As I’m sure most of you know by now, reading is one of my absolute favorite hobbies. 80% of the time, I have a novel in my bag with bent-down pages stashed between school assignments. It’s a great way for me to focus my energy, relax, and take a break from the regular strife from life.

Today I want to take a chance to reflect on some of my favorite books that I enjoyed in middle school, high school, and even college. No matter what your age is, I’m sure you’ll love some (if not all) of these books!


Matched Trilogy | Ally Condie | Dystopian Fiction

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When I first started writing this article, the Matched Trilogy was the first book series to pop into my mind. I first read this novel when I was in sixth grade, which was around the same time I began to think more critically about the dystopian reflections and problems in our own society. This book in particular was a spectacular wake up call to these issues, while still remaining intertwined with a beautiful life story. To sum it up, this book has a little of everything: romance, dystopian drama, and even a little hint of mystery. Even though it’s been a few years since I’ve read the book, I’m sure I’d love it just as much today as I did when I was younger. 


Sammy Keyes | Wendelin Van Draanen | Mystery

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Without a doubt, the Sammy Keyes mystery series was my absolute favorite treasure in middle school and high school. Even as a senior in college, I think these books are phenomenal and such a joy to read. Sammy is quirky, brash, and extremely smart- three traits that I believe make her a great role model for young girls (and all readers in general). Take note that there are eighteen books in the series, so you’re an adamant reader, this is the series for you. Even just writing this, I’m already welling up with nostalgia and thinking about starting up the series again. It’s an action-packed, deliciously well-written collection of tales, and I truly think there’s a place in everybody’s heart of Sammy Keyes. 


Little Women | Louisa May Alcott | Fiction

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I’m a big fan of the classics, particularly novels that center around strong (yet sensitive) female leads. Additionally, the release of the Little Women movie this past year, the story is getting even more attention and love than usual. Although a fictional story about four young women in the mid-1800s may not sound too exciting, it’s actually extremely interesting and endearing. As an ambitious young writer myself, I felt a particular love and appreciation for the feisty Jo March. 


Anne of Green Gables | L.M. Montgomery | Fiction

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Similarly to Little Women, Anne of Green Gables is considered a classic example of literature, particularly with feminist notes. I truly believe that everyone should read this book at some point in their lives, regardless of age and gender. Anne Shirley is a spunky, strong, and entertaining female lead, and I immediately felt inspired by her after reading the series (yes, there are seven more subsequent books!). I would also recommend checking out Anne with an E on Netflix, if reading just isn’t quite your thing. The story is amazing in both print and on the screen.


Where the Crawdads Sing | Delia Owens | Mystery

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Where the Crawdads Sing is actually a book I read last year in a book club, but the story has always stuck around with me. This novel is a breathtaking example of a true coming-of-age story, and I enjoy that it curates both a male and female perspective. Although a large portion of the book is the mystery aspect, it also incorporates elements of romance, family, and even environmentalism. Although it’s heartbreaking at times, it’s a fantastic read and I highly recommend it to everybody who loves books. 


Memoirs of a Geisha | Arthur Golden | Historical Fiction

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Lastly but certainly not least, I have a very special place in my heart for this book. The first time I read it, I was in high school, and it absolutely changed my life. Have you ever read a book that destroyed you in the most beautiful way possible? That’s precisely how I feel about Arthur Golden’s gorgeous writing and fictional recount of Nitta Sayuri. Sayuri is a celebration of highly sensitive people, of beauty and grace, and notably, the celebration of womanity. It’s truly a vibrant look into a fascinating chapter of Japanese history, told through the voice of a genius storyteller.

For as long as I can remember, Anne of Green Gables has always been one of my favorite novels. I don’t even know where to begin in describing my love for this book; part of it is rooted in the fact that my mother used to read it to me, part of it is the lovable, creative, storyline, and part of it is…something else. Something deeper. I’ve always seen a lot of myself in Anne- she’s sensitive and creative, she’s quickly judged by those around her, yet still unapologetically herself. She’s also a 19th century feminist icon, something I didn’t realize myself until high school. For those reasons, Anne Shirley is today’s #WomanCrushWednesday, and I’m so excited to discuss her evolution from book to screen.

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In short, Anne of Green Gables follows the adolescent years of Anne Shirley, an imaginative redhead who is accidentally adopted by brother-and-sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. Though they had intended on adopting a boy to use as a farm hand (the story takes place in the 1860s), Anne’s promising charm convinces the Cuthberts to keep her and raise her. Anne of Green Gables chronicles Anne’s childhood scrapes and adventures in Avonlea, and the subsequent seven books in the Anne series follow her adult/family life. The stories are so detailed and vivid, it’s easy to forget Anne Shirley is a fictional character.

Since its publication in 1908, Anne of Green Gables has been made into oodles of plays, musicals, movie adaptations, and even a recent television show that premiered on Netflix. For this particular article, I’m going to be focusing primarily on the relationship between the novel and the Netflix show, as the latter is the newest and most accessible adaption.

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The biggest difference between the novel and the 2017 television adaption is the overall darker interpretation. While the novel does still touch upon Anne’s tragic past and hardships in poverty, her emotional scars are more or less unwritten. In the Netflix show, which is called Anne with an E, we the viewers are shown graphic scenes of bullying and torture committed on Anne, and allusions to Anne developing PTSD. Anne with an E also takes the theme of feminism and enlarges it, which is something I found to be beautiful and empowering. Some critics argue that Anne with an E changes the plot too much, or “embellishes too much drama”, but I actually love the direction that the show creators decided to go. The story still takes place in rural Canada in the 1860s, but additional psychological/sociological elements are included to make the story more sophisticated. LGBT+ themes are introduced as well, in both a believable and relevant way. There will be homophobes out there who criticize the show for incorporating homosexuality, but I personally think it was a brilliant move. People seem to forget that being gay isn’t a new fad or revelation- it was certainly around in the 19th century, and long before that.

I won’t spoil the plot of Anne with an E, because I really do recommend that all of you watch it, but I will discuss Anne’s character development and personality from book to screen. Like I said, the book takes on a more innocent, plain approach to the psychology of Anne Shirley. Her character development is still there, of course, but it’s more focused on her academic achievement and and womanly growth from a young girl to an independent adult. Her overall character and personality remains the same from book to television, but Anne with an E fabricates fictional situations to create more dramatic effect and detail. One of my particular favorite scenes in Anne with an E is in season 2, episode 8, in which Prissy Andrews prepares to marry the much older Teddy Phillips. If you’ve read the novel, you know that Mr. Phillips was the local Avonlea school teacher who rather inappropriately fell for his pupil, Prissy (back in those days, it was a lot less taboo than it would be today). While the love story of Prissy and Mr. Phillips is never really brought to a conclusion in the book, Anne with an E has other ideas.

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While Prissy walks down the aisle, she panics at the realization that her childhood is now over, she’ll never pursue a further education, and the rest of her life is doomed to be the fate of a secluded housewife. And so, in a rather dramatic and emotional manner, Prissy runs out of her own wedding and into the fields of virgin, untouched snow, with her circle of friends trailing behind her. It’s a really beautiful celebration of feminism, freedom, and youthful pleasure, and I’m so happy that Anne with an E decided to include that particular plot point.

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As described by the creator of the show, Moira Walley-Beckett, Anne Shirley is something of an “accidental feminist”. Even if LM Montgomery (the author of Anne of Green Gables) didn’t originally intend for Anne to blossom this way, I’m sure she’d be pleased with what Anne Shirley has become today. She represents the privations we often neglect to acknowledge in young women: identity, bullying, feminism, mental health, and gender parity. She is a voice for young women of all backgrounds, wrapped up in flowers and beauty, moonlight and grace. She is an inspiration to me, and more than deserving of the title Woman Crush Wednesday.  

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Before I close this article, I wanted to share some photographs of a trip I took to Canada last summer. Being the Anne of Green Gables fanatic I am, I made sure to visit Prince Edward Island, where the story takes place and thus has a huge monopoly on the entire island. My family and I got to see the Anne of Green Gables musical (which was amazing), tour the official Green Gables house, visit the home of LM Montgomery, and even snap some pictures with cast reenactors. If you’ve seen my green copy of Anne of Green Gables appear on the blog before, that’s the copy I purchased while abroad in Canada. It’s one of my favorite treasures I’ve picked up so far, and I almost always have it floating in my school bag somewhere.

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Anywho, that’s all I’ve got today. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article, and if you haven’t read the novel or checked out the Netflix show, do that asap! Per usual, be sure to let me know what your feelings are in the comments below. I love discussing books, and especially this particular novel.

Picture sources: https://www.anneofgreengables.com/

Netflix and CBC Renew ‘Anne With An E’ for Second Season in 2018

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