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My Ten Favorite Life-Shaping Books by Amy Despain

Books have always been a part of my life. Reading would take me to all the places I could not go, creating a world that was better than my imagination. Life isn’t always easy or as fun as we want it to be, so escaping into the magic of books helped me to keep a positive outlook on the world. I believe that everyone can be an author, and I hope that I can inspire others to write their own by sharing the stories that inspired me.

A few of the books that have shaped my life were:

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig

How it influenced me: I loved that he found something and wished for something better, but he lost what he had. In the words of Mama Odie from Princess and the Frog, “you got what you wanted, but you lost what you had.” This perspective gave him a better appreciation for what was already in his life.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

How it influenced me: I loved how Jane Austen made fun of the upper classes and gender stereotypes. She wasn’t afraid to poke fun, even in the 1700s when there were strict rules about gender roles.

Voyage of the Basset by James C. Christensen

How it influenced me: In this book, James Christensen manages to introduce us to a whole array of new fairytale characters and creatures in such few pages. He also packed an immense number of stories with rich morals and strong values into his huge magical world.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontё

How it influenced me: This is a tragic love story with a dark side. Its twists and turns keep the reader engaged and on the edge of their seat, hoping that love will conquer all. I won’t spoil it for any of you who haven’t read it, but I highly recommend picking it up today.

Sweet Valley High by Francine Pascal

How it influenced me: This series was what got me through the armpit of my life- junior high. It is packed with relatable stories of young teenage drama and emotion. This series is a must-read for any preteen hoping to escape into a world parallel to theirs.

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

How it influenced me: I read this book to my children and they to theirs. My youngest still believes that this special bunny is guarding her bedroom at night and protecting her and all her toys from danger.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

How it influenced me: Oh, the mother! She has four very different daughters, and she encourages them to be exactly who they are with no excuses. It doesn’t matter where they go or what they do; she supports them through it all.

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

How it influenced me: “When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.” - J.M. Barrie. I believe in fairies, and my belief began here.

Walt Disney’s Cinderella, adapted by Jane Werner

How it influenced me: Everyone wishes they had a fairy godmother that could wave a magic wand and change your whole life. We can’t escape life’s wicked stepsisters, but we can still partake in the real magic—kindness. If you’re going to read this, as you should, the Golden Book version is the best.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

How it influenced me: Charles Dickens, who was a genius, reminds us of this: who doesn’t wish that every grouchy old man in the world could wake up on Christmas Day with a renewed sense of generosity and joy. Plus, the Ghost of Christmas Present was my favorite because he was so jolly!

I hope that sharing this list of inspiring classics will spark your interest in a few books you have never read. Maybe, you’ll even be inspired to write! Whatever the case, I am happy to leave you with my simple motto: “if you can’t read it, eat it—especially if it’s a doughnut.”

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