Top Ten Tuesday: Books Everyone Should Read

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Todays’s Top Ten Tuesday meme, hosted by Broke and the Bookish, is a freebie. I need to come clean from the start and say that I am not the best with open themes. There are so many options one could go for! In the end, though, I settled for ten books I think everyone should read.

Mind you, this is not a “ten favourites” list. Even though I like all of these books, they’re not necessarily favourites of mine. The majority isn’t. Nonetheless, these are very much “everyone should read” books. These are stories that help understand others and oneself. In an increasingly globalized world, we need these books to understand other cultures, other thought processes, other ways of life, and, most importantly of all, how we are all human.

Before I get philosophical, without further ado, here they are:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter #1), J.K. Rowling

No books have taught me as much about life as Potter. And it wasn’t just me either. Look at the other thousands of Potterheads or at the studies showing Potter fans to generally be more understanding. These books are changing the world.

The Last Leaves FallingThe Last Leaves Falling, Sarah Benwell

This is a story about a Japanese teenage boy with ALS that will let you step into his shoes, and have a real glimpse at what it means to have a physical disability. It’s a book that defies how western society treats the disabled.

Beauty QueensBeauty Queens, Libba Bray

A satire to defy sexism. A cast to laugh at homophobia. A story to break down beauty standards and expectations. A novel to empower teenage girls and women. A must-read book for all genders alike.

Life of PiLife of Pi,Yann Martel

When I hear anti-[insert a religion here] opinions, all I want is to throw this book at whoever’s expressing said opinion. Life of Pi argues that all religions can live hand-in-hand, and it does so flawlessly.

The Ocean at the End of the LaneThe Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman

A book about memory and childhood, it’s also a book that helps you see that, in the end, everyone is broken in their own way, that nostalgia never lets go of anyone, and that the past and future are of our own making.

The Book ThiefThe Book Thief, Markus Zusak

Sometimes the enemy isn’t exactly what you expect it to be. Sometimes the enemy is suffering as much as you. Sometimes the enemy wants it all to be over too. Sometimes the enemy is actually your friend.

The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #1)The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events #1), Lemony Snicket

The recurring theme of this book that life is not nice but has spots of sunlight along the way is one of the most honest ones I’ve ever seen in fiction. Most stories romanticise or deny a life of suffering. This one calls it what it is: a series of unfortunate events.

Le Petit PrinceThe Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I’m not sure what to say here. Everything about Le Petit Prince has been said before. So I’ll simply say: read it. This is a story for absolutely everyone. And if you’ve read it, read it again. You’ll see its meaning changed. It always does and always will.

All My Puny SorrowsAll My Puny Sorrows, Miriam Toews

Depression, mental disease in general, is still a taboo in western society. Those who suffer from it are ashamed. Their families don’t know what to do or are ashamed themselves. This is a book for both “sides” of the story.

Les MisérablesLes Miserábles, Victor Hugo

In Hugo’s words, “So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation which, in the midst of civilization, artificially creates a hell on earth, and complicates with human fatality a destiny that is divine; so long as the three problems of the century – the degradation of man by the exploitation of his labour, the ruin of women by starvation and the atrophy of childhood by physical and spiritual night are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words and from a still broader point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, there should be a need for books such as this.”

 ~~*~~

How about you?
Which books do you believe can help change the world?

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15 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Books Everyone Should Read

  1. LES MIS, wow! You sure end the list on a challenging note!

    Of the books on your list that I’ve read (HARRY POTTER, A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS, THE LITTLE PRINCE), they’re all books I’ve loved and recommend them to my students often. The others, I haven’t read, but I’ve been meaning to read THE BOOK THIEF for years now. Maybe it’s time to give it a try.

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    • Everyone needs a challenging book every once in a while! ;) But really, it definitely is a story I wish everyone knew. As well-known and true to the essence of the book as the musical is, there are still a lot of things that weren’t transferred to it – including my favourite character.

      They really are wonderful books! And yes, you definitely should read The Book Thief when you have the time. It’s heartbreaking, but that only goes to show how beautiful it is.

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      • I think that’s why I haven’t yet. I have to be in a particular kind of mood for “heartbreakingly beautiful,” and usually I just want something comforting or exciting.

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  2. Oh you got a chance to read an ARC for Last Leaves Falling–I’m glad you enjoyed it! I’m interested in the point you make about how Western cultures treats a particular disability (in contrast to Eastern/European treatment). Could you elaborate on that for clarity?

    And I haven’t read anything of Miriam Toews but she’s definitely an author that I need to get around to reading (to fulfill my resolution to read more CanLit)

    Cheers,
    joey via. thoughts and afterthoughts

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    • I did yes! I’ve posted a gif review right here (https://tessellatedtales.wordpress.com/2014/12/13/gif-review-the-last-leaves-falling-by-sarah-benwell/) if you’re curious. The full review should be up within 10 days :D But between me and you, it is a book to die for.

      Mm, now that you mention it, I’m not quite sure if western was the right word to use, as the book is set in Japan. Nonetheless, I didn’t want to say it described the struggles the disable deal with on a global scale, for the sole reason that I don’t know how each society treats them. I’d rather not generalise what might not be, well, generalised.

      This is the only Toews book I’ve read so far, but I really can’t recommend it enough. It’s the best genuine and all encompassing portrait of depression and how it affects families I’ve ever read. And it’s absolutely heart-breaking. I do tend to love books that hurt haha

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      • Ahh–so you just mean to say that it’s a difference in perspective from what we may be used to in portrayal of illness? That’s a fair point. I just hope that the cultural environment is well-represented and doesn’t entirely fall back on stereotypes and etc. as I’ve read a few books set in Japan that heighten certain trends/fads to the extent that it becomes all that it is (if that makes sense).

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      • Yes, it does make sense. Personally, I didn’t feel like that was the case, but I’ve never been to Japan or became friends with Japanese people. All I know is through anime or hearsay, and that’s not quite the same thing. So I’m not the best person to answer you on that point. Assuming that it is correct, though, it is one very good book. If you read it, let me know what you think!

        Oh, and I’ve just posted the full review too, in case you’re interested!

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  3. The Book Thief left me absolutely devastated, even though I knew what was coming. Completely agree with Harry Potter- they’re such a phenomenon that you can’t ignore them. I’m ashamed to say I STILL haven’t read The Little Prince, but It’s on my TBR! :)

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    • They are wonderful books, aren’t they? :)

      And don’t feel ashamed about not having read it! There’s only so much time in the world ;) I do hope you get to it though. It’s a quick read, and one that does stick with you in one way or another. I still quote a few lines and I read it about 7 years ago.

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    • I should warn you that the brick really is a brick of a book, and it can be hard to go through it. Hugo tends to go on about the Paris sewers, Napoleon’s battles, and a lot of other things. So I’d advise you to pick it up when you have time for it or to read other books at the same time. It’s a fantastic book, but it isn’t the easiest to read.

      I’d love to know what you thought of it when you’re done with it! :D

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  4. An interesting list! :) I really need to read The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I haven’t read nearly as much Neil Gaiman as I’ve wanted to. I’m also ashamed that I haven’t gotten around to The Book Thief yet… I just know I’ll cry!

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    • You and I both! I still have to go through Sandman, Stardust, Anansi Boys, and so many more of his books. But they’re all such a pleasure to read that I don’t mind taking it slow. That way I’ll always have a “new” Gaiman book to read when I feel like reading him :)

      Oh, don’t feel bad about not having read The Book Thief yet! It’s impossible to read every book out there, sad as it is. And you might need tissues whenever you get to it, yes :(

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