Book Challenge

Alright, I’ve been nominated by my bud Christina to participate in the book challenge over a week ago. You have no idea how much time it took to write this post on top of schoolwork because I thought, rethought, and after many hours, finally composed my final list of books and reasons why I chose them. Here we go:

“Post a list of 10 books that have impacted/awed you in some way.”

1. The Kite Runner

kite runner tumblr quote book

This was such an unforgettable story of friendship. When I read it back in 9th grade, I was entranced by the narrative that transported me straight to Afghanistan where I delved in the story of two very different boys who were learning to grow up and live in the politically tumultous country. Even now, I can still recall my feelings of anger, sadness, and shock when I read this one memorable/graphic scene in the book’s climax. Books that can draw such deep emotions are great to me, and over all, this story is a very touching one that I’ll remember for a long time.

2. The Great Gatsby

great gatsby quote boats shore book

I think this book provides insight on every relevant topic in the 21st century here in modern America that it seems almost prophetic. Wealth, the American dream, aspirations, corruption, selfishness, unattainable love…Fitzgerald sure knew how to reveal our inner (and sometimes, ugly) truths. I remember reading this for English class in tenth grade and forever mulling over that green light, that teeny bit of hope for the future:

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And then one fine morning—
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” (The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald)

3. Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre bird quote pinterest book

I was surprisingly entertained by this book, as I went into it thinking that it’d be boring 17th century literature. However, I give mad props to Charlotte Bronte for being such a feminist in the 1800’s! She created a character, Jane, who I really admired. She had all the characteristics that I respect and desire – she was strong, curious, independent, and passionate. Also, how could I not love a good and twisted romance? And dang, they did a good job with casting Mr. Rochester in the BBC TV show!

mr rochester jane eyre bbc tv show book

Ikr?! A little bit of eye candy for the day…

4. Mao’s Last Dancer

Mao's Last Dancer goodreads book autobiography

This autobiography by renowned ballet dancer Li CunXin really reminded me of my mom’s life, actually. My grandma often told me stories of my mom’s childhood, and the detailed descriptions of life in rural China during the cultural revolution were so sharp that I could also picture my mom (who’s around the same age as the author) in that setting. Since I was blessed to be born and grow up in the US, I could never understand that kind of “rags-to-riches” life, but reading Li’s story was also like glimpsing into my mom’s world and how she grew up. I encouraged her to read it but she refused, for she didn’t want to cry (yep, she’s a crier) from reading it.

5. The Help

This book had a host of witty, likeable characters! I smile every time I think of Minny and her chocolate pie! Though I liked this book largely because I liked the characters, important topics such as race and segregation successfully supported the backbone of the story. These issues hold a lot of weight with me and I found the story captivating as it told of one young white woman’s endeavor to write a book detailing the African-American maids’ point of view on the white families for which they work. Though set in the 1960’s, the topic of race is still super relevant to today (and probably will be for as long as I live), which is one reason why I think I connected so much to this book.

6. Les Misérables

les miserables quote book movie

I read this book for the first time in 8th grade, my teacher then showed us the play, and then my entire class and I exploded in the Les Mis craze as we all sung and hummed the songs for months on end. Justice, longing, loss, love, virtue, vengeance, forgiveness – I can never get tired of this classic story that told of so many complexities in our lives, all of which we can relate to. In fact, I identify the most with Cosette and always feel so sad for her whenever I read/watch the movie…or maybe I’m feeling more sorry for myself? #foreveralone.

7. Gone With the Wind

gone with the wind margaret mitchell quote book

Okay, I think people are way too wrapped up in the romance of this story. I, in contrast, like this book because it unexpectedly shows how this spoiled little brat Scarlett had to learn how to survive after finding herself in poverty after her plantation was destroyed. I rooted for her as she had to learn how to persevere, be flexible, and acquire “gumption.” Yes, there are racial epithets and controversies in the book that I won’t talk about here because those aren’t the reasons why I liked it. This quote that I most remember illustrates the theme that I got out of the book, and the reason why I enjoyed it:

“We’re not wheat, we’re buckwheat! When a storm comes along it flattens ripe wheat because it’s dry and can’t bend with the wind. But ripe buckwheat’s got sap in it and it bends. And when the wind has passed, it springs up almost as straight and strong as before. We aren’t a stiff-necked tribe. We’re mighty limber when a hard wind’s blowing, because we know it pays to be limber. When trouble comes we bow to the inevitable without any mouthing, and we work and we smile and we bide our time. And we play along with lesser folks and we take what we can get from them. And when we’re strong enough, we kick the folks whose necks we’ve climbed over. That, my child, is the secret of the survival.” (Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell)

8. Perks of Being a Wallflower

perks of being a wallflower book movie quote pinterest

I’ve heard that this book was also called “the teenager’s guide to high school.” Now, my high school experience was nowhere like these kids’ (although I wished it was, just for the sake of escaping boredom in my super suburbian town), but as an introvert I could definitely relate to the protagonist “wallflower” Charlie. Though I read this book in college, I can see how Charlie’s experiences may coincide with those experiences of American teenagers who are also exploring social structures, drugs, sexuality, and over all, adolescence. I also raved about the movie when it came out and loved how it was true to the book. Both were so unforgettable.

9. The Harry Potter Series

harry potter dumbledore quote buzzfeed book

Ironically, I started off “hating” the Harry Potter series. Going to a Lutheran school, I was told that it is a book of “witchcraft” (and thereby, evil) so I should never read it. Finally, in 5th grade, I cracked one open then mowed through the whole series within two months. I couldn’t tell you how many times I wished that the magical world of Harry Potter was real after that. But it was real to me as I read it – I felt nervous as Harry had to go battle the dragons in the Goblet of Fire, scared when he had to face Voldemort alone in the Deathly Hallows, and giddy when he asked out Cho in the Order of the Phoenix. Harry Potter was my childhood, and I love how I got to grow up along with him.

10. Jesus Christ the Garbage Collector

Jesus Christ garbage collector poem

Alright, so it’s not really a book, but I first heard this poem read out loud in a sermon at Urbana 2012. It impacted me so much that after I got home, I had to find it and read it and write it down for safekeeping. Each time I read it, I am mind-blown and humbled to know that there’s a God who cherishes and loves me so much, despite all my flaws, that He would do anything for me (and humanity in general) – including conquering sin & death – to bring me back into relationship with Him. What a wonderful Father we have. PTL.

That’s all! Are any of these books also your favorites? What are some titles that you would recommend?

Thanks for reading!

P.S. Find more of my book reviews and recommendations here.


9 thoughts on “Book Challenge

  1. I love the Help too! And Gone With The Wind will always be a favorite! Have you read Scarlet? Lots of people hate on it because it’s not by the same author. I loved it. I actually read it in high school before I read Gone With The Wind. Maybe if I’d read them chronologically I wouldn’t have liked it as much.


  2. There are a few on your list that I have yet to read, but I hope to be able to check them out some day soon. I really enjoyed looking through your list, because seeing the books that other people love always makes me want to go and read more. It’s a good feeling.

    You have a really great list here!


  3. I´ve read the perks of being a wallflower recently but now, since it is such an awesome book, I’m a bit scared to watch the movie- but with Emma Watson starring, what could possibly go wrong? 😀

    Of course, the Great Gatsby is, well great.

    But most of all, I am so happy to have found someone who lists the Harry Potter Series here, seems like I´m not alone ❤


    • The movie was fantastic – the author had a say in the script so it stayed pretty true to the book’s storyline. It was really weird, yet cool, to see Emma star as an American teen this time 😀


  4. Pingback: September ’14 in Review | It's JPei

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