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10 Books That…Changed My Life

Each week, #DebutGirl and online writer Rebecca Sweeney, will be telling us about the books that have had a huge impact on her life, changed the way she thinks and encouraged her to make her debut in her chosen field.

This week, she counts down the top 10 literary offerings that have changed her life for the better…

As an avid reader from a tender age, books have always been hugely influential in my life. Whether it be a powerful piece of fiction that changed my outlook on things, or a piece of advisory non-fiction that I refer to daily when making decisions, here is a countdown of the 10 books that changed my life.

To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee to kill a mockingbird

In my opinion, the greatest and most influential novel ever written. I fell in love with the characters and their stories instantly and have never read a book so moving. Harper Lee’s novel encouraged me to find my 14 year old voice when I began writing regularly.

The Single Woman – Mandy Hale

This book was given to me accompanied by the best advice anybody has ever offered me: “We all want a knight in shining armour but whilst you’re waiting for him, it is best not to settle for an idiot dressed in tinfoil.” This book completely changed the way I saw my single status; instead of dwelling on why I was still single and how I could change it, I embraced the fact that I was still single and became more choosey than ever. Which in turn, resulted in finding somebody special.

The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year – Sue Townsend

I loved this book for one simple reason; it made me appreciate my amazing mum and how hard mother’s work when their children are growing up. After putting myself in my mother’s shoes through the novels protagonist Eva, I loved her even more.

the versions of usThe Versions Of Us – Laura Barnett

A recent addition to the list, this novel offered three different versions of the same love story. I would consider myself quite a traditional girl and yet I fell completely in love with the least traditional version. This novel changed my entire perception of ‘happily ever after’ when I realised that this comes from individual love stories, not from sociological ideas.

The Handmaids Tale – Margaret Atwood

I borrowed this book from my best friend and it instantly registered with me. It is impossible to read this book without being aware of the gender issues that are essential to the novel making it a must read for any self-confessed feminist. The book is innovative, informative and solidified my position as a proud feminist.

The Chocolate Monster – Jan Page

This book changed my life at the tender age of six when I discovered my love for reading.

The Other Boleyn Girl – Philippa Gregory

This book changed my life because it was only after discovering Gregory that I realised I wanted to write historical fiction in the future. I quickly changed my degree subject and rightly so, because studying history is one of the best choices I have ever made.

The Help – Katherine Stockett

I loved this book for obvious reasons (one of the narrators, Skeeter, is a wannabe writer, looking for an opportunity to make her name.) However, it made this list because Stockett managed to merge fact into fiction so beautifully that I saw this book as an educational masterpiece. Immediately after finishing, I researched racism in America and wrote some of the work that I am most proud of.

Writing For Journalists – Wynford Hicks the bell jar

The book educated, and changed, my approach to journalism. The more I learn of my chosen career path, the more often I consult this book. Packed full of useful tips and advice, I would never complete an important piece of journalism without consulting this book first.

The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

Plath’s book, often described as semi-autobiographical, tells the story of a woman’s journey into mental illness and the subsequent attempt to recover. Through her literature, Plath has explored two major subjects; the position of women in society and the causes and effects of mental illness. This book has spent over 50 years convincing readers to evaluate these once taboo subjects, and to make positive changes. This book has changed the lives of so many – and often without realisation.

Words: Rebecca Sweeney

Tweet Rebecca @RSweeneyx

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The UK's first Career & Lifestyle Magazine for women in the Creative and Media industries.

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