I have read all of the following, and I think you should too. You know, when you can make time for such soul-feeding words as fill these books.
The Giver by Lois Lowery. Close your eyes and imagine. What if there was a way to take away all pain? All color that divides us? All desires that cause strife? What if everyone knew their place and controlled their emotions? What if there was no history or memories from past generations, but only the Now? Discover this world and meet Jonas, who is chosen to be the next bearer of the community’s memories and must face the reality he never knew existed. Plus, it is being made into a movie! Read it first and then you might get to say the reader’s favorite phrase: The book was better.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I have decided to read this story every Christmas. It tells the story of four daughters whose father is off fighting for the Union in the American Civil War. Their mother is trying to raise her “little women” as best as she can. A young female reader cannot help but be mothered while reading the book: encouraged to behave well and love the Lord, to work hard and develop one’s abilities. Your heart will wish they were your cousins.
Persuasion by Jane Austen. Everyone says read Pride and Prejudice. I say read Persuasion. Why? Because I have become best friends with the main character, Anne. She is a bit of a push-over, but loyal, dependable, and loves poetry. She puts others first. She is persuaded by her elders to break a young man’s heart, and wonders if she can ever get another chance. Beautiful story.
Night by Eli Wiesel. This is a first-person account of life in the Nazi concentration camps during WWII. It will haunt you, as it should. You should not read this for enjoyment, but because his story needs to be heard. He speaks of the death, despair, and numbing pain that can come from the horror humans with power can inflict on each other.
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. I read this in my Systematic Theology class, to understand the despair of those who are crushed by the powers that be, the least of these. What do you do when you have nothing left and nowhere to belong? It is based on the historical setting of the Dust Bowl in the Midwest. It is an empathy-builder, I think.
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Set in the French Revolution, this thick book is all about the heroic ending. That is all I will say.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. The only resident on a tiny planet, the little prince takes care of his domain, but is terribly lonely. This was a story written in French, seemingly for children, but it is so profound in some places (like his conversation with a fox about the nature of friendship) that it deserves to be read by all ages.
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orzcy. A man and woman fall in love and marry, but he hides from her his true identity–that he is the Scarlet Pimpernel, a famous British spy and master of disguise during the French Revolution. Written in 1905, it set the precedence for other superheroes with secret identities like Zorro and Batman. The moral of the story: spouses should not be kept in the dark.
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. Now there is a creepy book. I read it in a day because I could not put it down. It is THE classic everyone-goes-to-a-scary-mansion-and-everyone-dies-one-by-one book. If trying to figure out who the murderer is is your kind of thrill, this is definitely for you.
Other favorites: I’ve also read C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, most of Shakespeare’s comedies, and most of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries. I declare them all delightful and engaging.
Do you have any books that you have read and would recommend to anyone?