My Paper Town – five books that changed my life.

Okay so maybe the title for this blog post is a little over exaggeration. Maybe these books didn’t exactly change my life as such, however they are definitely my favourite books and most of them I have read at rather poignant times in my life. So here is a selection of my favourite books

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The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien.
The Hobbit was the first truly ‘grown up’ novel that I read. It’s the type of fiction that, to me anyway gets inside of you and just sits there until you’ve finished reading. Somehow, despite the Elves and dragons and Wizards that roam the land Tolkien created I somehow always felt as if Tolkien was talking about a world much like our own. Sure there’s spectacular danger and epic adventure but those things are balanced by everyday experiences that we’ve all had. Like lazy summer days and a bit to eat with friends. Tolkien never shies away from themes of friendship, love and courage and displayed these though very flawed characters. Bilbo, pushed outside his comfort zone is never really ashamed of his fears or want to go home. In fact his want for his home is what spurs him on to help the Dwarves claim their home. This novel taught me that it is okay to be both scared and to have courage, that good friendship lasts through trials and that even the smallest person in a room can make a difference.

13 Reasons Why – Jay Asher.
13 Reasons Why is told from the perspective of Clay, but is mostly about the life of Hannah – a girl who recently killed herself. After her death, Clay receives a set of cassette tapes on which Hannah explains the thirteen reasons why she decided to kill herself. I think this book captured a certain feeling very well, I understand perfectly the feeling of so many emotions piling up and once and I disagree with those who thought Hannah didn’t have a “good enough reason” to commit suicide. It’s true that nobody kills themselves because they get stood up, and nobody kills themselves because some douche groped their ass, and nobody kills themselves because of a mean rumour… but each of these is a little bit more added to the weight that is crushing down on someone. After all –

“When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life. Everything. . . affects everything”

Which to me seems like the true message behind the story of Hannah. One simple action, one sentence can utterly destroy the last sense of self and hope somebody was grasping onto.

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky.
The Perks Of Being A Wallflower is a truly moving story about Charlie, a freshman in high school who is by no means popular. He is very shy, but that all comes down to a mental issue that occurred because of something that happened when he was younger. What really drew me in with thus book, what it taught me rather is that life has its ups and downs and that any trauma can eventualmy be overcome. Charlie showed me that high school can be enjoyed if you have the right friends and becoming a teenager isn’t as scary as you think, even though it seems that way.

Dear Stranger – various –
When I learned that Penguin were releasing a book to raise money for Mind I knew I’d be interested. This is a collection of letters written by a selection of celebrities and writers who have experiences with mental illness. They are written as if to someone that they have never met, but they all still manage to really connect with you. I loved these letters and they really hit home with me in a variety of ways. If you are struggling with mental health issues then I cannot recommend this book enough, as it really did help me and I often go back to read my favourites when I am feeling a bit crappy. But even if you are not struggling, then this book gives a really good insight into what it feels like to live with a mental illness. Something which I think would really help to rid the world of the negative stigma surrounding mental illness.

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Paper Towns – John Green
The book that this blog was named after, Paper Towns. This book resonated with me on such a personal level in the need to escape from what is expected of you in life. Sometimes I want to leave, to run away but duty and love and family and friends keep me where I am (which I am forever thankful for, or I would well and truly be lost) My favourite element of the novel is the three sections it splits into, namely The Strings, The Grass and The Vessel. These represent the three metaphors used throughout the book. Each section focuses on one of the metaphors, and it also sets the atmosphere for each section: The Strings is about breaking, and irreversible change; The Grass is about friends, family and memories; The Vessel is about journeys and final destinations. Well the best thing about this novel was the discussion of identity. The story focuses on each character’s different idea of Margo, and eventually their realisations that she is just a person like them.

So there you have it, my 5 books! Until my next blog post, I’ll see you all online! Charlotte x

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