Monday, May 16, 2016

Influential Books That I've Read

As someone that is highly involved in many aspects of the arts, I naturally love to read. I started reading as soon as I knew how to and I never stopped. Reading is what inspired me to start writing, mainly because I loved reading about things like fictitious lands and supernatural powers and I wanted to create my own. For me, reading can be an escape from what's going on in my life and a way to relax and relieve stress. That is, until the book gets really interesting. Once I've started reading, there's a small chance that I'll stop, I'll become extremely invested in the characters of my books and what will happen to them (but I mean if you read the books that I do, you would be too). For my first post, I want to share some of the books that I've read over the past couple years that have really influenced and impacted me.

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The first book, or series rather, has been my favorite for about a year. The City of Bones by Cassandra Clare was a book that I just happened upon at Barnes and Noble one day. This was back when I didn't have to study for AP tests or memorize lines for theatre, so I read the book in one sitting. I was so enthralled by the plot line that there was no way I was putting the book down. The basic storyline involves a girl named Clary Fray. She finds out very early in the story that she is a shadowhunter, which is a person that is part angel and dedicated to protecting the human race (or mundanes as they are called) from the demons that come from alternate dimensions. I enjoy this book (the whole series, actually) for a million reasons. One of these reasons is that there are countless supernatural elements throughout the series. From vampires to werewolves to warlocks, this book has it all. City of Bones also has a lot of female empowerment and strong female characters as well. One of the main characters, Izzy Lightwood, is an extremely powerful female character throughout the entire series, but at the same time likes to wear flowery dresses and bright lipstick, which I still think is extremely empowering and shows girls that that can be, and do, anything that they want to do. This book series has actually been made into a movie and a tv show (watch the tv show here).

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The second book series that really impacted me was the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. This series has an extreme amount of female empowerment. Set in a dystopian setting filled with royal hierarchy and castles made of glass, the main character Celaena Sardothien has been banished to prison to work in coal mines for the rest of her life. All of this changes when she is chosen to be taken to the castle to compete in a competition in which the winner will become the king's champion assassin. As the only woman in the competition, she works ruthlessly to defeat all of the other competitors and try to decipher who could be killing off the competitors one by one. This story obviously did not encourage me to become an assassin, but it did inspire me to fight for what I believe in. Reading about strong female characters always makes me want to become more like them and I felt that in this book especially. I am currently reading the third book in this series, Heir of Fire, and Celaena (despite all that has happened to her in the first two books) still remains very powerful and strong.

The third book series that influenced me was Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. This series mainly influenced me as a writer. The story surrounds a girl named Juliette who, unlike most 17 year old girls, has a touch that is fatal. The beginning of the story shows Juliette locked in a prison compound with no human company. After hundreds of days of solitude, Juliette is released from the prison and brought back to the failing society. She then has to choose what to do with her gift in the destroyed world. This book had so many plot twists and unexpected events, I was on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading. Just as you think one thing is going to happen in the series, something completely different happens that changes the entire course of the story. After finishing the series, I was completely awestruck and I realized that I wanted my writing to do that to people as well.

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The fourth and final book series that completely changed my perspective on storytelling is The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. This series has one of the most beautiful story lines that I have ever read. Mara Dyer wakes up one day in a hospital with no recollection of how she had got there. After an incident at an abandoned asylum, Mara's friends are left dead and Mara doesn't know how she survived, or how her friends died. Mara's family moves to give her a fresh start, but soon odd things start happening. Mara begins hallucinating and not even she can tell if something is psychologically wrong with her or if paranormal feats are causing her to loose large pieces of her memory. This trilogy is hauntingly beautiful and filled with stunning imagery and vulnerability of the mind. All of these aspects are those that, for me, make a book stand out and along with that the writing.

Now that I've shared some of the books that have influenced me over the past few years, it's your turn! What books have you read that you feel have influence you today?

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