Childhood: Matilda by Roald Dahl
My childhood is defined by Roald Dahl books in general but I think I truly fell in love with reading through Matilda. It's funny because I actually discovered this book while I was grounded for something I did (that I don't remember haha). In my six year old frustration at my parents, I happened to notice the back cover of this book where they synopsis stated that Matilda was great at teaching her awful parents lessons in manners. Guess who liked that? (hehe) She was a smart girl who liked to read but lived a lonely life without friends. As a kid who moved around a lot growing up, I could relate to that loneliness. Through reading Matilda, I discovered the joy of reading and my life was never the same.
Early Adolescence: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
I was a shy kid when I got a bit older than my Matilda reading days. I was also usually the only Asian kid in school people thought I looked funny, spoke differently, ate weird food, etc. It was a hard. When I discovered the first of the Harry Potter series, I felt like I gained three friends that would always be there for me when I needed to escape to this magical land. They helped me to be imaginative and brave and just as Harry had no friends until he went to Hogwarts, I learned I was also deserving of good friends and my weirdness didn't make me any less deserving of them.
Late Adolescence: Asylum Denied by David Kenney-Ngaruri
I interned at an international law firm as a teenager and I met the writer of this book - a Kenyan immigrant who applied for U.S. citizenship by seeking Asylum. As a child of immigrants, I was never really confronted with my own privilege of being born a U.S. citizen until then and I had never really thought about how others had to fight and wait and jump through hoops to have what I had. This book opened my eyes and it made me more aware of the struggles of others.
Early Adulthood: Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
I first read this book as an undergrad in college - wide-eyed and eager to be independent and make it in the big city. College was so different from anything I had ever done before and I was feeling overwhelmed by the experience when Breakfast at Tiffany's came into my life. While Holly Golightly had a lot of character flaws (a bit selfish, flaky, and unreliable), I also saw how scared she really was and I found beauty in her character. On the outside she seemed to have everything but on the inside, she was just barely keeping it together. If that doesn't seem relatable to a college student, I don't know what will.
What books defined your life?