The greatest gift is a passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination.
Well...that is the power of books! In times when we desperately seek of a secluded alcove to retrieve ourselves, it is a book that provides us a comforting refuge. It opens up a space that welcomes a reader in the land of adventures to inspire him, once again. Stories transport you to an unknown time and era, and make you live a character, which was otherwise a far fetched dream. Let's take a look at the books which ought to be a part of your bucket list.
No. 1 ~ Atlas Shrugged
One of the revered books of all time, Atlas Shrugged revolves around Ayn Rand's philosophy of objectivism. Through its impressionable characters, the books tells a story of an ambitious par excellence, Dagny Taggart, the executive of Taggart Transcontinental, a railroad company pioneered by her grandfather. As she fights every obstacle to keep the company alive, her brother, James Taggart, refuses to take any tough decisions, despite being the President of the company. Hank Rearden, Francisco d'Anconia, Wesley Mouch, Ellis Wyatt and John Galt are the characters of the story, which represent the dexterous, the leeches, the achievers, the dreamer and the malicious minds of the society. The motto of this book is to get the reader thinking about objectivism in larger picture of life.
No. 2 ~ Catch 22
In Joseph Heller's words (the author), "There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind." A story based around World War II, it portrays the psyche of a soldier through its protagonist, Yossarian. The protagonist paints the horrors of a war through his sardonic voice and his realistic opinions, which keep the reader hooked till the last page.
No. 3 ~ The Art of War
Broken down in 13 chapters, this a treatise on ancient Chinese warfare. Sun Tzu was a high ranking military general and strategist in the Kingdom of Wu. It is a study material for every person who understands the importance of discipline. The methods put forth by Sun Tzu are applicable in our day-to-day lives and work ethics too. He talks about taking on the enemy with rational analysis of the subjective beliefs known by the leader. It is most definitely a book to be read by every student.
No. 4 ~ Catcher in the Rye
Written by late J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye, is the perfect gift for every teenager nearing adolescence. The book narrates the story of Holden Caulfield in first person, who is a representation of most teenagers. His relationships with friends, classmates, family and his desperation to be found, are situations most of the readers can relate to. The novel concludes on a note 'Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody,' silently teaching a lesson of adulthood to its every reader.
No. 5 ~ Pride and Prejudice
A novel by Jane Austen, the story follows the main character Elizabeth Bennet. She's a character caught up in struggles of knowing what is wrong and what is right by herself, as opposed to the prejudices. Her experiments with love, upbringing, marriage, society, and her conflicts with her conscience, lead us into an interesting story. Even in modern times the book continues to be one of the top 10 books to be read, as it relates to most of our understandings, relationships, and confusions thereof.
No. 6 ~ War and Peace
One of Leo Tolstoy's masterpiece, War and Peace is a legendary novel, which narrates the drama of early 19th century Russia. The book takes the reader to the time of war in Russia. Revolving around aristocratic families of Bezuhovs, Bolkonskys, Kuragins, and Rostovs, the story shows their struggle with love and death, that war brings. As these characters find their way through emotional and financial losses they find the meaning of life, which is the main theme of the book.
No. 7 ~ Lolita
Lolita is Valdimar Nabokov's greatest work of fiction. The book opens with a fictional character John Ray, Jr., Ph.D, who receives a manuscript of confessions from Humbert Humbert, a convict who died in jail, awaiting his trial. So, the manuscript becomes the story, which narrates Humberts nymphomaniac side. His desire to consummate relationships with sexually aware girls are all recorded in his journal. Finally, when Charlotte (a widow in USA) falls in love with him, he marries her so that he can be close to his true love, Lolita. Strangely, Lolita happens to be Charlotte's 12 year old daughter. The story takes an interesting turn after Charlotte's untimely death. The famous book aims to bring out the need for effective parenting to bring a normalcy in society.
No. 8 ~ Mein Kampf
Translated as 'My Struggle', this book is an autobiography of Adolf Hitler. Hitler narrates a story of his childhood, his career ambition of being a painter, family background and the situations that made him one of the heartless leaders of all time. Mein Kampf, outlines his political philosophy and his justifications for actions that led to the gruesome war of all times.
No. 9 ~ Alice in Wonderland
Written by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the famous pseudonym Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland is a classic for all ages. Alice, the protagonist falls down a rabbit hole and discovers a whole new world of fantasy, adventure, and thrill. The events in this book are all symbolic of actual challenges of life, which makes this one, quite a read!
No. 10 ~ Farewell to Arms
Written by Ernest Hemingway, this book tells a story of a young American soldier Frederic Henry, who falls in love with an English nurse. His love prompts him to desert the Italian front and escape to Switzerland. There they both live happily, until she dies during her pregnancy, losing the child too. Farewell to Arms uses a prosaic and a euphemistic style of writing.
Reading helps one to develop an individualistic style of thinking. It reforms you subconsciously, by providing you entertainment and information. So, pick your favorite and see where it takes you.