Books That Shaped Teenage Me

I’m going to turn twenty at the end of this year, so I thought it’d be cool to recap some of the books I’ve loved the most over my teen years. Many of these have had quite a big impact on me and helped shape a lot to do with who I am now, and how I view the world. Most of these should be found in the YA, teen and tween sections of most good bookstores (Waterstones all the way, y’all).


The Skulduggery Pleasant Series – Derek Landy

Going right back to the start, I first discovered these books aged twelve (twelve counts, right?) and back then, the series was still being released. If you want a bigger rundown of these, I have written about them before – check that post out here! Essentially, they’re funny, lighthearted, magic-filled and badass. Highly recommend for anyone aged 11 up.

The Starcrossed Series – Josephine Angelini

These were great, using a high school setting and intertwining bits of Greek mythology into it. It involves a bit of romance, a lot of danger, and quite a bit of the Fates coming in and messing everything up, until eventually the Gods decide to come down and start an even bigger conflict. Ever since I discovered these, I’ve had such an interest in Hades and the concepts surrounding Zeus and the Underworld.

The Hunger Games Series – Suzanne Collins

Everyone’s got to have heard of these by now, but if you’ve only seen the films then I BEG YOU to read the books. I think these were what kickstarted my interest in the dystopian genre, which was a huge part of my mid-to-late teens, and still feature a lot in my reading interests. In addition, I used this series as part of my research base when I did my Extended Project in sixth form, which led me on to a vast array of other books as well, some of which I will get to shortly!

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The Waterstones in Liverpool One (it’s big)

13 Treasures – Michelle Harrison

I’m pretty sure I found this book when I was thirteen, stumbling across it in the bookshop. It’s been years since I read it, and I know there are follow-ups that I never got around to reading, but I remember loving this book. It’s got fairies in it, mischief, runaways… It was the perfect mixture of rebellion and enchantment.

Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell

I hated Animal Farm, but 1984 has so much to be said about it. It’s fascinating how much of what Orwell was writing about in the ’40s is directly relevant to today, and that’s exactly what I felt as I read it back in 2013 or 2014. It may not be a typically ‘teen’ book, but it definitely resonated with sixteen-year-old me.

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

Again, not typically a ‘teen’ book, but this was written way back in the early ’30s, and is credited with being the origin of the dystopian genre. I’d never heard of it before, and came across it during my Extended Project, but it’s full of fascinating topics also played on by modern series such as Uglies by Scott Westerfield. The use of recreational drugs, mind-controlling the masses, and creating the illusion of utopia where if you scratch beneath the surface, you find a much more sinister reality.

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

I honestly don’t remember exactly when I first read this book, but it was definitely early-to-mid teens. I didn’t really get it at first, perhaps because I was unused to the classic style of writing – but I watched the BBC TV series, then re-read it, and have loved it ever since. It definitely helped expand my reading interests and introduced me to the classics.

To Kill a Mockingbird & Go Set a Watchman – Harper Lee

Everyone who’s been through school has probably read TKAM, and those who liked it have probably read GSAW. I first read TKAM for my GCSE English, but I did honestly love it. I was studying the Civil Rights movement in America for my history GCSE at the time, and it just resonated with me. It’s a brilliant narrative, and the way Scout just cannot understand people’s racism was exactly me when I was a child. The release of GSAW was just a bonus, and I know it was a bit controversial, but I loved it.

War Horse – Michael Morpurgo

Who couldn’t like this book? It was so moving and so utterly compelling, about such a tragic time in our history. No matter how old you are, this book should be on your ‘read’ pile.


And that’s about all I can think of at the moment! I realise the collection is somewhat eclectic, but I like reading different genres. It keeps life interesting. What were/are your favourite books as a teen?

Katy x

Shows I’m Loving Right Now

If there’s one thing to know about my entertainment-watching habits, it’s that I haven’t watched live TV regularly since approximately early 2014. At first I was just watching recorded programmes from the TV planner, and then we got Netflix too, and then I got Amazon Student Prime, and of course there’s YouTube…

Either way, I tend to pick one show at a time to binge-watch, often as background noise while I do other things (like write this blog post, for instance). In no particular order, here’s some of the shows I’ve been loving recently!


Z: The Beginning of Everything

Amazon Prime Video

If you love everything 1920s New York, this is for you. Z was released last year, and so far only has one season – though I believe they’re bringing out the second soon. It focuses on the tale of the ‘original flapper’, Zelda Sayre, who married F. Scott Fitzgerald: the man behind The Great Gatsby.

This show is great because it’s just so fascinating as a modern-day viewer. I think it’s difficult not to be enthralled by the idea of the Prohibition era, and all the extravagance and splendour it’s known for. But with all that comes something sinister, and that’s explored brilliantly in Z.

Z: The Beginning of Everything Poster

 


13 Reasons Why

Netflix

This one has been getting around recently, but I hadn’t actually seen anything about it online until after I watched it. It’s based on the book of the same name, written by Jay Asher in 2007, and was produced by Selena Gomez. I haven’t read the book, but the show is one that gets you so invested that you just need to know how it ends.

Essentially, Hannah Baker has committed suicide, and left behind 13 tapes she recorded to explain her reasons for doing it. At the point where the show picks up, the tapes are given to Clay Jensen, who brings us through the narrative. This programme touches on some really important topics, like cyberbullying and mental health, and I haven’t seen anything that’s tackled these issues in this way before.

13 Reasons Why Poster


Riverdale

Netflix

I had heard of Riverdale before I started watching it, and I only jumped on the bandwagon earlier this week. It’s set in a high school in the US, in a small town (because small towns are sinister towns, we should all know this by now). A student at the school has died, and now the town is left with the question of how.

I’ll admit, the main reason I started watching was because I found out Cole Sprouse is on it (y’know, Cody from The Suite Life of Zack and Cody back in the day), but it’s actually turned out to be pretty cool. If you like detective-type shows, and don’t mind the high school setting, you should give this a shot.

Riverdale Poster


The SacconeJolys

YouTube

This is sort of in a different category to the others, as it’s vlogs rather than TV shows. The SacconeJolys are an Irish family living in England, and they’ve just had their third child (literally – she was only born on 30th March!). I’ve been watching them for a couple of years now, I think, and they’re just so cute! They vlog every day, post the videos at 6pm, and it’s just so heartwarming. I’m a sucker for an Irish accent anyway, so I always like to make time to watch their videos.

Life right now 💞

A post shared by Anna Saccone (@annasaccone) on


And that’s it! Let me know if you’ve watched any of these – comment below or talk to me on Twitter – and if you’ve got any recommendations, please share them!

Katy x

REVIEW: How to be a Bawse

Book: How to Be a Bawse

Author: Lilly Singh

Published: 28th March 2017

Let me start by saying that if you haven’t heard of Lilly Singh, I highly recommend a Google search.


How to Be a Bawse is the first book written by Lilly Singh, a powerful woman who runs two YouTube channels, is a comedian, businesswoman, sometimes-rapper and all-out badass. And this book is just as badass as she is.

 The tagline for this book is, “A Guide to Surviving Conquering Life”, which already sets you out for the tone of this thing – one of domination and determination. It has four parts: Master Your Mind, Hustle Harder, Make Heads Turn, and Be A Unicorn. Within these are a total of fifty chapters (this girl did not hold back) full of advice on how to be as productive as you can, as confident as you can, and enjoy yourself as much as you can.

Lilly uses her own experiences to relay the lessons she’s learned in the rollercoaster that has been her career, sharing how everything from simply smiling at people to really making an effort to understand your own motives can all contribute to getting the best out of and for yourself. She does this comedically, genially, and from time to time, necessarily bluntly. The passion she has for what she does is almost tangible with each page turn.

I found myself loving how creatively Lilly’s structured this book, with titles like “Play Nintendo”, “Shake What Your Mama Gave Ya”, and “No Piggybacks”. Each section is colour-coded, there are plenty of pictures, and the top of each chapter has a little stairs logo to remind you of something she says early on:

This book is not a survival guide filled with hopeful thoughts, lucky charms, or fluffy quotes. There will be no secret schemes to a rewarding life found in these pages. That’s because success, happiness, and everything else that feels great in life have no escalators. There are only stairs. This book will be your personal trainer, guiding you up those stairs. Start stretching.

I’ve watched Lilly’s videos for a good while now, and when reading this book, it was easy to imagine her actually saying the words. She’s written exactly as she speaks: to the point, passionately, and determinedly. This book isn’t about boasting that she’s been on The Tonight Show, or telling you that her way is the right way; it’s about motivating you to do things that other people won’t. It’s about letting you know that your way doesn’t have to be the conventional way. It’s about sharing her successes in order to help you reach yours.

I also found myself agreeing with a lot of the things she says. For example, Chapter 3 is called ‘Be Secretive’. She isn’t encouraging you to be dishonest, but rather to not let everyone in on all of your strengths, talents and aims. Share what you must, but keep some of it to yourself, and demonstrate it at strategic times. Be Captain Jack Sparrow.

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Sometimes, Lilly states things and you sit there and marvel at how absolutely obvious it sounds, yet it’s something nobody ever does – and therefore, all the more reason you should. The book has the same sort of effect as her daily vlogs: it seems to just radiate energy and feed you the motivation to elevate yourself. It doesn’t make you feel disparaged at her success and your failures, it makes you feel like success could be yours too.

How to Be a Bawse is not a manual or a blueprint, it isn’t a shortcut from the bottom of the mountain to the top, but it is a helping hand for those moments of doubt or struggle, reminding you that nothing amazing was ever easy.

Katy x