When I open the first page of a book, the promise of it being lifechanging lingers in between the pages. So does the smell of a library or a small book store (my favorite!) enchant me. To me it smells like the promise of a hundred worlds at your finger tips, a hundred genius minds that have bled to paper and are ready to burst open for you, revealing dark secrets, honest views and life-crippling truths. Words, stories, books have the capacity to change a life. Your life. My life. Yet, there are only a few books that have moved me to the core, swallowed me and spit me out a better version of myself. I am not taking about personal development books, guides or anything similar, those are for another post. I am taking about fiction. My fuel, my lifeforce.
There are only a few book thus far that have really inspired me in a way that made me want to act now. Only a few books have made me laugh out loud and had my heart skipping a beat in awe of pure wit and the beauty of poetry. Only a few books have really changed the way I look at things. This list is excluding the Harry Potter books, because at this point, I am hoping everyone has read all of them at least twice.
This list is my personal truth. A selection of all the amazing books I have read, narrowing them down to only 3 that have truely changed my life.
1. The Phantom Tollbooth – Norton Juster
For Milo, everything’s a bore. When a tollbooth mysteriously appears in his room, he drives through only because he’s got nothing better to do. But on the other side, things seem different. Milo visits the Island of Conclusions (you get there by jumping), learns about time from a ticking watchdog named Tock, and even embarks on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason. Somewhere along the way, Milo realizes something astonishing. Life is far from dull. In fact, it’s exciting beyond his wildest dreams!The blurb of the book
In my fourth grade I went to Orrington Elementary School in Illinois. I went to a program our school had called English as a second language. I remember going there around midtime. Us ESL students would miss parts of science class and when we were done with the days work of ESL, we were sent upstairs to go to our homeroom. Usually when we would arrive, our teacher would be in the middle of reading the class a book. Sneaking in and sitting down quitely, we’d get to hear the rest of the story. One of the books our classteacher read to us was the Phantom Tollbooth, which as it is on this list, remains my favorite book of all time to this day. Back then in Elementary School, I only would grasp snippets of the story as my english was starting to improve, but I didn’t fully comprehend the depth and wisdom, let alone any of the genious puns and play on words. Some time later I bought the book and started to reread it. Even if you don’t understand everything, it’s still such an original, fun and entertaining piece of art. But if you are able to grasp the depth and pure genious of this story, it become pure bliss reading it. Up to this day I have read this story at least five times and I continue to read it again and again, because it is just overflowing with wit, humour and brilliance. I am forever grateful to my fourth grade teacher for reading this book to us, because it has brought me through the worst of times and made the happiest times even more beautiful. Most of all, it has ignited my love for reading and writing from that tender age of 9 and as crumpled up as my copy is from all the times I’ve read it, it is my piece of evidence that the best year of my life wasn’t a dream.
2. All the light we cannot see – Anthony Doerr
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, a New York Times Book Review Top Ten Book, National Book Award finalist, more than two and a half years on the New York Times bestseller list.The Blurb of the Book
From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the stunningly beautiful instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.
Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. Ten years in the writing, a National Book Award finalist, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill” (Los Angeles Times).
After reading the blurb of the book, the way it’s praised and the story, how can you not be looking to go buy and read it this instant?
Sometimes I read books that are highly praised and I turn out to be of completely differerent opionion than the folks who wrote those glorious words of praise. And that’s great, ’cause our taste in books can be very different, which is beautiful.
But with this book, I agree with each and every word of praise that has ever been written about this work of art. It’s stunning, gripping and it leaves you catching for breath. For me, flipping through the pages I was transported to another world, in which I have come the closest I have ever been to understanding what WW2 was like for the people living in Germany and France. I learned the facts and seen videos of course, I’ve been to Dachau and all of these times were breathtaking in an awful kinf of way, all of these times brought me closer to understanding. But this book has truely made me feel it. It made me experience the story, the circumstances, the time of WW2. It grips you, tosses you and reluctently let’s go you on the last page after you’ve been glued to the pages non stop, only to make you feel and think about it years after.
This book is of pure brilliance and I recommend every single person in this world reads this.
It has an element of fantasy, a pinch of something surreal, yet this does not take away from the story. Au contraire, it adds to it and showcases that the time of WW2 was so surreal and horrible in itself that adding an element of fantasy does not make you shrugg the story off as fiction, but instead makes you question, whether such a surreal stone exists in real life. It becomes a natural part of the story, a part that feels real without a doubt.
3. The life list – Lori Nelson Spielman
Perfect for fans of Cecelia Ahern and Jojo Moyes, a beautiful and moving story about the unbreakable bond between a mother and daughterThe blurb of the book
Brett’s Life List
1. Go to Paris
2. Perform live, on a super big stage
3. Have a baby, maybe two
4. Fall in love
Brett Bohlinger seems to have it all: a plum job, a spacious loft, an irresistibly handsome boyfriend. All in all, a charmed life. That is, until her beloved mother passes away, leaving behind a will with one big stipulation: In order to receive her inheritance, Brett must first complete the life list of goals she’d written when she was a naïve girl of fourteen.
Grief-stricken, Brett can barely make sense of her mother’s decision―her childhood dreams don’t resemble her ambitions at age thirty-four in the slightest. Some seem impossible. How can she possibly have a relationship with a father who died seven years ago? Other goals (Be an awesome teacher!) would require her to reinvent her entire future.
As Brett reluctantly embarks on a perplexing journey in search of her adolescent dreams, one thing becomes clear. Sometimes life’s sweetest gifts can be found in the most unexpected places.
This book. I have no words. It changed my life. It really did. It inspired me to create my own life list, when I read it at what I believe was 14 or 15 years old. But, as Brett is forced to learn in the book, the act of writing out a life list doesn’t make it come true. You actually have to take action, this I am only now starting to comprehend. Brett however is 34, when her mother dies. Mrs Bohlinger splits the inheritance between her children in a manner that Brett finds highly unfair. She was sure she was getting a third of the cosmetics company and would take over the leadership of the company. Step in her mothers shoes. But her mother had other plans. Bretts siblings got the money, Brett instead got a list of things she wanted to do as an naive 14 year old. Her life list. Scribbled on a piece of paper. A paper she threw out years ago. A list her mother picked back up out of the trash. She is given a time span to complete the list. The time stamps are mandatory for her to follow. If she does so and completely the lists content, she will get her share of the company and the money. Still grief-stricken, she is forced to complete one impossible task after the other and suddenly finds herself living a completely different life.
It’s inspiring, moving, thrilling and a book you simply cannot put down. The story about Brett – I love that Spielman uses the name of Hemingways Brett in Fiesta – is simply wonderful. In fact, I am going to reread the book again now, after writing this. It really is a book that has the ability to change your life. Read it! 🙂
That’s it. My top 3. What are your top 3? I’m dying to hear!