Reading has always been a favorite pastime of mine, even when I was a little girl. I would obsess over my favorite books, re-reading them over and over again. As Kathleen Kelly says in the ever-so-lovely film You’ve Got Mail, “When you read a book as a child, it becomes part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does.” And I could not agree more!
These books formed and shaped me. They showed me who I could be and what I was capable of. Some of them were fiction, some weren’t, but they each touched me in a unique way that has informed the person that I have become today. So, I’m going to share with you the top 5 books that made me a reader!
Disclaimer: I am well aware that Harry Potter is not on this list. This was intentional!! Don’t come for me in the comments!! I plan to write a post on my favorite series very soon!
Let’s get started, shall we? 🙂
Mini Synopsis: Elsha is a daughter of the Quelled, an enslaved race that bears a flame branded into their foreheads. Their job is to mine for firestones, the only source of heat in an icy, sunless landscape. Their masters are the Chosen race. The highest of these is the man known as the Firelord, who chooses a handmaiden to aid him in his quest to divine for more of the precious firestones. Generally this handmaiden is the highest born daughter of the Chosen race…until he chooses Elsha. Our fair heroine must now navigate the brutal world of the Chosen – and she does so with much spunk, wit and amazingness! Then, chaos ensues!! (dun, dun, dun!!)
This book remains, to this day, one of my absolute favorites. I discovered it when I was in middle school, and the main character, Elsha, was a huge role model for me. I mean, she is an enslaved woman in a male-dominated world who rises to power and becomes one of the highest people in the land – she is a powerhouse!! My middle school librarian and I bonded over this book (can you say nerd alert?!), and she gave me a parting gift when I left to go to high school. So, I now have a special New Zealand edition of this book that has original artwork on the cover by Sherryl Jordan herself (the edition on the left in the picture above)! It is one of my most prized possessions (my precious…teeheehee)
If I cannot recommend any other book on this list – READ THIS ONE!!! Unfortunately, it is out of print…but if you can find it, buy it!!! It is so so SO good!!! Ok, back to our regularly scheduled programming…
Mini Synopsis: This is a fully illustrated book about the history of the Titanic and its sinking, and the discovery of the shipwreck by Robert Ballard in the 1980’s.
If you don’t know me, this will seem like an odd choice. If you do know me, you know that I am low-key obsessed with the Titanic. And I’m not talking about the movie with Leo and Kate (although that is a gem of a movie, an absolute jewel in cinema’s crown). No, no my friend. I have been obsessed with the actual ship since well before the movie even came out. I have even begun writing a novel that is inspired by the Titanic! Obsessed, I say!
When I was a small child, I collected every book I could possibly find on this great and tragic ship, but this book was the one that started it all. Thank you, Robert Ballard, for the lifelong obsession!! 😉
Mini Synopsis: In this fictional diary, Princess Elizabeth I was given a diary by her governess when she was 12 years old. In it, she chronicles her longing for the love of her father, her friendship with her brother and friend, Robin Dudley, as well as thoughts that could potentially be treasonous. She hides her diary at the various castles she moves between, and talks about life and intrigues in the court.
This book made me so interested in the lives of the Tudor family. I found Elizabeth fascinating, and I wanted to find out all that I could about this thoroughly messed up family. If you think your family has problems…yeah, it’s nothing compared to them. Messed. Up. But fascinating, nonetheless! I now read adult fiction about the Tudors, but this book will always hold a special place in my heart.
Mini Synopsis: In this retelling of the classic Cinderella story, there are no fairy godmothers, magic pumpkins and talking mice. Ella is completely in charge of her own destiny, and she got herself to that ball, dang it! This story is about what happens after the prince has chosen her, a commoner, to become his wife. It is not all glitter and glitz, but long hours of decorum lessons, starving herself, and a prince whose beautiful face hides a seemingly empty head. Does Ella want to be the princess after all, or does she want to take charge of her own destiny once more?
I love a good fairytale retelling! Give me all of them!! This book is what sparked my love of the alternate tale, the one that “no one else knows about”. Ella is strong, smart and funny. She also sees past the pretenses of the court to the dark underbelly of it all, which was inspiring to me as a child. I wanted to have that kind of insight too. This book also helped me to see through the whole “princesses are what we should aspire to be” ideology, which I am certainly grateful for. No unrealistic expectations of love for me!!!
Mini Synopsis: Anna Becker is trying to escape Nazi Germany, and decides to sneak on board the departing Hindenburg, just before its voyage to America. She gets on board with the help of a dashing stranger, Eric. Once she boards, she happens to run into an old flame, Karl. A love triangle and lots of drama ensues before the inevitable crash that made this airship famous brings it all to a “crashing” halt (forgive me, I couldn’t resist the pun…)
Historical fiction is my jam. I absolutely love it. And, I love when I learn about historical events from historical fiction, that I would otherwise have known nothing about. The Hindenburg disaster was one of those tragedies that I knew nothing about – zilch, nada, zero…you get the picture. But I found this book utterly intriguing, as well as the details of this epic disaster. Also, the love story is excellent. Yes, it is the classic love triangle trope, but it introduced me to the idea of meant-to-be love, and it was very well done. I will always love this book!
There are definitely more books I could talk about in this post, but then it would be even longer, and I highly doubt you want to read all of that! Although, if you want to hear about more standalone books that were childhood favorites of mine, let me know in the comments!
What books were influential to you as a child/pre-teen? What books made you a reader? Tell me, I want to know!!! 🙂
Love and happy reading to you,