This year one of my focus words is education. And one aspect of that will be reading more books. So this week I’m sharing fifteen books that have had the biggest impact on me. They cover a broad range of genres, topics and time periods and include classics, nonfiction and modern releases.
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
I picked this up off a display of books that were once banned. First published in 1899, it’s one of the earliest books that focuses on women’s issues.
Set in New Orleans, the main character, Edna Pontellier struggles with her unorthodox views of femininity and motherhood and the social norms of the turn-of-the-century American South.
Evicted by Matthew Desmond
The author lived in low income housing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as a social experiment to really understand the struggles and issues for those living at the poverty level. It highlights economic exploitation while following the lives of eight families and showing humanity at its most raw level. I think everyone needs to read this book.
The Friends by Rosa Guy
Story of a teenage girl, originally from a West Indies island, who moves to a cold and cruel New York City where she is insulted and beaten up by classmates. That is until she becomes friends with another outsider. This book shows how powerful a friendship can be created between the most unlikely people.
Homer & Langley by E. L. Doctorow
I came across an article about the real-life brothers that inspired this book and I had to check it out. The story of two elite and eccentric hoarders. After reading it reminded me of the importance of checking up on neighbors and those you love.
Maia by Richard Adams
I picked up this book because the title is the way I wanted to spell my daughter, Maya’s name, but I figured people would butcher it’s pronunciation. (They butchered pronouncing her name anyway.) I honestly have never read another book like it. It’s erotic, adventurous and has strong female characters. I really should read more of his works to compare.
It is a fantasy novel that follows a peasant girl sold into sex slavery and ends up in the house of a very power man. Through many twists and turns, she eventually becomes just as powerful.
Night by Elie Wiesel
After visiting the Holocaust Museum in Washington D C, I picked up Wiesel’s book and finished it in one day. It is an autobiographical novel of how he survived as a teenager in a Nazi death camp.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
This treasure was a monthly selection of a book club I am in. It’s the story of two sisters in France during World War II and their struggles to survive and resist German occupation of France. This book stayed with me a long time after I read it. Not simply because I was engrossed by the characters, but mostly because I was shaken by the realization that many of the things that happened during that period that lead to the Nazis gaining power is happening again today.
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
After watching the movie Kill Your Darlings, I became interested in the Beat Generation of poets. I read some titles by William Burroughs which were fascinating, but Kerouac’s book stayed with me longer. Besides having lived in several of the places he talks about, just the concept of going wherever the road takes you is intriguing.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I’m always shocked when someone says they have never read this book. I love any book by Jane Austen, but this is the ultimate. Set in Great Britain during the Regency era, Elizabeth Bennett, one of five daughters, learns the repercussions of making hasty judgments about people.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
This non-fiction book explains the disproportionate emphasis society places on being extroverted. That modern culture misunderstands and undervalues the traits and capabilities of introverted people.
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
I read this book because I’m a fan of the tv show Shameless. The character of Fiona reads this book and then begins a very rocky personal journey. I was curious the significance of what she was reading.
It is the story of a spiritual journey of self discovery of a man named Siddhartha that lived during the time of the Guatama Buddha.
The Summerhouse by Jude Deveraux
I believe I picked up this book just because I love the author’s last name. (No, I do not need any better reason to select something,) This book is entertaining and leaves you wondering what decision you would make if presented with the same choice as the characters.
It’s the tale of three friends who vacation to Maine and amid sharing stories of where their lives have taken them, they visit a house where they may be able to get a “do over” on life.
Deveraux wrote a follow up book called Return to Summerhouse, where she implements a twist to the storyline. Although I didn’t like it as much as the original, it’s definitely worth a read if you enjoy this one.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Actually any book by Khaled Hosseini is worth reading. The Kiterunner is his most popular. He’s a fantastic writer that can engage you into his story and educate at the same time about the history and culture of life in Afghanistan. This book in particular had me so caught up in one of the characters, that I literally threw the book across the room when misfortune befell them.
The story follows Mariam, an illegitimate child who grows up then suffers in an abusive marriage and the various other people that come in and out of her life.
Write It Down, Make It Happen by Henriette Klauser
I’ve actually read this book four times. It’s premise is that you can make whatever you want come true, and the first step is writing it down. Each chapter ends with multiple exercises.
You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
This was given to me as a present and I really love Sincero’s no bullshit, give-it-to-you-straight approach to what is holding you back from becoming full on badass. I highly recommend her other book, You Are A Badass At Making Money (also given as a gift) as well.