This year, I read a book called, “The End of Your Life Book Club” by Will Schwalbe. It is about how he dealt with his mother being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. They used books as a means to communicate about things that were hard to talk about and gave them something to discuss that wasn’t all medicine. It is a well written book and I highly recommend checking it out.
In the book, he talks about how different books have different effects on you. Some can be life altering, some can inspire, some can change your perspective, etc. You are what you read, so to speak. Therefore, if someone wanted to connect with you on some level, they could read the books that affected you. Of course, no two people read the same book the same way, but it would at least open a dialogue. In the book, he says that he wants to get the list of his mom’s books so that after she is gone, her grandchildren will one day have a means to connect with her by reading what she read.
I love this idea. I now wish that I had thought to get lists from my grandparents before they passed. I kind of want a reading list passed out at all wakes/funerals of the books that made up those people.
I thought I would start with my list of books and then ask people for theirs. It isn’t about how awesome the book is or how well written. It is about how you connected with the book. Books that touched your soul as much as your head and heart.
There were a few books that I kicked around in my brain as to whether or not include. Below are the books that have made me the person that I am up to this point (in no particular order other than how they popped into my brain when I decided to put a list together):
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
- MacBeth by William Shakespeare
- The Catbird Seat by James Thurber (Short Story)
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- World War Z by Max Brooks
- Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk
- The Secret Life of Houdini: America’s First Superhero by William Kalush & Larry Sloman
- Good Omens by Terry Prachett/Neil Gaiman
- By His Bootstraps – Robert Heinlein (Short Story)
- The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas [Updated as of August 2014]
These are books that I connected with in a meaningful way. Some inspired me, some amused me, but all of them caused me to think about things in new ways. Most of them contain a supernatural/science fiction theme, but that is only because they contain ideas that are easier to digest in a non-realistic context.
The point isn’t that I think they are the greatest books ever, but that it triggered me to think about things. For example, MacBeth is all about free will versus destiny and the extreme ways one can embrace that decision. Is it the best Shakespeare play? No, probably not. Is it my favorite? Absolutely. Hamlet was a whiner baby. Another thing to know about this particular book is that when I can’t sleep I find comfort in reciting lines from it. It always helps calm my mind down enough to get through a bout of insomnia. A lot easier to be thinking about Scottish monarchs and witchcraft than what I am going to do about bills that are due.
This is my book list and I would be happy to discuss any of them with you, but more importantly, what would be on your list? I would really like to know.