I’m a person who generally has a bad memory of anything and everything. Even more so when it comes to thinking back on books I’ve read. You would think that after spending a considerable time reading through pages and pages of a novel, you would remember what you read. It should be this simple right? Nope, not for me. 7 times out of 10, if you ask me about a book I’ve read, I will greatly struggle in trying to recount the details of such novel.
However, there have been a few books I’ve read in my life that genuinely stick with me, whether it be the plot, characters, the lessons I’ve learned, or even simply just the exquisite writing. In fact, these such books have left such a deep impression in my mind and heart after reading that I have continually thought about them to this day and have forever changed my way of thinking in terms of my own self or about the world. I’ve compiled a list of 4 books that are very enjoyable to read, but more importantly, can hopefully inspire you to deeper reflection and thought.
1. The Pearl -John Steinbeck
I read this novel all the way back in middle school, but this endearing story has stayed with me throughout my life ever since. This is one of Steinbeck’s shorter novels, but it tells of a tale of the dangers of greed and materialism and has changed my views on what it means to become consumed by the love of things in this world. Although this story was published in the 1940s, the themes that Steinbeck delves into are timeless and I think is something that is not only still relevant, but as our world becomes increasingly immersed in consumerism, I believe it is now even more important to give this novel a read.
2. The Kite Runner– Khaled Hosseini
This is the most recently finished book out of the list for me. It’s strange because The Kite Runner is a classic and I’m surprised myself that it took me so long to finally read it. The Kite Runner tells of an individual who makes many mistakes in his life amidst the war in Afghanistan and the emergence of the Taliban regime as a backdrop.
Something I greatly appreciate is that the narrative doesn’t hold back and doesn’t attempt to skip or sugarcoat the very unfortunate, bitter events that can transpire through war and one’s own life; although this is a fictional novel, the plot is loosely based off of real events in history, and The Kite Runner reminds you of the sad, blunt reality of war and the mistakes we make as people.
Regardless, this is a story of guilt, redemption, and dealing with your own personal demons, but also, what really defines family. Not only are the emotional conflicts among the characters expressed so brilliantly (trust me, you will also become very emotionally invested in these characters), but Hosseini is able to describe the important, common conflicts in life so eloquently and surprisingly extremely accurately -specifically I find this pertains to the concepts of envy, guilt, familial love, and the terror and tragedy of war and death.
He writes from such an honest place which humanizes the characters, so that I constantly found myself relating with the characters’ thoughts and conflicts very much. After reading, this novel changed how I viewed the relationships in my own life, and led to me evaluating the efforts I take (or don’t take) in strengthening and caring for the people around me.
3. Quiet -Susan Cain
This is an unexpected recommendation because I rarely read non-fiction books, however the topic of introversion peaked my interest and led me to start reading. And am I ever glad I did. Cain argues a significant, unpopular opinion, in that introverts have much to offer the world and in their own personal lives, despite our society greatly valuing extroverts and placing the loudly social personalities on a pedestal.
If you’re an introvert like me, this book will be a great encouragement reminding you to not conceal or suppress the introverted part of yourself, but to rather embrace this important part of who you are and that you can actually use it to your advantage in your own life. Even more so, I’ve been personally told from self-proclaimed extroverts that they also enjoyed reading this novel because it opened their eyes to the power of introversion and that they started seeing more introverted parts of themselves after reading the book.
4. Brave New World -Aldous Huxley
With an overflowing plethora of dystopian books these days, you are probably skeptical of considering Brave New World. I’m here to tell you to just read it anyways. It’s easy to write this off as just another dystopian novel, but Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is one of the “OG” dystopian novels, having been published in the 1930s! And it’s crazy to think that despite it being written 9 decades ago, Huxley’s writings are yet so eerily accurate and predictive of the developments that have occurred in our society and world today.
After reading this novel, I remember being quite shocked of how Huxley was able to articulate the very problems of our world today in 2018 through an ever-precise social commentary, even though he wrote this so long ago. Exploring the fine line between pursuing liberty and the necessity of certain restrictions to achieve peace, it makes you stop to think critically about the inherent values and flaws of our society, and reflect on how active of a participant you yourself are in perpetuating these problems.
If any of you have other must-read books that you feel have made an impact on your life or just genuinely enjoyed reading, I would love any suggestions!