Books That Make Me Feel at Home

Hey guys! As some of you might know, I am currently in France for a semester abroad, and so far it’s been an awesome experience that I honestly wouldn’t trade for anything. I’ve already done so many incredible things and I’m still going to be here for three more months.

In spite of all that, I have to admit, I’ve been struggling a bit with homesickness. So today I thought I would talk about some of the books that make me feel at home. I know that’s kind of a vague descriptor, but let me try to explain.

These books can all pretty much be sorted into one of two categories—books that make me feel nostalgic/remind me of something in my life, or books that suck me in and make me feel like I’m a part of the world. To me, those are the two main ways that a book could make me feel “at home.” Did that make any sense? I don’t know, but let’s just get into the books, shall we?

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Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

I haven’t talked about this book much on my blog, but I read it at the beginning of last year (actually, almost exactly a year ago) and I absolutely loved it. This is definitely one of those books that makes me feel at home in its similarity to my own life.

It’s about a girl named Eliza, who is shy and retiring in her real life, but online, she is the anonymous screen name LadyConstellation, the creator of an extremely popular webcomic called Monstrous Sea. Then, when a boy who happens to be Monstrous Sea’s most popular fanfiction writer transfers to her high school, her online life and her real life start to collide in ways that she wasn’t prepared for.

No, I am not an anonymous webcomic creator, and at the time that I read this book I wasn’t even the semi-anonymous blogger that I am now, but even back then, I could understand the feeling of being shy and having very few friends to my name. I was that way throughout most of my mandatory schooling years (and honestly still kind of am even now that I’m in college). Plus I used to read a lot of fanfiction and even wrote a little of my own (I only ever wrote two fics and one of them was never finished, so I wasn’t exactly a household name in the fanfiction world, but still).

Basically, I saw, and still see, a lot of myself in Eliza and her story, and it was a great reminder that I’m not alone.

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

For this one, I could probably also include at least the second book in this series, Little House on the Prairie, but the first book is the one I read over and over obsessively when I was little, and I never really got into the rest of the series as much.

This is a semi-autobiographical (or maybe completely autobiographical? I’m not really sure) novel about the author’s life as a little girl. She grew up living in a log cabin in the woods with her family, and this book talks about what life was like there. It’s a story about family and childhood. I haven’t read it since I was in elementary school, but just thinking about it makes me remember my own childhood and how much I loved this book.

Obviously, I can’t really relate to being a pioneer settler going out into the then-unknown parts of the United States, but the themes of family and companionship are what made this book great for me.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

I’m also including the entirety of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, as well as the Heroes of Olympus, in this, because I love all of them, but obviously, as The Lightning Thief is the first book (and certainly the one I’ve reread the most), it holds a very special place in my heart. It was this book that made me fall in love with Rick Riordan’s stories, and which piqued my interest in Greek mythology.

Similar to Little House on the Prairie, this book/series was a childhood love of mine, so like that book, this series also brings me back to a simpler time. Just like a lot of people grew up with Harry Potter, I grew up with Percy Jackson, so I have a very strong bond with Percy and Annabeth and Grover and the whole gang from the original series. They’re like old friends for me, in a way.

Warcross by Marie Lu

This one might seem like a weird one compared to all the other books on this list so far. It’s not a childhood favorite, and nor is it a book that I really see myself reflected in. It’s about a girl named Emika Chen, who’s a super-smart hacker living in a futuristic world, and who accidentally hacks her way into the championship of the most famous virtual-reality game in the world, sending her on a wild adventure.

What this book does do, however, is remind me of the reason why I fell in love with Marie Lu’s books back when I first read Legend. The book is action-packed and exciting, but also has great characters and some emotional moments. Not to be cliché, but reading this book was like a breath of fresh air, especially reading the Young Elites trilogy, which I just thought was okay. This book brought me back to what I loved about Marie Lu’s writing in Legend.

With all that being said, I have not yet read the second book in this duology, Wildcard, so I don’t know how I’m going to feel about that book when I get to it, but hopefully I love it as much as I loved the first one.

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

It wouldn’t be a recommendations post by me if I didn’t find a way to shoehorn in a reference to my love for Brandon Sanderson’s books, now would it? This time I’m putting the spotlight on the first book I ever read by Brandon Sanderson: The Way of Kings—the 1,000+ page monster of an epic fantasy book that everyone (including me) always recommends that new Sanderson readers not start with, just because it’s super intimidating.

The thing is, I honestly believe that the Stormlight Archive (the name of the series this book is a part of) is Brandon Sanderson’s best work. At the very least, it’s definitely in my personal top 2. The world is just so well thought out and immersive, the characters so rounded and real, that, at least for me, the books didn’t even feel that long. Reading this book made me feel like I was in the world, living the story with the characters, and it was absolutely amazing.

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Those are five books that make me feel at home, for various reasons. Let me know in the comments if you’ve read any of these books/how you feel about them. Do you have any books that make you feel at home? Let me know!

Thanks for reading, everyone, and I’ll see you later!

-Ariel

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