To peruse the mountains of potential and genius in a lifetime of reading and narrow the masses down to seven books that everyone should read, is a serious task. Some say it would be easy, since identifying seven greats is just that, but like seats on a lifeboat, if the last library were sinking and you had to save just seven, consider these as candidates to be tucked away in the proverbial vault.
Reading the right books expands the mind and makes for more success and opportunity in all facets of life.
Catcher in the Rye
When J.D. Salinger wrote The Catcher in the Rye, he taught his readers about facing fear, starting over and finding purpose. These lessons apply to every age and class, inspiring observations and courage in a world that can always use some. His timeless gift of storytelling is still relevant and enjoyable today.
The experiences that Holden witnesses absorb and reflect on, can be identified in many circles in society. People watching is a constant tale for which we all have front row seats. Salinger reports from the deep recesses of Holden’s memory, telling the tales and sharing the feelings in response. We can’t all be so capable, but we can try.
Authoress Virginia Wolff was saturated in mystery and wisdom. The same person who avoided attention and interaction in every day, could draw and describe human nature like no other. People like that are born teachers and any tale they construct is full of lessons. Life doles out lemons regularly and any reader will benefit from this sweet recipe to put them to good use.
LaVaughn is a young girl struggling to get to college while observing the plight of a single mother who never had that chance. While written for young adults, readers of any age can relate to the empathy that compels her to want to help and the fear that promises she will avoid the same path.
Diary of Anne Frank
So many books that are true stories still have a way of missing the mark. Commercialism interferes with the reporting of events. This is not the case with The Diary of Anne Frank. This book not only shares a vital piece of history with the reader but does so from the perspective of a child, which is always more forthcoming and sometimes even inappropriately candid.
While we may be fortunate to live in a more privileged society, the growth that comes from Anne’s misfortune and tragedy is absorbed right from the pages. It’s because we don’t live in that environment that it is so important that we learn about it from someone who was there.
Whether male or female, young or old, all readers will get lost in the conformity and closeness in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Although often described as a thwarted look at female oppression, the story actually provides a preface on the enlightenment and change to come by way of the March daughters in Massachusetts. Despite the evolution of gender roles, some characteristics of the fairer sex still remain.
Based somewhat on Alcott’s adolescence with her sisters during the civil war, the passage of time has no effect on the entertaining trance that is female coming of age and interpersonal relationships with both sexes and all generations. Now in a time when gender roles and the plight of women is still in the forefront of our society, traveling back when those struggles began is enlightening for any reader.
The Color Purple ~ Regardless of one’s political affiliation, race or age, there are parts of our history that must be told. When told well, you are left with the indelible mark like that of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. Not only an education in discrimination and the struggle for civil rights in our United States but of family, poverty and the constant clash of class.
Following Celie over forty years of hardship, abuse, and bigotry, the reader will feel her pain and her strength as she never gives up her dream of reuniting with her sister someday. So many have been separated from the family under more modern, but similar circumstances.
Trying To Love You
The most recent of the list, Eden Greene’s Trying To Love You clings to its title, telling a story of young love, turned ripe disappointment and finally the most mature and necessary closing of doors. Should love be this hard? Harder than walking away?
Once upon a time, we are all young. We have all loved and lost, but unlike so many romantic and dramatic novels, the reader here follows one girl become a mother and a woman throughout a challenging saga that spans two generations.
Yellow Crocus written by Laila Ibrahim is another eye-opening account of race relations in very early America, yet somehow the sweet story of a child growing up in those times emerges. Readers will find themselves wanting more, researching history and drinking in the culture of which we are all some way related. Yellow Crocus is one of those happy endings full of bittersweet morsels, but happy just the same.
In today’s modern family, love and nurturing are almost always stronger than doctrine and blood, which is incredibly true for Elizabeth and her treasured Mattie.
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