Are you seeking for a life-changing, enlightening and thought-provoking book, the kind that gives you the feeling that life will never be the same again? Me too, I always am. Therefore I’ve assembled this list so I can share with you the fruits of my restless queries as well as receive your hoped-for recommendations.
9. No exit-Jean Paul Sartre
This one-act play is infinitely insightful as well as deviously humorous. Widely known for its most prominent line, “Hell is other people”, ‘No exit’ tries to reveal how much we depend on whether we’re acknowledged or not in someone else’s conscience. No other word is needed, read it and you’ll see for yourself the reasons for my inestimable praise.
8. Sigmund Freud-The interpretation of dreams
No, you don’t require any knowledge whatsoever in the field of psychology to read this book. Why do I recommend it? Because it provides you with such a great insight into how your psyche functions, and consequently gives you a better understanding of who you are. It is full of example dreams, analysed to the bone. Thus some of the dream situations are easy to relate to, and they supply us with a key to understanding our own unconscious activity.
7. What is Enlightenment- Immanuel Kant
Rather an article than a book, it says all it has to clearly and emphatically. A warning though: don’t regard what it says as a common sense notion, but try to envisage the context in which it was written because at that time it was far from self-obvious. Read it asking yourself ‘Am I truly doing it?’ ‘Has this notion been adopted by the society, or do we merely pretend to have this capacity?’ (ambiguity intended, for it won’t have the same impact when you know what to expect). You should definitely give a try to these 3 pages piece of pure wisdom, even if it’s something a bit different from your usual read.
6. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress- Dai Sijie
If you have not read it yet, you should definitely consider this (in my opinion) thoroughly pleasant read. Wrapped up in a moving story, it generates an inward awakening and makes us realize how grateful we should be for all the opportunities we have, and how we sometimes utterly ignore them.
5. Sophie’s world-Jostein Gaardner
This is perhaps the most diverting, thought-provoking and easy to read philosophical book. Please note that it is rather an introduction to philosophy, that requires no previous knowledge at all. The history of philosophy is simplified and explained to little Sophie in such a manner that it makes her start contemplating everything from a different perspective. I highly recommend this book to anyone, and I stress the fact that you don’t require any knowledge whatsoever! Get rid of the prejudice that ‘philosophy is hard, it’s not for me’, and get carried away with Sophie in one of the most stimulating stories I’ve recently read.
4. Utopia- Thomas More
We all know what Utopia is, but how many of us have actually read the book? I have to say I found it surprisingly inspiring, especially the sections about how the utopians perceived all jewelry and decorations superfluous. Now I’m not saying I agree with the communist ideas that prevailed on that island, I’m merely saying that it makes one realize how superficial humans can be sometimes over petty objects.
3. The conquest of happiness- Bernard Russel
Even if the title gives it all away, I would like to add solely this: when perusing this book don’t seek for an actual answer, but seek to understand what renders you happy so you could understand who you are.
2. 1984- George Orwell
If you have not read it, do. After all nothing is more important that our freedom of thought, and this is a perfect example of what can happen if we neglect its importance. On a deeper level it can go hand in hand with the above mentioned ‘What is Enlightenment’, as well as ‘Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress’, for all of them convey this message: ‘Use your own reason, be grateful you can and if you cannot then fight for your right to do so!’
1. Psychological types- Carl Gustav Jung
Read it, read it, three times read it (or at least chapter 10)! Indeed you might not be interested in the first 9 chapters, but I would say that the 10th is crucial to understand not only how you function, but how others do as well. It clarifies the barriers between different types of personality, and how we can use them to the fullest for our own benefit. I for one saw my relationship with certain persons in a whole new light after having read this book, and for that reason I highly recommend it. I sometimes found it hard to understand how a person could think such or such a thing, act in such or such a way, which for me were utterly preposterous. However his exhaustive explanations caused me to comprehend all these differences, so try it for yourself!
(If you don’t know your personality type, just type in on Google ‘MBTI psychological test’ and search for a free version)
Also, given the fact that this book is hard to find on the internet, here you can download it for free.
There are also some other books that I would have liked to share in this post, but for the moment these suffice. As I’ve already said, I’m anxious to hear what books you would put in this list, what books ‘changed your life’?