While both books are very recent reads for me, I know that they have shaped me and my way of thinking. I have always been a firm believer that if I don’t understand something, or am confused, I had better get educated. For me, the easiest way has always been to find a book. A pastor I once knew told me that we (then I believed he meant Christians, but now I think he meant people) must learn about what we don’t understand because misunderstandings can lead to fear, leading to hate, violence… all of that can be reciprocated, pushed back. Doubled. All of it could be nipped in the bud by just reading up on a subject, putting yourself in another person’s shoes. Asking questions…. just looking at someone and saying: I accept you. There’s so much fear in America right now about “foreigners”, immigrants. So many are screaming for them to be sent back- to never be allowed to be here in the first place…. but have they thought about what these people came from? Why they needed us, and what they actually receive in way of help. Have they thought about how long a refugee must wait, the hoops they have to jump through, just so their kids can have the life we take for granted? It’s the same with the transgender question- which should never have become a question in the first place. People are afraid of what would happen if they were allowed to pee in peace for crying out loud. The world has gone mad and violence won’t solve it- only knowledge and acceptance.
Since I began my blog:
The Eagle Tree was a phenomenal book whose main character is autistic. It goes into depth on March’s feelings, intellect, frustration and how he sees the world. Having spent a lot of time working with autistic children, I feel like Hayes has a unique grasp on the struggle of autistic children.
Highly Illogical behavior addresses agoraphobia. Solomon was a great character that brought to light a lot of heavy issues and still seemed to keep things light a lot of the time through the book. It left me feeling wrecked and reworked. I loved it.
The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko is a book that I have spoken of several times. It is both a coming of age, and a tutorial on how to survive with severe defects. It is a study in fury and grace. I loved it so much!
The Diary of Ma Yan wrecked me for a different reason. Like nearly every other kid I have ever met I never respected the gift that education is. There are those that can’t go to school- where it is so hard as to be nearly impossible to attain. It made me grateful for the things I have in my life, for the chances I have been given. It is one girl’s sweet search for knowledge.
Invisible Ellen moved me because of the way the author showed Ellen. She was so obese as to be ashamed, to wish for invisibility and feel like she could never change. Never get better. Her best chance is to live a life where she is ignored. Through the book she changes with the help of a new friend- but not it the magic “poof, now I am skinny” way a lot of books seem to- as if being skinny would magically cure her image of herself. She made changes, got healthier, started believing in herself more…. understood she was worth the work. That is why this book inspires me.
And just a few books that moved me from my past:
It is rare to find a book like I Shall Not Hate. The author spent his life moving back and forth between sides of the Gaza strip trying to bridge gaps and bring health care to patients. Even after the war cost him two children he refused to give in to hate. This inspires me. He, who had every reason to be angry, chose to preach peace and love. Every time I even think of this book I am moved near tears.
The Book Thief inspired me simply by watching what the characters went through, how they reacted to one another, what was important to each of them. It was beautiful and thought provoking.
I Am Nujood forced me to take a good look at the way of life in other areas, and the things we take for granted in our own. It is a gorgeous, heart breaking story of a girl with more courage than I can even imagine.
I Am Malala, well, see above. Like I Am Nujood and The Diary of Ma Yen it showed a girl fighting for something that should never have been in question in the first place. Here, it is the right to education. She was threatened- she was shot! And all for wanting an education. It made me sick, and it made me desperate for change. It made me think. Stories like this, while hard, remind me to be grateful for what I have and remember that these are things worth fighting for.
A Monster Calls is maybe an odd book to have in this list. A young boy trying to cope with the illness and possible loss of his mother. A monster, is he of the boy’s making or working beside the boy? It is a sad book, intense and fraught with emotion, that left me drained. And yet it is one that I think of all the time. It shaped how I thought of grief, and the strength needed to overcome.
Lastly, the book that meant the most to me through my life:
I cannot explain it. I have come back to this book every year for twenty years. I don’t always read the whole thing, it’s more that I visit sections. When I am frozen and feel like I will never be warm again I go to the jungle. Allende’s description of the hot air, the lush jungle, warms me every time. The characters have become like old friends that I miss if I don’t visit often. Eva’s story has never failed to bring me out of myself when depression hits. Before I found it in eBook I had bought eight copies of this book because I had either read the current copy so much that pages were coming loose or I had loaned it out and never got it back. I literally cannot function without access to this book. (I still have the eighth paper copy as well).
Which books mean the most to you?