There is always that one book that silently tugs at your heart strings whenever someone asks the familiar, “What’s your favorite book?” Maybe you pause and give off a slight smile at the thought of a favorite character, or a favorite fictional place. Then maybe you answer with a slightly more “grown up” title. But the books that shaped us early on undeniably become a part of us in ways that we can only start to grasp as we grow older.
Here are the following six books we would love to revisit now as an adult:
For over ten years, any time I have been asked, I have named The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides as my favorite book. I first read it as an angsty teenager with an interest in psychology and books with dark and often depressing storylines. The story of five sisters and their secluded life after the youngest’s suicide was depressing but Eugenides’ prose was so vivid and powerful to me that I found it utterly beautiful. It left such a mark on me that when it came time to write my first major research paper in high school, I wrote it on teenage suicide.
About a year ago, as I readied myself to enter a new decade, I decided to re-read the book. While I still read many dark books (Crime and Punishment is another favorite), I’m way past my teenage years and the mental strife that they produce. I was interested to see if the book still resonated with me all these years later. Five pages in, I discovered it may not have been the story that drew me in after all but Eugenides writing. And yes, it remains my favorite book.
-Johanna Dickson, Digital Publicist
For me it’s got to be Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. While this title might be from my late adolescence, it’s a title that I think could be revisted in many stages in life – as long as you can get through the 500 pages! I always grew up reading, but when my AP English class introduced me to Crime and Punishment in high school I really learned to love literature in an entirely new way. It was as if I was asleep until I cracked the spine of this dark classic. As I blinked my eyes open to the blinding light that is Russian literature I knew that there was no looking back. It inspired me to take a Russian literature class in college, and the crooked shelf in my apartment still holds the Russian greats, and they greet me with a familiar scowl everytime I sit down to enjoy them. Dostoevsky was my gateway drug, to which I moved on to Gogol, Bulgakov, Chekhov, and Nabokov. I melt in their hands with every long, drawn out sentence stitched together with gold and not enough commas. They inspired me to write, too, and everytime I think I can I just return to my familiar long-dead friends, and they remind me that I’ll always stand in their shadow.
-Anna Patrick, Associate Digital Publicist
Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse. I read this in the third grade and fell in love with it. It’s a historical fiction book that takes place during the dust bowl, written as free verse poetry in first-person. This was the first novel I’d read in this style and I was completely captivated. Hesse sparked a more serious love of books, literature, and poetry, something that I’ve treasured and has been a major part of my life ever since. For many years I recommended this book to friends, maybe it’s time I reread it, too!
-Karissa Hearn, Publicist
I recently watched the film version of Perks of Being a Wallflower, and I’ve been resisting because I used to love that book in middle school and I was worried the movie would ruin it. But it has me thinking that this would probably be a good time to re-read the book since it’s about starting a new stage in your life and I’m about to graduate from college. I think it’s a good reminder that no matter how scary the next step seems you can survive it – whether it’s starting high school or graduating college – and in a few years you’ll look back and wonder what you were so afraid of.
-Gayle Pitone, Assistant to the Publicity Team
When I was 10, as per my dad’s suggestion, I read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It’s my dads favorite book of all time, and I’d always been an avid reader, so he encouraged me to read it. After each chapter, he’d have me re-tell him the story from my point-of-view, and tell him how I felt about it and the roles I saw morality playing throughout. Even though I still didn’t fully understand it at the end, I was grateful I had read it a few more times before it was a requirement in high school. I think if I had read it for the first time then, I wouldn’t have had the same appreciation for it I do now. I’m thankful my dad encouraged me to read it, ask plenty of questions, and understand the importance of morals at such a young age. For his 40th birthday, my mom and I found him one of the original copies signed by Harper Lee, and it sits on our fireplace mantle. To this day, it’s still one of my favorite books and I try to read it at least once a year.
-Cori Cagide, Associate Publicist
If I could submit one book that I feel like encompasses what reading could do for the imagination it would have to be Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House on the Prairie series. Throughout my childhood, I read. I started trying to write stories when I was 7 years old and The Little House on the Prairie series is where my mind drifts to when I think back to what shaped my imagination in that time period. I loved Laura and her family. They were relatable, which in turn made you feel relatable. I’d pull out all my dolls and for an entire afternoon set up a life that I created from the words in those books. I’d play out various scenes, sometimes march my dolls out to the backyard and pretend we lived in the one room fort that my parents gave me when I turned four. I loved feeling like I was creating a story. I loved the whole premise of “living off the land” (before it became too Into the Wild-ish) and those books just allowed for my imagination to soar in so many different directions. Some of my fondest memories are playing until dusk, right as the sun would go down and I’d have to wheel in all my dolls, and their furniture, and my hair would smell like bark and my clothes would be streaked with dirt, but I was as happy as you are when you’re a child, living in my own play world. And always so eager to go to bed reading more about it, allowing ideas to flow through for the next weekend when school let out and I go play it again.
-Lindsey Hall, Associate Publicist