Life Lessons From 5 Books

To Kill a Mockingbird

The grim Alabama of Harper Lee’s book was an alien world for the 16-year-old me, but the sheet beauty of her words made it feel like learning about new colors. To Kill a Mockingbird remains the most moving book I have ever read. It taught me something I have come to appreciate more over time: that people everywhere are fighting the same demons, just in different shapes.

Brave New World

Do we really need more social media to connect people? Will self-driving cars end all our woes? Is technology really the benchmark of our success?

The evolution of intelligence allowed humans to ponder their existence: and it gave us free will, a moral compass we seldom use, the concept of truth and beauty, and some beautiful poetry. But then something else happened: the advancement of technology means that we don’t have to spend all our time securing food and shelter. We are left with a void that we try to fill with even more technology. Our lives become complex, and we tell ourselves the answer lies even deeper.

Remember the monkey who got his hand stuck in the peanut jar?

Einstein: His Life and Universe and Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

You can get away with being a womanizer and a deadbeat dad if you are famous enough.

It’s funny but also a glaring realization that dawns over time: you don’t need to be a good person to be loved and remembered by people. If people find qualities in you they admire, they will ignore the faults.

A Room of One’s Own

Modern feminism has come a long way from the era of suffragettes, in ways good and bad. Woolf’s essay provides insight on why we need feminism, and does so with impeccable articulateness and surprisingly little anger.

I have read some of her other works since and I am a huge fan. Her writing is brave: back then, brave for its radical views, and brave today for its even keel.

Light In August

Joe Christmas is our anti-hero here – a biracial man troubled with his identity: is he black or white? Everyone has a role. What’s his?

Another amazing book, Maps for Lost Lovers talks about people trying to reconcile the world they now call home with the utterly different world they grew up in. Immigrants.

Sometimes I wonder why race and culture are such important issues today and how one can have an identity crisis over it in this beautiful little liberal world of ours where people tell me how much they love curry all the time.

But race is important. As much today as ever.

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