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Books that really move you, satisfy your soul


Ottakee

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Until recently I have been reading mostly light fiction.......you know those non think books that you can pick up and put down easily and don't require much mental energy.

 

Well, around Christmas time a good friend of mine posted on facebook about listening to audio books and how much she enjoyed that.  I bought a Kindle Fire on the $39 holiday sale and have since enjoyed quite a few audio books while I drive or work around the house.

 

Instead of my typical no think books, I have been listening to some very moving (at least for me) books that really make me think about them and how I view life and people.  These are the kind of books that once I am done with them, I need to take a break from listening to a book for a few days or more to just "be" and process the book.

 

The one I just finished is Strength in What Remains.....the story of a young man from Burundi who escaped civil war in that country and ended up in the US.  It really made me think refugees in a new way and gave me a much greater insight into the tribal wars in that area of the world including Rwanda.  https://www.amazon.com/Strength-What-Remains-Tracy-Kidder-ebook/dp/B002LLRDTC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493339465&sr=8-1&keywords=strength+in+what+remains

 

Before that some of my favorites have been:

 

The Nightingale  A story of 2 sisters in WWII France and their experiences during those turbulent times.  The audio version made it even more stirring with the accents and proper pronunciations.  This is a book that I would wake up thinking about.  Not a book that I would have likely ever chosen for myself but since my friend so highly suggested it I tried it and now it is in my top 10 list. https://www.amazon.com/Nightingale-Novel-Kristin-Hannah-ebook/dp/B00JO8PEN2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1493341568&sr=1-1&keywords=the+nightingale+kristin+hannah

 

Born A Crime is the story of a biracial teen growing up in South Africa during Apartheid and its end.  This one makes you really think about race relations and prejudices.   Some of the background information in this book made the tribal tensions in Strength in What Remains make even more sense.  https://www.amazon.com/Nightingale-Novel-Kristin-Hannah-ebook/dp/B00JO8PEN2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1493341568&sr=1-1&keywords=the+nightingale+kristin+hannah

 

A Man Called Ove  A story of an older man and his neighbors.  People just don't understand Ove but over time they realize there is a lot more to him than the "crabby neighbor" he appears to be.  Very inspiring  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GEEB730/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

 

What books have you read that are really moving? Books that satisfy your soul, stretch your thinking?

 

 

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I tend toward historical, redemption-type stories. A few that have been on my mind lately:

 

Kristin Lavransdatter (a medieval woman's life, veering wildly between sinner and saint; she's like an old friend to me! Oh how I wish she were real!)

 

Laurus (Russian medieval. A little...off. Weird. I recommend just embracing the weirdness. This one strikes right at the heart of my soul)

 

Phantastes (maybe slightly geared toward young men who are finding themselves, but I think it's soul-searching and fascinating and terribly romantic)

 

Brideshead Revisited (I kind of prefer the 1981 miniseries, though. It retains nearly all the material and the visuals are stunning. Anyway, the book is great too, a powerful redemption story)

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I'm reading Les Miserables right now. It is incredibly moving. My goodness, Victor Hugo can really paint a picture of characters. The films and musicals do not do this classic justice by any stretch of the imagination. 

 

I am so motivated to really brush up my French and try reading the original. The translation I have makes the book brilliant, but I'm still left wondering if the original is even better. 

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So far anything I've read by Kristin Hannah has been good. Winter Garden. Night Road.   Along the lines of The Nightingale which I really enjoyed as well and gave me much food for thought is Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay.    

 

2nd Station Eleven.

 

Another good one is Menna Van Praggs Dress Shop of Dreams. 

 

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Brideshead Revisited (I kind of prefer the 1981 miniseries, though. It retains nearly all the material and the visuals are stunning. Anyway, the book is great too, a powerful redemption story)

 

I was fascinated by that miniseries with Jeremy Irons. I'd like to read the book. I'm not sure what you mean by redemption story, though. Perhaps one needs to read the book to understand that aspect. I never quite figured out what was so great about the main character's journey. He seemed like an observer to the life of the Brideshead family going on all around him. He never quite connected fully with them, even in the end he remained on the fringe with his own personal life pretty much in tatters. Their lives were a mess, too. Just a jumble of messed up rich people.

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Loving this thread! I usually read the same suspense authors that I've always read, but I want to read others.

 

I have that might make this list- my kids literature teacher at coop recommended it to me and I really enjoyed it. All the Light We Cannot See

 

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, a New York Times Book Review Top Ten Book, National Book Award finalist, more than two and a half years on the New York Times bestseller list

 

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the stunningly beautiful instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

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I was fascinated by that miniseries with Jeremy Irons. I'd like to read the book. I'm not sure what you mean by redemption story, though. Perhaps one needs to read the book to understand that aspect. I never quite figured out what was so great about the main character's journey. He seemed like an observer to the life of the Brideshead family going on all around him. He never quite connected fully with them, even in the end he remained on the fringe with his own personal life pretty much in tatters. Their lives were a mess, too. Just a jumble of messed up rich people.

You have to read the book, and even then, it's not going to slap you in the face. It's more of an internal story about a surprised change of heart than about an obvious hit you over the head story like Atheist Cynic Becomes Religious; Founds an Influential Organization and Saves the World or something. It's subtle. And it's also rich in that it's the redemption of those you would not expect.

 

The 1981 miniseries was good but it's hard to portray internal and multifaceted changes on the screen. Great actors tho.

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You have to read the book, and even then, it's not going to slap you in the face. It's more of an internal story about a surprised change of heart than about an obvious hit you over the head story like Atheist Cynic Becomes Religious; Founds an Influential Organization and Saves the World or something. It's subtle. And it's also rich in that it's the redemption of those you would not expect.

 

The 1981 miniseries was good but it's hard to portray internal and multifaceted changes on the screen. Great actors tho.

 

That makes perfect sense.  I'll definitely look for the book and slug through it. I'm sure it's a long one, if the length of the mini-series is anything to go by! ;)

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That makes perfect sense. I'll definitely look for the book and slug through it. I'm sure it's a long one, if the length of the mini-series is anything to go by! ;)

It's actually not super long. Just rich. :0)

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It's actually not super long. Just rich. :0)

 

That's promising, because the book I'm reading now, Les Mis, is VERY long and VERY rich (and very poor, too). I need something a little shorter to look forward to.  :laugh:

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That's promising, because the book I'm reading now, Les Mis, is VERY long and VERY rich (and very poor, too). I need something a little shorter to look forward to. :laugh:

Five chapters describing the sewer system of Paris? Too long?

 

I loved that book but parts were...Slow.

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That makes perfect sense.  I'll definitely look for the book and slug through it. I'm sure it's a long one, if the length of the mini-series is anything to go by! ;)

 

It's not that long.  There was an awful lot of lingering on faces and architecture in the series.  Waugh was a Catholic convert, so that informs the piece.  He had a relationship with a family that has some similarities to the book.

 

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Heigh Ho, you have a high tolerance for depressing books!

I actually don't find them depressing. Its great to know others exist that can see that not all humans are cut-throat out for themselves or sociopaths. Also the story telling is interesting. I would have loved Anna Karenina for high school review days.

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Other books that I needed time to mentally/emotionally process after finishing:

 

THIS....I am finding that I need to take a break after some of these books to process them. I then go to a very light fluffy Christian fiction book for a bit as those are more "no think" type books.

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Wonderful thread; I need the reminder to pick books that sustain and replenish me.  I have to think about a little, but...

 

The Chosen (Chaim Potok)

 

I picked up Cry, the Beloved Country a few years ago, just on a whim... and wow, I hadn't read like that in years, where there was a connection and I was relishing each page.  It was marvelous.  I can't explain it.

 

I should read it again!

 

These are two lifetime favorites (along with My Name is Asher Lev, also by Potok, that I think has affected me more even than Chosen).

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That makes perfect sense.  I'll definitely look for the book and slug through it. I'm sure it's a long one, if the length of the mini-series is anything to go by! ;)

 

The redemption story part is that many different people, dysfunctional in their own ways, all found God in the end, taking their own wildly twisting and turning paths to get there. It is subtle and might not come across in film quite as well as it did in the book. I had read an interesting article about it so I think that informed the way I saw and interpreted it (which I believe was the correct way, now that I've read the book too).

 

Here's the article if anyone is interested (there are spoilers and the very conservative Christian Content won't be everyone's cup of tea!): http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2014/08/reconciliation-re-visited.html

 

The book itself is actually short. I read it in just a few days, and I'm not an especially fast reader now that I have a house-full of littles!

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The Russian novel Laurus, that I just read a few weeks ago is a masterpiece and so profound.  Wow.  It knocked my socks off!

 

I'm glad someone else loves it too! I didn't want to say a lot and come across as nutty (not that you are!). But wow. It makes me heartsick just thinking of his level of love and devotion for Ustina.

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Cormac McCarthy The Road

Camus The Stranger

Weisel Day

Miller A Canticle for Leibowitz

 

 

I was going to recommend Canticle... I feel like it's a great work that's sort of gotten ignored.  I also enjoyed The Road, though I haven't made it through any of his other books.  I've heard every book McCarthy writes is completely different for every other book he writes, and I enjoyed The Road's spare writing style compared to some of his more descriptive books.  I didn't find it *quite* as hopeless as it could have been... but the horror of it stayed with me for months.  

 

 

Others:

 

Code Name: Verity  - such a moving and rewarding read.  I don't often say that about "pop fic", but gosh, it sure lived up to its hype.  

Life of Pi

On Writing, by Steven King (autobiographical + writing advice... very well done)

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The Poisonwood Bible broke my heart. 

 

I loved 1000 Gifts (Voskamp) and my husband is actually willing to read it, because we are doing some sessions with the theme of Gratefulness at our parish's retreat in June.

 

Agreeing with Mitten Strings for God.

 

The devotional, My Utmost for His Highest is challenging for me, and I only really remember one day of the readings, but that one day profoundly affected me.

 

One Child, by Torey Hayden, a book about a teacher who works with ED children, was incredibly influential in my teaching life, as was Sylvia Ashton Warner's book about teaching indigenous children in New Zealand. They just linger in the back of my mind and come forward from time to time. 

 

Traveling Mercies and Bird by Bird were two others that stayed with me a long time. 

 

Les Mis was one of the first really "big" (Great) books I attempted on my own (a few years ago)--I felt so smart, reading it! LOL  I actually read *almost* the entire book, which, for me, was quite the accomplishment. The first few chapters taught me much about grace.

 

While in Israel for 3 months a few years ago, all we really had to do (besides visiting places) was read, so I thought it'd be a good time to read Schindler's Ark ("List" in America). I had seen the movie, but reading it while in Israel was an experience. I was seeing so much that was disturbing about the treatment of the Palestinians that I needed some balance and some "why," so reading that was really helpful. 

 

Lastly, there are children's books that linger in my soul--too many to list, but when I am around people who have read them, it is amazing how often they surface in conversation. I can see how reading the Great Books can bind you as a community; for those of us who aren't quite there, reading what I might call the "Great Books for Children" also gives you a common culture that cuts across lines, and that's really satisfying. 

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Add my vote for All the Light We Cannot See!  Another WWII book that I enjoyed recently and found to be very moving was Everyone Brave is Forgiven.  People of the Book is a fascinating story that I found very satisfying about the travels of the Sarajevo Haggadah and the people over the centuries who both preserve, interact, and are effected by this special book.  

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If you don't mind Catholic, then Father Elijah by O'Brien and books from the related series are great.  Strangers and Sojourners is probably the most moving and universally applicable to all Christians.

 

I read Father Elijah about 10yrs ago and LOVED it.  It was the kind of book I gave to several friends to read.   I tried Strangers and Sojourners and just hated it.   I've tried "Island of the World" but I was in a bad place emotionally and I was afraid it would going to be super sad... so I stopped after about 20pages. 

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My list.  It is a mixture of fiction and non-ficton

 

LOTR series - especially certain sections - I'll read them again and again.

Out of Africa

Hiding Place

Life after Life (by Kate Atkinson)

Cloud Atlas

True Grit 

Cry, Beloved Country

A Sacred Journey (by Buechner)

Godric (by Buechner)

Return of the Prodigal by Nouwen

Courage to Pray by Anthony Bloom

Book Thief

Laurus

Prodigal Summer 

 

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I picked up Cry, the Beloved Country a few years ago, just on a whim... and wow, I hadn't read like that in years, where there was a connection and I was relishing each page.  It was marvelous.  I can't explain it.

 

I should read it again!

 

This book! This is definitely one of those books that you read, and then need lots of fluff books to read after. It is so...I don't have the words. It's wonderful, it's heartbreaking, it's beautiful...

 

Have you read the "Call the Midwife" series. It isn't necessarily super meaty or difficult to read. But... there were a lot of situations that will make you think. I had to be careful to not judge with current standards to many of the situations. It also helped me to look more compassionately on current situations. 

 

Isaac's Storm 

 

The Kitchen House

 

Ella Minnow Pea - This might seem like a lot of fluff at first, but it gets one thinking as you go on. 

 

Kelly

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The redemption story part is that many different people, dysfunctional in their own ways, all found God in the end, taking their own wildly twisting and turning paths to get there. It is subtle and might not come across in film quite as well as it did in the book. I had read an interesting article about it so I think that informed the way I saw and interpreted it (which I believe was the correct way, now that I've read the book too).

 

Here's the article if anyone is interested (there are spoilers and the very conservative Christian Content won't be everyone's cup of tea!): http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2014/08/reconciliation-re-visited.html

 

The book itself is actually short. I read it in just a few days, and I'm not an especially fast reader now that I have a house-full of littles!

 

Thanks for the link. It does help see the characters and their trials in a different light. 

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Lastly, there are children's books that linger in my soul--too many to list, but when I am around people who have read them, it is amazing how often they surface in conversation. I can see how reading the Great Books can bind you as a community; for those of us who aren't quite there, reading what I might call the "Great Books for Children" also gives you a common culture that cuts across lines, and that's really satisfying. 

 

 

 

So true.  This is why I'm such a "believer" in E.D. Hirsch and his cultural literacy idea.  It's not necessarily about believing one sort of book or list of books is superior to others, but for good or ill, the books of Western thought (even children's books) give a set of background knowledge that helps a person participate in the "great conversation" (and may give a person enough credibility to gently introduce books that are not immediately seen as worthy of "the list").  

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Well, shoot.  Why didn't *I* mention LOTR, a book that hits me so hard that I can't read anything else for a month after I finish it, because everything else pales in comparison?

 

And actually, I have read "A Canticle for Leibowitz" and enjoyed it.  That was decades ago and I don't remember it all that clearly.  It's probably time for another visit.

 

"The Fifth Sacred Thing" was fascinating to me, but for very specific things, like its setting (San Francisco), and its focus on the nature under the concrete there.  Reminds me of some old family stories.  

 

"Plain and Simple" is one book that I have read and reread and recommended, over and over.  I'm hesitant to mention it due to the ridiculous plethora of Amish Christian romance novels floating around currently.  But it's not a romance novel; rather it is the memoir of a mid-life crisis type of journey, female style, and beautifully written and quite reflective.  

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