Books brought me joy long before I could read and they continue to do so to this day. They help me to calm down and eliminate stress when life feels like it's moving too fast. I read just about everything: poetry, nonfiction, realistic fiction and even a few cheesy romances. A lot of the time I find myself attracted to the titles that not many people are familiar with, but once I'm finished with them I feel as if it's my civic duty to make them known. Here's a list (in no particular order) of seven books I've read, deeply appreciated and want to share with the world.
1. Chasers of the Light - Tyler Knott Greyson
This is a stunning little book of poetry accompanied by simple yet powerful photos taken by the author. For most of my life I found poetry pretentious. That was until I became acquainted with Tyler Knott Gregson's work. His elegant words are easy to understand and put wonder back into your life. Tyler truly loves life and that shows in his poetry. I've corresponded with him via email multiple times and he's incredibly kind and empathetic (he has another book out [of just haikus] called All The Words Are Yours). Get it here.
2. Blood and Earth - Kevin Bales
This is a work of nonfiction that explores the relationship between slavery and environmental degradation. I read it as part of a final project for my APES class this semester. It starts of a little vague but gets clearer (and more horrifying) as the book progresses. It is not a strenuous read as far as nonfiction goes. The information it gives is backed up with multitudes of sources and really caused me to rethink a lot of choices I make every day in regards to the things I buy and the corporations I support. I highly recommend this book for those that are already economically conscious and for those that aren't. Get it here.
3. If You Feel Too Much - Jamie Tworkowski
Jamie's book is a series of personal essays and anecdotes. Some will make you cry, others will make you laugh. All of them will make you turn to introspection. It's a tough, but healing read. Jamie speaks from experience in a way that is raw and real to remind readers that there is always hope. This is something everyone needs to be reminded of, especially during transitional phases of life. Get it here.
4. A Farewell to Arms - Ernest Hemingway
This book was my first introduction to Hemingway. It took many many chapters for me to get into the WWI novel that drew inspiration from Hemingway's life but by the end I was incredibly emotionally invested. The story is vivid and honest as if it were real. The ending made me feel a variety of emotions, mostly anger, but as I've learned over the years and as paraphrased from J.K. Rowling, "If you're not feeling [when reading], [the writer is] not doing it right." Ernest Hemingway was doing it right. Get this classic here.
5. Where Things Come Back - John Corey Whaley
This book is relatable (even though most teenagers don't have to deal with the death of their cousin, a no-longer-extinct woodpecker and the disappearance of their younger brother all at once). The author doesn't put on any airs or try to impress readers with fancy words and diction. It's written in a slightly chaotic way that reflects the main character's – Cullen – mental state. It's a roller coaster of emotions, one that will seemingly never end, but it does. It left me with many unanswered questions but also with a feeling of hope and appreciation. It's a story of redemption. *Disclaimer: Do not read if you're easily offended by swearing. Get it here.
6. Modern Romance - Aziz Ansari
This book is absolutely hilarious but strangely eye-opening. Comedian and actor Aziz Ansari turns into a love guru/social expert in this research book about how technology influences romantic relationships. My friend recommended this book to me and I'm so glad I read it. Ansari's scenarios are backed up by data and firsthand experience, providing for a humorous collection of truly useful advice. I don't think reading Modern Romance will totally change how you'll look at technology or relationships but it will most likely cause you to ask yourself some questions that could improve some facets of your life. Get it here.
7. Hurt Go Happy - Ginny Rorby
This book just might be my all-time favorite. I found it at the book fair when I was in the fourth grade and it immediately found its home in my heart. 13-year-old Joey is deaf and her mother forbids her from using sign language for fear that people would acknowledge her differences. When she meets her neighbor and his sign language-using chimpanzee, her life changes. They story is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. In recent years I've found that it can be a bit difficult to ignore that Joey is 13, and that can be a tad annoying when trying to enjoy the book for yourself. That's why I suggest reading it with a younger sibling, niece, nephew, or other child in your life. It will be a beneficial experience for both of you. Get it here.
8. The Last Lecture-Jeffrey Zaslow and Randy Pausch
This book is sad, there's no other way to put it, but it also provides a catharsis like no other. Randy Pausch, the primary author of this novel, approached his fight with cancer and his impending death with humor and honesty. He, like many others with terminal illnesses, found himself scared and with feelings of isolation but he did not dwell on them. Instead he wrote for his wife, for his children, for his students at Carnegie Melon University and for himself. Reading about his dreams helped me to analyze the importance of mine, those that were fulfilled and those that never will be. Get it here.
9. The Watch that Ends the Night- Allan Wolf
This volume of poetry is unlike all others I've read. The collection is told from the point of view of many passengers on the Titanic that actually existed. The text helps to tell the story, too, with words slanting and eventually falling of the page as the Titanic sinks. Wolf's work makes the tragedy seem not so distant and a lot more personal. It's an emotional, educational and wholly worthwhile read. Get it here.
10. A Guinea Pig Pride and Prejudice- Alex Goodwin
Let me start off by saying that I love the original Pride and Prejudice. This version, though, makes my guinea pig-loving heart swell with happiness. This book condenses Jane Austen's beloved classic into 50 pages accompanied by adorable pictures of the characters turned rodents. It can't replace the original but it certainly helps to clarify some passages. Plus, it can act as a ray of sunshine in an otherwise dreary day. Get it here.
Sometimes books are a safe haven, other times they shake what readers think they know. The truth is we need both types of books and this list includes each. It is my hope that at least one person that reads this article will read all of these books and continue the cycle of sharing.
Lead Image Credit: Patrick Tomasso via Unsplash
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