Books That Catapulted Me Back to Hell (I mean, to my teen years) by Jody Casella

Books I wish I'd written? Hmm.

I'm not going to lie, it would be cool to see my name on a best-selling and/or critically-acclaimed book.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by... Jody Casella
The Fault in Our Stars by... YES!!... Jody Casella

But I agree with what Tracy Barrett said in her recent post. I'm content writing what I write and I will let JK Rowling and John Green write the books that they write. (I am sure the two of them would be so relieved to hear that.)

I've been thinking about this topic a lot, though, because there are definitely books that resonate with me, that hit me viscerally, that strike something in me and make me think that, okay, maybe I couldn't have written this book, but oh my God, this writer gets me.

This experience only seems to happen with YA books.

Let me say here that when I was a teen, I NEVER had this experience. The YA pickings were slim way back in the 70's/80's. I devoured books like Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews and Forever by Judy Blume, but I didn't FEEL anything beyond an intense desire never to eat powdered donuts again and a strange fascination that there might be guys who gave their um, penises, nicknames. (Ralph, in case you don't remember.)

These days, I read a lot of YA books. Some, I like. Some, I don't. Some, I think are pretty freaking brilliant and moving.

And then there are a few that from the very first line I am catapulted back to my teenage years. Something about the story, the characters, the voice, the world of the book, hits the part of me that I thought I had long buried.

It all comes rushing back. The angst and fears and loneliness and frustration. As I read, my heart is racing and I am sweating and shivering. I've traveled in a time machine and found myself sitting in my high school cafeteria, alone, because my group of friends has turned on me, and I'm trying to act like I don't care by pretending to do my homework, and I hate how I look, how crappy my hair came out that day and how knobby my knees are and how I have a pimple in the middle of my forehead and I don't have money for lunch and those girls across the room are laughing and I know they are laughing at me.

Yeah. Those books.

They're not books I wish I'd written.

They're the books I wish I had back then. Reminders that I was not the only one who felt alone and angry and depressed. I was not the only one who made stupid choices, who was bullied and who did a bit of bullying, who loved, raged, cared, lived and wanted to die.

It's an incredibly personal thing, the books that break me, the books I wish I could give to my old sad self slumped over in the cafeteria--but here they are, in no particular order:


  1. "Books I wish I'd had back then." What a powerful statement.

  2. Great post, Jody. I know exactly what you mean. A great list of books too! My reading list grows every time read this blog! :)

  3. Thanks, all. And I hear you, Jen, about the massive growing TBR list that comes from following this blog. I think if I stopped collecting books this second, I'd still have enough to read until the end of time.

  4. great list....powerful stories.

  5. LOVED Fall for Anything and Try Not to Breathe was stuck in my head for days.


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