This is a tag originally created by the lovely Jen Campbell, who is my favourite Youtuber in the entire world. She made this tag when she got a particularly big load of hate comments because of the way her hands look (she has EEC syndrome), and it’s all about highlighting and talking about books that make their readers better people. Books about sexism, homophobia, racism and other important topics. I think you get the idea. You can watch Jen’s original tag video here. (Also, can I just point out that the video has 11k views and not a single dislike? DAMN.)
Only Every Yours by Louise O’Neill
This book is twisted and dark and really makes you think about how women are seen and treated and what sexism could come to in the future. I absolutely adored it, it was one of my favourite books of 2015, and even as a long-time feminist I got a lot from it.
Teaches you about: sexism
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Also one of my favourite reads of 2015, this book is about immigration, adapting to a new culture, overcoming stereotypes and all the strange forms that racism comes in. It challenges the ways immigrants are usually portrayed in a wonderful way. I think everyone should read this book – no excuses.
Teaches you about: racism, immigration
The Universe versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence
This was my number 1 favourite read of 2015, and it might surprise some people to see it on this list. But I think, even though at a first glance you may not see many important topics in here, this book does make you a better person. It deals with euthanasia, which is a topic I had never read about before and discovered I had quite strong feelings about, and the main character has lots of small but important opinions on all sorts of things. Very important book that I can’t recommend enough.
Teaches you about: euthanasia, old age
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
This book didn’t quite make my top reads of the year, but it was close – it’s about a boy with a syndrome similar to Aspergers who decides he needs to find out who killed his neighbour’s dog. The main character hates to be touched and has a lot of peculiar habits; for example, he can’t eat two different types of food if they touch. Some people call this book over the top, but I think it shows beautifully that not everyone always feels the same way about a situation – you have to respect people’s personal space, and if someone tells you they don’t want to be touched, you can’t touch them. It seems obvious, but you wouldn’t believe how many people think it’s funny to tease others with stuff like that.
Teaches you about: mental illness, personal space, respect
The Perks of being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Ah, call me boring and predictable if you want, but I had to include this book. It was one of the first books I read in English, and I adore it. I think it can teach a lot of important things, especially considering that it’s mainly read by teenagers. I would highly recommend it to anyone.
Teaches you about: loneliness, suicide, abuse and abusive relationships, homophobia, trauma
Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan (series)
Okay, before you say anything, calm down. I know this is a fantasy middle-grade series. But I think it can be a very important read for all the young fans of Percy Jackson and his friends. Unlike the Percy Jackson books, which are amazing but not very diverse, these books are full of diversity. People of colour, gay people, etc. It’s definitely not the most diverse series in the world, but I think if you’re young, it will teach you much more to have your favourite heroes be diverse than to be given some really serious book about homophobia and racism. As a child, you will read about these characters and the next time you meet a gay person you won’t be confused, but you will say “oh, like in Heroes of Olympus!”
Teaches you about: racism, homophobia
Room by Emma Donoghue
How many books have you read about a woman who was kidnapped and had a baby in a room she’s been trapped in for seven years? This is quite a unique topic I think, and the way it is written, from a child’s point of view, adds a lot to the story.
Teaches you about: rape, abuse, trauma, the way trauma victims are treated
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
This is the story of Miss Skeeter, who as a child was raised by a black maid, and who decides she wants to change the way black people are treated in 1960s Mississippi. So she writes a book about what it’s like to be a black maid taking care of white children and their families. I think the lesson here is pretty obvious. And if you think this book sucks because it’s another white lady talking about black people – I can’t speak for everyone, but I think it was really, really well done, and Miss Skeeter knows exactly that this isn’t about her.
Teaches you about: racism, abuse, classism
And that’s it! Those are the books I’ve read so far that I think will really change your way of looking at things. There are many, many more important books on my wishlist, and if you’ve read any books you think could make someone a better person, feel free to leave me a comment and share them. Of course, you can also just do the tag – if you do, please let me know, as I’d love to check it out.
‘Till next time and happy reading!