Last week, I treated myself to two magazines (oh, how I still love my printed magazines!). One of these was Real Simple. In it, there was an article “50 books that will change your life.” It had been mentioned on the cover, and was one of the reasons I chose this magazine over the many other beckoning covers.
Once I got home, I flipped right to that article. I felt oddly disappointed. As an avid reader, I had expected that many of my favourite books would be included in the list. Out of the 50 listed, the only ones that I had read and that had had an impact on my life were:
The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger: I read this book as a teenager. I had come across it in my girlfriend’s homework and it was assigned reading in her school. I hadn’t heard of it before, but was intrigued. Once I started it, I couldn’t put it down. I had found adolescence to be full of emotions of such intensity that it was refreshing to read a character who seemed to be struggling with angst on the same level. The book also touches on mental illness and it was the first book I’d ever read that had done so.
Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton: This was assigned reading in a university course I had taken at Bishop’s. I can’t recall the exact title of the course, but it was full of books that focused on colonial themes in the continent of Africa. It was, by far, my favourite course in this degree. The professor was Dr. Ware. He too was, by far, a most favourite teacher. This led to an extended interest in Africa for me and I ended up completing my Masters thesis on the topic of white women writing in Africa at Carleton University.
But that’s it. Out of the 50 listed in the article, I had found only two that had really touched me. Naturally, though, I do want to pursue the other books on this list. What gems out there have I been missing all these years?