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30 for 30: 10 Books That Made Me Who I Am

Scary, mortality-crisis-inducing confession: I turned 30 this month!

I’ve frankly no time for the aforementioned crisis (the world is hard enough without dwelling on the ageing process; it’s just a number; I’m so old; where does the spiral begin; where does it end?), and it’s been a difficult enough year without being morbid about something (else) I have no control over. So instead, if I have to get older, I might as well do it with as much fanfare as possible–like three Fangirl Fridays on characters, fictional worlds, and books that made me the reader/writer/person I am today!

[Read Part One, my 10 most beloved characters, here; and Part Two, my favourite fictional worlds, here!]


10 Books That Have Had a Meaningful Impact on Me

1. Matilda by Roald Dahl
It’s possible I said everything I could about Matilda in Part 1 of this blog series, but TL;DR–Matilda was my first bookish friend, and my first bookish mirror, and twenty-odd years on, I’m still referred to as ‘giving off Matilda vibes’. The book is printed on my soul.

2. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
If Matilda is printed on my soul, Harry Potter is sewn into its very fabric. The books are attached to so many important parts of my life–my oldest friendships, my worst experiences with grief, my graduation, when my fiance proposed–that they’re like Click-and-Find games, hidden in the background of every emotional event that made me who I am.

3. The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart
Most of the time, you remember reading the book, not where you were when you discovered it: but I very vividly remember standing in my library at twelve years old, craving a distraction from the awful orthodontistry I’d just been through, and spotting a book with a green ceramic frog on the cover. That book was The Boyfriend List, and it was my first foray into YA–still my favourite genre, eighteen years later. Thank God for funny, desperate, anxious Roo, and her lists, and her gifted ceramic frogs, for giving me YA and changing my reading habits forever.

4. Poison by Chris Wooding
I mentioned Poison in Part 1 of this series, too–part of my adoration for sullen, stubborn protagonists–but she wasn’t the only part of this book to have an impact on me. Without wanting to spoil too much, there’s a twist two thirds of the way through that involves writing, and how impactful and important it can be: and it’s not an exaggeration to say that if my soul had a jaw, it would have dropped. I wanted to do That Thing the Hierophant does–and I’m still chasing it all these years later.

5. The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot
The Princess Diaries is a series I come back to if I’m down, or a bit disillusioned with reading or writing, because it’s got such heart and it’s so joyful. The brilliance of this series is a hill I will die on, and its impact is as simple as this: it makes me want to write a story that sits in someone’s heart the way it sits in mine.

6. Tithe by Holly Black
Tithe was one of the first YA fantasies I read; so as well as being my introduction to mind-blowing Holly Black books (she’s still one of my favourite authors, half of my life later), it’s also the reason I delved into other YA fantasies. Without Tithe, I wouldn’t have The Mortal Instruments, Twilight, the Grishaverse, and a whole bunch of other other YA fantasies I love; Tithe was my gateway into Faerie, and a whole other bunch of worlds besides. It opened a hundred wonderful doors, and for that, like the aliens in Toy Story, I am eternally grateful.

7. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that you can’t read this book and dislike it; and it’s a truth personally acknowledged that Pride and Prejudice led me to understand how much I enjoy reading–and writing–romance. Lifechanging!

8. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
I don’t know quite what it is about the Shadowhunter books, but they’re the first ones I think of when I think of being part of a fandom. I was reading Twilight fanfiction and hoarding Harry Potter merch long before I ever heard of the Shadowhunter world, but–maybe because it’s the first book I made a friend through, or the first time I travelled to real-life places to look for fictional ghosts–this is the series I associate fandom with, and that is a powerful impact indeed.

9. The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
Listen, I know it’s unpopular to like popular things, but sometimes they’re popular for a reason–and this one has many. Not only is it a masterclass in writing–yes, I said it; if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t make people desperate, crying beings who throw their books across the room–but also in trusting your audience to be able to handle powerful, uncomfortable topics. For me, that was never as effective as when it explored grief–this was the book I turned to to understand my own, and feel understood in it.

10. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Oh, say what you will about Twilight–I did, here–it came along during a crappy period of my life, and moody, brooding vampires who’d protect you with their lives (existences?) and love you forever… That spoke straight to my depressed seventeen-year-old soul. Twilight gave me a world to live in when I didn’t like my own–and that, friends, is the power of reading.


Well, that’s my bookish journey! What books have had the biggest impact on you?

2 thoughts on “30 for 30: 10 Books That Made Me Who I Am

Add yours

  1. This is a great list! (And happy belated birthday!)

    The Nancy Drew books had a big impact on me as a kid. I look back now, and they’re not great books (and many of them come with a lot of problems) but at the time they were one of the few series on my library’s shelf with a girl main character. Seeing a girl do all the things the boys did was huge.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! ❤️

      YES. I’ve not read the Nancy Drew books, but there are certainly a whole host of books I have fond memories of that I now recognise huge issues with. There has to be some balance, I think, between appreciating being able to see the issues—and definitely holding modern books to a higher ethical standard—and appreciating what they did, for their time. I’m glad the Nancy Drew books had such a profound impact on you!


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