There are three books that have left an eternal impression on me as a reader. I would like to share those with you and why they are so important to me.
#3 – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid’s Tale is an exceptional work. The first thing I liked about it was that it is clearly dystopian. I find dystopian works to be captivating due to the fact that there are always SOME parts that you see within yourself or your society. While we are to view this alternate world as “far-fetched,” (for lack of a better word), there are those events and situations that just ring a bell a bit too close to our own head! This is where the nail hit the real dystopian head for me, and took it to much greater depth. I find the control by the religious folk in this novel to be too close for comfort for me personally. The women are seen as only objects to be controlled by the men in this society. They are even stripped of their name and given a name “of… whomever the man they belong to”… ex. Offred means that she is Of Fred… But the thing that rings too close for me is the fact that these things are accepted while we can obviously see that no group in this society is really buying into it. They accept it because it is considered the religious thing to do, so they want to obey… publicly… Privately is completely different! This is our parallel! In our country, I find that many people are so quick to jump on a wagon if the words God, Jesus, Bible, or Spiritual are a part of it. However, just because someone uses these words, it does NOT make them right or good in ANY way! This society followed these religious mandates, yet privately they were not at all abiding by all of these rules. The premise was that as long as you weren’t caught, then all was good! The reason this book became life-changing for me is that it taught me to take a stand on social issues, even when it is not what others of my same base belief system are saying. I began to publicly speak out against anti-homosexual posts and discrimination. I had long believed that God loves everyone, REALLY…. That he/she did NOT leave out those who were of a different sexual orientation than what Christians view as “right.” However, I accepted the fact that Christians were supposed to be against this, so I stayed quiet. I no longer will do that! Now, if you are reading and you disagree, that is fine. This is NOT about the right or wrong of homosexuality. This is about the fact that I now choose to say what I really believe, and no longer go with the flow because I believe that I should, simply because I think I am supposed to do so.
#2 – The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel
This book is of special significance to me for a similar reason. The social issue that this represents for me is racism. I have a deep passion in regard to racism in our world! This book is about Ayla. She is white, blonde, and blue-eyed. Her family is killed in an earthquake during the early days of mankind, and she is raised by a tribe of Neanderthals. The battle of racism is so real that you can’t help but see our own issues in this book. Ayla is loved by some people of the tribe, and accepted for the things that she can do, her giving personality, and her love for them. However, regardless of her contributions or effort, she is rejected by many for no reason other than her skin. The lesson to me personally is that, yes, there are differences, but in the end, we are more alike than we have ever been different! I have read this book several times. It always reminds me that people are people, and our love for others should never be dictated by social pressure. We are all one race, the human race.
#1 – Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
This book almost haunted me when I read it the first time! Montag lives in a world where firemen SET fires, not put them out. They burn books… He is good with this for the most part, until he meets a young lady who causes him to question life…. She makes him think, which is most definitely not something that people are encouraged to do in this dystopian world. He begins to hide books, to read, and to search for knowledge. He wonders what is so disturbing or enlightening that would cause books to be banned in the first place. The world that his wife lives in is made of full-wall televisions, which bring shows non-stop, and at terrible volume, so that thinking is actually impossible. They do not know each other, or care to in fact. She tries to get him to turn in the books or burn them himself. He just can’t do it. He finds that he no longer loves to burn. He wonders why people will die in their homes, rather than leave and let them burn the books…. He knows that these books MUST hold something special. He is found out… HIS home is burned, so he is on the run. He finds a group of people who have made it their life to memorize and remember books from the past, so that they are not lost completely. They must travel and stay away from others, but their world is important. He becomes part of that world! This book caused me to realize how important it is that people be allowed to think for themselves… I tried to let my children do that growing up. I didn’t choose their books. I let them choose. I think that knowledge is dangerous to people who want TOTAL control. I can NOT imagine my world without the ability to read whatever I choose, think about it, and make up my own mind about it. When I do make up my mind, that thought becomes MY belief, no longer the belief of the author. I am also free to reject what I read! That is what makes the world of books so wonderful!
Please comment and let me know what books have impacted you!