Welcome back to Four Book Friday, a continuing series where writers and readers tell us about four books that changed their life! This week’s post comes from Hannah, with whom I have shared favorite books since we were in seventh grade. Read on for the four books that have inspired her.
Hi! I’m Hannah, a good friend of Miss Mackenzi Lee’s—she and I go way back. Like, all the way back to middle school. When I saw that Mackenzi was starting this series, I immediately volunteered to participate without even thinking of what books I would include—I just knew I wanted to be a part of it, dang it! As someone who just finished their senior year of college as an English major, I feel like I’ve read plenty of books, and I have lots of favorite books, but Mackenzi made it clear that this was for books that changed your life, which is an entirely different category. Here’s my list of books that changed my life!
Most people are familiar with S.E. Hinton’s novel The Outsiders, but fewer know about her other books. The Hinton book that changed my life was Rumble Fish, and I read it in my seventh grade English class with Ms. Putnam. This was my first introduction to literature we studied in school that had some deeper symbolism. Ms. Putnam did a fantastic job of connecting with little seventh graders and getting them to understand some underlying themes, and I still remember some of them to this day (something about a river… and lights… anyway, it’s not important.). I consider Rumble Fish to be sort of the foundation that my analytical English career has been built around—and how could that not be considered a book that changed my life?
Even if you don’t keep up with the YA literature scene, you may have heard of John Green because he has been on the top of the best seller list for 39 weeks so far with his book The Fault in Our Stars. While that book is also fantastic, we’re going to focus on another of Green’s books entitled Will Grayson, Will Grayson. WG/WG is a really interesting story about love and friendship, but seriously, the biggest thing I learned from this book was exactly how authors co-write books—one writes one chapter, the other writes the next, and so on. I’m not dumb, but the idea of coauthoring a book seriously mystified me until this moment—if I tried to cowrite a book with someone, I guarantee it would end in a bloodbath. The main reason I love WG/WG is because it introduced me more fully into the online world of Nerdfighteria (the online community that supports John Green, his brother Hank, and their creative work). Basically what John Green, his novels, and Nerdfighteria have given me is a renewed faith that what I studied in college is important to continue teaching to young adults. After hearing one too many horror stories about rude students, school shootings, and unhelpful administrators, it’s hard to forge ahead in the education program with a positive “I can make a difference!” attitude. Thanks to WG/WG (my first introduction to the inspiring words of John Green), I feel more confident heading into the classroom armed with knowledge and faith in my subject. Favorite quote from WG/WG: “He looks at me like i’m throwing spiked darts at the heart-shaped helium balloons that populate his mind, so i let it go.”
Seriously? This is the third 4-Book Friday and there hasn’t been a mention of Harry Potter? This is crazy town. The Harry Potter series definitely changed my life. I remember reading the first book out loud with my mom and sister in my parent’s big bed. I remember waiting anxiously for the library to open the day after the new book came out so I could get Mom to rush me there for my copy that I reserved months ago. I remember reading the 6th book in a hammock in my backyard and calling my friend the second I finished it so we could talk about it. And also, I saw the final movie in a half movie theatre/half pizza place in the middle of Montana one summer and basically crying BY MYSELF surrounded by tween girls as I saw my childhood essentially come to an end. Awesome. Essentially, Harry Potter is a fantastic, imaginative story that intrigued adults and kids alike, but especially interested kids my age; basically, J.K Rowling got an entire generation hooked on literature singlehandedly, which deserves mad props. As a future English teacher, I hope that my students find something—whether in school or out—that inspires them to read like HP did for me. I blame HP for my overall love of reading!
Chris Crutcher’s YA novel Stotan! changed my life by essentially taking it over. I wrote my Honors thesis on Stotan! by creating a four week unit from scratch with this book as the base. It was the first time I had ever been trusted with an entire unit where I read the book and figured it what I wanted to pull from the novel to teach my students, and I found it extremely rewarding. (I was also extremely pleased to find out that I could, in fact, do something like that on my own… thank goodness) Working closely with a professor on campus gave me a chance to really learn from a seasoned professional who had literary connections—he wanted to send my whole thesis to Chris Crutcher himself because they’re old pals! My thesis was the culmination of my college career, and without Stotan!, I’m not sure I would have liked the result nearly as much. Also, Crutcher uses some killer similes—my favorite is when he talking about a boy’s handwriting: “It looks like he dipped the feet of a baby chick in ink, placed it on the page and set the little bugger ablaze.” That’s fantastic imagery right there.
Thanks for reading my post—keep reading whatever floats your boat, and may you find your next life-changing book tomorrow!
Hannah Thompson is about to embark on the final phase of her teacher education program by student teaching first at a local high school, then at a less-than-local high school in southwestern Norway. An English major and avid book lover, she occasionally puts down her books to dance, hike, play basketball, rappel, bake, and watch Modern Family (but usually not all at the same time). Her lack of social media smarts is evident in the absence of links to Tumblr, Twitter, and blogs, but you can go here if you just need something to do, because hopefully this will one day be Hannah’s life.
Want more Four Book Friday? Here are more posts in the series:
- Clarissa Hadge on A Wrinkle In Time, Tamora Pierce, North to Freedom, and Mi Revalueshanary Fren
- Mackenzi Lee on Laini Taylor, One Day, The Thief Lord, and a book about a man and his steam shovel