Without further ado, the ten books that have greatly influenced the person that I am (in no particular order):
When I first read this book back in middle school, I was hooked from the very first line. If you look at my wardrobe or even my tattoo, it's clear that I'm a Harry Potter fan through and through. But Harry Potter did more for me than just becoming a passion; Harry Potter enabled me to break out of my shell when I first moved away to college, and some of the friends I made through the series I know are going to be friends for life. Plus, it kind of inspired me to choose the major that I did. If I could study books like this for the rest of my life, I would be a happy camper.
2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
This book showed me that even the most quiet and introverted people can find friends. As a person who has always struggled with putting myself out there, Charlie's story showed me that you can always find people that will stick by you no matter what, people that can help to bring you out of your shell and experience life in all its glory.
3. Every Day by David Levithan
David Levithan writes some of the most poetic lines, which can be seen if you follow him on Twitter (which I highly recommend). This book in particular is amazing because of what Levithan does with the story: he created a main character that has no specified gender, sexuality, race, etc. A changes identity every day, yet A is still able to find love, to create a relationship, and it is beautiful. This was one of those books that I stayed up all night finishing, and I recommend it to everyone that I can.
4. Looking for Alaska by John Green
Not only have John Green's books high influenced my life, but the community he has created on the internet is one that should be praised for its inclusion. The Nerdfighter community is one that welcomes everyone, and is a safe place for anyone that joins it. Plus, I can read this particular book over and over again, which I could probably say about any book on this list.
5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I remember when I first read this book, in a book club I was a part of in high school. Our librarians, as a part of various book committees and book blogs, would receive galleys ahead of time, put them in the library collection, and we would read them and discuss them about once a week. The Hunger Games was one of those books that everyone was talking about, and what inspired me to study dystopian fiction for my thesis. There's so much in this book, and in the entire series, that it could be discussed for ages. Plus, who can deny the feminist undertones throughout the entire series (which is kind of what my thesis is about, maybe I'll make a post about that in the future).
6. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
This is a much more recent addition to the list as I only read it in the past year, but the illustrations alone in this book are stunning (fun fact: Jim Kay also does the illustrated editions of Harry Potter). Combine these illustrations with Ness's prose and you have a winning combination; one that has inspired me in my own writing and illustrating endeavors.
7. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
I have yet to read a book by Rainbow Rowell that I haven't liked, and this book is what started it all. Rowell has a knack for creating characters that you can't forget. Rowell's writing has also inspired me own, though my stories don't come anywhere near the ones that she creates in her novels. But perhaps some day.
8. The Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
Another very recent addition to the list, but an important addition nonetheless. I reviewed this book about a month ago (the post can be found here). Though I don't identify as genderfluid like the main character, a lot of the things that Riley struggles with I could identify with, both when I was in high school and even now. This book is also important in the constant struggle of inclusion within YA literature, and I'm so glad it was published. It was much needed.
9. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
This was another book that influenced my thesis, as it falls in the vein of feminist dystopian literature. This book was an important one due to the issues within our society that it brings to light. Margaret Atwood has a knack for creating stories that have deep meaning in relation to many different societal issues. She always comes highly recommended.
10. I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
Last but certainly not least, this is probably the less popular of Markus Zusak's books, but it's still just as beautifully written. I would argue that it's written for a slightly older audience than The Book Thief, but it deals with a lot things like perceptions of beauty, perceptions of right and wrong, and just life in general, to name a few. Plus, Zusak has a knack for writing lines that you want to read over and over again.
These books probably also influenced me to start this blog and share my passion for reading with others. I hope you check some of these books out, they're definitely worth the read!