We’ve all seen and heard it before : the 10 books you have to read before you die, the 10 books that would take you somewhere you want to go, the 10 books that would teach you what you desperately need to know. The internet it’s flooded with these types of blogs and lists. So I won’t pretend to give you anything like that, even though I am going to be writing a list.
For me books are more than lists that you need to read, they are the stories that made me think, the stories that made me cry, the stories that have shaped who I am. Sometimes they are an essay that shines a light on a new perspective. Sometimes they are such a good novel that it has stayed with me for years. Sometimes they’ve made me realise what’s truly important in life.
I believe every book has a moment and a person. Not every book out there is for you and there are times in life when you would resonate more with a specific book than another. There are windows of time and when that window closes you may remember a book fondly , but it won’t ignite the same spark inside of you. Then there are books that are timeless and will always show you or teach you something different, no matter how many times you read them. There are books just for fun, there are books just to learn a new topic. But for me, the most important books are the ones that show you a bit about this thing we call life. They are the ones that have given me purpose and shown me that perhaps, this is the reason we are alive.
So, this is my list, from one book lover to another. I hope they come to you at the right time.
The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna
There is just something about this book that gets to me every time I read it. If you ever wonder if you are in fact doing something that is true to you, or if you are tired of doing what you are doing, but found yourself terrified about change, then give it a chance. It is impossible to read this book and not wonder if you are truly following your passion and if the answer is no, then it gets harder to find excuses for why you are not doing it. This can be all we need to follow that thing that makes us feel alive.
The Sound of Paper by Julia Cameron
Have you ever been stuck? Had a writer’s block? Been at a time in your life when you find yourself lost not knowing what the hell to do next? Got a routine that’s doing nothing for you, but that you just can’t break? Well, I was like that, and then this book came to my life and put me back on track. It’s a series of essays about the creative process with some exercises that you can do in every chapter. And it has the power to mobilize you.
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
This is one of the novels that I hold close to my heart, not because it is perfect but because it touched me. It’s a novel about beauty and art and the meaning of life. It’s about loneliness and fears and feeling different. But above all it’s about connecting and trying to make some sense of life and why we should keep on living. It’s a great summer read.
The Shadow of the Sun by Ryszard Kapuscinski
I love to travel and for the longest time books were the only way I could do it. The Shadow of the Sun is one of those books that will transport you directly to other places and makes you feel everything. If you ever wanted to know anything real about Africa then you need to read this. In a series of essays Kapuscinski evokes the Africa that runs through his veins and presents a written portrait of the continent and its people.
- The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich
It’s shocking but until this book I had never stopped to really think about real women in war. Obviously you know there are stories, but how many of those stories have you read? Or watched? Or heard? There has been a change in culture and with the years we are starting to see more and more stories about women in the media. But back when I read this book for the first time it shocked me. Because I didn’t know about these stories and because I never wondered. The feminine vision of war and humanity that I found in this book changed the way I thought about many things.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Maybe this is cheating because I talk about the whole saga and not just the first book. But I don’t care. This is one of the stories that I am more passionate about and that has transcended all of the books. I have made so many great friends all over the world because of these books - just because it resonated so deeply with so many of us. It’s a series about love, history and characters that inspire you. It has adventure, fantasy, romance, history and a great narrative that brings it all together. If you ever wondered about how that “happy ever after” looks and want to read the story of a marriage and what it takes, then these are the books for you.
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
I am psychologist so you can expect a least one book about this subject in any list I make. I chose Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience because I think everybody should know what the state of consciousness called flow really is and how to experiment with it if you not are already doing so. It’s not a magic trick to happiness, but it can help you be more aware of your own consciousness and live the life you want to live and work doing what makes you happy.
Quiet by Susan Cain
It doesn’t matter if you are an introvert yourself or an extrovert. I think everybody should read this book in order to understand what it truly means to be one. There is a lot of confusion with shyness or even social phobia, because sometimes they correlate. But in this world that values loud voices and putting yourself out there, it is good to know that there’s another way of doing things. And if you are an introvert like me, then you’ll finally understand a lot of things about yourself. This is a book that empowered me and made me accept who I am, instead of fighting so much to “fit in”.
Still Writing by Dani Shapiro
Maybe it’s because I love books and writing, but I can’t keep my hands away from books that talk about both things. In this memoir, Dani Shapiro does a meditation on the artistic process of writing and gives you advice about the creative process. It’s a really powerful book about someone that loves what she does and gives great insight about the life of a writer.
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
If you are from the U.S. maybe they force you to read this, but being from Chile a lot has to happen for you to read a book like this. It’s a book from the 19th century and can be a little dry. I am sure that maybe even boring for some. But for me it has some of the better quotes I have read that ring so true to me that it amazes me that they were written more than a hundred years ago.
“If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal- that is your success” - Thoreau
Have books that changed your perspective or life path?
Let us know in the comments below!