I may not remember the plots perfectly, but these books have stayed with me in some form or another. There is no specific order to these, they are listed as I remember them.
Grace in the Wilderness by Aranka Siegel – This was the first book I ever read about WW II and the Holocaust. At the time, I didn’t know it was a sequel. I quickly read the first book, Grace in the Wilderness, right after. This is not a typical Holocaust story. Based on her life, it shows what happened after the Holocaust. The main character and her sister are the only members of her family who survived the camps. Their journey to healing was so well told, it made me want to pick up a pen and write.
The Giver by Lois Lowry – I discovered this book as an adult. It was one of the first teen books I purchased after reading it. The world building is just enough to get a sense of the place. Jonah and the Giver himself are wonderfully written characters. I truly enjoyed discovering the truth alongside with Jonah. The cliffhanger ending was one of the first I read like that. I found out after talking about it with other people that I was one of the few that believed things worked out in the end. When I discovered there were other books, I read the rest of the series.
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate – I literally hugged this book when I finished it. Ivan’s story is so beautifully told. It’s a heartbreaking and heartwarming book at the same time. I wanted Ivan to get his message out from page one and the ending did not disappoint. This was another I bought because I wanted to have it on hand to read again if I needed to.
All-American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely – This was not an easy book to read, but one I feel every single person needs to read. The story of the beating of Rashad told from his point of view and the white bystander who saw it happen is very much of this time. Rashad’s story is the harder one to read. How he processes what happened to him and his healing process is so believably told. I never experienced violence like that and I hope I never had to, but I learned so much reading his story. Quinn’s story was equally compelling. His slow awakening to his privilege and standing up for what’s right may not be realistic for all people, but it’s good to see in a book.
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl – This was recommended to me while I was in college. I hadn’t read anything like this before. II don’t remember all of the details of the book which is a good excuse for me to read it again. All I can remember is being blown away by his story and the psychology he created due to his experiences. It’s a powerful book.
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak – You may notice I tend to read a lot of WWII stories and you would be right. I love the original take on the book, how can you not love a book narrated by Death? His telling of Liesel’s story is hauntingly beautiful. I am still angry it did not win the Printz Award that year.
Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger – This one impacted me, but in a negative way. I didn’t enjoy it in high school, so I thought to read it as an adult. I still didn’t like it. I basically want to punch Holden Caufield in his whiny, entitled, spoiled face.
Ogre, Ogre by Piers Anthony – I stumbled upon this book my freshman year of college. It introduced me to the zany world of Xanth. It was a hard one to read in public because I either chortled or groaned at the puns throughout the story (I mean and Imp named Ortant? That’s hysterical!). It also had an added bonus by getting me hooked on a lifelong love for fantasy fiction.
There are many other books that have made me laugh, cry, think, and learn. This post would a novel-length long if I wrote about them all.