In case you don’t know, July is my birthday month and this year I’ll be turning 22!
In celebration of stepping over the threshold of 22 and actually being an adult, I’m going to share with you 22 books that means a lot to me. Reading has always been a constant presence in my life. I remember my reading lessons with my mom, how she stuck a table on a wall on various consonant + vowels combination and how we practiced daily. I often joined giveaways and won some books- I still have all of them and some of my childhood favorite. So it’s not an exaggeration when I say that reading is a huge part of me and it has a huge part in shaping me into who I am today.
This is probably going to be my longest post to day so without further ado, let’s get into the books!
01 & 02. The Tale of Benjamin Bunny by Beatrix Potter & Aku Sayang Ibu (unknown)
First up are the books I read when I was really young, like when I first could read. There were actually a lot of children’s books I read at that time, most of them are fables, but my favorites were The Tale of Benjamin Bunny and Aku Sayang Ibu (translated literally as I Love Mother). Maybe it’s the illustration or maybe it’s because both books tells the story of a mother’s love, but I loved them. My copy of Aku Sayang Ibu was scrawled on by my sister and when we moved, I didn’t know where it was put, but I still have my copy of Benjamin Bunny.
03. Detective Conan by Aoyama Gosho
The first manga I read and loved was Doraemon, but Conan is the one that stuck with me. I was actually introduced to the anime first, but ended up reading the comics soon afterwards. This series is waay too long, but always has such a good murder mystery, it doesn’t shy away from the gore and the darkness of human heart. The reveal is always such a delight and it taught me some tricks on science, which made me interested in field. I still love the series; I may not keep up with the anime anymore but I do watch the movies. It definitely started my love for crime-investigation series. Plus, it introduced me to Kaitou Kid aka my first ever fictional crush– and honestly the OG of all the bad boys with a devil may care attitude (✿◡‿◡)
04. Indonesian Folktales Anthologies
I started reading these anthologies when I was a bit older, around elementary school, but I really enjoyed them and it started my lifelong love for mythology and folktales! If you love them like I do, you should check out Indonesian ones because honestly, we have a lot. It helps that our country is huge and made up from hundreds of tribes and cultures, we have A LOT of stories. From legends such as origin on a place, to creepy ghosts, to curses and doomed lovers… we have them all. Anyways, the series is basically an anthology of stories from each area so there are a lot for me to read!
📚 Related post: Spooktober #4: Creepiest Indonesian Ghost
📚 Related post: 5 Most Famous Indonesian Folklores
❗ I plan to do a post on my favorite Indonesian lores for our upcoming Independence Day (August 17th), so stay tuned!
05. Autumn in Paris by Ilana Tan
Autumn in Paris is an Indonesian novel, part of the Seasons quartet where each book is set on a different seasons and have minor connection with each other. This is the second book in the series and it’s one of the first few I read when I transitioned from manga to novels and one that sticks the most to me. It has such a beautiful romance, painful twist, and saddest ending 😭 This is the first sad ending book that I read and wow, the amount of tears I cried… 😭 Small me was so sad and betrayed, especially since Summer in Seoul is super fluffy like a k-drama 😂 Out of all books in the series, I remembered this one the most, followed by Summer in Seoul and Winter in Tokyo (I didn’t remember anything about Spring in London lol). Even writing this made me sad, I love Tatsuya and Tara so much 😭 In general, this book is the most popular, everyone who read the series will say that Autumn in Paris is their favorite and honestly, it’s very well deserved.
Any Indonesians here that feel the same way? 😭
06. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy M. Montgomery
This is the first “huge” series I’ve read and finished. Added to the specialty, it’s a series I read with my mom. At first it was my mom who read and follow this series (my mom was a reader back then) but overtime, I decided to join her and ended up finished the final book right after her. I love how we grow with Anne (I haven’t read HP books then) both in the physical and emotional sense. I love the idyllic and peaceful feel of Green Gables and the love she gave and received from people around her. I also love the development of her romance with Gilbert, it’s just amazing! 🥺
07. The Vampire Diaries by L.J Smith
The first YA series I finished on my own! Waay before I got exposed to western TV show or book community, this was MY series for such a long time. It was translated during the height of Twilight fever but honestly, the angst and the higher stake of the series in general made me love this series more. This series introduced me to bad boys like Damon as well as impressive twist (Katherine was alive!!!). I’ve got to say the first book is forever my favorite and the rest was okay, but I got to finished this until The Return series!
08. The Pelican Brief by John Grisham
The first “adult” and mystery book I read. This book originally belongs to my dad, he kept nagging at me to read it and so I did. I honestly didn’t remember much how I felt, but it was quite a quick read and I still have fond feelings (even though I can’t remember why 😅)
09. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
The first book that introduced me to the concept of purple prose, even though I didn’t know it yet. I read this book (and subsequently, the whole trilogy) in its translated version and at that point I haven’t read many books yet, so I didn’t know anything about writing style. All I know was I love this book because the prose used are beautiful, it is very evocative that you can feel what the characters are feeling and imagine yourself walking through the cobbled stones of Prague. It is until much much later that I found out why her writing is different, but DoSaB was the first book that showed me that words can do that.
“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love.
It did not end well.”
Also that opening is just L E G E N D A R Y.
📚 Related post: Series Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
10. Divergent by Veronica Roth
The first book I’ve read in English. Before, I always read translated books and while there’s nothing wrong with that, I always want to try reading books in their original language. I decided to took a leap with this book by impulse, and it pays really well. Divergent was the one that started it all- reading in English, finding communities, and eventually, lead to blogging 🥺 I don’t like Insurgent and Allegiant, but I can’t let go of the first book due to its impact.
11. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
Discussion on LGBTQ+ issues were pretty much non-existent then in my country, not because we’re supportive but because they’re so marginalized they do not have a voice. Compared to then, it was getting better due to the exposure to the western media but in terms of the community and rights themselves, they still don’t have space. It’s like they didn’t exists. Anyways, Will Grayson, Will Grayson was the first LGBTQ+ book I’ve read. I didn’t know it has gay characters until I read it and it was very ~scandalous~ for me at that time. But by the end of it, this book helped me to realize the issues surrounding LGBTQ+ rights, that they’re no different than us (in the context of the time) and should be supported.
This book give me the courage to read more on topics many people considered taboo in my country and it shaped me into who I am today.
12. Emma by Jane Austen
The first classic I read in English. Did I enjoyed it? No. The language was so different and unexpected from the English I’m sued to, I barely understand what’s going on and had to continuously check recaps to see where I am in the story. Plus, I did not like Emma at all and the romance felt creepy 😬 Like Mr. Knightley is a decent guy but when he said “I watched you grew up” or something along that like, I was like… EW NO 🙃
Reading Emma was a challenge, but I felt so accomplished when I finished and boost my vocabularies.
13. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
The first book that made me cry everytime I think about it and gave me book hangover. You’d think I’m overreacting, but even thinking about this book now made me teary-eyed. The series as a whole is just perfect for me: I love historical fiction and it’s set in Victorian London, reader main characters, AMAZING friendship, great family dynamics, redemption arcs, pain, love, great actions and high stakes. It’s just perfect and I couldn’t enjoy other books for 3 months after reading this book.
14. The Secret of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel Series by Michael Scott
The first series that introduced me to wider mythology. See number 04 above, I ended up looking into more mythologies worldwide and professed my love for Greek mythology. There’s a reason their stories endure and so well-beloved compared to others, they have wide arrays of tragedy and romance, heroes and villains, humans and gods all being in each other stories. Naturally, I also know some of the Romans and Egyptians, but this series introduced me so much more! We have the titular Nicholas Flamel from France, Gilgamesh from Mesopotamia, the Witch of Endor from Hebrew/biblical mythology, Morrigan from Irish mythology, and even an aspect of Mars called Mars Ultor. It’s just amazing to see so many mythologies weaved together into a satisfying series.
15. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
The series I associated with junior high school. I always have fond memories of this time, even though now I wondered whether I was really happy then or it was just me feeling nostalgic. What I know is, in 9th grade, me and my best friends were OBSESSED with Percy Jackson and Logan Lerman in general. We talked, read the series, and watched the movies together. We even had games along with other people pretending to be Greek Gods and Goddesses and Titans 😂 It was pretty much nonsensical but it was fun!
16. The Whispering of Trees by C.Y Bourgeois
This book was the first eARC I received and I was really ecstatic! The story sounds super unique, about an Eskimo Shaman and her coming of age and power story. Unfortunately it deal with too many things and wasn’t discussed very properly. I ended up not enjoying this book, but I remember the happy feeling of being approved and it was really nice.
17. A Thousand Salt Kisses by Josie Delmuth
The first eARC that I enjoyed! This book is just such a perfect book for Summer, being set in an island and have mermaids (!!!) in it. The main characters weren’t the best and there were definitely a lot of tropes such as insta-love and mysterious old men, but overall, it was a breezy, summer read.
It’s currently available on Netgalley if you’re interested!
📚 Related post: ARC Review: A Thousand Salt Kisses by Josie Demuth
18. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
This book reminded me of my homestay at Perth in 2015. I actually bought 3 books there, the other 2 being Throne of Glass and The Knife of Never Letting Go, but for some reason, it’s this book that I associated with my homestay. Everytime I think about this book, instead of thinking about the story, I remember cold morning air. Waiting for train to go to school. Classes and lunch in the field. Trying to go somewhere and ended up being lost that we all walked from one end of the city to the other. Shopping. Going to beaches. Talking with people. Eating fish and chips.
It was one of my best memory and I love to remember it.
📚 Related post: Book Review: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
19. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
The first book that made me feel SEEN and made me realize how important representation is. Like, I understand why it is important, but it’s a different experience when you’re the one being represented and sees yourself in the media. It’s such a different experience and why I love this series so much despite being so crazy and more mature than my usual reads. It also rings true in terms of “one person experience doesn’t represent all”- I saw the criticism of it being too stereotypical but for me, the crazy meddling kind of love family dynamics is the family dynamics I have.
📚 Related post: Book Review: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
20. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
This book was first non fiction book I genuinely loved, I really couldn’t stop turning the pages! The writing was easy to read and engaging and it also introduced me to the field of bioethics. Plus, it also reminded me of my internship at Surabaya, which is my first ever work experience and my first experience living far away from my family. I ended up having a lot of great memories there and it remained one of my best experiences.
21 & 22. A Gathering of Shadows & A Conjuring of Light by V.E Schwab
These books reminded me of my internship at Singapore, my first experience living ABROAD for a length of time and also my first work experience abroad. I miss home when I was there, but now that I’m back home, I admit I miss Singapore with its hustle and bustle and humidness 😂 These books also showed me how helpful a good library system is, because God seeing the library there almost made me cry because so many books all without me needing to buy them. And their selections are great, they even have Priory of the Orange Tree (which I couldn’t borrow because I was running out of time).
If you’re still reading, thank you so much for staying! And I don’t mean only for staying until the end of this post, but also for reading the blog.
Do you have any books that you associated with special moments in your life?