Carrie Bradshaw isn’t the only person who loves the smell of books. I too love the way books smell, especially older books. I also love how the pages feel between my fingertips and look on my bookshelves. I remember on one of my flights last year, the gentleman sitting next to me asked, “You don’t prefer to read e-books?” I said, “No way.” I explained to him that practically everything we do now is electronic, and sometimes my soul longs for the good ‘ole days of writing letters, playing board games, seeing people in person, and physically turning the pages of a book.
One of my favorite ways to spend my downtime is to bundle up with a cup of tea and my favorite pillow and dive into whatever book I’m in the mood for. I turn off or mute all technology because I don’t want to be distracted from my imagination. Although I prefer fiction over non-fiction, I enjoy several genres within both categories: mystery, horror, drama, art, action and adventure, self-help, biographies, and anthologies. Whether I have learned a life lesson, become inspired or motivated, cried, laughed, felt anger or joy, or simply thought it was brilliant literature, I want to share the books that have had a positive effect on my life. Here are the first three below:
1. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
A friend of mine called and said she bought a book that she wanted me to read with her. Of course, when she said it was The Alchemist, my wanderer-spirit smiled as I told her I already owned a copy. The Alchemist is a clear and compelling metaphor of life, and I was more than happy to revisit the book. Although considered elementary, the fables are reminders to always follow your heart, take chances, strive to become your greatest self, and live greatly.
The Alchemist is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way, he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself King, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.
2. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
I learned about Invisible Man while working on the stage play The Ties that Bind during undergrad as a theater major at an HBCU. A line in the play referenced this masterpiece and I knew that it was imperative for me to read the novel. Invisible Man is about a Pan-African man whose color renders him invisible to Pan-Europeans in America. Ellison addresses many of the social, economic, and biological issues and differences facing melanin-dominated ethnicities, Natives, and particularly Africans in America during the early twentieth century (which amusingly still applies to today).
Ellison definitely contributed plenty of knowledge to my understanding of “white” supremacy, injustice, fascism, and how I am viewed as a hue-man. Other themes in the novel include “black” nationalism, identity, and racial policies. This novel heightened the wake-up call I had during my late teens and will last a lifetime.
3. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
I simply enjoyed this book because I’m always in wanderlust. Traveling is my favorite sport, so when I read a brief summary about this memoir, I wanted to give it a try. Eat, Pray, Love is about Gilbert’s pursuit of the “American Dream” by way of finding herself and what made her life feel complete. She literally took a journey around the world, and in her travels, she discovers the art of eating good food in Italy, the power of prayer in India, and true love in Indonesia.
At times she can be a bit self-centered but I suppose you have to be when it comes to self-discovery. This read is for anyone who needs the inspiration to change and take risks. It certainly helped propel me in a direction that I wasn’t sure I wanted to go, which was traveling for work on top of traveling for leisure. I’m glad that I took the risk because it added value to my life.
I know there are plenty of book-worms out there. Has anyone read these? What books have had a positive effect on your life?