It is a truth universally acknowledged that reading a book is one of the most effective methods to expose, teach and change the way one thinks.
Many authors used their books to reflect on society- from Jane Austen to Suzanne Collins. It does not matter what era, period, audience or society we are talking about. Even the most basic of books can place a mirror in front of us. Sometimes, it will change our ideologies, way of thought of our believes. Other times it will make us think, rethink or understand something better.
Truth be told, when we first thought of writing this list we thought it would be short. But as we kept on discussing things soon we learned many of the books we read- to some degree or other- affected us, changed us, taught us.
In that regard books are the best of teachers. They do not force you to learn a lesson, they do not try to teach you and more often than not each reader understands a different lesson.
So, here we go!
NOTE: These are our opinions on the books we read and the ideas we formed, we, in no way try to promote any opinions or ideas. We are just putting our thoughts out there.
1. Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany [Sharon]
When I'm asked about a book that changed me most times I say this book. I read it when I was 16 or 17, and while this book touched all sorts of topics its main one was language and how it affects our mind. I have never thought before of how the fact that in my language the word "I" exist made me think in terms of "I" and how "I" is different from "You". Fact is the richer the language the broader it's vocabulary. The broader the vocabulary the more terms and definitions the mind has. A language that does not have the word "I" does not have a sense of self- the people that speak it do not have a sense of self and the difference between them and other people. Because if "I" doesn't exist then "You" doesn't either and you might say we are all one unit.
2. On the Island by Tracey Gravis Graves [Sharon]
If you heard of this book then you probably know, this is a love story between two people who are stuck together on an island. Still, you might ask
"So? it's not like there aren't many books with love stories on deserted islands".
True, However here the age difference between the main characters is 14 years.
"So? it's not like younger females do not date older guys."
Once again, true. However here it is the female that is older.
Now some of you may raise your eyebrow with doubt, others will just snicker and think this is not something new. Have I not heard of Cougars before? The feminists among you might even think "Well, if it's allowed the opposite way than what's the difference?"
All true and all very accurate.
I'd like to explain. As much as I'd like to think of myself as an open minded person the truth is that I am but I am not at the same time. In the end of the day, we are all products of society. Yes, we might think "to each his own" and "we don't care what other people do or think, let them suit themselves".
But, when something goes against society's norms we might be surprised to realize that at least at first we experience some....difficulties...adapting to the idea.
When I read the book I was working in a bookstore- I remember seeing the beautiful cover and picking it up, reading what it was about and putting it back down. I remember seeing many customers do the same. One day I was bored, there were no customers and I had nothing to do. I walked around the bookstore, looked at the different books and eventually picked this book back up again. Then I sat down and read it, thinking 'well. If I don't like it I could always put it down'.
Funny thing is- I never did. Afterwards I make customers buy it.
You see, at the start of the book I was skeptic that I'd like the romance, by the time it happened I was actually begging for it.
As a 22 years old woman I admit I am attracted to guys older than me. Not much older- between 1 year older to 10 years older mostly. But when some of my friends dated guys even 1 years younger something in me was skeptic that would last. (let me gloat for a second and say it didn't).
Now, while back then it was the fact that the guy was younger I found revulsing, today it is the maturity level.
Today I think everyone and anyone should date whoever they want. My traditional thinking changed somewhat. I find the mere thought of a big age difference odd (yes, I know I'm a hypocrite). However, I do not care for age difference or anything else for that matter if two people fit each other well. So when I hear of a 50 years old male dating a 30 years old female I find it as strange as I would have if the roles were reversed. But, while it is not my place to judge and stick my nose I admit that as long as they fit each other or complete each other and they seem happy I do not care for the difference.
3. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult [Sharon]
I finished my law degree recently, and as much as I wanted to become a lawyer since I was 9 years old I have to admit I never regard the whole subject with much thought before I read this book.
This book with its sensitivity and dilemmas showed me how tiring, explosive and serious can a lawyer's work be. And not just in the criminal law, but also on things regarding family. It's about the difference one can make. Nowadays I know it is not just doctors that saves lives- lawyers, social services and many more can save lives too. They can make a difference.
Moreover this book's topic is a very gentle one- one I didn't think of before reading this book.
While some of you might think of me as a somewhat stupidly ignorant person, in my defense I'd like to say- I read this book when I was 14. And yes, back then and nowadays too there are many things I do not know- many things I do not think of or care of but I'm learning.
4. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver [Sharon]
This is a book you can talk about for hours and days without break. But there were two things I learned from it; One, some people are just born bad. Two, not everyone should be a parent. I would have explained but since this is the core of the book I cannot do that.
5. No and Me by Delphine de Vigan [Sharon]
No and Me is one of those book that affected in me in a different way. There are homeless people everywhere, most of the times we pass by them and we don't even see them. Other times as we pass them by we through a coin, Maybe, we wonder how did this person ended up where he is and for ust a brief moment in time our heart will feel a pinch of sorrow, and remorse and something else. But then. we will continue with our lives and we will forget all about it till next time. I can't say this book changed my attitude entirely in that regard...I try my best to do what I can. But this is a book of a girl who decided to try and do something. This is a book about a girl who tried and failed. In the end this is a book about a girl who is being told not to give up- to keep in trying because someday she might succeed.
6. The Murderer's Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers [Sharon]
This book is about two girls that saw their father kill their mother. The book describes them growing up and they way they deal with what they saw and how it affects their lives. Two victims to the same event that dealt with the pain and the scars in different ways. While I knew it before this book served as a better way to understand that in the end of the day each person has it's own way to deal with the events in their life. Each victim has a different way of dealing.
7. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson [Sharon]
I'll tell you why I found this book unique and how it affected me. In some ways I am a technophobe. But more importantly since me dad really loves Sci-Fi I grew up watching tones of Sci-Fi movies, and while I did love some of them I cannot igmore the fact that more often than most the future in those books with all the thecnologies seems grim. Men build technology and want to break limits and the outcome is mostly the end of humanity. Do you remember MATRIX? Tell the truth, after seeing the movie I would have picked "staying asleep". The 5th Element? Great, yet again someone is out to destroy us! The Terminator movies? So some day technology will end humanity. Great! just Great! Even the movie Artificial Intelligence: AI ended on a sad note. With that black sad future waiting to happen it is hard to even think that technology will not bring our doom. Then there is this book and I found it interesting, it showed me that technology and the future might not be so bad. It si our choice. A gun without a hand to press the trigger is not a bad thing, so is technology.
8. Addicted Series by Krista and Becca Ritchie [Sharon]
This series I recommand to most. While it did not change me views or ideas it made me better uderstand. This whole series is a love story between two addicts- he is addicted to alcohol, she's addicted to sex. At first they were friends and their friendship and their relationship was damaging. They enabled each other. Later, they head towards recovery and it's an amazing journey full of ups and downs, tears and joy. After reading these books I understood addictions better.
9. Strange Attractions by Emma Holly [Sharon]
To put it simply this book is about threesomes and love between three people. While I had not payed any particular thought to the subject before I can say with usmost honesty I now believe there can be love between more than just two people. To some it just fits.
10. Accidental Slave by Claire Thompson [Sharon]
Before reading this book I knew of a S/m relationship (and my thoughts weren't favoring) but I didn't know of a D/s relationship. This book changed it and made me realize that for some such a relationship can be caring and wonderful thing. The deep trust and the exchange of power this sort of relationship requires is unique and gentle and wonderful. A few years after I read the book began the 50 Shades phenomena, and from what I read and understood it seems as if in some level the relationship portrayed is wrong. I was so happy I read this book before the 50 Shades happened because I truly think I would have not had the opinions I have today had I read the 50 Shades book and "adopted" it's view to such relationships.
I know what anorexia is, and I have two people around me that are affected by this disease. What i hadn't considered at the time that I picked up this book, was that anorexia can actually affect men as well. I don't know why it never went through my head, maybe because anorexia escorts modelling and the female population and lets get real its a rare thing to see or hear about a guy with this disease. The book knocks off this notion and shows how one guy fell into the trap of thinking he is fat and started to skip food. The description was pretty accurate on the methods those people use to avoid food and all the health problems that come one after the other as the disease progresses.Coming from a guys pov made it scary and real. It made me view food differently and think again before i mock anyone about their appearance, even men.
I always knew that lies can affect someone, can make people mean and selfish and they can destroy lives, but reading this book made me hate lies even more. You read a story of two people that could actually have a different life if it wasn't for a lie their friend/sister told. A lie that defined their future. I never thought that a small lie can ruin someones life that much. We are not talking about lying in court here about murder which can be as bad, but in everyday situations it can also have a huge impact.
Okay, to be honest with you all when I first read Twilight, I loved it. It was the book that actually started my love for reading but then as I started reading more, I hated it. Soon, I found out that most books that were coming out (not only YA or Paranormal but also Erotica...hmm 50 Shades) felt and read like a fan fiction of the aforementioned title. It was frustrating. Books became predictable and boring, and yes while I hate the book for that, I also love it, because it made me picky as to the books I am picking up and how I am reviewing them.
The entire trilogy had a huge impact on me. I was 16 at the time I read the first book and kind of naive for the government and how it works. This book not only made me realize that the government is always watching you and that in the near future they will know every single thing about you (facebook, twitter etc really help) but also it showed me that no matter what in the end the people can destroy and control everything. And if you see now, all over the world people are rebelling against the government and their power to destroy everything. So yeah, this book was not only about kids running in an arena killing each other, at least for me.
Incest. What a disgusting word and act of love. Right? Wrong. Forbidden changed me completely. I had an opinion about incest, that it's not normal and should not be done but after completing the book i came to the conclusion that love has no boundaries. That one can fall in love with the other and in this particular book there were circumstances that lead the sister and brother to fall for each other. It is weird but it is something that society has planted in our heads, in some societies i s acceptable (Japan). The Japanese have long ago accepted that kind of thing, and you see it everywhere. On their dramas, movies, anime even in real life. And in my opinion thats how it should be. I mean who are we to judge some people, we don't know what kind of circumstances lead them there. Some people will say its sick and twisted, well, BDSM is sick and twisted as well for some others but people accept it. Why? Because it has nothing to do with them and thats exactly my point, why would you care about two people loving each other in a way that they are not supposed to? They don;t affect you, they have nothing to do with you. I am pretty defensive when it comes to this subject mostly because people suffer from discrimination and think that something is wrong with them, they may even attempt or commit suicide. I am saying that it should happen every time but when it happens we should listen and think why before we condemn those people to the depths of hell. Its not right to judge. And that's what I got for this book.
What can I say about this book? Stalker...like Forbidden this is one of the books that attempts to show that behind each persons actions there is a motive or a situation that molded him/her. As for stalkers, they are still kind of creepy for me (yes I had a stalker where I used to work) and scary. They are humans though and while I don;t like labeling they may be harmless or they may as well be sociopaths. Still, this book made me see them a little more harmless and a little more human. Since, I read the book yesterday, I don;t know exactly where I stand on the subject so I will just leave you with this.
Grief and pain. 20 Boy Summer was a heartbreaking book that I loved with all my heart. The author has worked with people who lost someone they loved so the situations she created in this book were real. The feelings were so deep and painful, the loss was all over the book and while I never lost someone really close to me I experienced the pain through this book and now I know that if it ever happens to ask for help rather than keep it inside me. And even if it happens to someone close to me to help as much as I can no matter what they say. Because some people, dont want to show their weakness when they grieve they push you away making you think they are okay.
This is another good book that portraits the forbidden relationship between a student and a teacher. Everyone had googly eyes for one of our teachers in the past whether that was in college or in high school but few took the next step and developed a relationship with him. Its a thin line and a potential relationship can also be potentially complicated. While, a lot of people consider such a relationship twisted and in our minds almost always the teacher takes advantage of the students sometimes its not like that. I think at 17 humans are able to make their own responsible decisions and one of these is dating your teacher. I don;t see anything bad in it, its nt like you would date a junkie or worse a murderer. I was kind of opposed to such relationships but the book completely changed my point of view. Now, I think it may even be beneficial to date your teacher, he may as well be a positive influence in your life.
Before reading this book I did not have a certain opinion for people who want to commit suicide because of a terminal illness, after I read this book I think it is anyone;s choice and that choice should be provided. It is a delicate subject but recently I read an article by Meghan Daum of New York Times called Brittany Maynard's Date With Death. It is a very interesting article as to what Brittany had to go through in order to succeed in committing assisted suicide. In my opinion, when it comes to terminal illness we should be able to understand one's will to do that rather be selfish and see them suffer in front of us just because we want a couple more weeks with them. It's tough but it's their choice and it should be respected.
This is a memoir from the ex bassist Duff McKagan of Guns N Roses. While I love the band, I never believed that a person can use so much, that he can go to such excess with everything. What I took out of this book is this: Anyone can change their ways if they are willing to do so. They can learn from their mistakes and be stronger,better. That yes change, is difficult but we may not have another option than that. Duff, from an alcoholic cocaine face transformed like a phoenix into a man that loves his music and family, has been clean for twenty years, he educated himself and now runs his own financial company. It's a book about consequences and the power of will. A true inspiration for me.