Best books to read
People often ask me which book (self-help or novel) should I read. Since I am not a very passionate reader (trying to be one though), I don’t think I am the perfect guy to recommend the best book as per one’s wish. Preference for reading books differs and in my case, I love to read fictional books especially related to spirituality, spiritual books and sometimes biographies and self-help books as well.
Based on the books I have read so far, I’d recommend the following books which I feel are the best books to read if you’re just a beginner like me. Here you go!
1. Courage: The joy of living Dangerously by Osho
I was going through tough times in my life. And one of my friends handed me this book. As is the case with many others, I was confused at times while reading this book. Later on, realized that I was misinterpreting many things. Not only the book Courage uplifted my mental state, but I was also able to know myself more; distinguish insecurities and fear as well.
The book basically encourages its readers to push ahead despite the fear one goes through. And that is what true courage is. Another important lesson that I could extract from the book was being open to life and not imposing the decision on life events. This might sound cliche but I can relate to my past and the changes I embraced after reading the book; being more spontaneous, vulnerable rather than being ready-made as the society expects to be.
One has to go through inner voice or simply put intuition instead of being sheepish and following the crowd in order to find out the truth. This a tough thing to do but not impossible. The more we practice, the better we get in this game.
One can understand what it means to understand the fear and then live through it instead of avoiding it. Because avoiding is temporary and living the fear is the true courage. Like we normally define courage as being heroic, this book completely defies the notion. Rather it focuses on instilling courage from within; the courage that leads to authenticity in our everyday lives, the need of change as per the changing situations, being courageous enough to be true to ourselves and being courageous enough to embrace the unknown. This book questions our life purposes and whether or not we are truly living our life.
This is one of the best books I have gone through in my life. I’d highly recommend it to everyone if you haven’t read. If you don’t know who Osho is then this video (Osho on word Fuck) might be a good starter.
2. The Alchemist- Paulo Coelho
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” I am sure you might have heard of this quote quite a lot of times. A truly powerful quote from one of the most popular books ever written i.e The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I guess this book needs no explanation.
One of the best selling books in the history, translated over 56 different languages (holding Guinness World Record for the most translated book by a living author), sold over 65 million copies around the world, Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist” has given a different dimension in fiction writing.
The Alchemist is a journey of wisdom, self-discovery, and philosophy and finding our own ‘Personal Legend’ which is regarded as Alchemist against the comparatively invaluable material possessions in today’s world.
The book describes a journey of a young boy who lives in Spain to the pyramids of Egypt after recurring dream of finding treasures there. The protagonist comes across the king of Salem, Santiago during his journey to Egypt and also meets an aspiring alchemist and a beautiful young woman en route. Besides the spiritual touch, the book also offers encouraging lessons such as “It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting!” and “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
3. A thousand splendid suns- Khaled Hosseini
“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,
Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.”
Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns is another beautiful novel I have read so far. In the book, a story of Mariam, a young girl from Herat; a small city of Afghanistan is stressed. The story in An emotionally charged novel A Thousand Splendid Suns takes us back to the early 1960s until the early 2000s.
Khaled Hosseini highlights the societal norms and difficulties as a woman in Afghan Society through two women; mother (Nana)-daughter (Mariam) relationship.
“Mariam lay on the couch, hands tucked between her knees, watched the whirlpool of snow twisting and spinning outside the window. She remembered Nana saying once that each snowflake was a sigh heaved by an aggrieved woman somewhere in the world. That all the sighs drifted up the sky, gathered into clouds, then broke into tiny pieces that fell silently on the people below. As a reminder of how people like us suffer, she’d said. How quietly we endure all that falls upon us.”
While reading this book, I am sure the reader will get tears getting to know all the hardships and endurance the people in Afghanistan had to go through under extremism. Nevertheless, I believe the book sheds the light of hope which everyone is in dire need.
“Of all the hardships a person had to face, none was more punishing than the simple act of waiting.”
“A man’s heart is a wretched, wretched thing. It isn’t like a mother’s womb. It won’t bleed. It won’t stretch to make room for you.”
4. Who moved my cheese-Johnson Spencer
The book “Who Moved My Cheese” by Johnson Spencer is basically about two mice and two people and differences in the way they respond to changing environmental situations. They live in a maze which is represented as an environment, cheese as the pursuit of happiness. “Cheese” is a representation which the human strives for. Differs from one person to another; maybe money, fame, success, happiness, achievements, love or anything else.
This book is one of the most inspiring books I’ve ever read and that too in a very simple language. It teaches us to be more responsive to situations rather than being reactive.
Also, the reminder of how being proactive in this professional world is going to uplift and enhance our progress and passivity kills us inside out. Some practical case studies are presented in the book which exemplifies the consequences of responsiveness towards a certain given situation. One of the most important takeaway messages from this book I have been able to extract is; sooner I am able to let go of older things and attachments, I develop the skills learning attitude which eventually helps in creating the change I believe in.
“Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people.”
“Life moves on and so should we”
“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
“What you are afraid of is never as bad as what you imagine. The fear you let build up in your mind is worse than the situation that actually exists.”
This book also teaches us to be responsible for our actions. There is no point in blaming others whether or not we have come to the point of life which we have imagined of. If it’s not until the point where we want to be, it’s us who have to change the situation and improve the circumstances, A true reminder of how overthinking at many instances is spoiling our life decisions when the solution lies in simplicity.
Here are the lessons which Ham; a character in the book gets after the changing situation and attitude towards it:
They Keep Moving The Cheese
Get Ready For The Cheese To Move
Smell The Cheese Often So You Know When It Is Getting Old
Adapt To Change Quickly
The Quicker You Let Go Of Old Cheese, The Sooner You Can Enjoy New Cheese
Move With The Cheese
Savor The Adventure And Enjoy The Taste Of New Cheese!
Be Ready To Change Quickly And Enjoy It Again & Again
They Keep Moving The Cheese
After all, the point is we need to prepare ourselves for the worst and inevitable conditions in our life.
5. Eleven minutes- Paulo Coelho
Eleven minutes is a story of Maria, a young girl from Brazil who moves to Switzerland in the pursuit of fame and fortune. Eleven minutes is the representation of the precious time of the day in human’s life i.e. sex. The author through the perspective of a prostitute Maria relates the general human beliefs regarding sex. The book travels around three of the major aspects of life i.e. love, sex, and desire.
I have a comprehensive review of this book. Please follow this link to go through it;
Robin Sharma’s The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is a heart-warming and inspiring story that offers its readers a simplistic method of living your life the right way. This book presents how simple things in our life are creating a bigger impact and the significance of focusing on those simple matters.
The author presents a story of Julian who sells all of his wealth and how his journey of spiritual awakening begins. Julian was a lawyer before and thinks he’s not living a fulfilling life as he’s expected to and decides to change lifestyle. That’s when the magic starts to occur in his life. Basically some of the significant messages this book is trying to convey is living life in the right manner, developing happy thoughts and manifesting them, following our inner callings, among many others.
“To risk is to live.”
“It’s better to be a lion for a day than a sheep all your life.”
“Remarkable people are priority-driven. This is the secret of time mastery. Build your days around your priorities and you will play in the rare air.”
“A burning sense of passion is the most potent fuel for your dreams.”
“Life has bigger plans for you than you can possibly know.”
PS; You’re not going to like it if you don’t love self-help books. Also if you’re looking for strong literary value, probably this book isn’t for you.
7. The 3 Mistakes of My Life
It was around 6 years ago when I was first handed a novel in my life. And it was Chetan Bhagat’s “Revolution 2020“. That’s the time when I got to know the taste of a novel. After that novel, I read Chetan Bhagat’s another novel “The 3 mistakes of my life“. As always Bhagat’s stories are well-articulated and simply written.
The book is based on the real-life events in the city of Ahmedabad, India and opens up with a dramatic fashion. An ambitious young guy in late 2000 who is also the major character of the story dreams of owning a business. Teaming up with other two friends he starts a cricket shop. However, it’s not as easy as one thinks of owning a business. The hardships and struggles they have to go through mainly the religious politics, calamities, unacceptable love and their own mistakes as inexperienced people are the build-ups to the story.“LIFE IS TOUGH WHEN YOU ARE ALWAYS TALKING TO PEOPLE SMARTER THAN YOU…”
“God gives talent so that the ordinary person can become extraordinary. Talent is the only way the poor can become rich. Otherwise, in this world, the rich would remain rich and the poor would remain poor. This unfair talent actually creates a balance, helps to make the world fair.”
When you are just starting out with reading novels, this book is perfect for you. The language is simple yet well written.
8. The Great Gatsby
I read the book The Great Gatsby as a part of my curriculum during my bachelor’s study. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby is a story told by Nick Carraway, who was once Gatsby’s neighbor, and he tells the story sometime after 1922 when the incidents that fill the book take place.
Gatsby orders his life around the desire of reuniting with Daisy Buchanan; the love he lost five years earlier. The novel of triumph and at the same time tragedy presents how Gatsby was able to lead his life from poverty to a wealthy one. The classic book of the 20th century also highlights the social issue of that time through the wealth of Daisy and through Gatsby which turned out to be vulnerable for him.
9. How To Win Friends and Influence People
Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence people published in 1936 is one of the best-selling books of all time. Over 16 million copies have been sold already and it was on the 19th number on Time Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential books. Library of Congress survey ranked Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People was the seventh most influential book in American history. Similarly, this book ranks as the 11th highest selling non-fiction book on Amazon of all time.
Dale Carnegie regarded this book as “action-book”. I believe, one of the main reasons why this book is so popular is because it presents an idea that we can change people’s perception and attitude towards us by changing our own attitude towards them.
I don’t agree to all the things mentioned in the book as I felt that some of the ideas are too enforced and it doesn’t suit my personality. Nevertheless, at times we need to learn to unlearn things, isn’t it? So I think this book is a must-read book at least once.
I’ve got a comprehensive book summary of this book. Here’s it: Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People (Book Summary)
10. The power of Now
The power of Now; A guide to Spiritual Enlightenment is a book written by Eckhart Tolle and was published in the year 1997. The primary objective of this book is to stress the significance of living life at the moment disregarding the thoughts about past and future.
The book has been translated into 33 languages across the world and has sold over 2 million copies.
According to the author, every minute we spend thinking about the past or the future is a minute lost. Eckhart Tolle shares how he overcame continual anxiety and literally a night changed his life.
Some of the most important lessons that we can extract from this book are; life is a continuation of present moments, pain is an outcome of resistance to the things we can’t change and we can free ourselves from pain by constantly observing the mind and not judging the thoughts.
Tolle also recommends the two things to do to get rid of the pain. They are; constantly asking ourselves “what will my next thought be?’ and stopping to judge our thoughts and urges to judge them.
Important Quotes of “The Power Of Now”
“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”
“Love is not selective, just as the light of the sun is not selective. It does not make one person special. It is not exclusive. Exclusivity is not the love of God but the “love” of ego. However, the intensity with which true love is felt can vary. There may be one person who reflects your love back to you more clearly and more intensely than others, and if that person feels the same toward you, it can be said that you are in a love relationship with him or her. The bond that connects you with that person is the same bond that connects you with the person sitting next to you on a bus, or with a bird, a tree, a flower. Only the degree of intensity with which it is felt differs.”
“All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.”
11. Man’s Search For Meaning
Man’s Search For Meaning was written by neurology and psychology professor; Viktor Frankl, in 1946. The book is one of the most inspiring books I have ever gone through in my life until now. Viktor describes his experiences of being in Auschitwz concentration camp during the time of World War 2. Continual Tortures, no enough food, no proper clothes even in the freezing cold are some of the experiences he (along with millions of other concentration camp inmates) had to undergo during the stay. Disease and Starvation were killing thousands of people every day and only the strongest people (physically, mentally and emotionally) were the ones to survive the adversity.
Despite the family members (father, mother, brother, and wife) killed in the camp, he still chose to live and seek for the higher purpose of life. Why? That’s the meaning of his life. He concludes that the true meaning of life is to be experienced through life situations. It is to be discovered in the world and not be developed in one’s mind/psyche.
PS: I’d highly recommend you to read this book. 🙂
When I am done reading more books in days to come, I will surely be adding more books to the list. Which are your favorites books?
And do you have any book recommendation for me? If yes, let me know.
Happy reading! 🙂