“I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library.”–Jorge Luis Borges
There is so much to gain from the world of books. Escaping into one after a rough day can work wonders in elevating your mood and sparking your imagination. Books are a much-needed oasis amidst the desert of everyday life and can entertain as much as comfort. It always helps to cut down on T.V. or internet time every day and absorb yourself in a book instead of giving in to the relentless chatter around you.
Recommended reading lists are aplenty, and it’s not easy compiling one since every book has something to offer to everybody. Nevertheless, here are our cream of the crop picks from seven genres:
1. Classic: 1984 by George Orwell
Orwell’s seminal and most popular novel is a cult classic that makes it to almost every reading list of repute. His prophecy about a dystopian future is haunting, because much of it has been transformed into reality. The path breaking lines “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” represent a totalitarian world where everything from sleeping and eating to procreating and working are controlled by the state.
The characters are human, multi-dimensional and unforgettable. The language is timeless, and the book keeps you enthralled from end to end. 1984 is a remarkable window into politics, censorship, and the human psyche, and a standing testament to the gift and importance of free will.
2. Science fiction: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams
Science fiction would never have been if it wasn’t for Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Douglas Adams weaved humour and rationalism like no other before his time and presented one of the best ever commentaries on the human condition. The phrases, puns, and jokes that fill these tomes have influenced generations of people from all fields and found their rightful place in pop culture. The series is not everyone’s cup of tea since it is considered ‘too bizarre’ by many, but if you have a wild imagination and want to acquaint yourself with the most entertaining sci-fi work of all time, this one’s for you.
3. Biography: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
This book on the contribution of a poor tobacco farmer in Southern USA to science is unputdownable. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks elaborates the pivotal role the woman simply referred to as ‘HeLa’ played in medical science. Her cells were used for medical advances such as gene mapping, cloning, in vitro fertilization, cancer research, and most importantly- for developing the polio vaccine.
All this, however, was done without her consent, or that of her family’s.
Heart-wrenching and engrossing at the same time, this biography raises ethical and legal questions about research and development, medical patents, and tissue collection.
4. Graphic novel: The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman
Prolific graphic novelist Neil Gaiman’s award-winning tome about the adventures of Morpheus, the Lord of Dreams, has been described as ‘a comic for intellectuals’. Replete with gorgeous artwork, fantasy, heart, twists, turns, and chilling moments, The Sandman volumes stand out among the plethora of graphic novels that have become ‘fanboy favourites’. It was, after all, instrumental in breaking the superhero monopoly in the graphic novel genre.
Although the series kicks off to a slow start, its gripping plot and mythological angle is enough to engross, enchant, and leave you spellbound.
5. Philosophy and spirituality: Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Tao Te Ching or The Book of the Tao is one of the bestselling philosophy books of all time, and with good reason. It is a road map for millions who wish to understand how the universe works and, in turn, get to know themselves better. The wisdom, insights, and inclusive nature of Lao Tzu’s philosophy is what makes it spiritual instead of religious. The topics in Tao Te Ching range from practical, everyday wisdom to advice for good kingship, and the ambiguous nature of the passages leave plenty of room for personal interpretation. This is the very essence of philosophy.
6. Crime: The Millennium series by Stieg Larsson
The Millennium Trilogy, comprising of the bestselling novels The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, revolves around one of the most extraordinary female protagonists in modern literature, Lisbeth Salander. The series has become an international sensation due to its intricate plot, riveting suspense, and breakneck pace, and has also been adapted to the big screen with great success.
Swedish author Larsson not only penned some of the best thrillers, but also paid homage to societal misfits through his heroine Lisbeth. The tattooed, temperamental hacker prodigy is the quintessential woman of strength, and you should read the trilogy to find out why.
7. Humour: Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore
Make no bones about it: Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal is not for those without a funny bone, simply because it may be considered offensive. Nevertheless, Moore’s hilarious take on the life and missing years of Jesus Christ is also a subtle reminder of what Christianity should be about. It is narrated from the point of view of Biff, the fictional best friend of Jesus (known as Josh here), and chronicles their speculative travels while searching for wisdom and facing temptation, demons, and death along the way.
Christopher Moore’s characters are relatable, and that includes Jesus ‘Josh’ Christ. That, in itself, is enough.
These must-have books are just seven of the hundreds, perhaps even thousands of wonderful books that are waiting to be read by you. If you would like to get into the habit of reading a few books every month, look up reading lists online and choose genres you aren’t very familiar to broaden your horizons. Immerse yourself in the world of poetry, prose, and sublime wordage to enrich your life and have plenty of food not just for thought, but for the soul too.