I think for most of us, if we’re reading blogs, we are the type who also love books. The feeling of becoming so enveloped in a story that it feels personal to you is something I learned to love early in my life. I’m not as well read as some of my sisters (like Julie, who asked for the complete works of Shakespeare for Christmas at age eight—yikes), but I do love books!
What makes me sad is how much less I read these days. No doubt due in part to all the time I spend reading stuff online. I also sometimes feel overwhelmed by all the books out there! So many choices! And committing to a book is very different from committing to a blog post or, say, a Buzzfeed article. You want to be sure the book you pick is worth your time.
With that in mind, today I’ve decided to share a few books I’ve read that were worth the read. My taste in genres is pretty varied, and I’m definitely not a literature snob, but I do require that a book have the following qualities:
- Decently well written
- Not excessively cheesy
- Characters you really get to know
- A story that makes you see life differently, even if just for that day
My most favorite books changed my perspective on life or awakened an interest or passion in me that I didn’t feel before. I’m sure some of you who are much better read than I could add pages to this list, but here are just a few of the books that have affected me most and why:
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand: I’m pretty sure every person who has read this book would call it one of the best books ever. For sure the most amazing (and true) WWII survival story ever. This story completely changed my perspective on life—I felt so completely grateful for everything I had and so completely heartbroken for people who have had challenges worse than I can imagine. If by some slim chance you haven’t read this book, you must!
Russka by Edward Rutherfurd: I have been fascinated by Russia since I was young, and, knowing this, my sister gave me this book to read when I was 16. It’s a captivating piece of historical fiction that essentially gives you a complete history of Russia by tracing the stories over the generations of several (fictional) families. This is the kind of book that when I read the last line, I exhaled and said aloud, “Wow.” I can only describe it as epic.
Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher: This is a coming-of-age story of a girl growing up in pre-war and WWII England. I think it made such an impact on me because I read it as a teen, and I kind of lived through the main character. It has the lovely combo of history and romance, and it just sparked in teenage me a passion to live and dream and do amazing things. A line from it is also the inspiration for the name of my blog.
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas: Many of you have probably seen the movie (also one of my favorites), and I was interested to find how different the book is from the movie, but I love them both. I think what I love most about this story is the feeling of vindication you get on behalf of the main character, but the book dives deeper (and with more major characters) into the true natures of people and how they deal with circumstances. Without spoiling the end (if you haven’t read the book), I will just say that takes a different and darker turn that the movie does. This one offers both an exciting story and complicated themes you could discuss on multiple levels.
Phantom by Susan Kay: I think this one qualifies as cult fiction. Not very well known, but most who have read it are obsessed. It’s the story of the phantom before (and after) he became “of the opera.” You don’t think the musical is shallow until you read this book and understand things from the phantom’s perspective. It is a beautiful book that adds so much depth and intrigue to the original story.
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman: Remember the whole fiasco over The Golden Compass movie? People calling it anti-God, etc.? This is the full series (three books) of that story. As someone who does believe in God, I can see how others might call this anti-religious, but I don’t think it was meant that way. For me, it was such a unique and compelling world that Pullman creates, it just sets your imagination on fire. Any anti-God themes for me were just part of the fiction and completely outweighed by the other fascinating concepts and characters in the series. I find myself wanting to reference elements of this story regularly in my daily life!
I would love to hear other awesome book ideas if you have them. A personal recommendation always carries more weight for me than a bestseller list, and I’m in the market for a new book to read!