Ten Books to Change Your Life
This is a new list, as a lot of these books I've read only recently, but already I can tell that they have moved me in ways that my previous reads have not.
I strongly recommend each of these books, but odds are you won't read all ten. Why not start with just one? See how right I am.
1. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery
Seriously, if you have not read this book, I do not know where you've been. It's been translated into what seems like must be every single language out there, and it's widely revered as One of The Greats... and rightly so! This book has guided and enchanged me since middle school; who wouldn't be intrigued by the simple story of a boy who has, essentially, fallen from a star? A child's priceless, precise questioning of the world, and the narrator's attempts to answer prove to be a quick and enveloping read.
2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
This one is mostly a must-read for the adolescent crowd (though I'm sure those in college and the young-at-heart would find it just as useful). This book explores the life of a shy kid called Charlie who's just starting high school. But don't write it off if you're not fourteen years old because his inner life's complexities, written in the form of journalistic letters, will sweep you off your feet. I am in love with this character to this day because his narration gave me a guiding light in the dark, dark days of high school.
3. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Read this book! If you have ever felt like you've lost your footing or your purpose in life (and if you haven't, who are you?), this book will change you in some way. The first on the list that's non-fiction, Gilbert's travels to Italy, India, and Indonesia and her journey towards enlightenment (whatever that may mean) will appeal to the lost soul in all of us. If you are at all spiritual, the book will mean even more to you, but either way it will be worth it. Seriously. Read this.
4. The Alchemist by Paul Coelho
I read this book when I was living in Germany in the summer of 2007, and I really feel like it goes down best when traveling. So if you plan on going away sometime soon, throw this in the bottom of your suitcase. It's the story of a shepherd who goes great lengths to follow a dream, and the wisdom that he gains along the way becomes more important than any treasure he could ever find. This book is a classic, and it's for a good reason. You can only gain from reading it.
5. Ask and It is Given by Esther and Jerry Hicks
Okay, so this one's a little different than the rest of the list, but it did change my life! It's more of a self-help or philosophy book than anything else, but the way of life that they outline is one of such positivity and joy that it's pretty much impossible to forget. There are simple things you can do to change your life for the better, to turn it around even. If you are sick of being scared or upset or depressed or alone, just check it out. You will be so surprised.
6. Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Another memoir, but this one will shed new light for you on all the current events issues between Islam and the West. Hirsi Ali grew up in a very traditionalist Muslim household in Somalia and Kenya (I think) before running away to Holland. As she comes to grips with what she truly believes, she realizes that it does not quite align with the way she grew up. This book is for anyone who has been disillusioned by adulthood, anyone who wants a new or refined perspective on the goings-on in the world, or anyone who just really wants to read about a damn interesting life.
7. A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer
The first leg of an autobiography that Pelzer wrote, and probably the most upsetting. It's the story of a boy abused by his alcoholic mother, and what is most amazing is that Pelzer stays in his childhood mind to tell the story. Instead of stepping outside the experience and explaining it, he just shows us what happened. It's a terribly sad (and sometimes graphic) but ultimately uplifting story of a boy's perseverance through the worst trauma and torture.
8. The World According to Garp by John Irving
Pretty much, this is just the best novel ever. It made me want to write, and Irving's writing style has greatly influenced my fiction. It's an amazingly crafted coming-of-age story. That's it.
9. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
Embarrassingly enough, I must've read this book ten times in middle and high school. It's the anonymously written story of a girl who goes through some extreme times when she gets into drugs in high school. Some people insist that it's just anti-drug propaganda written by the government or someone with similar intentions, but "true" or not, it's an interesting story. It is probably most interesting to that age group (middle and high school, that is), but anyone could get into the characters and get something out of it.
10. Here is New York by E. B. White
This is only last on the list because not everyone lives or works in New York City (hard to believe, I know), and this is only a must-read if one of those two applies to you. More of an essay than a book, this piece by White just captures New York in a way that many other writers have not. It will change the way you view the city to read this book, whether you happen to agree or disagree with the way he categorizes New Yorkers. Either way, it's worth the half hour it will take!
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