Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Lainey. You basically get a new topic every Wednesday, and you list your Top 5 books related to that topic. Head over to the Goodreads group, and add your name to the list of Wednesday-ers if you’re interested in participating!
Today’s topic is “Books You Are Thankful For.” This is great because I did a post yesterday about non-bookish things I’m thankful for, and now I can tell you some of the books I’m grateful for in my life! Note: this list is not simply a list of my favorite books, but it’s a list of books that I may or may not have liked which were still significant for me. Most, if not all, of these books are those which I read as a child.
5. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
This is the first contemporary series I ever read. I flew through the thirteen books, and I was so invested in Mia and her life. It was hilarious, and growing up in Pakistan where casual dating and sexual experiences aren’t commonplace, this was an interesting outlook into Western society. Not only that, but I took up journaling because of this series. For several years, I kept a journal much like Mia did and I still have them with me so I can flip back and look at the significant and nonsignificant events in my life I may have now forgotten.
4. The Saga of Darren Shan by Darren Shan
It’s funny because I picked this book up back when I was in seventh grade only because it was blurbed by J.K. Rowling aka queen. But I’m so glad that I did because this series was my best friend in seventh grade. You know when you’re super awkward, transitioning from pre-pubescence adorableness into an awkward teenager who doesn’t know what to do with life anymore? This series helped me through that. Not because it has any coming-of-age storylines or anything, but just because it offered me a much-needed escape from the everyday happenings in life that I couldn’t seem to handle. I read all thirteen books throughout the year. I also named my dog after the protagonist’s ‘pet’ wolf. 😀
3. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
I remember in third grade when my teacher decided to read us this book, and I was completely astonished by how something this sad and horrifying can be as entertaining as it is. I remember thinking, “This is the best thing ever.” And before my teacher could finish the first book in class, I had already gone out, bought most of the series, and read up to Book 3. This series is another that kept me preoccupied and offered an escape during a tough part of my life. I didn’t have an easy childhood, and this series became sort of an outlet for my emotions as a kid. Still holds a very, very dear place in my heart!
2. The Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer
As much as I enjoy dissing this series now, I can’t deny the fact that when I read it, I was completely immersed in the story and characters. I think I read this in eighth grade, and I distinctly remember that when I saw that it was shelved in the ‘young adult’ section, I thought to myself, “Wait, am I old enough to read this?!” So that tells you that I read mostly middle-grade/children’s series before that point in my life. When I first read Twilight, I was hooked. I was part of that Team Jacob crew and what-not. I convinced my cousin to read these books. It was a train-wreck.
Of course, now when I look back and think about the series, I believe it’s extremely problematic for several reasons. Now, I’m not comfortable with some of the themes it explores. I’m not comfortable with the relationships or the gender stereotypes it contains. So why am I thankful for it? Because it was the very first young-adult book I had ever read. And it opened up a world for me. It eased me into the genre, and if I hadn’t read this series, I probably wouldn’t have read the Hunger Games when I did. Shit, if I hadn’t read this series, I wouldn’t have been so fascinated with vampires and I wouldn’t have started watching the Vampire Diaries. And that was the very first show I actively watched.
So thank you, Twilight. Even in all your terribleness, you did some good.
1. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
By now, I have come to terms with the fact that I will probably never compile a bookish list without mentioning this series in one form or another. But how could I not include Harry Potter in this list? This series was my childhood, full stop. It was the first book I actively picked up back when I was 7 years old. I had just moved to England from Pakistan, and my English was a little choppy, but despite the language barriers, I finished the first book in a day. Think about it. A 7 year old who had never really read much, who had English problems finished this in a day.
So, I picked up the first book one fateful afternoon in 2002, and I watched Harry grow in front of my eyes. I grew up with Harry. I read the last book in 2007, and by then, the movies were the big deal. I saw the last movie in 2011. That is almost 10 years of my life, from the age of 7 to the age of 16. These books, as well as the movies, have impacted me in so many different ways. I can often pinpoint the exact time in my life when I was reading these books, and there have been some monumental events in my life during which I had these books in my hands.
This series has taught me so much. From the meaning of friendship to the importance of family, from learning how to treat people with kindness to learning the values of courage. This series means so much to me that I wrote my university personal statement about it. I have written essays in exams about it. I like to think Harry is my good-luck charm, because I got into the college, and I aced those exams. xD