Books have magical powers, nearly all of us can agree to that fact. But, there are some books I've come across on my reading adventures that I would describe as life changing. Life changing in the way they enlightened me, changed my thinking and introduced me to a whole new world.
Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
What’s so inspiring about reading about a man living in a cramped apartment, pawning his clothes for money and being a dishwasher eighteen hours of the day? The fact that all of this led to Orwell becoming one of the greatest novelists of all time. Though, I won't be choosing his way of life in the pursuit of being a great writer, I'm not as brave as Orwell (plus, i'm not keen on washing the dishes). Orwell's semi-autobiography proves that with will and determination, you can battle through anything.
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Before watching Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TEDx talk, I was afraid of Feminism. The only version of Feminism I had ever come across was the extreme misandrist Tumblr version. I didn’t know where I fit into it — I felt the need to embrace girl power, but I didn’t think forming hateful arguments against men would help the cause. The things I saw people write online were so hateful and extreme against men that I didn’t know how to feel about Feminism. And then I came across Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's talk, and my mind was blown away. It was exactly what I needed to hear. Finally, I didn’t feel any less of a feminist because I love lipstick and wearing heels. She preaches that if it makes us feel good about ourselves, do it. Her anecdote that discussed her fear of wearing lip gloss as she was concerned that her students wouldn’t take her seriously was relatable. I also enjoyed her discussion of gender roles, especially where she says that “we do a great disservice to boys in how we raise them. We stifle the humanity of boys. We define masculinity in a very narrow way. Masculinity is a hard, small cage, and we put boys inside this cage”. This little pocket book should be owned by everybody...not just feminists.
Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil) by Charles Baudelaire
This was my first glimpse into the dark world of literature, and I liked it. This anthology consumed me in a way that is indescribable. I will admit it, after reading, I went through that pretentious lit student phase where I was cynical as hell and was obsessed with everything French (it happens to the best of us). This book changed my life as it opened my eyes to some pretty dark stuff that I didn't know existed. No wonder this book spent many years banned...
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
This novel is my favourite book of all time. Sometimes as humans, we become consumed with creating a world so perfect, but is a perfect society even possible? Huxley’s novel exhibits a world so controlled where there is a solution for everything. But in the pursuit of this perfect society, no one has emotions or feelings, love isn't real and culture is forbidden. Also, suffering and pain don’t exist in this world. Before reading this novel, I wasn’t sure if I would like dystopian novels — after reading it, I want on a dystopian reading rampage. All of us come to a point in our lives where we feel like Bernard; lost and out of place in the world. Oh, and stop comparing this one to 1984, they’re two completely different books!
Freedom From Fear by Aung Sun Suu Kyi
I picked up this book originally when I was studying philosophy in my undergrad, as I wanted to learn more about human rights throughout history (particularly on an international level). The essays in this book touch on a range of topics, from her father, Burmese history, why democracy was going save the Burmese people and the importance in fighting peacefully. Her passion glows through her words and I think this book is a fantastic introduction to who she is and what she stands for.
The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Perhaps it’s a little weird to call this one ‘life changing’, but in a way, it was to me. This was the first Fitzgerald novel I read, and I was blown away. I can’t remember the last time a book impacted me on an emotional level where I was unable to function a few days after reading it (i'm not even kidding). His prose is brilliant, and I struggled to put it down. Even 7 years after reading this book, I still get emotional reading it.