There are just certain books that you encounter that somehow change or impact your reading life in a very drastic way. I thought I could share my fair share of such books because I have quite a few.
Here are 8 books that significantly changed my reading life:
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll
I know it’s quite a stretch to claim but Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll is probably the first (proper) book that I ever finished – and I finished it when I was in primary school. I remember my father giving me those illustrated, multi-book editions made for children and absolutely loving them. I probably read them a couple of times and I’ve always marveled at the illustration, imagination, and fantastical world that were inside its pages. I seriously think this book is one of the major reasons why fantasy is one of my favorite, if not THE favorite, genres of all time. And it kinda also explains why I have an affinity towards the absurd, wild and surreal.
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
This is a weird choice but I remember being obsessed with this book that it singlehandedly brought back my love for reading that got lost when I entered elementary school. The Da Vinci Code was practically (almost) banned in local bookstores and you need to be older than 18 to be able to buy this book – I know, it was a weird time. I even begged my father to go into NBS to buy this for me because I was underage at that time. I loved it and I recommended it to my grandmother (who was around 70+ at that time). She absolutely loved it as well. I just have very fond memories of reading this book. And I always come back to that feeling, that high, when I think about my love for reading.
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami
Alas, the book that made me profess my love for Haruki Murakami. Even now, I can clearly remember the exact moment that I realized that I will be loving and reading this author for a very, very long time – and it was when I read this short story collection. Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman was my first Murakami book – and I fell in love, hard, even in that first time. I remember reading the short story “The Folklore for my Generation”, the exact feelings of overwhelming something after I finished it, the exact place (in our outdoor university bleachers) where I was reading it, and even the timely (lol) blowing of the wind as if signaling that my life has changed after reading it. I don’t know: it’s exaggerated and corny and weird but reading Murakami has always been a personal and surreal experience for me so I can’t really explain it properly myself. This book has always had a significant place in my heart, both because of personal reasons and just because of the general awesomeness of it. And whenever people ask where to start in Murakami’s oeuvre, I always point them to this book.
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
THIS BOOK – heck, this series. Granted that I really only had an interest in reading this book because I finished (and immensely enjoyed) the first season of Game of Thrones back when it first aired and because I needed closure, A Game of Thrones was really a magnificent work of fiction. Add to that the GoT season 1 adapted the first book perfectly and almost too faithfully so my imagination going in was so vivid it was hard to put down. It was also the longest book I’ve read during that time and it honestly made me re-evaluate my capacity for reading long books. It also introduced me to one of the greatest sequels of all time, A Storm of Swords (Book 3 of this series). After this series, I was not intimidated by *big* books anymore.
Want by Cindy Pon
Way back in 2017, I joined the Asian Lit Bingo hosted by Shenwei and a couple of prominent Asian bookish creator at the time. I remember that it was the first time I participated in a readathon and the fact that it centers in Asian lit added more magic to it. They have a list of recommended books in the master post and I randomly picked out Want by Cindy Pon. I haven’t heard of the book and the author at that time, but when I read it, I was absolutely blown away. It opened me up to this whole new world of interesting and brilliantly written books by Asian authors. After that experience, I didn’t look back. Now, I am actively diversifying my reading experience every chance I get. Sometimes, it’s not even conscious anymore – because there is just a treasure trove of brilliant literature waiting for me to tap. It completely flipped my reading game on its head.
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (Audio)
Oh, the magic of a good audiobook. And I’m not even referring to those over-produced audio offerings that blur the line of an actual novel vs. a radio drama. I’m talking just straight up brilliant narration of a brillant story. It’s no secret that The Starless Sea is probably one of my absolute favorite (too much?) books of all time. But listening to its audiobook opened me up to a new realm of wonder. It made me appreciate what the perfect combination of great voice acting and a great narrative could produce. After I finished The Starless Sea in Audible, audiobooks became a consistent part of my reading experience and routine. I have an active subscription to both Scribd and Audible and it has done wonders to my reading speed and my reading in general. Thank you, Dominic Hoffman and the rest of the cast, for that brilliant performance. (Read my full review of The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern HERE.)
How to Make Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
How to Make Friends and Influence People was the first nonfiction book that I finished after a long while – and it kickstarted a craze. It made me realize that the key to reading nonfiction books is to intentionally look for topics that you care about. This is such an important book, as evidenced by its track record throughout the years, but this is also the first nonfiction book that I actually genuinely enjoyed. I read it alternating in print and in audio and it made all the difference. After this, I started reading more nonfiction. From 0 nonfiction books in 2018 to 1 or 2 in 2019 – and then jumping to 10+ in 2020. That’s such a huge shift, I must say. It also prompted me to create a series in this blog, Non Fiction Round Up, where I run down all the nonfiction books I read in an effort to actually remind me how those meant to me and the general lesson I learned from them. (Read my full review of How to Make Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie HERE.)
Becoming by Michelle Obama
This was the first memoir that I’ve ever read and, same with How to Make Friends, it really pushed me to expand my reading taste because I just enjoyed Michelle Obama’s Becoming so much. Now, memoirs are a staple in my reading list. And with the help of my trusted bookish friends, I was able to create a decent TBR pile for the memoirs that are worth reading. (Read my full review of Becoming by Michelle Obama HERE.)