T10T: Books I Saw Myself In

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly blog meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week’s theme was about characters we related to, and I thought I’d take it a step further by talking about diverse books I saw myself represented in.

The rest of this post includes TWs for brief mentions of depression, sexual assault, domestic partner abuse, self-harm, and fat-shaming.

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1. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (review)
“Don’t ignore half of me so you can fit me into a box. Don’t do that.”
Evelyn wasn’t the first book I read with bisexual representation, but something about it really resonated with me. One thing in particular it tackles is the way bi people sometimes face biphobia within the LGBTQ+ community, which is such an important and difficult issue that doesn’t get discussed much.

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2. Blood Water Paint (review)
Is this all I get?
BWP is about the painter Artemisia Gentileschi’s life — and notably, the rape she suffered. So many lines felt like they could’ve come from my own heart, but the quote I chose for this post was, for some inexplicable reason, the line that broke me most of all. The frustration, the hurt, the confusion… is this all I get?

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3. How to Make a Wish (review)
I thought that was how every girl saw other girls – this mix between beauty and awe and curiosity, a thin layer of lust just underneath.
HTMAW was the first book I EVER saw bisexual rep in, and if I’d had this book as a teen, I know it would have helped me so much. I related so hard to Grace’s thoughts, especially in this quote, when she talks about how surprisingly sensible it felt to finally realize she was attracted to women.

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4. To Be Honest (review)
“News flash: fat isn’t a bad word, Mom. It’s the twenty-first century. I have blue eyes. I have blond hair. I’m fat.”
First of all, let me go ahead and say that I would love to say I own my body as well as Savannah does. I don’t yet, but I’m getting there, and I’ve come a long way in self-acceptance over the last few years. Reading TBH was just incredible because it was so good to finally see a fat girl get the happy ending she deserves, and Savvy is so inspiring and brave that I couldn’t help but love her. ♥

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5. Nice Try, Jane Sinner (review)
Hatred or love – either would have been enough to keep me going. But the slushy indifference I felt for everything and everyone wasn’t on the hate-love spectrum. The indifference is what I couldn’t stand.
I don’t hear people talk about this book enough, but it has some of the best depression rep I’ve ever read. I related so much to Jane’s character and the ways her depression manifests — especially the numbness that pulls her into the dark. I also feel like Jane’s hilarious and sarcastic attitude is such a valid representation of how people suffering from chronic or clinical depression learn to hide behind laughter.

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6. Hyperbole and a Half (review)
“Тo me, the future doesn’t seem real. It’s just this magical place where I can put my responsibilities so that I don’t have to be scared while hurtling toward failure at eight hundred miles per hour.”
Damn, what don’t I relate to in this book? Allie Brosh is so funny that it’s easy to forget how much of her work was actually based off of her own mental illnesses and the struggles she faces every day with not only depression, but also a debilitating anxiety and fear of how people perceive her, what will happen to her, and everything else in the world. I pick H&aH back up every so often just to remind myself I’m not alone.

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7. (Don’t) Call Me Crazy (review)
“People do not tend to know when I am pretty freakin’ unwell. For a lot of reasons. I don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable or burdened or—often, I just don’t want to talk about it.”
(D)CMC is a collection of nonfiction essays about mental illness, and it is an absolutely wonderful collection, but there are two stories in particular that have just nestled under my skin and stayed there: 1) Emery Lord’s discussion of her depression and how well she hides it from her loved ones, and 2) Victoria Schwab’s explanation for why she has to stay so busy, because our flavors of obsessive thoughts simply won’t allow anything else.

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8. That Kind of Guy (review)
“In the days before he’d vowed to stop hurting himself on other people’s lust.”
Zach, the character in question, is demisexual, which I’m not; however, he talks about how long he spent hooking up with people for the purpose of filling a void and making them feel wanted, even though it hurt him. A lot of people don’t know that casual sex is a form of self-harm for some people, as we find a way to “punish” ourselves with it, and I spent several years in a dark place like that. Self-harm in general has always been a struggle for me, but this was such a specific portrayal of it, in a way that so rarely is discussed, that I was stunned by how seen I felt.

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9. Bad Romance (review)
This is something else I will learn while I am with you—not now, but later: there are so many ways to drown.
I spent several years in one abusive relationship after another, with one of them being four solid years of physical, sexual, emotional, mental, and verbal abuse every single day. There were things in that relationship that, even years later, I still had not recognized as abuse until reading this book. I’m telling you, Heather Demetrios could have written Grace’s story from being a fly on my wall. It’s one of the hardest books I’ve ever read in my life, but it was so damn cathartic.

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10. The Near Witch (review)
“They are closer to nature than any human, because it is a part of them.”
I know a lot of these have been heavy, so I wanted to end the list on a happy note. As a witch, I don’t get to see my craft represented in a positive light very often, which means that TNW’s positive and loving depiction of the witch sisters, Magda and Dreska, made my entire year.


What’s a book that made you feel understood? Let me know in the comments!

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Just a 26-year-old children's librarian trying to juggle motherhood, grad school, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

24 thoughts on “T10T: Books I Saw Myself In

  1. Hyperbole and a Half looks fabulous and I’ve seen so many good things about it. I like how she can bring humor even when dealing with such tough issues.

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  2. Great list, loved the way you tackled all these major topics like sexuality, body image, and sex life. I think we can all relate to these characters in this way. Thanks for sharing this, feels like I know you a little bit now 🙂

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  3. Wow, I’m so pleased that these books could help you in one way or another. I really do need to get to Hyperbole and a half. I may have to buy a copy now so I don’t forget. Excellent list!

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  4. Don’t Call Me Crazy. What a good book. Nice for the shout out for it. I really had a hard time this week because I love characters as they are written but they are obviously not as complex as a real person (me) Characters like me, a bit

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  5. I’m glad you were able to find so many books that resonated with you on different levels. ❤ Sometimes certain books seem to come in our life late, even if they still mean something to us at that point too.

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  6. I absolutely love what you made of the TTT this week! And it make me happy that you found these books that could impact you in such a poignant way. I was just thinking how the literary world has seen a change in the past few years. We see such diverse representation and important issues explored in books these days that was hard to find even 5 years ago. It gives me hope for the future. 🙂

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  7. I LOVE Allie Brosh, She’s totally underrated and I should write about her book more often (but I often forget because I got an eBook and so it’s out of sight, out of mind).

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  8. Books have such a wonderful capacity to help us heal, don’t they? My body confidence and my sexuality are something I still struggle (for lack of a better word) with, so some of these books are going straight on my TBR.

    Blood Water Paint was one of my favourite books of 2018. That book is STUNNING and not enough people have read it. I really need to get to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo!

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  9. Wow I’m in awe of your bravery with this post. You talked about really difficult subjects in such an open way and that’s really nice to see. As for the books, I should probably read How To Make a Wish because I remember feeling the exact same revelation (and still think it now!) of “doesn’t every girl also think girls are hot as f*ck???” hahaha it still weirdly blows my mind that this isn’t true!

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    1. This is such a late reply but I just wanted to say I loved your comment and it totally warmed my heart. ❤ And thank you so much. Haha YES to the thing about "don't all girls find each other hot" – I still find myself wondering sometimes how the hell they don't. 😂

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  10. What a great list! I have been wanting to read Hyperbole in a Half. I just finished I Miss You When You Blink and I related to Mary Laura Philpott’s POV so much. It is truly amazing when you find someone out there who feels like you do about so many things after you have been thinking for so long that you were the only one.

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  11. Destiny, I love this list.

    Thank you for sharing some of your heart and soul with us.

    Evelyn Hugo hit me big time with the bi rep but also as a woman who wants so much more from life than the place she’s stuck in.

    Bad Romance was such a huge cathartic experience for me too. One of these days I’ll get around to posting my review of it aha.

    I can’t wait to read the books I haven’t read yet from your list!

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  12. Thank-you for sharing! I am too private to share a list a like this. But I definitely can relate to that unique feeling of reading a book and feeling totally seen ^^ In An Absent Dream is probably the most recent read where I felt that way.

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