Personal Literary Canon
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Bridge to Terabithia is an important novel to read due to the overall theme of friendship. That being said, the main characters, Jess and Leslie are neighbors and form a friendship like no other. The two of them create a fantasy land across the creek near their house and call it Terabithia. In the woods of Terabithia, they are able to escape the rest of the world and just live in the moment. As they spend time in Terabithia, they teach each other different aspects in life, and are able to help one another with their insecurities and problems. The two become very close and Leslie is one of the only people that can make Jess feel special. When Jess arrives home one day, he is devastated to hear that Leslie drowned in the creek trying to swing into Terabithia. He believes that without Leslie in his life, he is destined to revert back to his fearful, insecure self. Jess wonders what Leslie would want for him and decides that the only way to keep a part of her in his life would be to continue the fantasy of Terabithia. This novel taught me the value of friendship and how your friends can help you discover your true self.
Corduroy by Don Freeman
The novel, Corduroy, is about a bear in a toy store that is in desperate need for someone to buy him. One day, a girl walks into the store, spotting Corduroy, wanting to buy him, but her mother tells her no due to his missing button. Corduroy was devastated and began searching for a button to replace his when all the other toys fell asleep. He looks everywhere and attempts to pull one off of a mattress, but makes too much noise doing so and a security guard places him back on the shelf. Corduroy becomes upset and loses hope of anyone buying him. That same girl comes into the store the next day, but this time, she actually buys Corduroy. Corduroy is overwhelmed with joy that he finally has a home at last. I believe this is an important novel to read because it taught me that no matter your flaws, someone out there will always love you.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Fault in Our Stars is about a girl named Hazel Grace, who has lung cancer. Hazel is in a support group and meets a boy named Augustus Waters, who also has cancer, but in his leg. The two have a lot in common and connect from the start. Love at first sight is an accurate description of the relationship. Augustus will do anything for Hazel, and uses his one wish that he was given when he got cancer to make Hazel's dream of meeting her favorite author come true. When the two return from the trip, August then tells Hazel how his cancer has returned and his health is to the point where he doesn't have much longer to live. The two decide that they should not be upset, but make the best of their relationship while they can. Augustus asks Hazel to do him a favor and write a eulogy for him, so when he does meet death, she will be prepared. Augustus dies not too long after he asked for this favor and Hazel is devastated. She ends up reading a different eulogy than she had written before, this one coming more from her heart. After Augustus passes, Hazel realizes Augustus has written her a eulogy as well and in the eulogy, he tells her he hopes she is happy with all the choices she has made. The novel ends with Hazel responding back to the question, saying "yes." This novel is important because it taught me to always make the best out of situations and always have a positive attitude.
The Holy Bible
The Holy Bible is by far the best book to read, and although I have not read the whole book, the parts I have read have helped shape me into the person I am today. The Bible has taught me many life lessons that I would not be able to obtain anywhere else. It has helped me do the right things in life, to "love one another as [God] has loved me," to always be humble and to give thanks in everything I do. The Bible acts as a map for me and leads me in the right direction when I feel lost and afraid. Everything I have read in the Bible has affected my life in multiple ways and has helped me become a better person.
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
The Lorax is about a young boy looking for answers in the small, bare town he lives in. Wanting to know the who the Lorax is, the boy visits the only one that knows about him, the Once-ler. The Once-ler is a mysterious recluse who makes his own clothes from Truffula Trees. As the boy approaches the Once-ler, the Once-ler tells him how the town used to be bright and clean and how all types of vibrant creatures lived in the town, along with fluffy Truffula Trees that came in all different colors. These trees are now gone since the Once-ler chopped all of them down to make his clothing. During this process, the Lorax comes in. The Lorax is a small guy who "speaks for the trees" and gets upset when the Once-ler opens up a factory to sell the clothing, polluting the air in the process. Due to the lack of trees and polluted air, the Lorax is forced to send the animals elsewhere, for they can not survive in this town anymore. Once the last Truffula Tree is chopped down, the Lorax leaves the Once-ler with the word, "unless." The Once-ler was always confused about what that meant until the little boy came along, in which he realized that "unless someone like [the boy] cares an awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." He then proceeds to tell the little boy to grow as many trees as possible to bring all the animals back. I think this novel is important because it teaches you to take care of the environment and that anyone can make a change in the world no matter how old you are.
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
In the novel, My Sister's Keeper, Anna Fitzgerald's sister, Kate is dying of leukemia. Kate needs a kidney and Anna is the one that is expected to give her one, but Anna doesn't want to do so because she's tired of giving everything to Kate and wants to make her own choices of what she does with her body. Anna then proceeds to hire an attorney to sue her parents for medical emancipation and for making Anna do all these things for Kate. When Anna's parents find out about this, the mother is furious, but the father believes Anna should get the right to make her own choices. Anna meets with a woman who will help her make decisions, and over the course of time, Anna contemplates back and forth between donating her kidney. After Anna talks to Kate about her decision, she realizes that Kate actually wants to die because she's tired of living with cancer anyways and Anna realizes that if she does not donate, her sister will die. The mother is taken to court and Anna wins the case, suing her parents of medical emancipation. As the trial ends, Anna gets in a car accident, where she is killed instantly. After Anna's death, her attorney decides whether or not her kidney will go to Kate and decides that is the best decision. The transplant goes well and Kate is able to live with her sister's memory and kidney for the rest of her life. This novel is important because it taught me to cherish my family and the time I have with them.
Picking Cotton by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton
Picking Cotton is about Jennifer Thompson, who was attending Elon University and had her whole life planned out until she was raped. Trying to remain calm as the man raped her, she did her best to remember all the details of the man to tell the police when they arrive. The police presented several different suspects to her and she picked the one that looked the most like the rapist, Ronald Cotton. When Cotton heard of the charges, he went to the police department trying to clear his name, but ended up getting arrested. He was sentenced to life in prison and had requested a DNA test to prove that he was innocent. Jennifer agreed to do so because she still believed he was guilty and as the results came back, Cotton was freed, for his DNA did not match the items in her rape kit. When Jennifer found out Cotton was innocent, she decided that she wanted to meet him and apologize for ruining his life. The two formed a friendship and began traveling across the country to prevent the justice system from repeating the same mistakes. This novel is important because it taught me to always forgive others and stand up for myself even in the worst situations.
Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
Safe Haven is a novel that teaches us the true meaning of love and how it literally is your "safe haven." That being said, the main character, Erin moves to the town of Southport and changes her name to Katie to escape from her past. In Southport, Katie decides it's better for her to not form any personal connections with anyone until she meets Alex. As Katie begins to fall in love with Alex and form connections with him and his family, she struggles to deal with her dark, horrifying past. Trying to keep her previous relationship with her abusive husband out of the picture, Alex finds out why Katie moved to Southport in the first place. She had been hiding from her previous husband, Kevin, who is a detective looking for Katie. Once Kevin finds her, things start to unravel and he does all he can to sabotage her relationship. At first, Alex is mad that Katie didn't tell him about her past, but soon forgives her and saves her from a fire that Kevin started. Alex was sent to the hospital for his injuries, but turns out to be okay in the end. Once Kevin is out of the picture, Alex and Katie are finally able to live a happy life together. This novel is important because it teaches us how your significant other will love you despite your past and/or flaws.
A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard
A Stolen Life is a true story of a girl named Jaycee Dugard who was abducted at age 11 by Phillip Garrido and his wife, Nancy. On June 10, 1991, the couple kidnapped her and took her to their house where she was sexually assaulted by Phillip. During her time in captivity, Phillip had impregnated her twice. The first time she became pregnant was at age 14 and the second was at age 17. As the years went by, Phillip and Nancy decided she needed a new identity so that no one would recognize her when they would go in public. Living in the backyard of Phillip and Nancy's house, Jaycee would question if anyone was looking for her and would start to lose hope, but realized she needed to stay strong for her family. On August 26, 2009, Phillip met with his parole officers who did a background check on him, having all members of his "family" come in one by one. When it was Jaycee's turn, the officers asked what her name was and since she had not spoke of her real name in 18 years, she wrote out "Jaycee Lee Dugard" in fine print. It was then that Phillip and Nancy were arrested and Jaycee was reunited with her family. After 18 long years, she was finally free. This novel is important to me because despite the sad, heartbreaking aspects of it, it really taught me to always stay strong even in the worst situations and never lose hope.
Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northop
Twelve Years a Slave speaks of Solomon Northop's experience with slavery. Solomon was a Northern black man, the son of an emancipated slave, who was offered a job playing the fiddle in a circus. Solomon thought he could trust the men that gave him this offer, so he traveled with them to Washington, DC where he was drugged, kidnapped and sold into slavery. Although Solomon was a free black man, he still spent the next 12 years of his life as a slave. Being transferred to different plantations, Solomon's name was changed to "Platt" to take away any connections he had from his past. At the plantations, he was treated poorly, abused and even had to whip another slave himself. At this point in his life, after being held at the plantations for 10 years, he starts to lose hope. As the years pass by, he meets a carpenter at the plantation and asks him to write letters to his family back home, and the carpenter agrees to do so. Because of the letters, Solomon is rescued by his friends from the North and is able to return home to his family. I think this novel is important because not only did it teach me about slavery and how brutal slaves were treated, it also taught me to never lose hope no matter how bad the situation may be.