From a Teen’s Perspective: My ultimate library

by Dylan Lanier on March 20, 2023

Reading is one of my favorite and most valuable hobbies. Since I was little, I have always loved diving into a new story filled with endless possibilities. However, I don’t always realize the way that books have influenced my life and my perspective. Today, I want to share a list of some of the books that have had the biggest impact on me over the years.

1. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls: The writing is both gritty and beautiful, but it’s the heartbreaking story at this book’s center that will stay with you long after you finish the final page. Walls recounts her life — beginning in early childhood — dealing with negligent parents and the ways in which she had to mature too early in order to survive. Not only did this book open my eyes to the hardships of poverty and the reality of neglected children around the world, but it conveyed a message of resilience and allowing yourself to be vulnerable despite tough experiences.

2. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss: I have always been a fantasy enthusiast, but this book went and redefined the entire genre for me. The central character is a poor orphan who learns to use a methodical system of magic at a pretentious university (think Cambridge, but with voodoo dolls) and must navigate both the politics of academia and a looming threat from the past. At face value, the story is rather cheesy, but at its core, this book is a thoughtful reflection on human nature and our relationship with power. It also has the best character development I have ever read and features my favorite literary couple of all time.

3. Why Buddhism Is True by Robert Wright: Before you jump to the hippie accusations, let me explain. Wright is a journalist who approaches Buddhism from a critical point of view to examine its scientific validity. He breaks down the Buddhist ideology and evaluates which parts can be practically applied to your everyday life. I found myself breathing deeper and regulating my emotions more effectively after just one chapter.

4. House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer: Don’t be misled by the book’s premise. The dystopian story centers on the young clone of a wealthy patriarch and drug lord. Through the captivating narrative, Farmer wrestles with intense questions about corruption and our inevitable mortality. From the first page to the last, I remained immersed in an expertly crafted world of eerie paradise.

5. American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins: Living in California, I hear lots about the situation at the Mexican-American border. Until this book, all I knew were the statistics and the five-second clips they play on television. Cummins tells the story of a Mexican mother who is forced to flee with her young son to the U.S. after a cartel targets her journalist husband. Their journey gives humanity to the stories of millions of immigrants facing life-or-death as they try to make it out of their countries. The mother’s endless love for her son is inspiring and will leave you hugging your own loved ones tighter.

Alas, I could fill many more pages with transformative books, but I will limit myself to only the cream of the crop. Literature is a powerful catalyst for reflection and growth, and I hope all of my readers claim many more of those life-changing experiences.

From a Teen Perspective is a weekly column contributed by Menlo-Atherton High School Junior Dylan Lanier, who has lived in Menlo Park since he was two.

Editor’s note: As always, consider Kepler’s first when buying a book.


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