The Books That Have Taught Me Something

books that make me smart

They say you learn something new every day.

Books are where I learn the most, I think. And I learn from EVERY book I read, but some more than others.

Note: most (if not all) will be contemporaries.

night vision my sister's keeper afterworlds

Night Vision by Ella West

This is about a girl with XP (Xeroderma Pigmentosum, apparently). Basically, she’s allergic to sunlight. I hadn’t even known this EXISTED let alone how you would deal with it, so this was a really, really interesting read.

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Pretty much all of Jodi Picoult’s books have courtroom scenarios, and these I found really interesting. I also learnt a lot about organ donation.

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

The only fictional book where I have actually LEARNT something about writing (as opposed to every other writing character just being like “I wanna be a writer” and never doing anything about it). I learnt about the publishing world, the agonies of titles, and the lengths writers are willing to go for research.

 hope in a ballet shoe dead ends head of the river


Hope in a Ballet Shoe by Michaela and Elaine DePrince

I loved this book, and I learnt about both 1) ballet and 2) war-torn Sierra Leone. You don’t often get characters from places other than America, England or Australia (or at least not in the books I read) so the diversity here was really lovely to see.

Dead Ends by Erin Lange

This one taught me a lot about Down syndrome, and the way we “other” disabled people. Also taught me a lot about bullies, and how they’re not always the most horrible people on the planet.

Head of the River by Pip Harry

I learnt more than I ever have about rowing, about athletes in general, about the reasons people turn to drugs. That was really awesome.

Not the drugs.

I’m doing well here.

code name verity it's kind of a funny story wintergirls

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

It’s a miracle I got anything from this considering how hard I was bawling, but it did teach me a lot about World War II and spies and Nazis and LOTS OF THINGS, basically.

Maybe I should rethink my aversion to historical fiction.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

This is one of my favourite books of all time. I learnt SO much about mental illness and psychiatric hospitals.

Also I just really wanted to put this book on my list because I love it.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Gah, this book. It made me cry, seriously. I know these are all kind of depressing things so far and it’s not going to end with this one. It’s about anorexia and I’d never read a book about anorexia before, so it hit me harder than I expected.

Also: Laurie Halse Anderson is amazing.

Do you have any books that have taught you something really important/life-changing/earth-shattering??




13 thoughts on “The Books That Have Taught Me Something

  1. This is such a great post idea – and you mention wonderful books and I want to read them all. When I read Desert Flower by Waris Dirie, I learned so much about something I would never have given a thought to otherwise. I just think books like that are so important. Great post! 🙂

  2. Night Vision sounds like a really interesting and unusual book. The cover looks very similar to the cover of Rain Reign, which is kind of odd. I guess both cover designers used the same stock photo. I also really want to read Afterworlds because reading about writers is the best. AHHH! I learned SO MUCH from Code Name Verity. Elizabeth Wein clearly put so much work into researching the little historical details that made the book beautiful and memorable.

  3. I am actually going to go add Night Vision to my TBR (I just went on GR and damn you book for only being available in Australia *shakes fist*) because I really like the sound of it! Going back to your original question, I think all books change us in one way or another butt I have a shelf for books on GR that really affected me and taught me something that I think will be memorable.

    I have to agree with you about Afterworlds though! It taught me SO much about the publishing world and I really liked those details. It made Darcy’s story really come to life! 😀

    Fantastic post, hon! 🙂

  4. Ooh, this is such a great idea for a post! I’m so with you on Night Vision and Code Name Verity in particular. Like, I had no idea about XP until it was brought up in Night Vision, and it was really interesting to see how someone would actually cope with something like that. And Code Name Verity taught me heaps about World War 2, as well — I literally knew next to nothing about it, not really being a historical fiction fan. And though I was one of those people who didn’t like Afterworlds much, it WAS very informative about the publishing world. 🙂

  5. I’ve never heard of XP but it’s really intriguing. I’m definitely adding Night Vision to my TBR. It sounds epic.
    All of the books you mentioned have taught us so much. Code Name Verity was painful to read. Relieved to know I’m not the only one who bawled buckets. 🙂

    This is such a fabulous idea for writing a post tho. Great post, Emily! 😀

  6. Short association with your books: I’d love to read Dead Ends, it’s on my TBR pile for ages. Also, It’s Kind of a Funny Story was amazing. I loved every single bit of it because I felt understood and not alone anymore.
    I personally think I learned a lot from Malorie Blackman’s Naughts and Crosses, don’t know if you read it, but it really changed my view on the world.

    Nadja 🙂

  7. Hey, I’m a new reader and I just wanted to say that your blog looks pretty cool and I’m going to be a returning reader from now on c:
    Also, let me know if you want to do the whole follow on GFC thing c:
    Little Moon Elephant

  8. LOOK AT YOUR, LEARNING ALL THIS KNOWLEDGE. Books that have taught me something? Dorian Gray–changed my whole stance on aesthetics and whatnot. Long story LOL Discovery of Witches taught me genetic science LOL Raven Cycle taught me ley lines. KEY NOTE: Obviously I didn’t gain all this beautiful knowledge that can help in life but NO CARES because who knows, I may need that genetic stuff somewhere down the line

  9. I would love to read about Code Name Verity. I have Rose Under Fire but people keep saying that in order to appreciate it 100% I’ll have to read CNV first. Plus, World War II! I’m intersted in learning more about the experiences people had during that time other than the facts we know from textbooks.

    Faye at The Social Potato

  10. YES to My Sister’s Keeper. I bawled when I was reading it because it was just so damn heartbreaking and because I learned so much. I got all of my Greek mythology from the PJO series and how to shoot some pretty badass curses from Harry Potter.

    Oh wait, were you talking about KNOWLEDGE that will benefit me in the real world? But…isn’t Camp Half-Blood and Hogwarts real?

    Awesome post!

  11. Ooh, this reminds me that I really need to read Night Vision! I saw it over on Cait’s blog when it was newly released, but other than that, it’s dropped off of my radar. I actually remember reading about a girl with XP in a Take 5 or That’s Life magazine when I was about 8, so I’d really like to read about a character with the allergy. Jodi Picoult books (while slightly repetitive) always teach me something! So far, I’ve only read 3, but I’ve learned a lot more about cancer, organ donation, emancipation, Asperger’s and court procedures. It’s Kind of a Funny Story and Wintergirls were also educating and I’m really looking forward to Code Name Verity…despite knowing I’ll be a puddle of tears whilst reading.

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