It is wonderful how a few pages with words on them have the power to change someone’s life. The very act of reading is such an enlightening and soothing experience. In a broader sense, all books are a representation of life, but a few books are slightly better than the others. These few books portray life in a way that we find relatable yet inspiring. Books have the power to develop a better character, personality, make you fall in love, and even change your views about the world. Be it fiction or non-fiction, these books about life not only entertain us but also give us a new perspective about almost everything. All in all, it is a wonderful combination of instruction and delight.
Here’s a list of books about life that will broaden your perspective and enlighten your souls!
1. Bhagavad Gita
This book has the power to change one’s life. It mainly focuses on the dialectical conversation between the great warrior Arjuna (the Pandavan prince) and his charioteer Krishna who also happens to be Arjuna’s friend, philosopher, and guide. On the eve of the war of Mahabharata, Arjuna’s courage falters and he finds himself incapable of raising his bow (Gandiva) to fight his kith and kin. It is in this situation of vulnerability that he turns towards Krishna. It’s crazy how relatable you are going to find the text. The philosophy of karma-yoga, stithapragyan, sattvikta, and so much more to explore. Trust me, it is the ultimate book about life and how!
2. The Body
Okay, what is Stephen King fiction doing in this list? That’s what you’re wondering, right? Well, the king of horror fiction has presented some interesting ideas about life, death, friendship, and love in this novella. Take these lines for instance, “The most important things are the hardest to say because words diminish them. It’s hard to make strangers care about the good things in your life.” It’s unreal how a story about four pre-adolescent boys going on a journey to see a dead body of a kid can be so profound.
3. Samskara: A Rite for a Dead Man
This Kannada novel (of which you can also find an able English translation) by U. R. Ananthamurthy changed my perception of life and death. It is an amazing commentary on religion, caste, rituals, sex, and duty. When a scandalous brahmin called Naranappa dies an untimely death, it sets a storm of a series of existential and societal debates about how to get the last rites or the samskara done. Do mark how the author talks about death in this novel, it will blow your mind.
4. Man’s Search For Meaning
This biographical treatise of Viktor E. Frankl, a holocaust survivor, will inspire you to your very core. This book chronicles Viktor’s life as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp, his struggles, subsequent liberation, and the efforts it took to get over the trauma. Take up any book on the Holocaust, the stories of the survivors will tear your hearts apart but they will also give you the courage to face almost everything in life. Tragic, and transcendental.
5. The Catcher in The Rye
Holden Caulfield, a character that almost everyone would find relatable. A young adult who feels alienated from society is skeptical about almost everything, angsty, and narrow-minded. What’s funny is that you will not only relate to this character, but also grow with it. This highly popular masterpiece by J.D. Salinger is a mockery of life, what a better way to understand life anyway? If you want a milder, classic version of the same novel, try Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
6. To Kill a Mockingbird
The classic masterpiece hits all the right chords of one’s heart. Not only is the novel extremely endearing, but also raw and hard-hitting. This Pulitzer prize-winning debut novel by Harper Lee grows on you in a way that it binds you with its roots and embraces you with its leaves. It follows the story of Atticus Finch, a lawyer, who is appointed to defend a black man charged with the rape of a white woman. Set in deep Southern America in the 1930s, this novel deftly deals with the issues of race and class in a way that few dare to execute. This novel isn’t all serious though, it also has its fair share of mirth. Innocent humor and the heavy blows of societal truth go hand in hand in this novel thereby making it one of the best books that teach you life lessons.
7. Freedom from the Known
I picked this book to read one night and couldn’t sleep for the next few nights. That’s the impact that Jiddu Krishnamurti has on you. Here’s a man, a philosopher, telling you things that you may or may not already know about life but are too scared to acknowledge. He helps you embrace your ideas, thoughts, and views. He helps you to liberate yourself from worldly futile Ponderings and helps you strive towards a path of self-awakening.
8. Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life
Ikigai is a Japanese term that can be loosely translated as a ‘reason for being’ or ‘reason to live.’ This best-selling book takes a secret from a country that is home to some of the longest-living people and offers it on a platter to us all. An optimistic reason, a drive for happiness can keep us going in this stress-filled world. The approach of this book is pretty simple, which is the reason why it is so popular. One should definitely read this book at least once in their lifetime.
9. The Kite Runner
It seems like Khaled Hosseini ripped out his heart from his chest and threw it on paper to create this book. This story taught me so much about friendship, family, love, culture, peace, loyalty, war, and above all life! This work is so nuanced, so beautiful, and heartwarming. The friendship between Hassan and Amir is palpable, the love between Amir and his father is painfully real. Why do humans behave the way they do? Why do we love, why do we long for things that we will never have? Read this novel, maybe you’ll find the answers.
10. Eat, Pray, Love
Yes, this is also the name of the Julia Roberts movie. The movie was based on this book. The book is basically the journey of a recently divorced woman around Italy, Indonesia, and India. If we look at the bigger picture, this is the journey of her self-awakening and self-discovery. This book will definitely make you look at life from a different angle and maybe appreciate it better.
11. The Alchemist
It’s been difficult to create a list of some of the best books about life and not include this masterpiece by Paulo Coelho. This book tells you that it is okay to dream and it also gives you the strength to pursue your dreams through the humble story of a shepherd named Santiago. This story is so fantastical yet so simple that it makes a home in your heart.
12. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
How many people have suggested you read this book? Many, I know. A story of evolution has never been better told. Trust me, all 14 billion years of the existence of homo-sapiens have been mushed into this beautiful piece of art. But it doesn’t just stop there, it answers some profound philosophical queries. It also questions and analyses the human idea of happiness. This book about life is a must-read.
Reading is not just a recreational activity; it can also be very spiritual sometimes. Books have this unbelievable power to turn our lives upside down for the better. So, go on, get a book and just start reading. At the end of the day, all books are about life and life is all about living. Let’s read a little, and live a little. Hope you liked this list of some of the best books about life. I know you must have read some other books too that are unfortunately missing in this list. Do let me know in the comments section and change my life for the better!