Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Top Ten Books That Taught Me Something

With school back in session, I have a little more time to write, so I wanted to get back to my Ten for Tuesdays feature, with my Top Ten Books That Taught Me Something.

These are books that educated while they entertained, books that introduced me to new ideas, new people, and new places. These are the books that taught me something about the world, made me think, and changed my outlook in some way. It wasn’t very hard to make this list (though I did have to trim it down to 10) because all of these books left a lasting impression on me in some way. In no particular order, here are those life-changing books with a brief note of their subject (and links to reviews where available):
  • The Anatomy of Hope by Dr. Jerome Groopman (hope in the face of chronic illness; this book did literally change my life)
  • The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (Afghanistan and muslims)
  • Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson (building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan)
  • Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter (foster care)
  • Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult (school shooting)
  • Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (middle east and Africa, muslim women)
  • An Innocent Man by John Grisham (death penalty)
  • Waiting for Snow in Havana by Carlos Eire (Cuba’s revolution)
  • The House at Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper (Liberia, Africa)
  • Jantzen’s Gift by Pam Cope (children in Vietnam, Cambodia, Ghana)

How about you? What books have taught you, inspired you, and changed your perceptions?


  1. Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl - Frankl was a psychiatrist and survivor of Auschwitz. This book is about how we can best cope with suffering by giving it meaning.

    I'm adding Anatomy of Hope to my reading list!

  2. That's a book I've been meaning to read forever! I love many of the quotes I've heard from it. Thanks for reminding me of it!


  3. This was a great post Sue. I may copy it and refer bloggers to your site. ( I have to think about this one a bit)

    I have to agree with you on The House at Sugar Beach, Three Cups of Tea, and Waiting for Snow in Havana--loved those books.

    Thanks again

  4. Sue, You asked me about Philip Roth. I have not read a lot of his books, but I enjoyed Everyman a lot!

  5. What a comprehensive list of books. I've read several of them and agree with your choices. I think about THREE LITTLE WORDS and THE HOUSE AT SUGAR BEACH often, for different reasons. I wonder what books you would add if you created this list today.

    1. Good question, Anne! I guess Personal History by Katharine Graham and One Summer America, 1927 both taught me quite a lot, but both were far too long and dense (I didn't finish Personal History). Boys on the Boat taught me a lot - I know you liked that one, too. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Brown Girl Dreaming (and my current book, Revolution) all taught me about life as a black child in earlier years and were all very eye-opening.