Five Unusual Books That Will Influence Your Life
Please help the bombadier!
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
I first read Catch-22 in the 7th or 8th grade. It was a reading assignment for English or History class, I can't remember which.
This book was rather risque for children of my age, but we were becoming adults, right? I actually thought it would be far more interesting than the other suggested reading on the list. Boy, was I ever right. This book became my bible.
Over the course of my 60+ years, I have read Catch-22 more than seven times. Each reading brings new thrills and chills and knowledge of the human psyche.
Joseph Heller was told, "it is the best novel ever written". I believe this wholeheartedly. Another author I respect and admire, Douglas E. Richards, agrees with me.
Catch-22 is hilarious and somber, witty and stark, violent and strange. And then there is the famous catch, the eternal theme of this story -
"Catch-22, a hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved."
Yosarian is the hero of the book. He regularly encounters this 'catch' in many forms and in many situations. The challenge for all the now famous characters is to overcome the catch and win the war. They also want to go home to their families and avoid the German anti-aircraft guns.
Don't cheat and watch the movie, although it is a good movie. You just won't get the full effect of Heller's words if you do.
You will have to decide if this book is funny or tragic; real or unreal; enlightening or horrific. There is quite a bit of gory details, and some sexual content (nothing graphic). I would suggest it is best read during your late teens or early 20s. But adults of every age love to read and reread this one.
Archeological Tell (Dig) The Holy Land
The Source by James Michener
The Source is a rarely read book. Sometimes I think I am the only one who has read it. But many have. They rarely speak about it. The book is complicated and requires deep thought processes.
For those familiar with Michener's books, you will know that he goes back to the very beginning of time and writes in sections of time. He intertwines the stories of past lives throughout the book. It's almost like following your family tree as it begins, then branches out into modern reality.
In The Source, Michener begins with an archeological tell (or dig) in the holy land near Jerusalem. The three religions of today are incorporated by means of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic archeologists and paleontologists.
As they dig through the layers of time, they find various objects and evidence of daily life in the area going back through time. Michener then tells the tales of the people who lived here.
He starts with a simple bee keeper, almost neanderthal in appearance and actions. But this bee keeper sets in motion the beginning of all of the 3 major religions of the holy land.
Through time travel encompassing thousands of years, the reader follows the life and religion of all the generations of Tell Makor. Each chapter is a slice of the lives of people that have come and gone in the holy land.
The stories invoke the feel of stories from the Torah, the Bible, and the Koran. Each story stands on its own and is told vividly in rich detail. It's like reading several novels in one.
Yes, this is a giant book. I suggest you read it on a Kindle or other digital device. The actual book weighs several pounds and is uncomfortable to hold while reading. But the digital version will engross you for many hours.
If The Holy Land travel is on your bucket list. I know of several people that were glad they read this book first. It will give you much insight into the area, archeology, and paleontology, as it covers ancient traditions as well as modern adversity between the people who live there.
The Holocaust and the evil experiments done on the people there.
Queen's Bench VII
When I turned the last page of Queen's Bench VII, I rushed to the bathroom and cried for an hour in the shower hoping it would wash the tears away. Never have I read such a powerful book.
Leon Uris writes so descriptively as to place the reader in the court room as an evil doctor is being exposed for his unimaginable crimes. The reader is swept into the story from the first page. This is a book that is almost impossible to put down, and quite literally hard to ignore.
If anyone actually believes that there were no atrocities during World War II, I challenge you to read this book. You will soon discover what we were fighting for during this cruel war. It's an "in your face" description of the medical experiments, the starvation diets, the hatred of an entire race of people during the Nazi occupation of Germany..
Although it is a work of fiction, Leon Uris is known to write beautiful and accurate stories of the genocide and plight of the Jewish people. His more famous book is Exodus, the history of Israel's birth. Uris is one of the best known, and respected authors in the historical fiction genre.
QB VII was also a hit miniseries winning six Prime Time Emmy awards. The miniseries, while almost as good as the book, does not capture the excellent nature of the written eloquence. Some of the passages in the book are true testimony to our humanity.
Watership Down, the book of Friendship
Watership Down by Richard Adams
30 years a bestseller, and there is a reason for that. This is a book you should read to your children. You should also read it again as an adult. There are amazing life lessons to be learned here. Friendship, family, and loyalty are all we need to live a special life. Watership Down has this in spades.
This is a journey of survival. Although the journey is undertaken by rabbits, they are allegories for human lives and the courage of facing the unknown. Rabbits are hunted by humans, and they die in bloody deaths, but death is part of life, and it goes on.
Reading a book from the perspective of the hunted leads to understanding of the fragility of life. We are here but a while. We must treasure what we have and the friends that help us cope with adversity. The rabbits, and us, must live in the moment, plan for the future, yet accept the inevitable.
It is not a sad story, except in parts. It is a triumphant story of life. We all press on against great odds to become what we are. Some of us succeed, others may not. It teaches us to make friends along the way. Some friends we may be grateful for. Some friends are lost to us. Yet we persevere.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
How high can a seagull fly? Have you ever wanted to do something that everyone tells you is impossible? Will Jonathan Livingston Seagull overcome the naysayers and achieve his goals?
This is a very short book and can be read in a single sitting. It's a beautiful literary tale of becoming something that everyone says is not for you. You have to break away from the ordinary and become something special. It's up to you.