Books are windows into other worlds and other minds. When they're well-written, tell a good story, or both, they can terrify you, anger you, please you, excite you, and inspire. They teach life-long lessons, even when they're books about bad people. All the books you read can help you come up with a philosophy on which you can base your life. These are my picks and the various, sometimes weird reasons I think they're so inspiring.
1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
$6.46 at amazon.com
Don't base your life on Gatsby or Daisy or any of these sad, superficial people. Don't even base your life on Nick because as lovely as he can be, he's biased and admittedly unreliable. The Great Gatsby teaches you to pity people like this.
2. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
$8.32 at amazon.com
No, no, don't start your own fight club – or do. The club's not the important thing. Chuck warns us against growing comfortable and complacent. This is your life and it's ending one moment at a time.
3. The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
$9.78 at amazon.com
Base your life on this kind of passion, learn how to spot toxic people, figure out how to guard against smothering, outside pressures.
4. White Oleander by Janet Fitch
$10.00 at amazon.com
Astrid can teach you how to be a survivor, even when surviving seems impossible.
5. The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving
$10.62 at amazon.com
The life lesson from this book is simple: keep passing the open windows.
6. Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
$13.45 at amazon.com
Johnny Wheelwright and Owen Meany will show you a different kind of friendship, yes, but for me, it became the book that taught me a different kind of faith.
7. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
$6.99 at amazon.com
Sometimes you have to do what's best for you. You have to. And sometimes that involves changing your entire life. That's scary, but it has the potential to be so rewarding.
8. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
$12.42 at amazon.com
Your destiny is yours. You create the path. You can make it up from whole cloth. That's what this book teaches you.
9. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
$11.46 at amazon.com
Don't rest on watching the film, as lovely as it is. When you read this novel, you gain perspective, strength, and you get to taste a culture that isn't yours and never was, maybe, but that seems so familiar.
9. Possessing the Secret of Joy by Alice Walker
$13.23 at amazon.com
This book will change your love from the first page. All of Alice Walker's books will, really, so pardon this run of three. This one's kind of a sequel to The Color Purple and it … it's profound. It won't just touch you, it will move you. Tashi will touch you, and Adam, and Pierre, and Alice's ideas – all of it.
10. The Temple of My Familiar by Alice Walker
$12.62 at amazon.com
I can't even come up with the words necessary to describe this book or what it will teach you. Just read it. Do it as a favor to me, huh?
11. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
$5.59 at amazon.com
You probably read this in high school. I urge you to read it again now. If you've gone through similar experiences, or simply dark ones, Maya's story will help guide you forward.
12. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
$8.70 at amazon.com
This choice might seem trite, but give it a try. We don't all have someone willing to share the blueprints of a fulfilling life with us.
13. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
$6.79 at amazon.com
This one might seem trite too, but sometimes you need to learn how to stand up for what's right.
14. She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb
$6.00 at amazon.com
Most of Wally Lamb's books will teach you something important about your own life, but Dolores … Dolores is all of us, I think. She's a heroine whose life is never easy, even when it is.
15. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
$12.64 at amazon.com
This is just truly amazing. Trust me.
16. The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
$8.73 at amazon.com
Why? Because it will teach you how essential, how vital it is to have a close circle of friends, of sisters.
17. The Ballad of the Sad Cafe by Carson McCullers
$7.09 at amazon.com
Why this one? Because this book … I think this book will make you feel comfortable with yourself. I think it will open up new perspectives.
What books do you live your life by?