Death. Destruction. Murder. Rape. War. Bombings. Threats.
It's easy, especially with social media making news available instantaneously, to think the world has gone completely to hell. It's easy to think the world is all evil and cruel. It's easy to overlook the good, the beautiful, the inspiring.
It's easy to feel like giving up, to feel like: what difference can I make?
As an English teacher, I get the opportunity to teach a lot of inspiring literature. I get to teach stories that show compassion, survival, empowerment.
As an English teacher, I also believe a book can change a life. A book can show you a piece of yourself you didn't even know was there.
Thus, below is a list of my five book recommendations for anyone needing some inspiration. These books will remind you what it means to be human and what it means to achieve your goals.
1. A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
This book is the true story of a boy soldier in Sierra Leone. It's amazing how few Americans know about this huge war and the atrocities that happened during it. Beah's story is one of violence, of evil, and of the worst humanity has to offer. But, it is also about redemption. He reminds us you can let go of your past, no matter how horrific, and you can change your life.
2. I Am Malala
This girl inspires the heck out of me. Malala reminds me education is power. She reminds me of why I keep teaching. She also demonstrates a perfect balance of female empowerment, bravery, and dedication. She was willing to die for her goals. She has also used her experience to help others. She is humble, she is intelligent, and she is unstoppable.
3. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
"If you can take it, you can make it."
This was the motto that got Louie Zamperini through a war, a plane crash, a raft at sea, and years of internment and torture by the Japanese.
Some of you have probably seen the movie, but you should definitely read the book, too. Louie shows you the human spirit really is unbreakable. He defines courage. He defines the will to survive. Most of all, he defines how the love of family can get you through anything.
4. Ghost Boy by Martin Pistorius
Imagine being trapped in your own body for twelve years. You are completely mentally functioning, but no one knows it. Thus, you are presumed a vegetable, brain dead, and useless.
Imagine coming out of that state. How would you feel? Would you be angry? Depressed? Enraged at what was stolen from you?
I know I would. But Martin Pistorius shows us what it means to move on. He survived this reality but has no harsh feelings about it. Instead, he talks about the need to enjoy life, the need to move on, the need to soak in every moment. Martin's story is chilling, but it shows us we shouldn't take any moment or anyone for granted.
5. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
This book sometimes gets a bad rap for being arrogant, but I COMPLETELY disagree. The Last Lecture is a dying man's final words to his family and to his students. It really helps you get your priorities in order. It shows you what matters and what doesn't. It makes you think: am I doing everything I can to achieve my dreams? I love this book because it really reminded me no one is immortal. It made me live more consciously, choose more consciously, and love more consciously.
How about you? What books have changed your life? Moved you? Inspired you? Please comment below!