Books That Make You Think
Over the years, I’ve read thousands of books.
Some shaped my thoughts and views, opinions and feelings – including novels like Margaret Mitchell‘s ‘Gone With The Wind‘
And Mario Puzo‘s ‘The Godfather‘ which made a huge impact.
For decades, I could quote even lengthy passages verbatim from the book.
“Every man has but one destiny.”
– – –
“Friendship is everything. Friendship is more than talent. It is more than the government. It is almost the equal of family.”
– – –
“It was the Don’s greatest strength that he never took notice of an insulting tone, a lack of respect, though he stored it away in his heart.”
– – –
And the ultimate guide to life itself – Michael Corleone’s thoughts when the great Don left the world:
“He smelled the garden, the yellow shield of light smote his eyes, and he whispered, “Life is so beautiful.” He was spared the sight of his women’s tears, dying before they came back from church, dying before the ambulance arrived, or the doctor. He died surrounded by men, holding the hand of the son he had most loved.
… Michael observed all this with a tight, polite smile. He was not impressed. Yet, he thought, if I can die saying, “Life is so beautiful,” then nothing else is important. If I can believe in myself that much, nothing else matters.”
“If I can die saying, ‘Life is so beautiful,’ then nothing else is important.”
Reading strategies change over time. Some books are meant to be thought-provoking, like Mark Manson’s ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fck’. Others you read for pure entertainment. And then, there are the rare ones that are fun, yet deeply touch your mind and soul…
Not only do they make you feel, they also make you think.
Lenore Skomal‘s ‘BLUFF‘ explored end of life issues in a very nuanced manner, using the story of an unmarried pregnant woman who jumps off a cliff attempting suicide.
The circumstances, viewed from perspectives of various characters in the story, offer fantastic insight into your own views of life and death, unborn children, the societal and religious stance on rape and promiscuity, and a lot more.
Rarely have I written such a detailed review on Amazon.com – and said:
“This book will force you to look deep inside your heart… (to explore) thought-provoking and mind-expanding questions about life and death itself – ones that, if you choose to examine and address for yourself, can be the most insightful takeaways from reading “Bluff”.
… if you’re ready and willing to have your deepest beliefs challenged, to face some difficult and controversial questions about oft-ignored areas of life, and are open minded enough to explore the boundaries of socially comfortable chit chat and really get to the heart of stuff that deeply matters, then you’ll find this a remarkable read.”
I’m reading another book like that now.
Kate Moretti‘s debut novel ‘Thought I Knew You‘ almost compels you to consider several issues in the storyline – as if they were happening to you! (I won’t share them here coz it’ll spoil the read for you)
You’ll find yourself wondering…
- If I were Claire – what would I do?
- What would I want Claire to do – if I were one of the men in her life?
- If I were Hannah, how would I feel and think?
- What if I were Leah – what would my life be like?
- How about Drew, how does he fit into this picture?
- What if I were Drew?
The answers to each of these questions aren’t simple, or easy. They’re extremely complex, complicated scenarios. And there aren’t any ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ ways to deal with them.
You may not even have “answers” to some of the thorny and tricky issues. But you’ll probably learn to ask yourself the right kind of questions.
Which is what makes such books so special.
- They force you to explore possibilities.
- Grow and evolve in how you think about them.
- Imbibe these changes into your worldview.
- And it’ll help deal with similar or related situations in your own life, or others’.
That’s why I love books that make me think.
Got any of your favorites in this category? Please share a list – and tell me why you think they deserve to be on it.
Hopefully you’ll give me enough material to see this year through!
Oh, here’s one more I almost forgot about.
“Losing My Virginity and Other Dumb Ideas” by Madhuri Banerjee could be dismissively called a ‘chick lit’ novel – but it reveals some fascinating angles about a young woman’s struggle with the concepts of virginity, fidelity and self-expression.
Here’s part of a review I wrote shortly after reading it:
“It’s the stereotype romantic novel, with some unique twists along the way to lighten up the story and keep it moving. But until page 196, there was little to remember the book by (in my opinion). You’ll understand when I say the one quote I liked, apart from the joke about “The best way to get over a man is to get under another one”, was this:
“Love isn’t about the rest of your life. Sometimes,it’s just about having a great cup of coffee together.”
Then things changed. Fast.
With a shift in mindset.
What seemed unwarranted promiscuity became in-your-face independence.
An act of rebellion turns out to be a bold exploratory voyage.
And a string of apparently random occurrences coalesce to transform a shy, insecure, uncertain young woman into someone confidently and completely different… HERSELF.”
When you consider that I’m still a little boy at heart, who likes his fiction with gore, guts and glory, and had to will myself to explore the ‘chick flick lit‘ genre, it says more about the impact of this book, doesn’t it?
If you have a young (but NOT too young!) daughter, you’ll probably want to gift her a copy… on her 28th birthday. After you read it first, of course, just to see if you’re really comfortable recommending it.
But here’s the thing…
If you are NOT yet comfortable doing that, YOU will probably gain a lot more from the book – because it reflects contemporary thinking about these issues in India, and you’ve got a lot to catch up with!
I’ll leave you with the words Kaveri hears from a wise gypsy woman in Barcelona, which was my take away from a very nice storybook:
“The most real relationship you’ll ever have is the one you already have – with yourself.”
Which are the books that have made YOU think? Please share.
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