Well, it’s been a minute since I’ve done one of these. The past few topics just haven’t grabbed me. I had some ideas for last week’s topic, but none that I felt weren’t going to be everyone’s answers. But this week I’ve got some great answers. Today’s topic is books for your younger self. These are books you wish your younger self had read to learn a life lessons, get more self-confidence, open your eyes to a new perspective, or just give you the escape you’d needed. I was actually thinking about this recently, so this topic couldn’t have come at a better time. Late elementary to high school, these are the books I wish I had when I was younger:
If I was able to relate so deeply to Molly just a year ago, imagine how well I would’ve been able to relate to her in high school. I practically was Molly. I relate to that fear of taking a chance and of being left out. I relate to having unrequited crushes. I relate to finding someone in the last place I thought to look. If I’d had this book in high school, I would’ve felt seen. And that was really what I needed.
This book would’ve been good for me in high school because of the naked look at anxiety (well, mainly OCD, but anxiety too). This book had me in tears because of how much Mikey’s personal struggle reflected mine. Sure, I had a better home life, but my internal struggle was nearly identical. A book like this would’ve shown me I wasn’t alone, that other people felt the way I did. It may have even given me the courage to really start working through my issues, rather than telling my psychiatrist and then-therapist I was “fine.” I just know I would’ve cherished this book a lot.
While I really liked this series as an adult, I feel like I would’ve appreciated it a lot more if I’d read it as a kid. The series first came out when I was in about fifth or sixth grade— the perfect age to read these books. I probably would’ve considered the series a favorite and loved it nearly the way I love Harry Potter. But alas, I didn’t read it then. And now I’ll never know.
While this book isn’t a favorite, it’s still one of the best F/F romances I’ve ever read. And for deeply closeted teenage me? Well, that might’ve meant a lot to have. Maybe if I saw lady love normalized in fantasy (my favorite genre), I would’ve been able to come to terms with my gayness a lot sooner. I’d also read a lot less books than I have since then, so I may have even liked the overall story more than my experienced self did. Either way, this would’ve been a powerful book for a closeted-even-to-herself lesbian to have.
The reason this book would’ve been so powerful for me is because of all the supposedly inside jokes this group of friends share about classmates. They thought (well, some of them did) that their jokes weren’t hurting the people they were talking about. My friend group was by no means popular like the one in this book, but we did joke amongst ourselves about other kids. I wonder how many of them knew what we said and were affected by it. I know at least one was, but fortunately we were able to make up with her and actually became friends. I know my words also once got back to a girl who had bullied me previously and she twisted them and told everyone I said something worse (and, quite frankly, nonsensical) for the next four years. Even though she had been mean to me, I have worried that my words may have actually hurt her. I can’t help but feel like, if I’d had this book, maybe I would’ve realized the power of my words sooner. Maybe I wouldn’t have made cruel jokes with my friends, even if I thought no one else would hear. Maybe, just maybe, this book would’ve helped me be a better person.
What books would you recommend to your younger self? Let me know in the comments!