Hooked to Books Scholarship 2019: The Finalists and Their Life-Changing Book Essays

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Each year, we invite college students around the world to enter the Hooked To Books Scholarship Program. This program encourages students to share their stories about the books that inspired them, taught them, and ultimately, changed their lives.

We are excited to share the winning essays from the Hooked To Books 2019 Scholarship Program with you!

The finalists were picked after several rounds of evaluations of more than 300 submissions that were received in 2019.

These essays aren’t just excellent in writing style and rich in content.

They show us how truly powerful and life-changing books can be. These young writers opened their hearts and minds to books. They allowed the books to teach them new perspectives and help them grow.

Enjoy these inspirational essays, and share what book changed your life in the comments!

Hooked to Books Scholarship Winners 2019

NameInstituteEssay Link
5.Samantha SwankUniversity of California, DavisClick Here
4.Chloe BarnesLiberty UniversityClick Here
3.Kayla Marie EnochElon University Click Here
2.Micah Sollid (Runner-up)University of ReginaClick Here
1.Alanna Felton (1st Prize)Florida State UniversityClick Here

To all participants,

Thank you so much for applying to the Hooked To Books Scholarship and sharing your stories with us. Reading your essays was an emotional and beautiful experience for all of us at Hooked To Books.

While our humble resource doesn’t allow us to award a prize to every deserving essay, we believe your personal growth and development inspired by the books will continue to blossom and will be honored in many other ways in the future.

We wish you all the best in your studies and your lives. May we all continue to get great bookish inspiration in 2020.


The Hooked To Books team

5. Samantha Swank — University of California, Davis

How a Book Changed My Life: We’re So Young

We’re so young. These are the words that ricochet in my skull as I read Marina Keegan’s graduation speech, received by an audience of fellow Yale graduates just days before a fatal car accident.

A young woman I never met, never even knew about until years after her passing, a marvelous writer whose work I yearn to read more of, gone. It’s a specific and terrible grief, a profoundly destructive heartbreak that arises from the cessation of such a magnificent flame. The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan is the book that has grasped me more than any other.

4. Chloe Barnes — Liberty University

How a Book Changed My Life: The Hunger Games

I have always been an avid reader. For me, books are portals waiting to transport individuals to thousands of worlds, time periods and experiences. As an infant, I would sit for hours and listen to my mother read to me and once I began to read independently, I was never seen without a book in hand.  

I read through the entirety of Nancy Drew, countless classics such as Little Women and Black Beauty, and even started a collection of historical fiction novels that soon grew to surpass my shelf space.

Despite my exposure to hundreds of series and novels, none affected me so strongly as The Hunger Games; a trilogy written by Suzanne Collins.

3. Kayla Marie Enoch — Elon University

A Book That Changed My Life: The Innocent Man

As David McCullough once said, “Books can change your life. Some of the most influential people in our lives are characters we met in books.” Books can significantly impact and shape our lives in many different ways.

These essential tools in our lives can either serve as an educational reference for information or they can serve as a method of relaxation after going through the struggles of your daily life. No matter what you read, where you read, or how you read, books provide information to your mind that can change your life for the better.

In my situation, a book I read during my junior year of high school has changed my life. This book has altered my career path, changed my mindset about the way I look at life, and improved the time I spend reading.  

As a kid, I was always found under the covers of my bed with a flashlight reading books. For the longest time, my parents would have to take my books away from me, and hide them so I could go to be. As I’ve gotten older, my love for books has dwindled with my attention going to technology. 

During my junior year of high school, my teacher forced us to read a non-fiction book called, “The Innocent Man,” written by John Grisham. This focused on four wrongful convictions relating to crimes that took place in a small town called Ada in Oklahoma. Just like all other books my teacher assigned to us, I was dreading reading this book. Unknowingly, my love for books soon came back after reading the book.

2. Micah Sollid — University of Regina (Runner-up)

A Book That Changed My Life: The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated with medicine. Going to the hospital to visit sick relatives wasn’t a chore; I loved feeling the buzz of the hospital with busy doctors and nurses pacing about, always looking like they knew where to go and what to do. 

The hospital is where I imagined myself as an adult, being a part of the solution to a healthy community because of my passion for helping people. As I grew older, this dream became more important to me because I always appreciated the attentive care my sick family members received in a hospital. I thought to myself, ‘I want to be a part of this’.  

In grade ten, I read, “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down” written by Anne Fadiman, and my life changed. I still thought, ‘I want to be a part of this’, but for different reasons. I wanted to change the healthcare system in North America. I was fuelled by Lia’s story of oppression and cultural disregard when she needed help from what I believed was the most trusted organization in the world.

1. Alanna Felton — Florida State University (Winner)

How Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone Changed My Life

I no longer remember the Christmas, eleven years ago, when my parents gave me the book that changed my life. I can’t recall where I was, who was there, or how I reacted. The only proof I have is a note, written in my father’s blocky scrawl, inside my copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The note is dated Christmas 2008. It promises “the beginning of another series of adventures”. 

While I can’t recollect receiving Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, I do remember that it wasn’t love at first sight for Harry and me. I was stubborn and snobbish when it came to my reading taste and had no desire to try out a book that “everyone else was already reading”. The more people told me that I had to read Harry Potter, the more I dug my heels in and insisted that I would never read it. Until, one day, I gave in. 

And fell in love. 

hooked to books 2019 scholarship winners

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