There are books you read to pass time, books you read to have fun, books you read just for the sake of completing it. But every once in a while you come across a book that changes your very perception of life and makes you question everything that has been shoved down your throat during your twelve years of schooling. These books might vary from individual to individual but nonetheless every avid-reader definitely will have a set of their own books that changed their life for the better. Anything and everything the reality hides from your eyes, stops you from seeking it can be achieved with fiction which shows the world to you without any obscurity. It’s no joke when I say the books in this list have helped me see, feel, listen, love and do things better in this world.
With the hope that some of the books in this list changed your life too, here I present to you six books that shaped my life:
1. Jane Eyre -Charlotte Bronte:
Do you still remember the name of the first book you ever read? Well, when I tried to remember the first book I ever read, the one that crosses my mind is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. This probably wasn’t the first book that I read but it was the first one to leave a permanent impression on my mind. There was nothing extra-ordinary or remarkable about this book’s overview, it seemed like a simple story about a girl trying to adjust to the changes in her life. But the themes of spirituality, love and intellect expressed beautifully through the eyes of Jane had kept me hooked to the book. I guess one of the main reason I loved this book was because the 10-year old me found something so stirring and powerful in the lead character that was morally well-composed and had a clear sense of judgement. I read this book during the time where I lacked moral clarity and reading this book made me accept that it is okay to have flaws and it is even better to work your way towards accepting who you are. Where my own education and parents failed, Jane Eyre taught me that at the end of the day I am responsible for my own happiness and well-being.
“If all the world hated you and believed you wicked, while your own conscience approved of you and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends.”
2. Animal Farm – George Orwell
I will admit that the book was honestly a little dreary and tiring read in the beginning for me, but once I got invested in the character and understood the symbolism Orwell poignantly uses, my sense of appreciation for this book increased a hundredfold. The book has a simple plot, told in a manner very similar to a kid’s fable with a lot of deep-seated allegories that enhances its overall impact on the readers. If I am asked to choose only one book that I can read for the rest of my lifetime, I would probably choose this one because every time you read it you will find out a new hidden meaning in the text that Orwell has so skilfully managed to convey. My entire world-view was reshaped after I finished reading this book and I think it is one of those very few books that prepare you for the outside world and talks about what the world really is without hiding its ugly layers.
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”
“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”
3. The Supernaturalist – Eoin Colfler
I know most of you would be absolutely surprised to find a young-adult dystopian novel such as the Supernaturalist in a list like this. Some might have not even known about the existence of such a book until now. Let me save you all the trouble and tell you why this book is a personal favourite of mine. I think one of the main reason I loved this book so much has to do more with the time during which I read the book rather than the book itself. I read this book when I was 13 years old during my holidays and it was the first book that I finished reading within a single night. I am still afraid and not sure if the book will now have the same effect it had on me back then. This cyberpunk YA book was the first book to teach me that everything that might seem evil is not necessarily evil and everything that looks friendly isn’t necessarily a saint. The book was a page turner with a dynamic plot that kept bringing new elements of dystopia at every page but however it was the ending that I could never forget, for it was the first time I realised lovable and pleasant characters can die too. By the time I finished reading this book I realised that my reading status had evolved from a teen reader to an adult reader without me even actually noticing it.
“Whatever their circumstances, people still had to eat, live, and love.”
“In comic books, people with gifts became superheroes; in real life they became outcasts.”
4. The Bell Jar- Sylvia Plath
How do I even begin to describe the varied range of emotions and turmoil “The Bell Jar” made me go through? Maybe I should start with the synopsis. The book is a narrative of the author’s experiences and her encounter with mental illness during the prime period of her adulthood and how she struggles to overcome it against the burden of societal pressure. Although the overall plot might seem regular, it has more to it than just her struggles with depression. The underlying themes of feminism, gender stereotypes and sexism during the late 19th century are discussed in detail in a hard-hitting manner from the author’s point of view. While many people think Plath’s writing is depressing and off-putting, I think her writing is more about finding light in the dark, rather than staying in the dark itself. One of the most underappreciated messages told in this story that needs to be said more often is that regardless of how small others think of your problem, if you think you need help, you get help from the ones you trust and rise above even more stronger. Through Esther’s character in the book I learned the importance of creating an identity for oneself and the power of being real in a world filled with plastic smiles.
“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.”
“To the person in the Bell Jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is a bad dream.”
5. A Thousand Splendid Suns- Khaled Hoseini
If there was one book that me cry and feel miserable about the things I can’t change about the world it would definitely be this book. The story revolves around the plight and suffering of women in third-world countries who are subjected to a lot of subjugation and trauma at a very young age. I can’t give a thorough review of the book without giving away the spoilers but there was an immense sense of sadness and gratitude in my chest after I finished reading the book. Sadness because even after so many struggles women can’t seem to find the light of the day and Gratitude because my life isn’t as messed up as the characters of the story. This book helped me become more appreciative of the things I had taken for granted and enjoy even the simplest joys life had to offer.
“You see some things I can teach you. Some you learn from books. But there are things that, well, you have to see and feel.”
“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,
Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.”
6. Pollyanna – Eleanor H. Porter
The only reason I added this book to the list is because of the concept of “glad game” it introduces. In the book Pollyanna is told by her father she can continue being optimistic and happy if she decided to find two positives out of every negative situation. This principle she had in her life was something I adopted later in my life too, although it cannot be applied to all scenarios, during most of the hard times I had I turn to this advice and it did help me find hope even during the darkest of times.
“There is something about everything that you can be glad about, if you keep hunting long enough to find it.”
By Jeyashri Ravichandiran