Every book you've ever loved has its own special spot in your heart, as well as a prized spot on your bookshelf. The books that transformed your life, though — those books are just as much a part of you as your fingers and toes are, metaphorically of course. Those are the books that you can't help but pick up every now and then just to hold and remember all of the emotions that ran through you the first time you read them. The stories and characters that made you question the world, turn your life around, and keep you going as a teenager are the ones you can easily say are your favorites now, and will be forever.
Finishing a book that changes your perspective on just about everything is a memorable experience. There are stories that taught you how to love, find the courage to stand up for what is right, and be confident in what makes you, you. A major reason you read is to find yourself in-between the lines and learn from beloved characters. There's nothing more special than finding a book that changes the way the world looks as soon as you put it down.
Between you and me, I've gathered some of the most universally loved and cherished books that when we read as teenagers transformed us into who we are today. Take a walk down memory lane with these 12 books that changed your perspective on life as a youngin':
The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
If these didn't transform your life in some shape or form, you might want to head back to transfiguration class and sort that one out with Professor McGonagall. Harry Potter brought you a sense of escapism, more than enough reasons to believe in magic, and a new world to go to whenever you wished. The series also taught valuable life lessons on so many topics like overcoming fears, making hard choices, finding courage within, making life-lasting friendships, and that love will alway win. Harry Potter did more than transform your young life — it helped mold you into who you are today, and who you'll become. Always.
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
You may have read this just before becoming a teen, but the messages still changed your outlook on life. I remember obsessing over this book. I was 13 and learning about a World War that didn't quite make sense yet. As the years went on, I also came to love books revolving around the same topic like The Book Thief and The Boy In The Striped Pajamas. My views on certain ways to treat people changed dramatically. I learned that kindness is always key, family is everything, and no matter what, believe in yourself and what's important to you.
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Ever since Go Set A Watchman made its big debut, it probably sparked the memory of that first time in class or over a long summer break when you first picked up Harper Lee's original masterpiece. This was one of the books taught in school that I adored. Middle school is full of bullies and too many gangly teenagers trying to figure things out. To Kill A Mockingbird taught you not to judge anyone before getting to know them and gave you the courage to stand up for what is right, even if it meant going against the current.
Looking For Alaska by John Green
Let's be real: Anything by John Green has more than likely transformed you as a teenager, or even an adult. Green is known for taking the core of young adulthood and capturing it perfectly on the pages of his novels. Looking for Alaska takes the honest and rickety path of being the "new kid" at school and meeting the girl that changes everything, only to lose her just as quickly. This book broke my heart, more than The Fault In Our Stars simply because of how easy it was to relate to the main characters and the theme of finding your Great Perhaps.
Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
As a teenager, you needed a safe place to escape to. Middle Earth definitely isn't safe, but you didn't care about that. The adventure and thrill that Lord of the Rings brought you was enough to drop everything and read the giant novels at any time of the day. The story easily changed the way you saw the world and how valued loyalty is. Your imagination ran wild with every new creature and language introduced. Even if you haven't read the books in a while, watching the film adaptations still gives you the same rush the books did as an adolescent searching for adventure.
Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
Written in a diary style, and reading as a teen with her own diary, this book stuck you like no other. Touching on some of the dark but absolutely real issues every teenager faces like anxiety, sexuality, identity, and even drug abuse, Go Ask Alice transformed your life because it opened the doors to these topics when no one else would.
7. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
Before you yell at me or do anything crazy — hear me out! You know as well as I do (even though we hate admitting it) how much we loved Twilight when it first hit the shelves in 2005. For me, and many of my friends in high school, it changed how we talked about books. More than ever, I embraced my love for books because of Twilight. I don't necessarily love the story, but it did show me the signs of an unhealthy relationship, and that's an incredibly important thing to learn as a teenager.
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Susie Salmon took your hand and brought you into a world no young girl wants to witness, but can't deny is real. This book, more than anything else I read as a teenager opened my eyes to not only sexism, rape, and identity issues — but above all, just how precious life is. Learning you have to make the decision to live each and every day to the fullest is one concept that will wake any teenager up from their twelve-hour slumber on the weekends.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The love for this series is still alive and well, and the last installment of Mockingjay is almost here. The Hunger Games transformed your outlook on capitalism, reality television, and how painfully similar parts of the world can be to the Capitol of Panem. Having a kick-ass feminist character like Katniss who is more concerned about protecting her loved ones and taking down the enemy made you grow out your hair out and rock a side braid. She may have also inspired you to take up some archery lessons. Needless to say, The Hunger Games made you stronger and more willing to challenge the status quo.
The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
You probably started this series before you were a teen, but like Harry Potter, it kept up with you as you grew older. The books became more serious (as if they weren't already) and forced the three Baudelaire orphans you practically claimed as your own siblings, through more craziness imaginable. This series taught you that when sh*t rains, it pours. But it also showed you that most of the time adults don't really know what they're doing and to never, ever, EVER, trust someone with an eye tattooed on their ankle.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
I'm not sure I'll ever get over the importance of this book. Even if you were one of the more popular kids or had an easy time making friends, there were still those lonely times you felt outcasted or rejected. Charlie makes sense of those emotions over time, and showed you that your problems are just as real and just as important as anyone else. This book made you question the kind of love you believe you deserve, and still does to this day.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia was more or less a guide for you on how to approach new situations. Leaving the door for middle or high school was about as unpredictable as entering Narnia. You loved learning a new lesson from each sibling as they grew up and out of this beloved world.