The Most Influential Books of My Life

One of my favourite games to play with old friends, new friends, dates, strangers on the bus goes like this: "Books that have changed your life? Go!" This week's Top Ten Tuesday is a freebie so here's a necessarily incomplete list of the books that built me into the person I am today:


Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Harry Potter #1) by JK Rowling
Is there a twentysomething anywhere who wouldn't start with Harry Potter? This series punctuated my childhood and demonstrated the impact a can have on a life: the years of anticipation, endless hours of conversation, the longing for that delicious sense of homecoming when you're immersed in a story you know so well.

On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
I grew up on stories from all around the world, but it wasn't until On the Jellicoe Road planted itself in my heart when I was seventeen that I really appreciated that there are beautiful, heart-wrenching stories about Australia.

The Lightening Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson and the Olympians is not a perfect series by any means, but it will always been infinitely important to me. I picked up The Lightning Thief randomly when I was eighteen and entertaining a vague interest in pursuing publishing in my distant postgraduate days (ha, ha. That's now.) By the end of it, I knew: children's and young adult is my thing. This book literally defined my career path.

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
I didn't actually like this book all that much. It's so overwhelmingly popular that I'll just leave that unpopular opinion there, but The Fault in Our Stars is on the list because holy moly, was the release of The Fault in Our Stars a lesson in online book publicity for this aspiring publicist. Author platforms and personal branding, yo. So interesting (and lucrative)!


Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Part pretentious too-cool-for-romance self-fulfilling prophecy, part intense distaste for emotional cheating, my initial reception of Anna was less than positive. I happened to have it on my ereader as I rode a train from Barcelona to Paris two days before Valentine's Day, and it seemed appropriate. My experience of reading it the second time was so different - it was entertaining, funny and swoonworthy. I forgive Etienne a little more with each reread. This book is the reason I'm such an advocate of rereading.  

The Boyfriend List (Ruby Oliver #1) by Ruby Oliver
This was hard to read the first time, because the dynamics of the girl friendships in the Ruby Oliver series are so devastatingly genuine. I can't even remember the details of what was happening with my own closest friendships at the time, but I remember that The Boyfriend List hit very close to home. It has become the standard by which I measure the representation of complex, realistic female relationships in fiction. 

Finnikin of the Rock (The Lumatere Chronicles #1) by Melina Marchetta  
I could talk about this series all day, every day, so for now I'll it at this: even stories removed from Australian localities can be intensely and richly Australian. This is a stellar example. (I could literally talk about it all day.) 


The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta
What is this book? Tom's older than the average YA protagonist, and it's sexier than
You could call it 'new adult' though it's publication kind of predates the rise of that category. Also, half of it is narrated by a forty-year-old pregnant lady. She's been an adult for a while. This book taught me that sometimes defying easy categorisation and breaking the rules lead to, basically, literary perfection.

Holier Than Thou by Laura Buzo
This is an excellent contemporary new adult novel set in Sydney (a review is on it's way) but this was the book that made me articulate that issue in fiction that I'm constantly banging on about: complex, nuanced female friendships. Holier Than Thou had the potential to be a new favourite, but I was so disappointed in the neglect of the female friendships. To be honest I think I've had a chip on my shoulder about it ever since.

Addicted to You by Krista and Becca Ritchie
This is a new adult novel about a sex addict and an alcoholic. I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. I was totally wrong. Addited to You was something entirely different to what I expected. This was that old lesson about not judging a book by it's cover (or premise): new adult edition.

Which are the most influential books of your life?

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
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  1. Ahh, Harry Potter. No list is complete without featuring it somehow. I think it was one of the first books I started reading, and it was such an incredible world to be swept up with, a land of magical possibility and - rereading it much later - a clean, well-thought out plot with a deep backstory and surprisingly dark sections towards the later books.

    I'll admit that I haven't read many other novels on this list - well, actually, the only one I've read is Percy Jackson. I liked the series, despite a hiccup in the middle and some unsatisfying character development; I hope to read the Heroes series soon-ish (you gave such a passionate recommendation on Goodreads! :D )

    Love your work, love your new blog! ^_^

    1. Oh ohhhh what didn't you like in the middle of Percy Jackson? And which characters did you have problems with? I have read that series so many times and have so, so many opinions on it! haha Same with Harry Potter actually! And thank you again! :)

    2. I felt a little...flat...around Percy Jackson and the Labyrinth. It felt like the characters, the plot, everything just stagnated into the 'middle season' plot-filler, and allowed me to start questioning some of the weaker plot elements.

      And (though I think we talked about this on the other post), I just felt like it was a MG series pretending to be YA in the last three novels, and unfortunately, there was no character development. The immature style of humor continued through to the end, and never fully resolved Percy/Annabeth's relationship in a meaningful way. I'm not saying they had to become a couple, but it was some kind of weak, watered-down romantic ending that just...left me feeling cold, maybe?

      Maybe it's time for a re-read and a deeper look at the story to see what I was missing.

    3. Oh interesting. I haven't reread PJO since last year (and then, extremely quickly for the lead up to Blood of Olympus) so I can't speak to specifics in Battle of the Labyrinth. I liked the developed of Percy and Annabeth's relationship around there, but having said that, there's not much I don't love about their relationship. I adored The Last Olympian, though. That was, like, perfect series conclusion.