I can’t say books were an escape. Don’t get me wrong. I love a good fairytale, but I saw books and their imaginative worlds and characters as a tool to get through some of life’s biggest challenges. Whether it was facing the first day of Kindergarten to “coming out” in college to today’s everyday trials of adulthood, reading has always shown me that through imagination, creativity and strength, I can succeed.
My Bookprint, the list of five books that most influenced my life, will give you a glimpse of who I am, what I value and, most importantly, a booklist for you to read immediately! That’s your homework. Enjoy. And check out our celebrity Bookprints, too.
Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester
Despite being a busy single mom, my mother always took time to read aloud to my sister and me before bedtime. Tacky the Penguin made me laugh until I could not breathe. I loved his silly antics, but my mom took the time to teach me that Tacky wasn’t silly. The lesson was he simply embraced his individuality. To this day, I thank my mom, and Tacky, on the vital life lesson to embrace the “odd bird” within you.
The Magic School Bus and its sequels by Joanna Cole:
Curiosity killed the cat, but it only, at worst, gave me a few stitches. I was a very precocious child and my mother knew this. When she purchased The Magic School Bus, I was immediately hooked. Ms. Frizzle showed her students that bravery meant opening your mind, learning and, most importantly, challenging the status-quo of what you believed. I luckily had a few “Ms. Frizzles” in my life as mentors. I still use her phrase today, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!”
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis:
Everyone at one point in their life is bullied. In lieu of anti-bullying month, I recall diving into the magical world of C.S. Lewis to confirm there was a hero within me. The Pevensie children were just ordinary, everyday citizens in a war-torn England; however, in the land of Narnia, they were the kings and queens of that kingdom. This novel was my favorite childhood book and I reread it several times in grade school. The novel reminded me that resilience and faith in yourself can lead to magical things.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee:
This is a favorite of many middle-school/high-school students, but this meant so much more to me. I read this as we entered a new century, and yet, I saw racism, homophobia, sexism and intolerance fill the news headlines. Atticus Finch was a man who stood for what’s right, even when he knew he would lose the battle. The novel taught me to stay just, even when it was not popular. The novel’s themes still resonate today and I still think of Atticus when I confront situations and people that may differ from me. I remember to stay open-minded, respect others, and, most importantly, actively listen.
The Frontrunner by Patricia Nell Warren:
A revolutionary book for its time, this novel helped me stay courageous when I came out to my family, friends, teachers and coworkers in my college years. The novel chronicles the story of a coach and the love of his life, an Olympic sprinter, during the highly political times of the 1970s. Their journey to achieve their dreams, all while facing homophobia, reminds me to always stay brave and true to myself in this ever-changing world where some people may simply hate you for being different from them. Tools like education (especially reading) and personal experience remove the veils of ignorance.
What are your top five favorite books?