If you have only six hours left before you die, can you say you have fully lived that life yours?

You must be looking for a really good book suggestion or just contemplating on life – maybe looking for something to read to make you brood even more. Whatever your reasons are, I am here to share about books to brood over life. Kidding. These books were a great source of inspiration instead of depression. Personally, reading novels is like living another life from the perspective of the characters. Why live a single life if I can experience hundreds more, right?

So, if you want to feel a rush to flip through pages, heartaches, adrenaline, and inspiration plus visit different lives all over the world, I invite you to read these beautiful literary masterpieces that I treasure so much.

10. Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

What a way to start the list with a book about a dying man.

Tuesdays with Morrie

Tuesdays with Morrie

This beautiful novel is about an 83-year old man named Eddie working at Ruby Pier, an amusement park. He was living his normal routinely life as a maintenance personnel when an equipment called Freddy’s Free Fall malfunctioned resulting in his death. He was trying to save a little girl from getting crushed and got in the accident instead. After his death, he found himself in heaven where he gets to revisit his whole life, from his happiest to his most regretted decisions. This book will give a “feels” trip about friends, family, love, regret, and forgiveness.

9. Animal Farm by George Orwell

This is one of those stories that the more you research, the more you understand the meaning and depth of the literature.

The story started with a meeting called by the prize pig, Major, after having a strange dream. Major sensed that his death was near. In that meeting, he shared his wisdom that no animal is truly free and that their life and meaning revolved around slavery. Major urges everyone to rebel against the owner of the Manor Farm, Mr. Jones and have a life of abundance that they deserve. Three days later, Major died but the wisdom, the spirit of Animalism, lived on through the animals as they start planning for their secret rebellion.

Initially, the rebellion was a success. For a while, the animals had their utopia and renamed the Manor Farm to Animal Farm. However, Mr. Jones refused to give up and gathered other humans to take the farm back. More problems arise when one of the supervisors, Napoleon, was filled with greed and made himself to be the sole leader.
This novel is an allegory to describe the early years of the Soviet Union. Animal Farm contains George Orwell’s thoughts about the Russian revolution of 1917, totalitarianism and socialism.

To further understand the novel, analysis and summary are available online. An essay called “Why I Write” also explains what prompted the author to write this novel.

8. Fireflies in December by Jennifer Erin Valent

Racism is still a sensitive issue nowadays despite the progress we’ve made through the years.

This book will remind you how extreme it was in the 1930s from the perspective of a 13-year-old girl, Jessilyn Lassiter. Initially, I thought this was just about her experiences as a tomboy slowly turning into a woman. However, that summer when she thought she killed a man and was deserted by everyone for living together with her colored best friend Gemma, I realized that the story is more than just that.

7. Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

10 books to read before you die

Time Traveler’s Wife

This is definitely one very unique story of falling in love and getting married.

Henry is a time traveler that cannot control his traveling ‘disorder’. Clare, his beautiful wife, met the 36-year-old Henry when she was still six years old. She often helps him with food and clothes whenever he stumbles around her family’s property naked because of his ‘condition’. The two then formed a strong connection through the years of ‘visiting’ until it was Henry’s turn to meet his wife for the first time.

They met in a library when Clare was a 20-year-old art student and Henry was a 28-year-old librarian. Clare tried to explain that she met him when she was still a little girl. Despite being surprised that Clare knew about his illness and of the circumstances, Henry still agreed to go to dinner with her as he finds himself extremely attracted to Clare. Their love story immediately starts up a storm after that first meeting.

Happiness, struggles, heartbreaks, and loneliness followed as they try to make their marriage work. The uncertainty of Henry’s whereabouts and safety cause so much strain in their relationship. (Strain is quite an understatement.)

I have conflicting emotions for this story of love and family. However, it made me appreciate that experiencing time in a chronological order is something to be grateful for.

6. Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho

Well, it is exactly what the title reads.

The story is about Veronika who lived a perfectly normal life. She had a good job, a nice-looking face, and great parents. But one day, she decided to die through an overdose of sleeping pills. As she waited for her death, she read an article that jokingly asked, “Where is Slovenia?” Having not much to do but wait for her death, she found it humorous to write a reply to the magazine and imagine the controversy that may arise as that will serve as her suicide note.

Instead of discovering afterlife, she woke up in a mental hospital called Villete. She then learned that she was in a coma and will die after a few days because of an extremely damaged heart resulting from the overdose. Counting her days, she then experiences life more fully in the institution as she has no expectations to meet and can freely express herself. She felt the changes in her as she loses her indifference and started to feel fear of dying.

The book discusses the concept of insanity and questions our perception of reality. The literature was created partially based on the author’s personal experiences in mental institutions.

5. The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott

The thing is, I’m a huge fan of the idea of Alchemy and Immortality.

10 books to read before you die

The Alchemyst: The Secrets of The Immortal Nicholas Flamel

The story started right off with a battle in a bookstore where Josh Newman smelled peppermint and rotten eggs. Yeah, talk about a weird day at work, right? Read on and the story gets interesting as Josh got caught up with his boss’, Mr. Nick Fleming’s, magical battle with Mr. John Dee over an important book. His twin sister, Sophie, and Mr. Nick’s wife, Mrs. Perry run to the chaos and tried to help. However, Mr. Dee ended up taking that precious book and captured Mrs. Perry as well.

Turns out, that stolen book was what kept Mr. Nick or Nicholas Flamel and his wife, Perenelle, immortal. Nicholas Flamel was actually the greatest “alchemyst” there is and can use magic to make the elixir of life in the stolen book called Codex. The twins and Nicholas needed to get the Codex and Perenelle back before the end of the month or the couple will age and die. To make the matters worse, with the use of the Codex, Dee plans to summon the Dark Elders, the beings that ruled the planet before the era of the human beings, to destroy the world.

If you are looking for an adventure and magic, you may fall in love with this series.

4. Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

I’ve read this book when I was exactly the age of the main character, Susie. So, imagine how my skin crawled as a fourteen-year-old girl reading very descriptively how she was raped and murdered.

This story was narrated by Susie herself as she was wandering in her imperfect heaven. She watched over her family and observed how her case was slowly being investigated by a detective named Len Fenerman. I could still remember the disgust, fear, anger, and despair that I felt especially when her parents slowly discovered their daughter’s death through an elbow. Yes, a piece of elbow found by a dog and lots of blood that was identified to be their daughter’s.

3. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

A Psychiatrist’s job is to take care of their patients’ mental health and sanity but what if the psychiatrist himself was subjected to torture?

This is a true story written by Viktor E. Frankl about his personal experiences being a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp. Mr. Frankl had the ability to flee Austria and pursue his child brain logotheraphy in Vienna during the Second World War. However, he chose to stay and do whatever he could to protect his parents.

A remarkable line that I’ve read from this book was: “He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how”. This book was filled with heartbreaking experiences of injustice, suffering, and survival. He asked, “When you absolutely have nothing to lose except for your naked life, what could make you keep going?” If you struggle with depression or just someone that has always questioned life, maybe you could get some inspiration as he tries to answer that latter question in this book.

2. Every Day by David Levithan

10 books to read before you die

Every Day

This story is literally living hundreds of lives in a single lifetime gone out of control.

A is a unique individual as he lives through life transferring from one body to another every day. This might sound cool but it’s a condition A cannot control and as far as “he” knew, “he” was the only one born with it. (A doesn’t have a gender as it depends on the body he was borrowing so let’s just call A a “he” in this paragraph.) “He” was fed up to change and for years, “he” just conformed to act however the person was borrowing acted. That is until “he” fell in love with Rhiannon.

A tried to defy this unique hindrance and struggled to win Rhiannon’s affection. Along with the messed up circumstances and romance, I also enjoyed every life A had experienced. “His” insights as someone who never actually belonged to any skin color, gender, body type, religion or culture felt so refreshing.

I’m quite excited to watch the movie adaptation of Every Day too!

1. Tuesdays with Morrie By Mitch Albom

“Do I wither up and disappear or do I make the best of my time left?” That was the question presented early on in this novel worth reading.

This is about Mitch and his favorite professor, Morrie. The old professor had a terminal illness called Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or also known as ALS. This is a type of illness that slowly gives the patient a slow yet certain death. It slowly melts your nerves and robs your ability to move.

Despite the illness, the professor decided to spend his last days teaching. The subject was called the meaning of life and was taught through life experiences. Each class would take place once a week at the professor’s house. No exams were given although a paper that contained all that was learned is expected. This paper was presented in this book. For the professor’s last class, he had only one student and that was Mitch.

BONUS: The Giver by Lois Lowry

This book takes a systematic and control freak society to a whole new level.

The novel is one of the shortest that I’ve read but it’s definitely one of those that left so much impact. Boy, I was staring at nothingness for a long time after I’ve read the book. It made me love and appreciate my ability to perceive colors more than anything while feeling so dead inside.

Okay, I should tell a little bit about the story. It was told through the point of view of Jonas, an eleven-year-old that’s living in this futuristic dystopian community that has no pain, suffering, hate or strong emotions. Everyone is so kind and polite. Every citizen has a place and job that’s rightly decided by the council of elders for them.

It is basically because the society has chosen ‘sameness’ to save everyone from making wrong decisions. Everything is the same from the age on when you are allowed get a bicycle to the method on how to apply for a ‘family unit’ and being ‘assigned’ with a child. Heck, to have a spouse, you need to apply for it and after thorough studying and consideration of personalities, intelligence, and compatibility, you might be assigned to one. Children are born out of birthmothers who themselves cannot ever see. Babies will then be cared for by the nurturers and will be assigned a name from a previously selected list – that is, if they are found to be ‘unfaulty’. They then are assigned to a family which has applied to get one.

When the citizens grow old, they will be sent to the House of The Old and be ‘released’ after living their time. Not only the old can be ‘released’ from this community – faulty new children, two-time violators of the law; a citizen may even apply for one and be granted right away.

This novel is just simply disturbing. Collecting my emotions after finishing the book was as hard as writing my thesis. I am clearly exaggerating but this book definitely left me broken.

I presented a great selection, right? If not, then it’s okay. Different people have different tastes and thought processes. Plus, I cannot say as well that I’ve read every book there is.

There are so many books out there in different languages. Heck, some great books might not be even published yet and just lying in some people’s computer right now. How I wish I can live my life reading even half of the available literature.

Nonetheless, those listed are my favorites. Even though I read to experience another life with different circumstances, I could say that through reading them, it made me think about my own. I realize my privileges of living in this country during this progressive century. Reading started as an enjoyment and escape from reality but when properly reflected upon, it surely guided me to make better realizations on how to deal with life and other people.

Everybody has a story we may never know about. Each has conflicting opinions and judgment. However, at the end of the day, we are all just humans trying to get through life.

If you enjoyed my list, please comment down below and let’s discuss our favorites. However, if you disagree, please suggest to me your top ten books so that I can read and have a little chat about them with you guys. Also, if you have noticed, there were 11 books instead of ten. Consider it as a random bonus you got on a random day. You’re welcome.

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