There are some books that find you later in life than you would like. When you finally get to read them, you find yourself wishing that you have read them at an earlier stage in your life, when their wisdom would have been of greater usage to you in regards to your circumstances. Nevertheless, it’s never too late for good wishes or good books, and I am very glad that I have had the opportunity to read the books from this list after all, regardless of the somewhat late timing:
- 1984, George Orwell
This dystopian novel has been on my reading list for a very long time, but I have somehow managed to ignore it. After I finally got around to reading it, I realized what I have been missing all along. The manipulation of the public and the constant surveillance by the government sound all too similar to the society we have today. I wish I haven’t regarded this book as a quaint, boring classic I considered it to be before reading, because it is actually a fascinating, and unfortunately, rather relevant read.
- Lord of the Flies, William Golding
While 1984 explores the concept of evil and oppression on a larger scale, Lord of the Flies scales it down to a small group of boys trapped on a tropical island. When I was an adolescent, this book managed to pass me by, and when I have read it as a twenty-something, I regretted not getting my hands on it earlier. I believe that there is the right time to read certain books, and Lord of the Flies is certainly meant primarily for adolescent readers. Not to dismiss it as a light read, on the contrary: only teenagers can fully appreciate the juicy darkness that permeates this book, but it can also be read (and loved) by adults.
- The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
The only novel written by a famous and somewhat controversial poet, the Bell Jar convinced me that it is okay (even necessary) to accept one’s own darkness. As someone who has struggled with anxiety during puberty and well into my early adulthood, I wish I have been able to read this book earlier. Plath left nothing out: and her sensation of being trapped under a bell jar, struggling for breath, felt all too familiar to me. This novel gives hope to everyone who is struggling, and shows that, under the right treatment, it does get better, and nobody is a lost cause.
- The Edible Woman, Margaret Atwood
The Edible Woman was my first literary encounter with Margaret Atwood, and I was immediately hooked (noways, Atwood is one of my favorite authors of all time). It wasn’t just her master storytelling that ensnared me, but also her profound understanding of a woman’s mind. As a feminist, there were so many times while reading this book that I felt relieved: someone understood. I wasn’t the only one who feels like this. Marian, the protagonist, taught me the importance of taking control over your life and standing up for the things you believe to be true.
- Women Who Love Too Much, Robin Norwood
I have shared my experiences with failed young love (or what I believed was love once, anyway) in one of my previous posts. A friend recommended this book to me, and it honestly blew my mind. Every embarrassing detail felt astonishingly familiar. Everything suddenly made sense. Except for one thing: if I had read this book earlier, I wouldn’t have stayed in a toxic relationship for as long as I did. Noways, I wholeheartedly recommend Norwood to every woman who feels like she is the one putting all the effort in a relationship and receiving nothing in return. The truth is, when love is real, it doesn’t feel like a constant battle. And everyone deserves a chance to find someone who will treat them the way they deserve to be treated.
- Stoner, John Williams
I might not be entirely to blame for not reading this book earlier: Stoner has been under a sort of literary renaissance in the past year. For fifty years, the general public has decided to ignore this book, and today you can’t even find it in the library because all the copies are out. The plot of this book sound ordinary, almost boring, but in reality, it is a novel about what it means to be human: it means to go on with your life, despite everything and everyone. It shows us that work is the ultimate consolation, and it is our dreams and passions which ultimately drive us forward, despite the sometimes dull chores of the daily life.
- The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell
I rarely recommend a book based on a film, but this 1988 documentary is an exception to the rule: Campbell’s ideas about the ongoing role of myth in contemporary society are truly fascinating, even more so for writers. It refers to the general mythology, however, much of his theories can be applied to creative writing, and give you some ideas about basic plot structures. Personally, I know that his elaboration on different types of heroes, their transformation and evolution was of great help to me while trying to come up with story outlines.
There goes my list. Do you have a similar one of the books that you wish you have read earlier? Let me know!