Books that Make you See Bigger

I’ve got this problem.

I can’t stop buying books. I’ll be blogging, or banking, or checking my email and suddenly, I’m on Amazon and my cart is full of books, my finger moments away from clicking, “complete order.” I won’t have any recollection of how I got there, but realize at the last second, I probably shouldn’t spend 143.99 on fifteen new additions to my library. Sigh. I leave the books in my virtual cart anyway. It makes me feel good to have them there. And then, when I really do need to buy something from Amazon, and I’m only seven dollars away from free super saver shipping, I can go grab a little piece of literary deliciousness and add it to my order, and feel totally justified in doing so. You know. For the free shipping.

So yeah. I love to read. I love to be surrounded by wonderful words so that I never, ever have a reason to be bored. Books make me happy on all kinds of levels. All kinds of books, fiction, nonfiction, children’s books, biographies. I love them. Have I said that already? I do. Most of all, I love books that leave me feeling like a better, more aware, more enriched person for having read them… books that make me see bigger. Does that make sense? Books that alter or improve my perspective, that provoke thoughtful evaluation of what I really think, and how I really feel. There are a lot of really wonderful books out there. But there are a handful that always stay with me, as my “See Bigger” books. (They don’t stay with me in the literal sense. I’m not SO much of a nerd that I carry stacks of books with me everywhere I go. Though I do often have one or two stashed somewhere close by.)

And now I’m going to tell you what those books are. Hope you don’t mind.

1. Man’s Search for Meaning, by Victor Frankl: Frankl survived life in a concentration camp, and then wrote this book, detailing his experiences and sharing his attempt to find meaning in an utterly meaningless existence. It’s brilliant. It’s inspiring. It’s strengthening.)

2. Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand: A complex study of human integrity and principle and the decisions we make to adhere to our personal standards of value, or not. It’s long, but a worthy read if you’re willing to endure.

3. Hawaii, by James Michener: Another long one, but oh, how glorious it is. This book taught me about people, and the importance of understanding where people come from and how our culture influences who and what we are. The entire book is full of richly diverse characters and as a bonus, closely adheres to an accurate and intriguing history of Hawaii. Learning something along the way is a bonus. πŸ™‚ (thank you Aunt Linda. I treasure the copy you gave me. it will always be one of my favorites.)

4. The Bronze Bow, by Elizabeth George Speare: This one isn’t long. It’s an easy read that tells a beautiful story of the pure and healing power of love, and the sweetness of redemption. It made me cry. It made me happy. You should read it.

5. The Book Thief, by Marcus Zusak: I’ve written about this one before. It will always be a favorite. It’s another World War II book, but it’s different in that it tells the story of a young German girl and her family and the pressures they faced living under the watchful eyes of the Nazi party. This book taught me to remember that the Holocaust victims were not the only victims of the war. And it’s a beautiful story of hope and love and a fiercely resilient human spirit.

6. My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult: This might be categorized as summer reading by some. It’s a fast paced story about a family dealing with illness and tragedy and the difficulties of having one daughter making tremendous sacrifices for the other. It is full of raw and ragged emotion with a surprise ending that might make you wet your pants. It’s intriguing, morally complex, and teaches a great lesson on perspective. I want to read it again just thinking about it.

Okay. my list isn’t done, but this post is getting eternally long. A few more of my favorites in list form…

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Emmuska, Orczy
The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd
100 Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marques
Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, by Carson McCullers

What are your See Bigger books? Or maybe just your favorites? I’m looking to add a few more to my imaginary shopping cart on Amazon. πŸ™‚

16 thoughts on “Books that Make you See Bigger

  1. DeNae says:

    I'm this way on Seriously, I can't be trusted.I do love to read, but I like to haunt the bookstore in person. You get to do that when your kids are big and can stay home!Wuthering Heights? Seriously? I finally read that thing last year and decided I'd rather watch a thousand hours of Will Farrell movies than ever wade through that nightmare of a book again! I know, I'm a Philistine.(BTW, I haven't had a chance to read the next bits of your book, because I'm waiting until I have some uninterrupted time. But I haven't forgotten you, I promise!)

  2. Andrea says:

    I love your list! I have read all but a couple. I would have to add The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. That is definitely one of my favorites. Hopefully, my list will include some of your books one day! Thanks for sharing. I now have a couple of books I can look for at the library this week.

  3. MommyJ says:

    Andrea, I've heard mention of the The Poisonwood Bible before. I'll definitely add it to my list. :)Denae, Wuthering Heights is a book that I hate to love, and love to hate. There isn't a single character in it that I really relate, and I don't particularly like any of them, but I think the complexity and tragedy of the love story is intriguing and the writing in and of itself is beautiful. Did you read Jane Eyre? Charlotte Bronte wasn't near as depressing as her sister. πŸ™‚ Though, she's still a bit darker than Jane Austen ever was!AND, since I'm in the mood to defend my tastes, Will Farrell at the very least, deserves credit for his movie, Stranger than Fiction. I loved that one. :)(Not saying I've loved all his others… really. That's the ONLY one)

  4. wesley's mom (sue) says:

    I have to second The Poisonwood Bible, it's one of my favorites. I also like The Good Earth in the See Bigger dept. And I take Jane Austen over either of the Brontes any day. I love books too and do exactly the same thing with my Amazon cart, why pay shipping when you can just get another book?

  5. Laree says:

    Years ago, when Amazon was a much smaller store, they used to send bookmarks with every order that had quotes on them. My favorite (and totally is me) was something along the lines of "whenever I get a little money, I buy a book. And if there is anything left over, I buy food, clothes, and a place to live."My virtual shopping cart is always full. Love it!

  6. Annette Lyon says:

    I'm with you on Frankl. That book is amazing. I recently read Michener's The Source, and it had a similar effect as it sounds like Hawaii did on you–I should pick it up. I also love Jodi Picoult and Harper Lee, and . . . well, I think we have similar tastes!

  7. Tobi says:

    Right now I'm reading Percy Jackson and they Olympians. I'm really in Young Adult novels right now. They make me happy. I also recommend you read the Fablehaven series if you haven't already. Fablehaven is also a YA novel and it's by a Mormon author too. BONUS!

  8. Code Yellow Mom says:

    You have a GREAT list here. About half of them are my eternal favorites. And I'm going to go the other half to my virtual cart. (Cuz I can see you have good taste:))I've read lots of random stuff this summer…I don't know that any of them are life changers, but for really interesting concepts and good writing, I liked "Shadow of the Wind" and I'm currently reading "The Time Traveler's Wife" which is bizarre but completely has me hooked. (and I JUST found out that it's been turned into a movie, coming out next month…)

  9. Amber says:

    I love, love, love to surf Amazon. I spend hours organizing and re-organizing my wish list. It's almost like shopping, but it's free. ;)Some of my current faves:"The Omnivore's Dilemma" – I will never be able to look at food the same way again"The Secret Life of Bees" – love that"Pride and Prejudice" – I want to marry Mr. Darcy :)"Anne of Green Gables" – It's a children's book, but it's so hopeful it makes me happy

  10. Terresa says:

    Next to my kids, husband, and a few friends, books are my best friends. They're addicting, like candy. It's why I became a Librarian…each day was like being in a candy store.I just posted on my blog today about some books I've read this summer, all excellent:Water for elephants by GruenFahrenheit 451 by BradburyVoyager by GabaldonThe time traveler's wife by NiffeneggerTo the list I also add some old favorites:The red tent by DiamantThe overspent American by Schor (nonfiction)Amusing ourselves to death by Postman (also nonfiction)The lotus seed by Garland (a children's picture book)Stardust by GaimanCatcher in the rye by SalingerWhat to eat by Nestle (nonfiction)StiffTraction man is here by Grey (kid's picture book)Ok, I'm going to stop here before it looks like I'm hijacking your comments section. Let's meet up on Goodreads or something!!

  11. Shannon says:

    hi. found you on scribbit's blog. recently (as in a year or so ago) embarked on a mission to read through the 'classics'.So far, two of my favorites have been tolstoy's 'anna karrenina' (i found a great translation recommended by time magazine) and rebecca by daphne du maurier (my sister recommended this one- it wasn't found on any of the classics lists that i had discovered, but was made into a hitchcock movie years ago).

  12. Happy Mom says:

    I's soo glad you posted this!!! I'm ALWAYS looking for new read and although a number on your list are favorites of mine many are unknown to me!!! My addition: The Chosen by Chaim Potok. This one really expanded my world when I first read it 25 years ago. I read it every year and it never ceases to move me to tears.

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