These Books I Read in High School Drastically Changed My Outlook on Life

Throughout your school years you will be forced to read many books. Some you will loathe entirely, others you will begrudgingly enjoy.

And then there are the ones that take you away–the ones that have a strong hand in shaping the person you become.

Below are the six books I read in high school that are responsible for making me who I am today, and the reasons I will never forget them.

Girl surrounded by books

(Photo Credit: Khomenko Maryna via Shutterstock)

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers book cover

(via Amazon)

What it's about: The story is centered around deaf-mute John Singer and the lives of the people he encounters in his small town.

How it changed my life: The moral of this novel is that everyone has a story to tell. We are all going through our own hardships that shape the person we become. But you're not alone. Every day, other people are feeling as low and rejected as you. Your friends and family will always be there to hear you out. And you will be there for them. This piece truly taught me how important it is to understand my feelings and express every emotion, good or bad. I used to bottle things up and hide everything from those who were closest to me. Now I'm comfortable with talking about the struggles I'm going through. I also don't let them define me.


The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne book cover

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What it's about: Hester Prynne is forced to wear a scarlet "A" on her clothes after it's been discovered she committed adultery with the minister of her church.

How it changed my life: I wasn't always the most understanding individual. I hardcore judged people for the not-so-great decisions they've made in their lives. After reading Hester's story, I became far less critical about what people did with their lives. At the end of the day, it's really none of my business how people choose to go about their days. This novel also piqued my interest in feminism and started me on the road to being the outspoken feminist I am today.


The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry book cover

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What it's about: A pilot crashes in the desert and encounters a young prince who has fallen from an asteroid to planet earth who tells him of his adventures.

How it changed my life: I initially read this book in my Spanish class junior year, but I ended up re-reading it again in English to make sure I totally understood what was happening. It's known to be a children's book that's written more for adults. The adult characters the prince introduced us to throughout the story are the reason I still hold onto my child-like wonder and positive outlook on the world. As we grow older, we tend to become more cynical about life. We rarely ever do something because we want to, we always need to do it. After reading this story, I vowed to never truly grow up.


The Body by Stephen King

Different Seasons by Stephen King book cover

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What it's about: The Body is a novella in Stephen King's Different Seasons. It follows a group of four boys who venture on their way to find the dead body of a missing kid. The 1986 movie Stand by Me is based on this story.

How it changed my life: The opening paragraph is honestly my favorite piece of work ever written. It hits home in a way that I can't even put into words. But that's not the only reason it holds a special place in my heart. The piece touches on the friendships we make when we're younger and how they change as we become older. You always think you're going to have the same friends forever and ever, but that doesn't always happen. It's the harsh reality of life. This story taught me that growing up can mean growing apart from many people in your life. And that's perfectly okay. But no one will mean more to you than the friends you have when you're younger. Always remember that.


The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tam

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan book cover

(via Amazon)

What it's about: Four different mother-daughter duos discuss their life stories as they bond over the Chinese game of mahjong.

How it changed my life: I never had a strong relationship with my mother growing up. It was in no way a bad relationship, but I just never truly bonded with her over anything. After reading this novel my freshman year, I began to really question how I could strengthen my relationship with my mom. I started to make an effort to understand her better and get to know her as a friend rather than a parent. Now this didn't turn us into a duo closer than cookies and milk, but I started to truly appreciate her and everything she's done and continues to do for me.


Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner book cover

(via Amazon)

What it's about: It teaches you about economics and, like the cover says, how there is a hidden side to everything.

How it changed my life: It sincerely made me question everything I know to be true. I had so blindly lived my life before I knew what this book and economics was. After reading it, I became more inquisitive of the world around me. I wanted to know every little detail about anything and everything. It's part of the reason I chose to become a writer. If I had never read this book, I think I'd be on a completely different career path.


I hope I inspired you to add one or all of these books to your reading list. And if the thought of reading doesn't sound to exciting, maybe the idea of using one of THESE 15 unique bookmarks will change your mind.