Top 5 Books That Changed Me: Kalystia

July 9, 2013 § 9 Comments

Each week, we’ll post a Top 5, with a different topic every time. I’ll post one with my choices, and itsnotnatalie will upload hers. You’ll get to know us through these quick entries, and we’re hoping that you’ll comment with your answers to the same topics so we can get to know you too!

This week, we’re posting about the top five books that changed us. When I was deciding on my top 5, I found it really hard to select a definitive set. Every decent book I read alters me in some way, and it’s hard to rank the changes that these books embed in terms of significance. That said, I think the five books I chose sum up my reading persona quite well. Here goes

  • Carrie, Stephen King

I have an odd relationship with Carrie. It is Stephen King’s first novel, written in 1975, and it is a raw, short piece that demonstrates the alarming talent that King has as a writer. Carrie is a shocking book that reveals the horrific capacity of teenage girls to hurt one another. This book contains scenes of such intense and undeniable femininity that it is difficult to understand how a male author could be so terribly accurate. Each time I read Carrie, I am moved to understand the perspective of a different character in the book. This, I think, must reflect my own changing perspective, but I still think it’s bizarre that I could keep coming back to this book and finding something new to connect with for nearly ten years. The frustrating thing about Carrie, though, is that he never wrote another book like it. I’m yet to find another Stephen King book that I have enjoyed or respected as much as I did this one, and I have read many. I’m still searching, and I live in hope. 

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  • Fight Club, Chuck Palanhiuk


Chuck Palanhiuk’s Fight Club was my introduction to cult novels, and one of the very first books I’d truly shared with a friend. At seventeen, I already had cynical leanings, but Tyler Durden’s anti-capitalist ranting tipped me over the edge into existential crisis. I found the subject matter (terrorism, self-actualisation, anarchy and cult leadership) frightening and the second person, present tense narrative style is very confronting. Reading Fight Club is an entirely different experience to watching the movie, and I was never quite the same once I’d read it.
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  • Blankets, Craig Thompson

Blankets by Craig Thompson is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. Granted, it’s a graphic novel, but it still makes my list of the top five books that changed me. Aside from being a simplistic, stunning artwork, Blankets tells the tale of the author’s whirlwind romance, crushing depression and gradual acceptance of the end of his first relationship. Finishing Blankets feels like surfacing from underwater; it is the realisation that, no matter how bad things get, there’s a way through the hardship. And this meant a lot to me when I was a teenager, and every time I have read it since. Below is my favourite panel.
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  • The Magicians, Lev Grossman

The Magicians by Lev Grossman completely reformed my expectations of fiction. When I read it about six months ago, there came a point in the plot where I genuinely felt as though a bucket of ice had been poured over my head. The hair on my arms and the back of my neck stood up as though electrically charged; I felt a little nauseous, and my jaw had dropped in shock. I couldn’t remember ever being physically affected by a mere plot device. The Magicians changed my whole view of reading, and made me realise just how deeply a skilful author can immerse you in a world of their own creation.

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  • Assassin’s Apprentice, Robin Hobb

As a child, I loved Harry Potter so much that no fantasy could ever live up to it, no matter how much I longed for the escapism of another world. I would start a fantasy novel with the highest of hopes, only to find them dashed by bad prose, cheap clichés and pathetic female characters. Someone recommended Assassin’s Apprentice to me and I actually bought it because I liked the cover art. Don’t listen to the old adage, friends, because Robin Hobb’s tale of Fitz and the Fool reignited my love of fantasy. Her writing, while intensely gripping, does not sacrifice embellishment. Her worlds are realms into which I could easily disappear for hours. Her characters are well-rounded, surprising and original, and, maybe best of all, her women are strong without being clichéd warrior women. While I also loved The Liveship Traders, it was Assassin’s Apprentice that originally cured me of my fantasy-block, and I’m forever grateful to Ms Hobb for that. 

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So there’s my top 5, readers! What are some of the books that have changed or influenced you? Stay posted this week for itsnotnatalie’s top 5! 

Kalystia xx

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