I took inspiration from Tales from the Reading Room and her post Ten Books that Make You Think. I think every book should make you think. I can’t see why you would bother reading it if it didn’t. I’m going to take it to mean books that made me change the way I see something. I started with ten books, but decided to go for five that made me think and five that I should read because I think they will make me think. And it was an easy list to compile.
Five books that stimulated me to change the way I saw something.
- Joseph Heller Catch-22: The power of both the novel and of humour, relating the absurdity of people’s behaviour, these were the things I found in Heller’s novel of 1955. His genius was to observe the phenomenon that we all recognize which gave the book its title.
- Ursula le Guin The Earthsea Trilogy: I read these as an adult, although they are packaged for children. I was impressed by the theme of naming. You have power over something if you can name it. This, I understand, is the power of literacy. The trilogy led me to her other novels, fantasy and sci-fi, which have also made me think about human behaviour.
- Carolyn G Heilbrun Writing a Woman’s Life: short, erudite and very challenging about how the scripts or narratives written for women have made it so hard and so necessary to tell (writing and speaking) of alternative lives. She provides examples to guide us. I re-read this to find again how other women have written their lives in ways that can inspire rather contain female experiences.
- Robert Macfarlane The Old Ways: a journey on foot: You can read a landscape, you can view paths as the writing by users on the landscape. Walking as writing, paths as a form of text. This is a journey in a book.
- Our Bodies Ourselves: This book was published by a collective, such a brave move. It’s a guide book for women, to encourage women to be more confident physically in health and sickness. It’s hard to remember now but when it was first published medical records were not to be read by patients, and women had to have their husband’s permission for contraception to be prescribed.
And five books that I still have to read that I am sure will make me see things differently.
- Charles Dickens David Copperfield: I really should read this.
- Cervantes Don Quixote: And this.
- David Kynaston A World to Build 1945-48: I have a persistent interest in post-war Britain and its social history. There is some great fiction from this period as well, Elizabeth Taylor, for example.
- Joseph Roth The Radetsky March: Recommended by my friend Rose, who always makes challenging recommendations and talks about books in such interesting ways.
- Rebecca Solnit Wanderlust: A History of Walking: This writer is frequently referred to by other writer-walkers (see 4 above). She is clearly influential in the field of literary walkers, which includes WG Sebald, of course, among others.
- RSPB Pocket Guide to British Birds because in my new cottage I am going to have a bird table and learn more about garden birds.
Yes I know, that’s six books. But I’ll always have room for another book.
What’s in your lists? What book/s changed the way you saw life?
NOTE: For those of you who might be wondering about my move to Devon, well, it all happened, despite the reluctance of my piano to accompany me. There was a carnival in the village on Saturday, and the removals lorry brought down several strands of bunting, before reaching my door. Enough of that. This is a book and word blog.
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