5. Life of Pi

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This book tells the story of a young boy from India who gets stranded out at sea in a small boat with zoo animals and survives after 227 days. The reason why this book is so significant to me is because of the way it deals with trauma, grief, and even spirituality. It's not for the faint of heart but this novel truly made me re-think religion and how it isn't as black-and-white as we perceive as well as the way it displayed how the mind deals with trauma.

4. I Am Malala

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This book is so important to me, I gave a speech on Malala Yousafzai in my public speaking class ( -ahem- and received a perfect score -ahem- ). It's a memoir of how a Pakistani girl, at the age of 15, was shot in the head by the Taliban just for trying to go to school. Luckily, Malala survived and went on to give a speech at the UN and becomes the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. This book details her life at different intervals, allowing us to see her journey and what it was like to live in a country that was hostile to girls like her. This book taught me to appreciate my right to an education and to speak up for what I believe in even when there are grave consequences.

3. The Alchemist

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Originally published in Brazil, this book tells the story of a young shepherd from Andalusia, Spain named Santiago who sets out on a journey to Egypt to find treasure. Along the way he meets a gypsy, a "king", and an alchemist who help him on his way. This book is chock-full of wisdom so you may find yourself highlighting and bookmarking. This novel is so powerful, Will Smith talked about it in an interview and then-President Bill Clinton was seen walking around with it. Best thing is is that you can get a free PDF file here: https://pdfbookforus.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/paulo_coelho_-_the_alchemist.pdf
(author 100% approves; he pirates his own books)

2. Jane Eyre

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One of the first classics I ever read, it tells the story of an English woman who works as a governess at Thornfield Hall under the brooding Mr. Rochester. It's classified as a romance novel but, to me, it's more poignant than that. Charlotte Brontë, the author, is ahead of her time in that she explores themes such as classism, sexuality, and feminism. Not to mention it's one hell of a page-turner.

1. Persepolis

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This one's a funny one: My all-time favorite novel contrasts the last one in that it's a graphic novel. Usually when someone thinks of a graphic novel, they think of something like DC comics. Persepolis changed that perspective for me. It's a memoir of the author's upbringing in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. Throughout we get to see the author's coming-of-age in a not-so-nurturing environment. Marjane Satrapi is an unconventional role model in that she is a die-hard socialist but also a feminist. She tackles issues on the role of women in religiously-run states such as Iran and in secular, liberal countries such as her adopted countries of Austria and France. She also discusses mental health and the importance of educating oneself. I highly recommend reading the complete version.

Thank you xxx