Books That Have Changed My Life

MAUS by Art Spiegelman

My entrance essay for my harvard application was about Spieglman’s books on the Holocaust which begin with MAUS. Spiegelman tells his family’s story of survival, suffering, and liberation through the eyes of mice being persecuted by cats. Every animal represents a different ethnic identity and the art, the narrative, and the rawness and honesty make this a classic of literature of any kind. And yes: I got into Harvard.

Ghost World by Daniel Clowes:

In the world of graphic comics, Clowes holds a special place in my heart. He has many fantastic hilarious comics and graphic novels, but the journey into the hearts and minds of two misfit teenage girls spoke to me in such a powerful way in my teens and twenties. The format of these stories made them so much fun to read, but I also felt so connected to these young women and I felt so encouraged as a young artist to see comic art take such a prominent role in our culture.

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

Jonathan Safran Foer is a novelist who has written some truly ground-breaking books. This one, however, tops them all as he explores the animal food industry as he prepares for the birth of his first child (his wife is Nicole Krauss...see above!). This memoir of sorts takes him into the world of production and consumption and his environmental and ethical analysis of the ways we make chicken, beef, pork, and fish changed my life forever. I was still eating trace eggs and dairy when I read this book; it sealed the deal for me with very little effort. My devoutly carnivorous ex husband became plant-based after reading this book. It is powerful, and it is necessary.

Nine Stories by JD Salinger

It’s hard to pick just one JD Salinger book for this list since I love them all for different reasons and in different ways. I chose Nine Stories because it shows the complexity of Salinger’s genius and the way he weaves themes of love, loss, grief, and longing into tiny worlds which you instantly fall into with ease. Salinger is a mysterious and elusive writer; these stories are small windows into his mind.

A History of Love by Nicole Krauss

I don’t recall how I learned about this book, but it is far and away one of my favorite books ever. Not only is the narrative compelling and captivating, but the language usage and the story telling is really beautiful and incredibly moving. This is a story that winds and turns you upside down and inside out, and the protagonists are an old man and a young girl both searching for something very important and very profound: love.

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