When Ms Pear first tagged me in this, I seized up. How could I possibly come up with just 10 books that have affected me? Or, if I took the tack of choosing books that were truly life changing, how could I come up with that many?
Anyway, I decided to go for a mix – some books that truly changed my life, and some books that affected me in one way or another.
Sloppy Firsts / Second Helpings (and the rest of the Jessica Darling books) by Megan McCafferty
Jessica Darling is my smarter, wittier alter ego and I wish I could be her, or have her as a best friend, at least. Our lives have had a few weird parallels, and I kind of think of her as my fictional guide in regard to adolescence/adulthood.
If you’re cool with YA fiction featuring an overly precocious narrator, firmly dated pop culture references and the most hilarious, original acronyms ever, give the series a go.
Related: Some of my all-time favourite books
How to be a Woman – or anything by Caitlin Moran, really
I wish I had a quarter of Caitlin Moran’s badassery and way with words. I find it basically impossible to disagree with her on any of the big issues. She has a way of boiling down things to the most basic level – I have never read a more relatable explanation of feminism.
Related: Just call me a Caitlin Moran groupie
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
Is this book a load of bollocks? More or less. But regardless, this book changed my life. It convinced me to start trying to adopt a more positive everyday outlook on life, and that has done wonders for my general happiness.
Related: The best decision I ever made
Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher
A good friend’s mother lent this to us and we’ve just never gotten around to returning it. If you’ve ever thought that there’s no way you could imagine being in the same line of work for your whole life – if you get bored easily and struggle with traditional work/career structures – you need to read this. There are many flavours of ‘scanners’, as she dubs them, from the dabblers to the serial experts. It turned me on to the idea of good-enough jobs that subsidise the overall life you want to lead, and parlaying diverse, transferable skillsets into many types of work. Not so much for me, but certainly for T.
Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin
I genuinely really like (even love) my work and early retirement isn’t a goal of mine. That said, financial stability (financial independence would be grand, but not realistic unless I wanted to go into something lucrative and could actually succeed at it) is certainly a top priority of mine. So while not all of this book really appealed or applied to me, it got me thinking about values, ultimately, and how personal finance fits into your broader life – the one you’re living, the one you aspire to live.
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
My parents were a weird mix – part tiger in regard to the strictness and high expectations, but minus some of the filial piety baggage. They were still too far down the tiger spectrum for me, and based on my own experience growing up plus what is outlined in this book, I know I will be extremely sensitive about knowing how far to push with my own kids. Everyone is different, and parenting needs to take that into account. I think this book demonstrates that sharply – balance, as with everything else in life, is usually the key.
Related: Chewing over Tiger Mother
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This book had me enthralled from the very start, and bawling at its conclusion. Although it is far from original – the tale of a young girl whose life is derailed by war – and gets off to a slower start, I found it utterly flawless.
The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
Something about the wrenching descriptions of wartorn Russia and this improbable love story grabbed me by the heart. I think my desire to visit St Petersburg stems solely from this novel.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
This is a story, as you might know, built on manipulation and lies. I thought the structure was bold and gripping, but beyond that, it also really drove home for me how subjective the truth can be. How the two parties in a relationship can perceive things very differently. And I think that’s a good thing for anybody to understand.
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
Now, I wouldn’t say this was a straight five-star book for me. I wasn’t in love with the prose, let alone the characters. But it’s the themes of the content that lingered with me long after. What is it to be ‘gifted’ or ‘talented’, and what is that actually worth? How do you know if you’ve chosen the right person, and what if you wind up with the wrong one? Why do some creatives succeed and other don’t? How does money affect relationships? What makes a good friend vs a good lover? How do you cope with feeling jealous of your closest friends?