Hi all, Jasmine here! For today’s blog post, I’m going to share with you some books that I loved as a teen. Because what tells you more about a person than the books they love? (I think I was supposed to choose only one book, but that is impossible, so I narrowed it down to three and I’m actually impressed with my self-restraint. I hope you are, too!)
First: Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block. I remember being captivated by Block’s tale of two outsiders finding their way in a dreamy version of Los Angeles. I always viewed the book as a love letter to misfits and adore it to this day for that reason. Block does an amazing job of creating unforgettable and unique characters and rendering a magical setting, that even though it is a bit strange and unfamiliar, is so vivid and believable. If you haven’t read this book, I highly suggest you add it to your TBR pile.
I also love this book because Weetzie was such a perfect role model for me as a young girl. She is unapologetic about the things she loves and her thirst for life. Too often I think we equate “girly” things like loving clothes or being interested in nail polish as being silly or even anti-feminist, but Weetize taught me you can be a bada** female AND rock a pink sequin-studded jacket. She taught me that it’s okay to love what you love and you shouldn’t ever have to apologize for your happiness.
Second: Ariel by Sylvia Plath. This collection of poems was without a doubt the book that had the greatest effect on teenage me. Lots of people have gateway bands and Plath was my gateway poet—from her, I branched out to Sexton and Rich and O’Hara and etc., but my love of poetry, which is really my love of words, started with Plath. I must have read this collection of poems at least a hundred times and like all things you truly love, it’s impossible for me to describe why this book means as much to me as it does. In a way, these poems were my only friends when I felt very alone. They seemed to verbalize things that I thought no one else around me really understood—loneliness, sadness, isolation, anger. My favorite poem in the collection is called “Tulips” and the ending lines still slay me:
“And I am aware of my heart: it opens and closes
Its bowl of red blooms out of sheer love of me.
The water I taste is warm and salt, like the sea,
And comes from a country far away as health.”
Third: The Hours by Michael Cunningham. So this is kind of a cheat (surprise, surprise) because Mrs. Dalloway absolutely captivated me and that’s part of the reason I loved this book. To me, this book was both life-affirming and soul-crushing and what else can you want? But in all seriousness, it was one of the most inventive books I’d ever read. I was in awe of how the three storylines were threaded together and the language in the book brought me to my knees.
Runners up: History of Love, Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Realm of Possibility, and Diving Into the Wreck.
Books I read later and wish I’d read in high school: The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Please Ignore Vera Dietz, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Looking for Alaska, and The God of Small Things.
What are/were some of your favorite books from high school? Leave a comment and share them with us—we’d love to hear!
Jasmine Warga is the author of MY HEART AND OTHER BLACK HOLES coming from Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins in Winter 2015. She likes surrealist sketches, old swing sets, and the night sky.