Classic Books · Literary Lists

#BBAW: 5 books that inspired me to do and be better

Today I feel inspired by The Estella Society’s Book Blogger Appreciation Week, going on Feb. 15 – 19. The day one challenge: “Introduce yourself by telling us about five books that represent you as a person or your interests/lifestyle.”

Beautiful old booksI love this because it feels so impossible. At first, I couldn’t think of any books and then I couldn’t narrow down the list. In the end, I picked five whose characters and stories have inspired me to do and be better, in some way. In my heart of hearts, I’d like these books to represent me as a person, but I’m happy for them to represent what I aspire to live up to and be.

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

This was my favorite book growing up. I had three copies and read them all until they were falling apart. Sara Crewe felt like a friend who understood me – my flaws and my potential – and inspired me to be better. She showed me it’s possible to be kind, loyal, and empathetic and still kick butt when a butt needs kicking, in the politest way possible (usually).

The Brothers KaramazovThe Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

When I was in graduate school, a friend and I read this together for “fun.” Reading a difficult book for no other reason than to experience it reminded me why I’d wanted to study literature in the first place. Because I loved beauty and words and the worlds they create. I love the deep empathy, spirituality, and emotion in this book. When I miss it, I go back and read the Epilogue. My heart swells just thinking about it.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl

When I’m asked to name a book that changed my life, this one always rises to the top of the list. I cannot think of a book that so powerfully expresses and illustrates the transformative potential of meaning and perception. Frankl’s capacity for empathy and embracing complexity humbled and inspired me, and continues to do so.

Harry Potter by J. K. RowlingHarry Potter

I’ve written before about my Harry Potter journey, so I’ll stick with the essentials here. Like so many of the books I value most (as this exercise is showing me!), Harry Potter is about the power of choice, love, and community. It’s about growing up and into yourself. It’s about taking responsibility for who you become and for your actions and choices. Plus it’s funny and gripping. And the more you read it, the more hidden gems you discover.

Fireside readingDavid Copperfield by Charles Dickens

If I were to be a book, I might want to be David Copperfield. It’s a world where terrible and beautiful things happen and where flawed characters sustain each other through acceptance, empathy, and transcendent love. As an added bonus, the characters and their stories provide so much inspiration for everyday living. It’s one of the most moving novels I’ve read in recent memory.

So that’s my list! What books are on yours?