As Fall and the Holidays are in full swing, here are some of my top reads to give yourself the gift of a few early nights immersed in a story, wrapped in a warm blanket and sipping a relaxing tea:
The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
by Frederick Douglass
This is a book worth reading. It's not for finger-pointing, but to understand what life was like for African Americans before the abolition of slavery. Powerful, eloquent and utterly moving, especially considering it was written by a man who taught himself how to read and write while a slave. The Narrative is absorbing in its sensitive descriptions of persons and places; even an unsympathetic reader must be stirred by its vividness if he is unmoved by its passion. It is not easy to make real people come to life, and the Narrative is too brief and episodic to develop any character in the round. But it presents a series of sharply etched portraits, calmly recounting the horrors and the accomplishments of Douglass's early years—the daily, casual brutality of the white masters; his painful efforts to educate himself; his decision to find freedom or die; and his harrowing but successful escape. Perhaps the most striking quality of the Narrative is Douglass’ ability to mingle incident with argument. He writes as a partisan, but his indignation is always under control. Considered merely as a narrative, I have never read one more simple, true, coherent, and warm with genuine feeling and conviction.
The Power of Positive Thinking
by Norman Vincent Peale
The best thing about this book is that the reader is regularly connected at short intervals with the true wealth that is spirituality. Small sentences and examples reminds the reader a simple yet miraculous thing: Believe. The book urges you to stop worrying, have faith in yourself and tackle challenges with a positive attitude. A good read especially when you need something to lift your spirits up when you are down. I found some examples as over exaggerations of "too good to be true" and some parts to be "too religious," but who doesn't need a reminder to dig for a bit of faith in these challenging times?
Dear Ijeawele or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
When a friend asked Adichie for advice on how to raise her baby daughter as a feminist, the writer came up with 15 suggestions. Dear Ijeawele is powerful because it's short and sweet—the perfect disguise for a collection of ideas that attempt to set the world on fire. A mix of humor, wit and honesty made it stick in my mind for a long time after I had finished it. It would be difficult not to like this little book, which shines with all Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's characteristic warmth and sanity and forthrightness.
The Essential Rumi
by Coleman Barks
A phenomenal read! This is a truly wonderful collection of the spiritual poetry of the great Persian poet Jelaluddin Rumi (1207 - 1273). This book has become one of my bibles of spirituality - it is what I would call a one in a million read. The Essential Rumi offers the most beautiful rendering of the primary poetry of Rumi to both devoted enthusiasts and novice readers. For seven centuries, Rumi's poetry and teaching stories have enchanted, inspired, and enlightened Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, and Buddhists alike. His output is impressive — he composed 3500 odes, 2000 quatrains, and an epic six-volume poem titled Mathnawi. The teaching stories are humorous, down-to-earth, and profound, helping us cultivate heart, passion, and personal transformation.
by Paulo Coelho
The book, which comes with illustrations by Christoph Niemann, read at face level, this slim volume seems to offer little beyond rudimentary instruction, but the deeper message of the archer is that mastery requires one to delve into the heart of any endeavor. This minimalist narrative is split between a prologue and an epilogue, thus framing a series of thirteen eloquent lessons. The chapters, ranging from a few lines to several pages, detail the proper gestures a novice archer must learn in order to excel. Such simplicity in storytelling disguises a more complex message than how best to pull back a bowstring; it fosters an understanding of the higher self and a reverence for life’s many stages. Coelho’s keen understanding of humanity’s yearning for enlightenment emerges again and again in his work. Some readers will see deep truth in the spare sentences; others will find this allegorical tale a trite predictable. Whether this book will be a life-changer or not will depend very much on what the reader both brings to and seeks from its pages.