20 Books that will change your view on life!
Obviously, books are not just words, paper, and pretty covers. They are powerful representations of ideas that are just waiting to be heard. Some books are radical, some are tame; while some are just waiting for the right reader to absorb their words and connect on a more personal level. Books offer knowledge, perspective, encouragement, and insight; they will change your your life if you let them! So pull up a chair, pick up a book, and allow yourself to live through the eyes of a character! Below are the Top 20 books that will change your views on life:
1. Narcissus and Goldman – Herman Hesse
Herman Hesse combines the perfect amount of adventure, philosophy, and struggle in this novel. The reader is taken along the journey of two friends who choose very different paths in life. Through the lives of Narcissus & Goldman, Hesse depicts the importance of living your life and not falling into social trappings. You will quickly begin to live through Narcissus' thoughts, rather than reading the words written about him. You will find yourself drawing parallels to your own struggles in life, and seeking to improve your own path. A powerfully real fiction novel; Hesse captures the essence of struggling to choose at the fork in the road.
2. Moby Dick – Herman Melville
Epic! Captain Ahab takes us on one of the best soul searching sea journeys ever written. The voyage captures realism and deep symbolism at every page and begs the reader to question, "what are my white whales in life?" Through the accounts of Ishmael, you will continually wonder to what lengths will Captain Ahab will guide his ship and his soul to destruction. Herman Melville magnificently captures the human condition, obsession with understanding, and the desire to find meaning in life.
3. Animal Farm – George Orwell
Disturbingly methodical and precise, Animal Farm shows how human nature and society may unknowingly allow themselves to be ruled by corruption. Animal Farm is dystopian in nature and serves as a warning to the masses of society. The animals of "the farm" act according to their nature and continue to live as if nothing out of the ordinary is going on around them … meanwhile, the pigs have an agenda of their own. This book will never fall off the classics wall, because it speaks to the heart of human nature that makes corrupt leadership possible.
4. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest – Ken Kesey
Randle Patrick McMurphy is one of the greatest fictional heros in literary history. McMurphy is up against "the system" and refuses to be beaten. The story takes place in a mental ward and they have never seen the likes of McMurphy before. However, he is now in Nurse Ratched's world and his usual defiance and games may not last for long. This great American classic challenges authority and common sense and will leave you questioning insanity itself.
5. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
Bilbo Baggins of Bag-End, Hobbiton is a lovable and unassuming character that all of us can relate to. So when the famous wizard Gandalf, comes to intrude upon Bilbo's methodical and pre-determined life, it takes the reader on a captivating journey that will leave you seeking adventure of your own! Bilbo plays the unlikely hero and shows all of us that even the simplest person can do great things. The allegorical overlay is massive, intriguing, and inspirational. Take a journey to 'Middle Earth' and discover the greatest fantasy author of all time.
6. 1984 – George Orwell
When we give up complete control of or lives this is what becomes of a society. Orwell's 2nd dystopian book on the list; 1984 takes us to a society that has completely succumbed to total control, censorship, corruption, and evil. 1984 is irrefutably powerful, and hauntingly omniscient. So jump into Orwell's "future" society and feel the helplessness and hopelessness of submission … then heed the warnings.
7. Harry Potter (series) – JK Rowling
If you haven't read these world renown novels yet, you need to! If you are too cool to read Harry Potter then that is truly a shame. There is much to learn from from young Harry as he struggles with growing up, becoming a man, and stubbornly refusing to yield to the forces of evil in Rowling's world of magic. 100s of millions of copies have been sold … they have influenced and inspired the globe in more ways than one. If you haven't checked them out yet, maybe it's time; but be careful, it will be hard to stop reading them once you start.
8. Walden – Henry David Thoreau
What Thoreau lacks in action-packed chapters, he makes up for in personal courage and resolute determination to live for himself and himself alone. "Walden" is an autobiographical account of Thoreau's 2 years living at Walden pond. Thoreau's peaceful and simplistic lifestyle during the american transcendentalist movement serves as a reminder to all of us that life is beautiful and worth living. While reading his accounts of simplicity and values; Thoreau reminds us to smell the roses and appreciate life along the way.
9. Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
Shantaram encompasses everything that belongs in a great adventure story. From the prisons of Australia and India, to the underground crime networks of Bombay, Shantaram takes the reader on a page-turning, action packed, true story of one man's extraordinary life. As an escaped Australian convict, Roberts recalls his experiences and thoughts while he searched for comfort and answers in a foreign land; something that every traveler will relate to. His adventures take him from the slums of Bombay, to a hell-on-earth prison cell, to the warring nation of Afghanistan in the 80's. His description of love, life and loss is dramatic and easy for readers to relate to. At 932 pages, it gives the reader plenty to look forward to, and is well worth the time to read!
10. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
When the world stops asking questions and challenging their beliefs what happens? In this classic dystopian novel the reality of ceasing to think becomes apparent, while people who have stopped questioning their existence for decades, prove to lead unfulfilling lives. Huxley portrays a world so real that it is purposefully meant as a warning to challenge your beliefs and don't always believe what you are told. This novel is an absolute must-read for anyone living in a society; especially for those who think that there may be more to life that meets the eye.
11. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert Pirsig
Life-changing, thought-provoking, and intelligent! Pirsig takes modernly accepted philosophy and makes it approachable for the average reader. As you take an emotional motorcycle trip across America, Pirsig and his son will have you thinking that there is much more to reality and consciousness than you ever thought possible. This book makes you think, but is laid out in an approachable and enjoyable storyline! It takes place in the present, but ventures to the past frequently, keeping you guessing about both, past and present. This book has plenty of ideas to wrap your mind around, including: philosophy, metaphysics, subjective reality, and consciousness (to name a few). By the end, you will be asking yourself about the true meaning behind Pirsig's road trip.
12. The Sword of Truth (series) – Terry Goodkind
Although this is fantasy, the characters that Terry Goodkind has created are extremely real. Character development, human interaction, and good triumphing over evil are powerful tools that "The Sword of Truth" interweaves into every book !. Follow Richard as he goes from being a simple woods-guide, to finding his calling in life and changing the course of history. The world may be fantasy; but the emotions, struggles, doubts, challenges, and eternal search for answers found in this book, are innate in all of us. Goodkind has created a masterpiece with this series!
13. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald has crafted an exquisite story of love, life, and obsession. Jay Gatsby is a multi-millionaire who lives his entire life struggling with the memory of his childhood sweetheart and obsession, Daisy. This American classic does not glamorize life, status, and love but rather; it portrays a realistic perception of the less-glamorous side of life. Despite the wealth and status of his characters, Fitzgerald puts them through many trials, heartbreaks, and setbacks. It seems that reality just keeps getting in the way of their perfect lives! The Great Gatsby takes you on a journey through social classes and personal strife from the angle of common sense and objectivity. By the end, Fitzgerald will leave you wondering, "was it all worth it?"
14. The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
A true testament to family, struggle, and perseverance during the Great Depression. In the Grapes of Wrath you will go on a road trip (during the american dust bowl). The events along the road will be challenging, dramatic, and unrelenting through adversity and hardship! With determination and refusal to give up though, the Joad family struggles towards their final destination. Picturesque and vivid, Steinbeck captures the reality of day to day life and emphasizes the importance of family and courage. The Joads's have been forced to leave everything they know; but they are going to California for a better life, no matter what … sometimes though, the end of a journey isn't always what it seems.
15. Hamlet – William Shakespear
A timeless tale of obsession and tragedy, this is Shakespear at his best! Hamlet vows to avenge his fathers death in this perfectly crafted screenplay. There is no room for superfluous illusions of glamor, pride, and ego in this story. Character flaws are brought into the open and portrayed as unavoidable and real. As always, Shakespear has given the world an absolutely perfect portrayal of love, desire, unkempt hatred, determination, irony, obsession, and above all else; the inherent weaknesses that humans beings are forced to overcome within every society.
16. The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss
Another compelling fantasy about the search for truth; this novel is impossible to stop once you've started. In his search to discover the mysteries of the world, Kvothe works through hardship and challenge. Filled with personality and humor, Rothfuss gracefully places your mind in his world and reveals to you the secrets of love, life, and adventure. The genius is in the details of this book! Rothfuss is a literary genius in capturing those subconscious thoughts and curiosities that pop into your mind every day. You will find yourself continually smiling and saying to yourself, "I know exactly what he's talking about."
17. It – Stephen King
To dismiss Stephen King as a "horror" writer, would be fool-hearty. His effortless descriptions and vivd imagination will suck you into the world of the supernatural and leave you in doubt of what is real and what is not. The characters in "IT" are some of the most real characters ever put to pen. Never, has an author been more gifted at bringing emotion off the pages and inserting them directly into your mind. Their emotions will become your emotions and you can't help but eagerly hope for the best for King's main characters. "IT" follows the lives of 5 children as they struggle to cope with the reality of Pennywise, the killer-clown who is attacking the children of Derry, Maine. It will remind you with great vividness of your own childhood and leave you wondering, "how did I forget all those emotions as a child?" The attentive reader may gain some insight into the thoughts and experiences of Mr. King himself, in what has become one of his greatest works.
18. Making a living without a job – Barbara J. Winter
Self-help and motivational books usually have a very common, and frankly, unsatisfying message because they drastically understate the challenges of motivation, courage, and hard work . Barbara Winter has ascended beyond most authors though! You will not be able to read her words of advice without nodding approvingly and agreeing out loud to anyone that will listen to you! This book will prompt you to action and nudge you towards accomplishing your goals and aspirations in life. It is an absolute must read for anyone who has ever had goals but fallen short. Life should not evolve around a 9-5 job that you hate. Barbara Winter depicts how to escape that trap and live the life you have always wanted to live.
19. Leo Africanus – Amin Maalouf
The essence of true traveling lies in the pages of Leo Africanus. This historically (loosely) based novel follows Leo as he discovers a plethora of different cultures, social classes, statuses, and lifestyles in the Islamic Mediterranean during the Renaissance. Africanus is a man of the road and never stays anywhere long enough to plant his roots. In his travels he encounters many different aspects of life. He experiences riches, marriage, and children; meets kings and royalty. Then finds himself adapting to slum life, poverty, tragedy, and loss. The reality of living in the Ottoman Empire, aside fundamental conflicts between religion and social classes, is transcended by one man in this novel. Leo Africanus is a novel about the realities of living continuously away from the comforts of home and adapting to whatever life throws at you.
20. Critique of Pure Reason – Immanuel Kant
To say Kant's "Critique" is profound, would be a tragic understatement. What we know as modern day philosophy, metaphysics, and transcendentalism started with the ideas of Immanuel Kant. That said, this book is extremely challenging, even to the avid reader. To take on this book will be a dedication to a greater understanding of the way in which we arrive at reason and logic. Kant precisely lays out his argument about how we recognize and understand the world around us. "Part First" of the first section (The Transcendental Doctrine of Elements) is painful to say the least. Push through to "Part Second" though, and you will find that you have started to think like the great German philosopher! It is a tough read, but you will be rewarded with a philosophical understanding that has surpassed every great philosopher in history thus far.
"How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book." – Thoreau