I've been reading books since I was very, very young, and therefore the characters and stories in the books I've read have had a huge impact on my life. My personal heroes and role models were all book characters, and when life got tough I'd turn to my favorite stories not only for solace but for advice as well. Books are a huge part of my life, and every one of them has had a profound impact on me, but there are three books that stand out amongst the rest. These are the three books that have had the largest impact on my life thus far.
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
My 5th grade teacher was the one who introduced me to this book. She read it to my whole class at the start of the year and put a big emphasis on the novels central theme, which in essence is to be yourself. I reread this book at the start of every school year to remind myself of that very important lesson. I'm at a time in my life when its not so easy to be who I am. There are people who will disagree with me or sometimes even be mean to me because of the person I am, the activities I do, or the way I dress. But Stargirl empowers me to never loose sight of myself and cave into peer pressure just to fit in. Stargirl teaches that the best thing you can be is you, and you're happiest when you're doing what you love and being who you are.
I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
This book really showed me the importance of living. It sounds funny, but its true. This book opened my eyes to the reality that far too often I had sat around and let my life go to waste. I spent too much time being angry, doing less than my best, sticking with people or activities that I didn’t enjoy and that didn’t enrich my life, I wasn’t living so much as existing. I am the Messenger showed me that there is not a day to be wasted, and each day we should grab life by the balls and make the most out of it. It led me, and leads me still, to take a really deep look at my life and to ask myself if I’m really happy, if I’m doing more than simply existing, in the place I’m at right now. Because of this book I’m determined to do my best every day, I make healthy lifestyle choices, I get out of relationships that are bad for me, and I’m excited about the future I’m making for myself.
Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
I hated this book, absolutely hated it. I actually hated it so much I didn’t even get all the way through it. And yet it is the book that by far has had the most profound impact on me. I disliked this book because it was confusing, since its written in a stream of consciousness style that was hard to follow and understand, but more than that the plot was boring and disgusting. Simply put, its about a man having sex and degrading women while complaining about being poor. There is not a single woman in this novel who is more than just a sexual object, and only one actually has a name and is a recurring character. So why then, did this book I despise so much, change my life the most?
This book showed me why all art is important and valuable. Why all forms of creativity should be free to be published, viewed and displayed. No book, painting, song or dance should ever be banned or kept from the public eye because it makes someone uncomfortable, or it discusses topics that people think are inappropriate or taboo. Because this book, despite its horribleness, made me into a active feminist. It has value, because it inspired action. It has value because it allows you to see the world from the point of view of someone despicable, rather than someone kind and just. Tropic of Cancer is an important novel because it inspires change. And recently, I've taken up the cause of defending art of all types no matter the cost, and there at the heart of this cause is Tropic of Cancer.
Books are extremely valuable tools that have the capacity to change minds, open eyes and create an understanding between people who may be blinded by their differences. These three books for me have been there to guide my life, and change my mind in the most profound ways. What are some books that have changed your life?
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