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OPINION: Eight books that changed my life

KentWired Illustration by Gabrielle Lutz

One of my favorite hobbies is reading books. I love the feeling of immersing myself in a cozy space with a pleasant hot tea, a few yummy snacks and a cherished story. Reading books not only connects us to a new world or helps us better understand our own, but it’s also a way that we can connect with others.

So far in my reading journey, I have read almost 400 different books based on my Goodreads account. So, I wanted to talk about a few of my favorite books that I have read so far. 


1. “The Collected Regrets of Clover” by Mikki Brammer: (Romance, Literary Fiction, Death, Family)

“The Collected Regrets of Clover” gives you so many important lessons. All the characters feel so real and raw. The main character, Clover Brooks, becomes a Death Doula in New York City, dedicating her life to ushering people through their end-of-life process. Though death is constantly surrounding her, Clover tries to figure out what she actually wants in the world and instead decides it’s her time to live. This is such a beautiful novel that I think anyone should read to learn what the meaning of life truly is to them.


2. “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” by V.E. Schwab: (Historical Fantasy Fiction, Romance, Contemporary)

I still think about this book all of the time. The beginning of this book takes place in 1714 France; Addie decides to make a Faustian bargain to live forever so that she can get away from home to adventure and end her planned marriage. However, there is always a catch. Addie, though now immortal, will be forgotten by every single person she meets. Until one day, a young man in an old bookstore will remember her. A journey through centuries of history, adventure, love and sadness left me feeling a deep fondness for this book. I love Addie’s story and what it means to live in the beauty of life, but also the hardships of living.


3. “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” by Benjamin Alire Sáenz: (LGBTQ+, Young Adult Literature, Coming of Age, Contemporary)

The ending lines of every chapter made me melt. I adored all of the characters and the beautiful journey of Aristotle and Dante. When these two meet, they help each other define who they want to be in life. Even as teenagers, they focus on very difficult struggles with accepting their sexualities, family members in prison, their race and how it is viewed in society. This is a story about acceptance and growing to appreciate who you are in the world.


4. “The Song of Achilles” and “Circe,” both by Madeline Miller: (Greek Mythology, Historical Fiction, Romance, Feminism, LGBTQ+)

Miller’s writing is always so beautiful and poetic. I have not read too many Greek mythology novels, but if I had to recommend books in this genre, I would definitely go for Miller’s. The books tell of Greek figures’ lives through family, love, power and deception. But my favorite aspects in both are the emphasis on the relationship of Achilles and Patroclus and the strong feminism in Circe. Both have important topics of the LGBTQ+ community and feminism that should be well respected in society today.


5. “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoevsky: (Classic, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction, Trigger Warnings)

“Crime and Punishment” is a wild story with very unique and insane characters. Raskolnikov, the main character, wanders around the slums of St. Petersburg and commits a felonist act: a random murder of two women. He believes himself to be a great man and feels no remorse for this act. As the story progresses, he gets more and more deranged as he plays cat and mouse with the law and its head police investigator. While running around the slums, he meets a variety of odd characters that either mesh or clash with Rask, leaving the reader to always expect the worst.


6. “Bunny” by Mona Awad: (Dark Comedy, Humor, Dark Fairytale, Literary Fiction)

This book leaves the reader always thinking, “What is happening?” Samantha, a student at a highly selective MFA program, gets invited to join a salon club where the group consists of fiction writing students who all call themselves “Bunny.” She figures out that the Bunnies have a sinister way of making an off-campus writing workshop, which leads to the conjuring of monstrous creations. It goes down a rabbit-hole tale of friendship, belonging, loneliness and desire. 


7. “House in the Cerulean Sea” by TJ Klune: (Fantasy, LGBTQ+, Romance, Magical Realism)

This book was so wholesome and the quotes so heartfelt. I love how imperfect the characters were. It shows you to love yourself and that it’s completely okay to be different from your peers. Linus Baker lives a solitary and pretty boring gray life. But as a case worker at the department in charge of Magical Youth, he gets assigned a job with Extremely Upper Management to observe an orphanage on a cliff that houses six “dangerous” children. When he arrives, he’s expected to do his job and get out like normal, until his life slowly turns into color and he finds his “found family” in the process.


8. “They Both Die at the End” by Adam Silvera: (Romance, LGBTQ+, Dystopian, Sad)

The finishing sentences for each section were so powerful as well as the advice and wisdom about living and making every day your best. Mateo and Rufus only have one more day to live, after getting a phone call from Death-Cast. They want to make one last friend on their End Day and to hopefully resolve unfinished business with their friends and family. The author reminds us that there is no life without death and to cherish what you have in the present. 

Ella Katona is an opinion writer. Contact her at [email protected]

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