While tripping across the interweb I happened upon this article and thought this would be a wonderful meme to join in on. Although, unlike some of the other participants in this one, the books will be in no particular order.
1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: Lee’s classic was poignant, memorable and above all else struck a chord in me due to the careful illustration of bigotry she presented and her unflinching view at the hypocrisy inherent in people even as it pertains to this kind of bias.
2. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand: It’s a book that exploits the difference between true free market capitalism and corporatism with the added bonus of getting a wonderful look at how this corporatism manages to take hold. There are, of course, so many other ideas presented in this 1000 page behemoth but it was the treatise for individualism that truly spoke to my heart and got my mind working. And, no, I’m not into Objectivism due to the great flaw of subjectivity and I also skimmed that horrific monologue. Speaking of monologue – it also got me thinking about what editors should have done.
3. We the Living by Ayn Rand: I had little knowledge of Russia prior to this book and have since added five non-fiction tomes to my shelves for future research. This became particularly necessary when I realized the internet failed to produce the same information Rand espoused in this book. As someone who lived through the years in which the story takes place, I rather think she had it right. The other non-fiction books agree. [This book has also taught me to never trust Wikipedia.] The description is impressive, some moments awkward due to Rand’s somewhat elementary knowledge of English at the time, and the characters are three dimensional and human. It’s also not at all preachy like her more widely read books Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead were.
4. The Road by Cormac McCarthy: It was depressing as anything and still contained an optimism in humanity that surpassed the darkness. This book is a lesson in sparseness, choosing the right word instead of filling pages with many of them, and the prose was mostly brilliant.
5. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell: Rhett Butler quickly became my ideal man upon reading this. The rogue who is principled, ruthless and will always put his money where his mouth is. I’ve never gotten over this. The tale was broad in scope and always got my heart and head screaming at Scarlett to stop being such an ass and give up on Ashley. Alas, she didn’t listen until too late but Mitchell made cry in anguish just as she made me cheer out for my hero’s strength in leaving. Best romance ever.
6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: Have I mentioned how much I love a good love story? Well, this be another one. A strong character in a time where it was rather unseemly for women to be such also hooked me. Reading this only last year, and still not knowing anything about it, I very happily discovered the story between Jane and Mr. Rochester. The characters were consistent and fully developed and flouted the rules of society at the time.
7. Stranger in a Strange Land (uncut version) by Robert A. Heinlein: This was my first experience with science fiction and, as a result, all else seems to pale in comparison. It’s a book about religion, politics and humanity – all of which are dealt with carefully and fully. I had no idea fiction could encompass so many ideals prior to reading this book.
8. Wild Swans by Jung Chang : This was the first book to open my eyes to the concerns of book banning/burning as well as what can happen when people have overwhelming faith in their government to take care of them. I don’t mean to say what happened under Mao was what one should expect from such things, but one should consider the history of this country and this time period before committing fully to such a notion. An autobiography that is shocking and gut wrenching everyone should endeavor to read.
9. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See: This book was poetry to me as well as just an incredible tale of friendship. There is, of course, the cultural knowledge espoused by See when she speaks of Chinese customs regarding foot binding and marriages that also educates the reader as well as shows them how these characters lived.
10. Ahab’s Wife by Seena Jeter-Naslund: A character book revolving around the life of Una, the wife of the captain done in by that damnably prolific whale, that spins out in such a way you feel as though she is your very dear friend. To close the cover after the last page is to say goodbye and the parting brings sadness if not for the knowledge you can pick it up again and say “hello”.
What about you? What are some of the books that rocked your world?