As an English teacher and author, I truly believe in the value of literature. Books can teach us lessons we don't always learn on our own. Below, some of the top life lessons I've learned from reading.
1. Love Doesn't Complete You: Their Eyes Were Watching God
I can still hear my AMAZING AP Lit teacher asking: "Is love the answer to happiness?" during our discussion of this book. We learn from Janie Crawford that although love certainly adds depth and meaning to life, you can't base your entire self-worth on a relationship. This book taught me that love is a beautiful thing, but as a woman, I must find my own identity outside of the confines of a relationship.
2. You can't choose love: Crime & Punishment
Sonia and Raskolnikov: a prostitute and a criminal. Quite a pair. However, their undying love for each other goes to show you can't always choose whom you fall in love with. Obviously, falling for the murderous Raskolnikov is less-than-desirable. Nonetheless, beneath the violence and criminality of the book, we see how love can be redemptive...and against our own rational thoughts.
3. Every breath is a gift: A Long Way Gone
Beah's non-fiction memoir shows us how quickly life can change, and how frail life truly is. He reminds us to enjoy every breath, every encounter with a loved one because we never know when things will change.
4. Bravery comes in many forms: The Nightingale
I adore how Vianne and Isabelle both show bravery and courage but in very different ways. This book shows the strength of a woman and how the right choice isn't always obvious.
5. The parent-child relationship is unbreakable: Cry, the Beloved Country
This book is about the impossible lengths one will go to for a child. Even with the bitterly tragic ending, there is hope because the bond will live on through Absalom's son. This book shows that no mattter what, a true parent's love is limitless.
6. Sometimes bad things happen to good people: Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Life isn't fair, and Tess certainly shows us this. Her story reminds us that fairness isn't guaranteed in life and helps us deal with this reality.
7. Even in darkness, there is beauty: The Road
McCarthy's gorgeous prose about the apocalyptic, dark world show us that even in sheer ugliness, beauty can shine through. The tender moment over the Coca Cola is a pure example. Even in horrible times, we can find gleaming moments of beauty to appreciate.
8. Trust your own judgement above all else: 1984
1984 taught me to never take information for granted. You must ask questions and constantly assess: "How do I know this is true?" Certainly, the book does induce a sense of paranoia to an extent. However, I think it makes us better citizens by helping us always question truth and motives of those in power.
9. Life's difficulties can help you focus on your dreams: The Last Lecture
When I think of Randy Pausch, I think of the brick walls. I love his metaphor about the walls and how they are there to see how badly we want something. Everytime I hit a roadblock with my goals, I remind myself that they are just a test.
10. Sometimes our goals don't lead to happiness: Frankenstein
Victor thought the monster would be his shining achievement. He feverishly devotes himself ot this one moment of glory but realizes all is not well once he achieves it. Frankenstein reminds us that not every goal is worth pursuing endlessly. We must seek to achieve our desires, certainly, but we must also recognize reasonable limitations and not spend our life consumed by lofty dreams.
What literary lessons have you learned? Share below!