I’ve always been an avid reader and have loved reading for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest childhood memories have consisted of going furniture shopping with my parents and always making sure I had a book and a notebook with me to pass the time. Whether it was devouring Sweet Valley Kids or anxiously waiting for the next Goosebumps to arrive at my library, reading has always brought me tremendous joy and meaning.
I’m sad to say that in the last year, I’ve read maybe four books. I know, having a baby and a toddler and balancing work with this blog contributed. But, I am determined to get back into it. I love the feeling of getting immersed in a really great novel and temporarily escaping into another world.
There are so many wonderful books in the world but there are a just a few that have meant the most to me in my life and have shaped my thought process and decision making. Here are five books that have made the biggest impact on me and why:
Shel Silverstein is one of my favorite children’s book authors and this book is a fan favorite. If you look at Good Reads, there is actually quite a bit of controversy surrounding it. When Julian and I read it to Perry, we view it as a metaphor for the parent/child relationship and a valuable teaching moment in the sense of what not to do. Instead of take take take, kids should recognize and appreciate what they receive from their parents, both in the physical and emotional sense.
Others feel that it sends the wrong message and that the tree’s selfless nature causes the boy to continuously take advantage of her without learning his lesson. Every book is personal and an individual experience. The fact that this book is controversial decades after it was first published tells me that it’s worth reading. Have you read it? What was your takeaway?
Since reading the last page of this book, I haven’t stopped thinking about it. I published a review here if you’re interested in a summary. The author, Dr. Kalanithi, is transparent in his understanding of his fatal disease, stage IV lung cancer, and the tears, shock and hope that comes with it. He has a deep scientific understanding of what he is going through yet explains his experience in a uniquely poetic and philosophical way. The book dives deep into how people live meaningful lives given the inevitability of death. It is both heartbreaking and incredibly inspiring. His words have stuck with me long after I read the last page. I find myself thinking about his message while driving to work or waiting in line for coffee.
There are many key take-aways but one that meant the most to me is to live well. That doesn’t mean to go on extravagant vacations or spend all your money. It may mean some of that but it also means going to work, being with your family, and living life as your true, authentic self.
I finished this book and felt like I needed to read every book that the author ever wrote. It is the story of two women who have undergone extreme abuse and hardship in a war torn country, Afghanistan. Reading their story helped me gain a better understanding of the country’s history and what life was like for women in Afghanistan.
One of my favorite quotes in the book is, “I know you’re still young but I want you to understand and learn this now. Marriage can wait, education cannot. And I also know that when this war is over Afghanistan is going to need you as much as its men, maybe even more. Because a society has no chance of success if its women are uneducated. No chance.” As an immigrant, I am aware of how different my life would have been if 1. my parents remained in Ukraine and 2. if I did not obtain an education. My education is precious to me because it opens doors and opportunities that otherwise would have remained permanently closed.
I’m planning on reading And the Mountains Echoed next. Have you read it yet?
This book basically got me through my teenage years. There is something so unbelievably therapeutic in reading stories of others going through exactly what you’re going through. I’m trying not to sound corny but it inspired me to believe in myself. It reaffirmed my love for writing and connecting with others. I will definitely be giving this book to Perry once she is old enough.
I recently discovered my old Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul journal and it was eye-opening. There were things I wrote that I haven’t thought about in 17 years and pushed somewhere deep inside my memory. Other entries reminded me of struggles I still have to this day.
Reading these entries felt so raw and real, like I could close my eyes and be in my childhood room, experiencing the events I mentioned all over again. It’s perfect for rekindling the teenage spirit!
This book taught me to let things go and not put so much emphasis on minor setbacks in life. I’ve always been a positive person but I found myself having intense internal reactions to things that really didn’t matter. For example, getting a bad grade would turn my world upside down. A more recent example, getting rejected for a brand collaboration would make me question everything i’ve ever done as a blogger. As an adult, i’ve learned how to respond externally to these situations but this book gave me some helpful tools to learn how to respond emotionally as well.
To be clear, the author isn’t telling you to be indifferent. His point is to consider carefully what you are choosing to find important in life. Focus your attention where it matters.
I also took to Facebook to ask you for books you have recently read and loved. Several of you mentioned The Light Between Oceans as well as The Stormlight Archive series and the Goldfinch. I’m looking forward to reading those in 2018!
The books that we choose or end up reading are important and do so much to feed our souls. What else have you been reading lately? What books have meant the most to you? Thanks for reading! xo, Tanya