Books·My Life in Books

YouTube star Estee Lalonde's life in books

Estée Lalonde shares 6 books that have shaped her life and work.
Estée Lalonde is a YouTube star and the author of Bloom: Navigating Life and Style. (Ebury Press)

The life of a YouTube star may look picture perfect, but as Estée Lalonde writes in her first book, Bloom, there are plenty of pitfalls in the process of figuring out who you are. Born and raised in Canada, Lalonde is a tastemaker and vlogger on YouTube, where her channel boasts over 1.1 million subscribers.

Below, Lalonde shares six of the books that have had a tremendous impact on her life.

The Twits by Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl is the celebrated children's writer behind such classics as The BFG, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach. (Penguin/Puffin)

"The Twits by Roald Dahl isn't the first book I remember reading as a child, but it was without a doubt one of my favourite books growing up. I've always been an admirer of Roald Dahl's work and I've yet to meet anyone who hasn't read and loved at least one of his books. I still find myself picking up my copy of The Twits to this day and I'd go as far as to say that it's even funnier reading this book as an adult. If you're not familiar with The Twits I insist that you head down to your local book shop and buy it right this second. This book is all about Mr. and Mrs. Twit, an elderly couple who are disgustingly dirty, incredibly hairy and generally two of the most unpleasant people you could ever have the displeasure of meeting. The story is hilariously funny and will have you grimacing in disgust one second and laughing out loud the next. Paired with illustrations by one of my favourite illustrators, Quentin Blake, it's truly a joy for all ages. Love it!"

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Paul Kalanithi was a neurosurgeon and writer. (Norbert Von Der Groeben/Penguin)

"My family and friends are probably getting sick of hearing me tell them to pick up a copy of When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. I lent this book to my mom, who called me in tears immediately after reaching the final page and asked me why I thought it was a good idea to get her to read it. The reason I've been recommending this book to everyone I know ever since I finished it is because it has seriously changed my attitude towards my everyday life. This book is the true story of Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon who is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer at the young age of 35. Although this is an incredibly poignant read, its purpose is positive in that it encourages us as readers to consider what is important to us and what makes our lives worth living in the face of death. You'll definitely need a box of tissues on hand when you read this book but I can assure you that it's most definitely worth picking up a copy."

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Hanya Yanagihara's novel A Little Life was a finalist for the 2015 Man Booker Prize. (Jenny Westerhoff/Anchor Canada)

"A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara had me literally sobbing out loud, it's one of the best books I've ever read but it's also one of the saddest. A Little Life is deeply moving, focusing on the lives of a close knit group of four graduates, and it's a total emotional rollercoaster. Readers watch as the relationship between the boys become strained, as they experience everything from debilitating addiction to overwhelming success. It's a tale of friendship and forgiveness, and discusses how main character Jude's unspeakable childhood has left a torturous scar on his life as an adult. It's definitely not an easy read; I found this book unsettling, immersive and exhausting, but it's most definitely an unforgettable book that has the ability to change your life."

The Girls by Emma Cline

Emma Cline's bestselling novel is about a cult that resembles the Manson Family. (Megan Cline/Random House Trade Paperbacks)

"Much like everyone else who has read The Girls by Emma Cline, I found this book almost impossible to put down. I absolutely devoured this book. I don't think I've ever read something so obsessively and so quickly, and the journey to the final page was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The Girls focuses prominently on Evie, a 14-year-old girl who is searching for a sense of self. During a hot Californian summer in 1969, Evie meets Suzanne and her once mundane life quickly becomes a whirlwind of sex, drugs and violence, all of which play a part in changing Evie's life forever. I was completely hypnotised by Evie's journey, I just couldn't turn the pages quickly enough and in my opinion that's the sign of a book that's worth reading."

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Donna Tartt won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. (Little, Brown and Company/Beowulf Sheehan)

"I've picked up my copy of The Goldfinch with the intention of reaching the final page on many occasions, however there's something about this book that never quite captures my attention for long enough. I've heard so many good things about this book, but somehow it just doesn't resonate with me. All of the reviews that I've read about this book say that it's an immersive and captivating read that will stay with you forever. I've also heard that the ending is well worth the journey to the last page, so hopefully one day I'll find the time to finally reach the finale. I've come to the conclusion that it's OK not to feel a connection with every book on my bookshelf."

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Brit Bennett's debut novel is set within a contemporary black community in southern California. (Emma Trim/Penguin Random House)

"At the moment I'm reading The Mothers by Brit Bennett. The Mothers is the story of Nadia Turner, a rebellious 17-year-old who is mourning the loss of her mother after her recent suicide. I've yet to reach the end but at the moment I'm really enjoying it. I have a feeling that I could finish this in one sitting if I had the time. It's a really compelling read and despite the sad story, it's written in such a lighthearted tone. I'm really loving this book and hoping that the ending will be everything that I want it to be!"


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