10 novels that will change your perspective

10 books to read to change your perspective on the world
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while (or if you’re following me over on Instagram) you probably know that one of my biggest hobbies is to read. My favourite kind of novels are the ones that teach you something at the same time as keeping you invested in a gripping story. In this post, I have put together a list of my favourite novels that will truly change your perspective and how you see the world.

“We read to know we’re not alone.”

Americanah: This is probably one of my favourite novels ever. And I read A LOT of great books. Americanah tells the story of  lovers Ifemelu and Obinze. As they leave Nigeria for the West, they get separated. Ifemelu tries to find her way in the US while Obinze goes to England. 15 years later they meet again, as both once again return to their homeland. It’s a fascinating and true story about being an immigrant, an outsider, as well as finding your way back once you’ve left your home.

Homegoing: Homegoing isn’t a typical read for me since the story picks of in the 18th century (and I’m NOT a fan of historical fiction). The story is worth reading it though. It deals with the sisters Effia and Esi, two sisters with two very different destinies. While Esi is sold into slavery in America, while Effia stays in Ghana and marries a British slave trader. The novel tells the story of their families – each generation up until this day. It’s a fantastic tale and it will really change your perspective on American history as well.

When the Moon is Low: I only just finished this book and now I want to get everyone I know to read it. It tells the story of Fereiba who flees from Afghanistan with her three children after her husband gets killed. In the course of the journey (spoiler alert) Fereiba and her 16-year old son Saleem get separated, each trying to find their own way to London. I’ve never read a refugee story that tells the individual details of the different stops of the journey (Turkey, Greece, Italy and so on) in such detail. This book isn’t an easy read, but it definitely changes your perspective as well.

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”

The Kite Runner: I love all of Khaled Hosseini’s novels, The Kite Runner as well as “And the Mountain Echoed” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns”. If you still haven’t read any of them, you need to change that immediately. This is his first one, so I’d start with it. His prose is absolutely beautul and you will learn a lot about Afghanistan and it’s history along the way.

Exit West: This novel is quite new and well worth the buzz it received lately. It tells the story of Nadia and Saeed, two very different people who fall in love in the middle of a civil war. Together, they decide to flee. Will they make it? And will their love make it as well? A very wise observation of a book.

Half of a Yellow Sun: My second book from Adichi for this post, but she’s just so good. This book is really informative as well, this time on the civil war in Nigeria in the 1960s, how the world reacted and what it did to Nigerian citizens. But it’s not just a history book – there are three intermingled family stories that are really fascinating as well.

The Lowland: Another family story (can you tell that I like those?), this time set in India in the 1960s. Brothers Sudash and Udayan are inseparable, but also absolutely different. Udayan wants to change Indian politics, while Sudash leaves for America to make a name for himself. Then tragedy happens and the family is shook upside down. This is another book I absolutely love and it will keep you glued to the pages till the end.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Behold the Dreamers: Jende and Neni are immigrants in New York, fresh from Nigeria. The year is 2007 and it’s looking good – Jende has a job with a Clark Edwards, a high manager at Lehman Brothers. The family is moving up in the world. Then the financial world crashes down – and for Jende and Neni everything changes too.

Zeitoun: This is the (real!) story of Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a prosperous Syrian-American and father of four children. When Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans, he decides to stay in the city to take care of his properties. What happens to people once order is lost, is truly scary. This shows how prejudices affect all of us and how they can have truly horrible repercussions. Not an easy read, but definitely worth it.

What is the What: I read this book ages ago and it still has an impact on me. It’s from 2006, written way before the ‘refugee crisis’, but it’s still surprisingly relevant. It tells the story Valentino Achak Deng, a refugee from Sudan, and what he has experienced on his way out of his country. This book will haunt you.

What books did you read lately that changed your perspective?

January 2017 Book Log

My favourite book in January

For 2017, I set myself another challenge to read 52 books. A book per week sounds like an achievable goal, in my opinion! I made a good head start in January (a few days off, lots of train travel and no show I’m watching on Netflix at the moment might be the reason for that). If you’re looking for a new book to read, you might want to give these a go!

Fiction

Half of a Yellow Sun / Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi

If you’ve been a reader of this blog for a while, you know that I’ve been a fan of Adichi’s books for years. I finally read her most appraised one “Half of a Yellow Sun” in January and I’m so glad that I did! It deals with the Biafran war from 1967 to 1970 – a war I never heard about before, I must admit – from the perspective of three different narrators. It’s a heartbreaking tale, something everybody interested in international affairs should read, in my opinion.

Homegoing / Yaa Gyasi

Another novel set on African soil, Homegoing tells the history of slavery in America from two different angles. It sets out with the story of half-sisters Effia and Esi. Both grow up in 18th century Ghana under very different circumstances: Effia is married to a British slave trader, Esi herself is sold into slavery. Homegoing tells the story of the generations that follow these two – a mesmerizing page turner.

Non-Fiction

On Writing / Stephen King

I haven’t read any of King’s novels yet, but I’ve heard plenty of times that “On Writing” is a must-read for every hobby writer out there. I finally picked it up at the bookstore around Christmas and it definitely is worth the praise! Half memoir, half writing tips , you should give King’s book a go if you’re thinking about becoming a writer.

Talking as fast as I can / Lauren Graham

I’m a BIG Gilmore Girls fan, no denying that. So, when Lauren Graham published a memoir last year, of course I had to get a copy! It’s funny, heart-warming and easy to read – ideal for a grey winter day while you’re waiting for Spring.

The Folded Clock / Heidi Julavits

The Folded Clock has been on my list for a while. I loved Julavits’ anthology “Women in Clothes” and her journal is just as whimsical and fun to read. She’s definitely slightly neurotic, but that makes reading this one even more fun.

Did you read any great books lately?

Getting inspired by Chef’s Table

Getting inspired by Chef's Table - Hanna's Places

Have you guys watched the Netflix show ‘Chef’s Table’ yet? It’s a documentary show about some of the greatest chefs around the world, focusing on one of them in each episode. I have just finished watching the first season and I feel so inspired from it. Not necessarily inspired to cook but inspired to create and follow my passion. All of those chefs in the show are very different, but still, there’s a couple of basic truths that unite all of them.

Lessons from Chef’s Table

+ They all know exactly what they are doing. Even though the chefs are creating exciting new things that have never been cooked before, all of them are highly trained as well. Many of them have worked in haute cuisine for years and learned from the best. What does that teach us? You first need to learn your craft and practice a lot (!), before things will get as great as you imagine them.

+ Determination lead them where they wanted to go. Most of the chefs struggled with failure and disappointments in their career. Failed restaurants, unemployment etc. They still kept their dreams alive and just tried something different – the road to success is never straight.

+ They all prioritized good and simple ingredients over quantity. If you start with great basics, whatever you are creating will be so much better as well. Furthermore, it shows even more that mass-produced fast food only harms our bodies and our environment. Some of the chefs grow all the vegetables in their restaurants themselves – one even had his own farm. We can actually watch how much care goes into choosing the right dishes for each season. It’s simply fascinating!

+ Nature inspires all of them. There’s no better place to clear your head than being surrounded by nature and nothing else.

+ They were all confident about the fact that they are creative beings. We have all been created with a creative mind. It isn’t about whether you are creative or not, it’s about whether you have started creating yet.

If you haven’t watched Chef’s Table yet, you simply need to check it out.

September 2016 Book Log

September 2016 Book Log

September has been a great book month! I finally got a membership for my local library (it’s a good one) and I finished a few of the books on my nightstand. I also went on a Social Media Detox this month (more on that later), which meant more reading as well. Here’s all the books I finished this month, maybe you can find a few great ones for your autumn reading list.

Fiction

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend | This book is more in the light reading group ;) It’s about a Swedish girl called Sara, who’s extremely lonely and only finds solace in books. She goes to Iowa to visit a friend and ends up falling in love and changing the life of the people around her before she leaves. Yes, it’s that kind of book. If you’re in the mood for something light, it’s a fun read, otherwise I wouldn’t recommend it.

Memory Wall | My favourite book in the world is ‘All The Light We Cannot See’ by Anthony Doerr. This is one of his earlier works and again, beautifully written. The story is slightly odd, about a boy who comes to possess an old woman’s secret memory. It’s a bit uncomfortable to read, but still something to make you think.

The Improbability of Love | Again, this book probably isn’t important literature, but the perfect autumn read: It’s set in the London art world, there’s love, there’s intrigue and the atmosphere is lovely. It also makes you think about the worth we give to the objects we own. Go read it.

A Little Life | This book is massive. I finished it last week and I’m still constantly thinking about it. It’s written in a beautiful way, but boy, it’s one of the most depressing books I’ve ever read. It talks about the story of Jude St. Francis, a man who has been mistreated in his childhood in horrific ways. It shows both his inner conflicts and the way his friends and adopted family try to tell him that he is worthy of love and a good life. I cried ugly tears when I read the last few pages.

Non-Fiction

Fashion Matters | This is a selection of 101 essays on fashion by Frances Corner, the Head of London College of Fashion. If you’re into fashion at all, you’ll really enjoy this one! She writes about the impact fashion has on our society and our environment and why (and how) we tend to identify through clothing.  I’ve read it over the past few weeks, an essay at a time, and loved it.

Good or God? | I first heard about John Bevere when he was at my church late last year. The message he brought (on the holy spirit) was one of the best I ever heard. Then, when a friend of mine recommended ‘Good or God’ to me, I knew I had to pick it up! And it was worth it. It’s not an easy book and it challenged me in many ways. But: if you’re interested in living your life as God intended, this one’s for you.

Wild | I’ve heard so much about Cheryl Strayed’s trip along the Pacific Crest Trail. She left having nothing to lose and came back beginning to heal from her past. I enjoyed reading Wild, though it probably won’t change my life. I’d like to go on a similar trip one day (though better equipped and not alone), but that’s about it.

Merken

Merken

June 2016 Book Log

June Book Recommendations | Hanna's Places

Another month is over and it’s officially time for summer reading. I have traveled a lot in June and I got my weekends back by handing in my dissertation so lots of new books for me! Sadly, the books I read this month were nothing more than ‘okay to read’, but that’s life, right? ;)

June Reading

The Language of Flowers | This book was a beautiful story about a girl who grew up in different foster homes. She never really made friends or felt at home anywhere, apart from one family over ten years ago. They taught her the language of flowers – before something terrible happened. Now she’s trying to make her place in the world and get past her troubled past. I really liked reading this book especially the first half. It gets a bit disappointing at the end, but by then you will love the story enough to keep going.

Go Set a Watchman | It took me a long time to pick up Harper Lee’s sequel of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’. The reviews haven’t been the best, especially since Atticus Finch turns out to be a racist like everyone else. Of course, it’s nothing like TKAM both in terms of the storyline and the depth of the story. But it’s still a nice weekend read.

The Chaperone | This is the story of silent movie star Louise Brooks, her chaperone and a summer in New York. The chaperone Cora Carlisle has her very own agenda why she wants to go to New York with Louise. Over the course of a month secrets surface and Cora faces her past. It was a really enjoyable summer read, not my favourite but good for the beach.

The Shadow Year | Another beach read. For some reason I put this book on my Goodreads ‘to read’ list and checked it out at the library over a year later. Please don’t ask me how it ended up on that list. A recommendation on another blog? Maybe. Anyway, to the book: The story is quite gripping, though highly unlikely. It was great for a rainy weekend at home, but nothing that would make you think or teach you something valuable about life. Just – a beach read.

Women In Clothes | I loved ‘reading’ this book! Though it’s less of a story but more like a conversation. It consists of interviews of over 500 women of all ages and social categories. Pictures, stories, style tips – you can find everything in this book. If you love fashion, you will love Women in Clothes as well. If you’re curious: You can find another review on Anoushka’s blog with lots of quotations as well.

What have you been reading in June? Any tips?

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