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I have always been a reader.
I can remember “reading” books before I could read, making up the stories to go along with the pictures. I can remember curling up in the book nook in my room with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn when middle school life was getting me down. And now you can find me climbing into bed early almost every night so I can get lost in a few chapters before I drift off.
Reading has always been a way for me to increase my worldview, taking me to places I have yet to travel, sending me back in time or into the future where I never may travel, and introducing me to people and cultures that are so different from what I know. But reading has also prompted me to look deeper into my own self, with characters and challenges and journeys that reflect my own values, triggers, and beliefs back to me in a way that makes me take notice and inspires me grow.
Many books provide the inspiration to look more deeply into ourselves, but these five were the ones that certainly changed my life with their engaging and compelling stories:
My aunt gave me a copy of this iconic book when I was in college. It is the book that opened my mind to the idea that there is a divine guidance available to us if we listen and have faith. It truly opened my eyes to the idea that life is more than doing what you have been told to do, more than following the path that society and family have laid out for you, and it was the first time I contemplated that kindness and love might be more important than anything else.
This book set my transformation in motion. Elizabeth Gilbert’s travels to the pleasures of Italy, the guidance of India, and the introspection of Indonesia guided me on my own journey. It showed me the importance of following my heart, my gut, and making room for myself in life. It inspired me to make joy and learning and growth priorities, and set me on that path that I am still on today.
There is a reason this book is one of the most read books in the world, although I have to wonder if we all take the same guidance from it. For me, the book taught me the art of saying yes and being guided along the path that allows for my greatest contribution and growth. From this book about a young man’s journey, I learned to let go of trying to control my path, and instead, start letting the path guide me. It is a lesson I am forever grateful for.
I almost didn’t read this book because the description just didn’t move me, but I am so glad that I did. Not only was it a beautiful story, but it really illustrated how we impact the lives of the people around us, how each and everything we do changes a life for the better or the worse.
5. The Host
You might laugh when I suggest that a book written by Twilight’s Stephanie Meyer changed my life, but The Host raises so many questions about our purpose here on this planet and the relationship between our soul and our ego that it transcends the surface young adult dystopian love story. I picked this book up for a bit of light reading one summer but instead found myself pondering my very existence and purpose.
Enjoy these amazing stories and the impact they may have on you!