Books that Change Us

Today in the Bishkek U.C.A. office there was an animated conversation among staff about some of our favourite novels.   Books are sometimes portals to other worlds and they can be a way that we gain empathy for characters in other times, cultures or even fantastical places.

Here are two recent books that I loved:

book theif“It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery.

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.”


The other recent book I loved is “Searching for Alaska,” the first novel written by John Green, best known for “The Fault in Our Stars.”looking-for-alaska

Green has an amazing ability to write from the perspective of quirky, smart young adults who are grappling with huge questions around family, friendships, life and death.  For me this book had moments of laughter and tears and gratitude for the people in our lives who believe in us.

So, these are two of my recent favourite books.

What books do you love?  Why would you recommend them?  How have they impacted you?

Put your suggestions in the comments below!



7 thoughts on “Books that Change Us

  1. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

    This book was on my “to read” list that I was procrastinating for a long time and I am glad that I finally found some time to read it. I should say it is the best book I have read in a long time.
    Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection is a guide book how to find your true self and help you live out a life in alignment with your values and what really matters to you.
    In essence, Brene Brown shows us to accept ourselves with all our imperfections and not to strive to be perfect in a world that is far from perfect. The book is full of really great quotes and my favorite one is Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are.

  2. Thanks Roza, I love everything written by Brene Brown and her Ted Talk on vulnerability amazed and move me. I love the message about “embracing who we are” with all our quirks and flaws. This would be a great book for a book club at Naryn campus!

  3. My favourite book is “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. It is a children’s story for adults. With charming illustrations it tells the story of a pilot stranded in a desert, where he meets a little prince fallen to earth from a tiny asteroid. The pilot hears the prince’s story and learns much from him about life and human nature. My favourite line is one I still remember, “One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”

  4. Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder

    I came across with this book unintentionally from the books left by my students in the laboratory when I was still teaching at Leyte Normal University in the Philippines 5 years ago. I started to flip the pages and read. For some reason, I got interested as I completed reading page by page and ended up borrowing the book from my student for a week.

    Though I have always been fascinated with the works and accomplishment of science and technology even when I was an elementary pupil making me pursue physics teaching and science education in the university, “Sophie’s World” has made me understand better the creativity of human mind that lead us to the modern world. It summarizes the history of philosophy and highlighted the importance of Freedom and Creativity of the human mind as it is interwoven with moral standards and cultural traditions.

    I should read it again in Naryn!

  5. Hi Ian, I loved Sophie’s World as well. It is such an interesting way to understand the history of Western Philosophy and it has a such a sense of curiosity and wonder about the meaning of our existence. Thanks so much for sharing your suggestion! This would also be a great book for a book club on Naryn campus. Maybe we’ll figure out the meaning of life together!

  6. I’m presently “enjoying” ‘The Emperor Far Away.’ I was in Yunnan last September, and will be in Xinjiang soon, so it’ll be interesting what I can learn in these short times. The book especially makes me lament and admire the diversity of languages in the world. Communication barriers, but also symbols of identification….

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