was so different from what I expected. I started doing my dream course, but it wasn’t living up to expectations. The teachers didn’t care about us like they did at my high school. And I didn’t know anyone there. Radio Silence is about two high school students who are questioning whether going to uni is really the right choice for them, and it was just so important for me to see that sometimes university isn’t for everything. That I shouldn’t feel bad for not loving it. And even though I’m still at uni and I’m still doing the same degree, reading Radio Silence helped me realise that university isn’t the be-all and end-all. Making sure I’m doing the things I’m passionate about is so, so important. Without passion, what are we?
I was eager to get my hands on They Both Die at the End ever since I heard about it being released, but I didn’t know just how much I was going to love it until I read it. Like all the other books I’ve mentioned, this book undeniably changed my life. The author’s note at the beginning of the ARC had me in tears by the second paragraph, and from that, I knew this novel was going to be incredibly important in my life. I read it at a time where I wasn’t sure whether or not I should come out to my family, or if I could even love the people I wanted to love knowing my family wouldn’t approve unless they were a cis male. But They Both Die at the End told me that we don’t know how much longer we have on this planet. We could die tomorrow for all we know. It showed me to not be afraid to live in the moment, to do the things I’m passionate about and speak my mind, because none of us know how much time we have left. They Both Die at the End helped me realise I shouldn’t be afraid to be the person I really am. The person I’ve always wanted to ashamedly be. And I think now, because of that book, I am. Adam Silvera gave me that confidence, and I’ll love him and his novels forever because of that.
This is the most recent addition to my list and a book I only just finished reading, but it was just so powerful and so important. As a writer, I’ve been feeling a bit like my writing won’t ever be as good as others and I’ve been wondering if I’ll ever actually be published and if everything I’m doing will be worth it. Some days I can’t wait to start writing. Other days I have to push myself to get words down, struggling with the feeling like I won’t ever “make it”. And then, just by chance, I decided to pick up Down and Across. It’s a book about grit, persistence, and finding what you’re passionate for. What makes it one that I’ll always remember is how it talks about the people succeeding being those who didn’t give up. Who were gritty. Who persisted. What matters most is your ability to stick with something, even when it gets hard. Especially when it gets hard. And Down and Across reminded me of that. Some of the best things in my life have happened when I’ve been on the very brink of losing hope, of giving up, and that reminder couldn’t have come at a better time for me.
What books have made an impact in your life? Have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned? Are any of them on your TBR? Which books remind you of a certain time in your life? I’d love to know!