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25 Fictional Books That Will Change Your Outlook

25 Fictional Books That Will Change Your Outlook

Readers tend to read for a variety of different reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is to broaden one’s perspective. We all need to step outside of our comfort zone in many areas, especially our tastes in literature. For that reason, we compiled a list of fictional books that will most definitely broaden your perspective.

1. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig

A professor relates his struggles with mental illness, with his philosophy, and with what it means to have a good life, all through the course of a motorcycle trip across of the United States. It’s truly life-changing.

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    2. The Kite Runner by Khaleed Hosseini

    A man struggles to find forgiveness and love amidst a war torn Afghanistan and his subsequent immigration to America. A work stuffed with florid prose and subtle depictions of small beauties throughout.

    Kite_runner

      3. The Great Santini by Pat Conroy

      The story of growing up as the oldest son of an alcoholic, abusive, Air Force father, and how much you will always love him, regardless.

      Pat-Conroy-The-Great-Santini

        4. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

        Sometimes called a “fart joke as literature,” this book is my personal favorite. It’s the tale of Ignatius P. Reilly, the walking embodiment of why the pursuit of knowledge is useless. It might come off as gibberish, or it might make you question why you read books at all.

        a-confederacy-of-dunces-by-john-kennedy-toole

          5. Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinburg

          A book about a lesbian who begins to pass as a man and the struggles that come with being transgender in America. This one tells the struggle of equality for all, and ties into the labor movement.

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            6. The Ultimate HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

            Couple drab British humor, science-fiction, and thoughts on the nature of time and space and you get this unique work. Remember, the answer is 42.

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              7. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by David Eggers

              What would like to be nineteen, barely legally an adult and have custody of a six-year-old? Eggers nails the confusion of that tenuous age in this work.

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                8. Everything Is Illuminated by Johnathan Safran Foer

                A book about finding your roots, travelling to the country your people are from, and the nature of cultural memory played out over several decades. And a dog named Sammy Davis, Jr., Jr. This is a brilliant work.

                EverythingIsIlluminated

                  9. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

                  Set in an mental institution in the 1940’s or so, this book follows Randall Patrick McMurphy and hints at how mental illness is all relative, and how, sometimes, men never quite grow up.

                  one-flew-over-the-cuckoos-nest

                    10. The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

                    A truly entertaining read, the story of a fat, lonely Dominican boy in New Jersey, the story of his beautiful mother in the Dominican Republic, and the story of loss, love, family, teenage romance, going to college, and living under a brutal dictatorship all in one.

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                      11. Immortality by Milan Kundera

                      Translated from the original Czech, this book is a beautiful account on the nature of aging, and the ways that a person can be many ages at once.

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                      immortality

                        12. 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

                        Marquez uses mysticism to speak to the nature of time and family heritage in his work about one family in the fictional town of Maconda, Columbia. Just try to keep track of the number of the Jose Arcadio Buendias over the course of seven generations.

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                          13. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

                          Written in futuristic British/Cockney slang that is so dense it has its own Wikipedia translation page, this one is a challenging read. But once you get the hang of it, the question of whether it’s better to be good by choice or by force is brought to the fore.

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                            15. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

                            You may have heard of the movie, but the book is a tour-de-force, expounding on the nature of the 1980’s, a time when corporate businessmen where literally allowed to do anything they want. It makes you question the interchangeability of people and the nature of mental health.

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                              Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go return some videotapes.

                              16. Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk

                              From the author of Fight ClubInvisible Monsters is about Brandy Alexander, a striking beauty, and is told from the perspective of someone unable to communicate because they missing their lower jaw. It’s gut-wrenching and nasty and twisted in all the right ways and will make you appreciate the grace of ugliness.

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                                16. Slaughter-House Five by Kurt Vonnegut

                                A science fiction-infused recount of the massacre that was the Allied bombing of Dresden during World War II, this book will make you question the nature of experience and the limits of time and space.

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                                  17. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

                                  A book about the stories that may or may not have happened during the narrator’s experiences during Vietnam. This one hints at the nature of storytelling itself, and why exaggeration may be the only way to get your point across.

                                  carried

                                    18. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon

                                    Told from the perspective of an autistic boy, this book hits perfectly on what it is like to have a family member with special needs. The author spent a lot of time working professional with special needs patients, and no other book approaches illustrating social disorders this way.

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                                      19. The Jungle By Upton Sinclair

                                      Set in the meat-packing industry in Chicago in the 1900’s, this book illustrates the story of Jurgus Rudkus, a Lithuanian immigrant who toils day and night. After losing everything, he finds solace in local politics and eventually embraces socialism.

                                      jungle

                                        20. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngoze Adichie

                                        This one follows the loves and struggles of a young Nigerian woman as see moves to America to attend school. While we think of America as the perfect end destination for many cultures, this one will make you question the struggle to fit in that many immigrants experience.

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                                          21. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

                                          A book that incorporates magical realism into a story surrounding the independence of India from British rule, this one will amaze you with prose and stretch your thoughts about destiny.

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                                            22. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

                                            Coming in at a staggering 1104 pages, Infinite Jest is a modern day Moby Dick that will make you question the nature of sanity, of the coming future, and addiction and recovery.

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                                              23. The Alchemist by Paolo Coehlo

                                              Set as a boy makes a pilgrimage from Spain across the desert of North Africa in pursuit of his destiny, Coehlo weaves a story that will change how you look on fate, love, and finding your place in the world.

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                                                24. On the Road by Jack Kerouac

                                                A whimsical novel about the Beat generation, this one will show you what the pathos of the 1960’s was all about, and give you insight into a movement that shaped America and the world at large.

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                                                  25. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

                                                  Ever wondered what it’s like to be addicted to heroin, to addiction, and to anarchy as a whole? This book will show you what it’s like to have been a punk rock kid, have grown up, and have the same need for thrills regardless of age.

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                                                    Featured photo credit: Geir Halvorsen via flickr.com

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                                                    Last Updated on August 15, 2018

                                                    7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

                                                    7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

                                                    Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

                                                    Video Summary

                                                    Why is it important to train up our core strength?

                                                    There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

                                                    This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

                                                    Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

                                                    In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

                                                    One Exercise, multiple benefits

                                                    There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

                                                    By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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                                                    When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

                                                    Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

                                                    In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

                                                    What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

                                                    What will happen when you start doing planks every day

                                                      1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

                                                      Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

                                                      • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
                                                      • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
                                                      • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
                                                      • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

                                                      2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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                                                        Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

                                                        Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

                                                        3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

                                                          Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

                                                          4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

                                                            Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

                                                            A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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                                                            A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

                                                            On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

                                                            5. You’ll improve overall balance

                                                              Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

                                                              6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

                                                                Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

                                                                7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                                                                  Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                                                                  How to hold a plank position

                                                                  1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                                                                  2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                                                                  3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                                                                  4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                                                                  5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                                                                  6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                                                                  7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                                                                  Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                                                                  Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                                                                    How to improve your plank time gradually

                                                                    1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                                                                    2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                                                                    3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                                                                    Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                                                                    Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                                                                    You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                                                                    • Prolapse
                                                                    • After prolapse surgery
                                                                    • Pelvic pain conditions
                                                                    • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                                                                    • Previous childbirth
                                                                    • Overweight

                                                                    Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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