A Short List of Fiction that will Open Your Eyes

I’m out of town for the weekend, so today’s list is a short one for you.  I sat down and asked myself, “What books have I read that opened me up to a new perspective in a such a big way that I was actually different after reading them?”  I discarded anything non-fiction for now.  Books that teach us things didactically are fine, but they aren’t usually the ones that stick with me.  So these are all fiction.  They are all un-pretentious.  But I’m going to go ahead and claim that they are all so well-crafted that you will understand something after reading them that you never understood before.  (Unless, of course, you have lived what the characters are living.  In which case, I assure you, these books will make you feel understood.)

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver – If you only read one book on this list, it should be this one.  Four sisters.  One mother.  A move to Africa.  Each chapter is told from a different point of view, and each of them has a distinct voice.  See the third world from many perspectives, all of them real.  READ THIS BOOK.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon – This one is short and reads fast.  The solving of a mystery by a boy with autism.  I can’t tell you how much I loved this book.

Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery – Did I mention un-pretentious?  This is a light one, and written from a romantic and patriotic point of view that might seem odd, but even after all the many heavy novels I’ve read about WWI since, this is still my favorite.  It’s how the people at home felt.  And the fervor and optimism that seems strange to us now is part of understanding them.

The Brothers K by David James Duncan – Highly recommended for any adult.  Serious issues.  But such a great look at men: brothers, fathers, and baseball.  Men will love it.  Women should read it even if they don’t like it to better understand the men in their life.  But it’s so well-written, you’ll probably love it for itself anyway.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – Yep, it made two lists.  So far.  Understand your kids.  Understand gifted people.  Understand space aliens who are completely different than you think.  It’s all win.

The Fault in our Stars by John Green – I normally avoid this corner of the genre…most books about sick kids are the kind of manipulative schmaltz that I can’t stomach.  This is not that.  This is what it’s like to face a hard, hard reality and still be yourself.  Loved it.

Invincible, Indiana by Nate Dunlevy – When I moved to small-town northern Indiana from the west coast, I could really have used this book.  It’s about high school basketball.  If you went to high school in IN, you’ll get it.  If you didn’t, you should read it anyway.  A huge part of this country is made up of small midwest towns.  This will give you an a peek into what that world is all about.

What books would you put on this list?  I’d love to know what you’ve read that changed you.

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