I'm passionate about philosophy, but after having my girls I'm even more passionate about Mommy Matters

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Books That Have Changed My Life

     Oscar Wilde said, "It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it."
     And Marcus Tullius Cicero said, "A room without books is like a body without a soul." 
 Squeaker likes to fill her body by eating books...

     Lately I have been reading more, it has always been one of my favorite past times. While I was in college I didn't read as much as I used to, unless the book was required to read or it was summer. Even in the summer sometimes I found my mind overrun by work and I simply wanted to turn off, not continue learning or developing. So now that my life has found a kind of balance again, and I'm not watching TV anymore, I have been reading as much as I did during high school and when I was less overwhelmed by college required works. I have been enjoying using the website goodreads.com again as well, if you want to by my friend just search A.R. Braithwaite and send a request. I love writing book reviews and looking at what other people are reading, it is almost like a whole counterculture within ourselves. I'm defining "counterculture" as: a subculture whose values deviate from the norm of mainstream society or the values that dominate the majority. When people read and share what the are reading, as well as what they think, they are letting the rest of the world into their little counterculture. We each have our own minds filled with questions, reactions, opinions, experiences, it is what makes each of us so unique and interesting. I love getting to know people and I think one of the best ways to do that is to find out what they read and how they think about it. 
     All of this stems from my mother reading to me before bed almost every night while I was growing up. We read all of the Harry Potter books together, Anne of Green Gables, Holes and more amazing books than I can even name off. I am so grateful that she did this with me, I know it served as a catalyst for my own personal philosophies, as well as my passion for philosophy. I want to discover knowledge and what other people believe to be the truth, which is another reason why I love to read so much and think that is so important to do. I have already started the tradition again with Squeaker, not only reading picture books with her but also starting to read The Giver to her. I know she's only four and a half months old, but it will make a difference in her life down the road. Especially if I make it a habit now and keep doing it until she's older. 

     Here are some books that I believe have changed my life and a short explanation of why:

     The Giver by Lois Lowry. This book is, to me, a celebration of life, of what is most difficult and what is most precious in life. We all become who we are and choose who we will become because of the difficult times in our lives and also the happiest times in our lives, I can't think of a better book that truly encapsulates what this means to the human experience. 

     My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok. Potok is more well known for his book The Chosen, which is also good, but My Name is Asher Lev has haunted my soul since I read it in a way that not many books can. This book is a pilgrimage, Asher's journey to discern what his religion means to him and his artistic talent in the context of his life, it is so beautiful and heart wrenching that I want to read it again just thinking about it now. 

     East of Eden by John Steinbeck. This book is also a journey, one that deals with familial relations, politics, racism, religion, and just everyday life. It is difficult to see why the world is the way it is, why the beauty in it is so hard to see sometimes, but in the end it is always there. This world started as the garden that Heavenly Father created for Adam and Eve, it is disturbing but also incredibly exquisite looking around to appreciate what mankind has done with it.

     The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. While reading this book and even years later I have I found myself asking why I treat the people around me the way that I do and conscientiously trying to see the world from other people's perspectives, especially my own family who I so often take for granted. What we care about, as individuals or as a generation may not mean anything to other people or other generations, but it isn't the thing itself that matters anyway, it's why we care about it so much.

     Maus by Art Spiegelman. If you haven't ever read a graphic novel then now is the time. It gives a truly fascinating view of WWII that is different and simply astounding. I found not only the art work amazing, but the entire organization and writing of it as well. I liked graphic novels before reading this one, but Maus made me see the true value in them and continue to seek them out as another source of personal development via reading. 

     So these are just five of so many books that I know have changed my life, not even really touching on many of the ones I read as a child, but I think that will do for now. I don't want to get carried away and turn my blog into an epic book review. A book that I am currently reading and really enjoying, I'm not sure it's life changing yet, is The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. It has made me cry twice and I'm only half way through it, I think it will be one worth reading multiple times as well. Here are a few more books on my favorite's list: The Secret Life of Bees, The Help, Ender's Game, The Way of Kings, To Kill a Mocking Bird, A Wrinkle in Time, Numbering the Stars, I really could go on forever. 
     So, do you like to read and see it the way I do? If not, how do you see it and why? If so, what are your favorite books and why? 

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