The way to write a book in which displeases everyone.…would be accomplished by creating a list of your favorites, such as 12 Books that Changed the World by Melvyn Bragg. We are in an age of lists. The trend began with the first US nationwide popular newspaper, USA Today. All types of lists began showing up in vivid color, grabbing people’s attention from airports to hotels. This was new, this was fresh, but this simple graphic communication generates controversy – similar to Bragg’s book.
I did like the way that his choices were limited to Britain and largely avoiding religious books except the Bible of course. And I liked that his premise was first, what societal issues changed society, and then secondarily, which books were instrumental in changing behavior and attitudes.
As I noticed that novels weren’t part of his list, I remembered back to my son’s graduation commencement from Kansas State University. For his graduating business class, the University president proffered one of the speeches. In it, he challenged the students to read, but then surprised them by saying “read novels.” He believed that novels rather than non-fiction were change agents. Stories are what inspire, encourage and transform us. In novels we see who we want to be and act accordingly. We become the hero – which makes us better people.
He’s right. My passion for life and far-away places and characteristics of a man who’s true to himself and others, has come from authors such as:
- Louis L’Amour
- Clive Cussler
- Johnathon Archer
- J. K. Rowling
- Ken Follett
- Dan Brown
- Suzanne Collins
- Alistair McCLean
- James Michener
Books that shaped me when I was younger included:
- The Red Car by Stanford,
- Johnathan Livingston Seagull by Bach,
- Dune by Herbert
- 1984 by Orwell.
Though not all fiction, my love for missions and different cultures has been stimulated and imparted to me by books based upon true instances, situations or far-off realities:
- Kite Runner – Hosseini
- Neither Wolf Nor Dog – Nerburn
- Poisonwood Bible – Kingsolver
- The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down – Fadiman
- Shantaram – Roberts
- The Alchemist – Coelho
- In a Sunburned Country – Bryson
- Cycling Home from Siberia – Lilwall
- White Man’s Grave – Richard Dooling
- An countless National Geographic Magazines
Then, there are simple, non-scholarly books, which can change your faith and launch a person on a new spiritual direction:
- Mere Churchianity – Michael Spencer
- Velvet Elvis – Rob Bell
- Evolving in Monkey Town – Rachel Held Evans
- The Shack – William Paul Young
- Grace Awakening – Charles Swindoll
I agree with Bragg about the inclusion of the FA Rule book. Sports can bring meaning and purpose and for many can change a life or add to life. He’s listed these books because they can change behavior, political sides, consciousness and attitudes. But we all have those books which do the same for us, and our libraries are probably as distinct and different as our personalities.
So what’s on your list?