Have you ever read a book that talked about a topic that was heavy but very important? I sometimes come across books with very emotional and often painful lessons, but I think they are some of the most important books I have ever read. Some of them have shocked me and some even made me cry. But I have never regretted reading them, because they taught me something. When I looked through my bookshelf while deciding what to bring to Cambridge, I realised that I had not shared any of these books with all of you. Therefore, I picked five of them and decided to share them with you all today.
Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account
I remember reading the title of this book* in a bookstore in Hong Kong and thinking to myself "Which doctor who worked in Auschwitz would voluntarily make his crimes public in a book?" After reading the book, it became clear to me why the author of the book had decided to share his story. Mr. Nyiszli was a prisoner in Auschwitz but he was selected to work under Dr. Mengele, one of the most cruel doctors at concentration and extermination camps. His often very factual descriptions of the things he saw give the reader an idea of how he tried to only use his professional self in these times in order to avoid not being able to cope. I think reading his book is important because it gives a rare first-hand account of what work in an extermination camp was like and because it serves as a reminder of the cruel crimes that have been committed in these camps. This book is definitely not for the light-hearted and I would recommend reading it after tenth grade the earliest.
My Name is Leon
What makes a family? How much can you love someone who mistreats you and leaves you? My Name is Leon* explores these questions and many more from the perspective of a little boy who does not understand everything that is happening around him. Leon has a mother who cannot care for him and his little brother. The siblings are sent to a foster mother and Leon's little brother, who is white, is adopted, while his black older brother is left behind. This book has heart-breaking moments because the reader fully understands what is going on in different scenes while the protagonist is not fully aware of what is happening or why he is feeling what he is feeling. I would highly recommend this book to everyone out there! The book is a relatively quick read and can be read within less than a week.
This would not be one of my lists if not at least one classic would be on it. I remember reading Macbeth* for the first time in one day. The characters and their secrets and actions to keep them fascinated me and I just wanted to know what would happen next. Macbeth, who commits murder out of ambition and encouragement from his wife, experiences feelings of guilt and anxiety after his crime. His dark thoughts and fears remind the reader of the importance of good motives and honest actions. Although a classic and at times tough to read due to its age, I think it is absolutely worth your time because the play is filled with suspense and mystery that makes you want to turn the pages to find out how the story ends.
The Book Thief
Can you imagine a time where your libraries suddenly emptied some of their shelves because the books that occupied them are not deemed worth reading anymore? Where books are burned because they do not conform with the state's ideology? The Book Thief* takes the reader back to Nazi Germany and tells the story of a little girl who comes in contact with one of the books the Nazis are trying to eliminate. But the trouble does not end there - her family decides to shelter a Jew who is hiding from the Nazis. And now imagine being told this story by death. This book contains so many lessons on the importance of friendship, personal beliefs, and our relationship with death that I cannot put them all in this short post. But I can say that reading this book will definitely leave you with a better understanding of the importance of access to uncensored libraries, what it meant to grow up in Nazi Germany, and the sacrifices we make for our friends.
Not everything is what it seems. This is a lesson we have probably all been taught at some point or another. But do we always keep it in mind? Probably not. If there is one book to teach you this lesson, this* is it. I do not want to spoil the plot for those of you who have not read it yet, so let me just put it like this: Read this book to get a surprising end that will make you remember the lesson at the beginning of this paragraph.
To Kill A People: Genocide in the Twentieth Century
This book* is academic literature, but it is easy to understand for people who do not come from the fields of international law or politics. To many people, the word genocide still equates to the Holocaust and crimes of similar numbers. This book explains the meaning of genocide in international law and points out some of the flaws this definitions has. Then it moves on to exploring different case studies. This book is a quite good introduction to this complex topic and I would recommend it to anyone who would like to know more about international law and conflicts.
This post is a little bit different to what I usually post, but I believe these books to contain important lessons that we need to remember. I hope that I could add a new item to your reading list. Is there a book that taught you an invaluable lesson? Let me know about it!
Lots of Love,
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