Although I didn’t learn how to read until I was in third grade, my love for books has always remained constant. I grew up surrounded by books- when my parents weren’t working they would often take me to the bookstore or library, where I would get lost in the labyrinth of shelves. So here’s a list of the top 10 books that have influenced me and why.
1. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. This book is my canon. I have read it multiple times and every time I learn something new. If I was only allowed to read one book for the rest of my life, it would be Les Miserables.
2. Hard Times by Charles Dickens. It’s difficult for me to choose just one book by Dickens. He’s work is by far the most influential on my life. I chose Hard Times because I read it for the first time when I was starting high school and could relate to the oppression that Louisa Gradgrind felt in her schooling.
3. Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau. This essay challenged my acceptance of authority and sparked the seed of questioning the norm that has been in me ever since.
4. The Inferno by Dante. Reading this book was the first time I appreciated using poetry as a form of storytelling. It influenced me to start writing my own poetry, which I have been off and on ever since.
5. On the Road by Jack Kerouac. This is one of the most recent influences of my life. It’s sparked a whole new world of thought and writing. I am still discovering the influence Kerouac is having on me- a fact reflected on this blog.
6. Persuasion by Jane Austin. Like Dickens, choosing one book by Austin was difficult. All of her books had an influence on me and helped me understand the complex world we call dating. I chose Persuasion (although Emma is a close second) because I feel it is Austin’s most accomplished and matured work.
7. His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman. This trilogy was not only an amazing read, but made me question the concept of religion and the difference between being spiritual and religious. It was also a precursor to my love for Doctor Who and travel between worlds.
8. Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret by Judy Blume. This was one of the first books I read when I first learned how to read. It was also the book that taught me about puberty and become a women.
9. The Law by Fredric Bastiat. While not a book per se, this essay was the first introduction I had to economics. It sparked my interest in the intersection between government and business and had a significant influence in shaping my decision to study economics and thus, business journalism.
10. Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. Ok, I know it’s a play, not a book, but it was the first play I read by Shakespeare and also my favorite of all his plays. As a descendent of Italian immigrants, I have always had a love and fascination for all things Roman. And who can forget the wise words of Caesar, “Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once. Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, It seems to me most strange that men should fear; Seeing that death, a necessary end, Will come when it will come.”