by Sandro Gvaramia
Image via Marshall Sellers
Good books can change you drastically and help you become a better person. They change how you look at and understand things and make you think differently. Everything you read fills your head with new bits of information. When people read books, they tend to interpret and visualize everything in their heads. Books affect your emotions and some people feel as if they have lost a friend when there’s no more pages to read. No matter where you come from, what language you speak, or what religion you do or do not practice, good books can affect you and those effects can last forever.
Here are books that I believe everyone should read at least once in their lifetime. Not because they have fantastic plots or unique literary devices, but are universal and timeless in the feelings they evoke within us.
1. ‘The Catcher in the Rye’
If taken too literally, it can seem like a slightly stupid book. It is an American classic and speaks for a generation. A generation that did not want to grow up. As the world is growing up around us, we are slowly exposed to the reality of relationships, hardships, adulthood, and a realization that our mothers and fathers will not be around forever. Everything that made our childhoods magical will come to an end at some point in our lives. Along with that comes the later realization that this is not a bad thing because every good thing has an ending.
The main character is a teenager named Holden who thinks that his life could not get any worse. Growing up he struggled in school even though he was a bright kid. He is a deeply polarizing character; you either think he is a rebel or a whiner. A lot of us are like Holden, at times we feel alienated. We tend to be stuck in our own idea of things and anyone who thinks differently or is more shallow than us, is a phony. At the same time, there are people we would do anything for and whose approval we relentlessly seek. Back when this book was published, there were a rarity of books that dealt with the lives of teens which made it an unique perspective.
2. ‘1984’ by George Orwell
The book was written in 1949 in a fashionable style for that era- revolutionary for its time. It predicted a dystopia with a bleak view of the future. It brought together many political strands such as Nazism, Communism, and Fascism and took them to their logical conclusion: a totalitarian state which controls every aspect of people’s lives, even their most private thoughts, desires and feelings.
3. ‘Persepolis’ by Marjane Satrapi
Persepolis is about Iran. Marjane Satrapi points out in her introduction that Iran’s story is one that many people think they understand, but they don’t. It is a story often told in terms of violence and religious extremism, but the people of Iran and their stories are so much more than what we see on the news.
The book tells the other side of Iran’s story, that of mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers – decent people caught in a country that is continually torn apart and put back in new challenging ways.
You should read Persepolis to better understand the world around you, to understand that all over the world, despite the religion, race or age, there are good people everywhere you go.
4. ‘Norwegian Wood’ by Haruki Murakami.
The book takes place in the 60s in Japan and tells a story of a young man, Toru Watanabe, who finds himself involved in a tragic situation when his best friend commits suicide. It is a beautiful and captivating story with compelling characters.
5. ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ by Philip Dick.
This is a sci-fi book, written in 1968. The novel is set in a post-apocalyptic San Francisco, where Earth’s life has been greatly damaged by a nuclear global war. It follows a story of a man called ‘Blade Runner’, who is assigned to find and bring back the Nexus-6 Model Androids. The novel explores the issue of what it is to be human and whether or not empathy is a purely human ability.