We all have our favorites, those authors and genres that we go back to time and again. Why? Because we know we can count on them to be entertained. They get us, right? They know what we want and they consistently provide. I get it. There are times when I will only pick up Dean Koontz because I know what to expect from his books. However, my favorite books have come from authors I might never have picked up on my own. If you are a reader I encourage you to break out of your comfort zone and be surprised. If you are a writer, this is absolutely a must.
Here are my 7 reasons (aka 7 times the words moved me beyond my wildest hopes):
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
I thought I would start with The Bard because he was truly a master of words. This part of Macbeth gave me chills:
T.S. Eliot’s The Hollow Men
This poem proves how powerful figurative language, imagery, and structure can be.
The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
Gibran’s insight into humanity has the power to change our hearts. Here’s an excerpt called “On Joy”:
Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the reassure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.
Pebble in the Sky by Isaac Asimov
This is Asimov’s first novel and it is spectacular. It is full of little treasures, big ideas, and insight into the human condition. Here’s a little snippet:
“There never can be a man so lost as one who is lost in the vast and intricate corridors of his own lonely mind, where none may reach and none may save.”
“Howl” by Allen Ginsberg
Ginsberg’s poem drives home the desperation and brokenness of the beatnik generation. Faced with a world that is rapidly changing, these are words of a lost soul desperately trying to find himself. Things have not changed much since then.
“Kubla Khan” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Written about a drug induced nightmare, “Kubla Khan” is a prime example of the fantastic prose that emerged during the Romantic Period. Ripe with emotion and vivid imagery, this poem makes you feel before your brain can even make sense of the words. Don’t give it too much thought, just listen and allow your heart to respond.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
This dystopian novel is poignant and elegant. The way that St. John Mandel writes is intoxicating and potent. You come out of this story with a better grasp of yourself, the important things around you and those things that you take for granted. You will be swept away and when you return you will be changed.
“She had never entirely let go of the notion that if she reached far enough with her thoughts she might find someone waiting, that if two people were to cast their thoughts outward at the same moment they might somehow meet in the middle.”