Advertising
Advertising

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.

zen_and_the_art

    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.

          Advertising

          Stone_Butch_Blues_cover

            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.

            hitch

              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.

              heart

                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.

                    oscarwao_200-d87d05cdef44deb11fa5926c94dda029ddedff90-s6-c30

                      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.

                      Advertising

                      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.

                        cien

                          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.

                          download

                            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.

                            american_psycho_book

                              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.

                              invisble-monsters

                                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.

                                Advertising

                                slaughter

                                  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.

                                    download (1)

                                      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.

                                        americanah

                                          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.

                                          Advertising

                                          MidnightsChildren

                                            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.

                                            Infinite_jest_cover

                                              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.

                                              al

                                                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.

                                                on

                                                  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.

                                                  1

                                                    Featured photo credit: Geir Halvorsen via flickr.com

                                                    More by this author

                                                    25 All-Time Best Inspirational Sports Quotes To Get You Going 10 Signs You Are Probably An Ambivert 4 Ways Extreme Races Change Your View 4 Ways Baseball is the Perfect Metaphor for Life 5 Reasons Why You Should Have Total Strangers as Roommates

                                                    Trending in Lifestyle

                                                    1 8 Best Cardio Workouts for Efficient Weight Loss 2 13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with It and Enjoy the Ride 3 Why Is Goal Setting Important to a Truly Fulfilling Life? 4 12 Things That May Cause Breast Cancer You Should Avoid 5 The 5-minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime

                                                    Read Next

                                                    Advertising
                                                    Advertising
                                                    Advertising

                                                    Last Updated on February 18, 2019

                                                    13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with It and Enjoy the Ride

                                                    13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with It and Enjoy the Ride

                                                    Fear. I spend my life talking about fear — fighting fears, fixing fears and understanding fears. And yet I doubt I get 10 calls a year from people saying “Mandie can you help me fix my fear?”

                                                    Why is this so critically important to you?

                                                    The realization for me is that fear is not the fundamental driving force in your life it’s what regardless of whether I’m talking to a doctor, a teacher, a CEO’s, a senior citizens or teenager – every single one of those conversations has a direct correlation with your world.

                                                    Fear can range from the overwhelming desire to look away or stop in your tracks to literally fleeing your country and the life you knew. In this article, I will share you with 13 tips to face your fears and enjoy the ride.

                                                    1. Know That Fear Is Real, but Can Be Overcome

                                                    Right now around the world people are facing fear — real fear. Fear that I pray my children and I will never experience. Does that lessen my fears or your fears in your relativity safe 21st century life?

                                                    When I look at the world we all live in, I find that fear like so many other emotions can mean so many different things to so many different people:

                                                    • The child who has to be physically dragged to their first day of school.
                                                    • The man facing the judge.
                                                    • The woman with her hand poised over the buttons over her phone because she has to walk down a dark corridor late at night alone.
                                                    • The man as the surgeon says “count backwards from 10 Mr Smith.”
                                                    • The woman that’s told “We are sorry, we can’t help you.”
                                                    • The man that faces the empty circle of a gun and prays for his very existence.

                                                    These and a million more (Portrayed in every kind of movie, book or song you could imagine) are what make us human. We face fear and somehow move forward or are stopped in our tracks.

                                                    Like the rabbit in the headlights of the car that veers off through the field away from the tyres of the car or stays still praying for salvation. Like someone will save them. Sound familiar?

                                                    Fear is huge. Fear is everywhere and yet fear can be overcome, controlled and can even be a power for good.

                                                    2. Accept Your Fear

                                                    Firstly if you aren’t facing the barrel of the gun, atrocities that make the news or impeding death, that’s a good start. However it doesn’t mean your fear is any less real.

                                                    We are quick to say “I can’t moan, my life is not as bad as X.” While in theory, that’s honorable your appreciation of Mr. or Mrs. X’s horrific life won’t change anything directly. So accept your fear is relative to you.

                                                    And here’s what can be done.

                                                    Advertising

                                                    3. Get Some Perspective

                                                    I found myself asking anyone that would answer “what is your worst fear”. The answer that intrigued me the most came from my daughter (15 years old and she usually has a copy of Fight the Fear – my book – in her school bag so she can help someone else be as positive and confident as her. No matter what life throws up.)

                                                    And her fear, surprised me — heights. I pointed out that we live in a sprawling bungalow (one storey) and the highest she goes is two storeys’ at school! She laughed but added, fear isn’t like that Mum. I know it’s not a real fear, but it’s like when you stand on a chair and feel unsafe.

                                                    That girl will go far. Because she truly gets fear.

                                                    We know something is scary and yet we still do it. Why? Because we have a perspective to the fear. When you lose perspective, it can feel too big, and too scary.

                                                    So look around you to get some perspective on your fear:

                                                    • Are you really at risk?
                                                    • Will this kill you?
                                                    • Which leads us on to..
                                                    • If the worse was to happen what would it be?

                                                    4. Hold a Hand

                                                    As a coach, it is my job to holds someone’s metaphorical hand and help them face a fear.

                                                    Like the child petrified of the thunder storm or the teen that can’t get back in a car again after failing their test, your job as a parent is to reassure, encourage, enable and motivate someone to face something that ideally they never would choose to again.

                                                    We know many of our fears aren’t real. However, it is only when someone guides us with love, respect, lack of judgement and safety are we able to get through fear. And trust me, you can get through your fears. I’ve seen it so many times.

                                                    Ask yourself:

                                                    • If the worse were to happen, what would that be?
                                                    • Could that really happen?
                                                    • If the worse did happen, how would you recover?
                                                    • If the worse were to happen, what would you need to do next?

                                                    By seeing fear as not the end destination but part of being human, you can see through it’s wily evil ways and move forward.

                                                    5. Know Whose Hand You Hold Either Physically or Emotionally

                                                    This helps with fears for the rest of your life.

                                                    Think of someone you can always rely on (and ideally you won’t just answer yourself because that adds a lot of pressure to your existence!) And you will find that you’ve already found a way to get through fear.

                                                    Advertising

                                                    The beauty of this is that it means that fear becomes part of life not something to be feared and shied away from.

                                                    It means you know you can turn to your friend, partner, colleague, parent, sibling and say “Right I need to deal with this, and I’m going to need you to help me.”

                                                    For one moment, think about it from the other person’s view point. When we get to help other people we feel valued, loved, respected and lots of other positive emotions and we get a good dose of positive chemicals setting off in our bodies too.

                                                    Your fear, and your determination to fight it, helped someone else too. Now that’s cool right?

                                                    6. Understand That There Are Some Things Fear Will Never Touch

                                                    I like to find role models in life — people who have faced heroism, history changing moments, war, atrocities, miracles, life saving inventions.

                                                    Not everyone was looking for greatness, however they all found it. And one of my favourite books to date is written about Alistair Urquhart, the forgotten highlander. If this doesn’t get turned into a film in the future, then no man’s story is likely to.

                                                    Alistair went through the most horrific experiences in the 2nd world war. If you think of one of the awful things that happened back then in our world, Alistair went through at least 3 of them! Asked afterwards how did you cope? He talked about how whatever they did to his body, no matter how they starved, tortured, threatened or mocked him, they couldn’t have his mind. In his mind he was free.

                                                    Of all the people’s voices I’ve heard in my head over the years, this is one of those statements that reminds me anything is possible if you have faith and hope.

                                                    Look for the things in life that fear can’t touch. They will create confidence and faith for the future, whatever you face. And they will give you a sense of why being you is awesome.

                                                    Of all the billions of people on this planet, no one will have an answer identical to yours!

                                                    7. Process Your Fears to Carry on with Life

                                                    Being brave is not about sticking your chest out and smiling regardless of what hell you endure. It is about finding a way to emotionally process your fears to be able to keep going.

                                                    I have a tool kit of things I can rely on – tools, strategies, techniques. They include people to hug or talk to, music. hobbies, walks on the beach and even my favourite food. It sounds mad but at the times where I have questioned “how will I get through this?” I’ve found immense joy in doing the most unlikely of thing that makes me smile.

                                                    Advertising

                                                    It may be a short lived moment of happiness. However, it reminded that nothing stays the same and I can find away.

                                                    One client told me that it was crazy when it felt like their world was falling around their ears to run a bath to the brim (you don’t waste water) get the best bath oils, light too many candles, lock the door and drink a glass of bubbly (champagne is only for special occasions.)

                                                    Did that moment fix the disaster that my clients life felt? No, however it gave them a moment of calm and the brain is far quicker to find solutions, resolve and motivation to keep going when you do that.

                                                    It may feel like madness to do something you love, however it can be a powerful way to help you find solutions to the fears you face in life.

                                                    8. Assume the Worse

                                                    If you read the statement from the client above. Notice how they assumed it was wrong to fill the bath up to the top? How bubbly is only for special occasions?

                                                    Think how naughty they felt to be doing something that was not allowed?

                                                    • Think about what age it may have made them feel?
                                                    • Think about how they feel about champagne?
                                                    • What special moments it’s been a part of in their lives?

                                                    And you can see how the assumptions they made about their “right” to have these things was not healthy.

                                                    When I drag the assumptions out of people’s words for them to see, they are often struck by how negative the words make them feel.

                                                    Don’t assume your words aren’t impacting on you. You can go through fear and actually enjoy the ride when you take the time to understand how you are letting words get to you.

                                                    9. Take a Fear That Feels Insurmountable Right Now.

                                                    If you were to repeat it to me out loud, what would you say?

                                                    Would you have blame on yourself in there? Would you assume others can do it and it’s just you? Would you feel small, unsuccessful, useless, unworthy?

                                                    Usually, when you do this exercise, you are able to spot the untruths that run wild in your head convincing you that you are doomed. And rarely when we are faced with our assumptions is there is a lot of evidence to them.

                                                    Advertising

                                                    10. You Are Not Defined by Your Fear

                                                    One fear does not define your life – be mindful of that. It is likely to lead you to thinking of all the times you’ve succeeded and bring a moment of calm, confidence and faith back to you.

                                                    11. Go with Fear

                                                    When you learn to go with fear, you could find yourself actually having fun, no seriously – having fun.

                                                    I have a few amazing clients I’m working with right now who would describe themselves as life long worriers, or pessimists. In the past that has served them well, enabling them to keep safe, steer clear of risks and even develop strategies in the event of disasters. However, now they find it’s becoming hard to break the cycle and they really want to because it’s holding them back.

                                                    Notice how they’ve found their hidden fears and want to face them?

                                                    One client said “I knew this was going to be tough, and I knew I couldn’t fight it alone and I knew you would be the one to help me.” Before I sat an incredibly successful, confident, capable business owner with a family and a social life to die for.

                                                    However, I’ve learned that the most successful looking lives can hide things that impact on life, success, love, happiness and business.

                                                    We didn’t start with the fear that they felt was holding them back, we broke the fear down, and found lots of little obstacles that had been deemed as “life” and “unchangeable” and “that’s just the way it is” by developing awareness to the little steps on the road to their obstacles to happiness and success they were able to tackle them in a different way.

                                                    12. Discover Great Skills in Your Scary Moments

                                                    And in that clients words “I came here to work with you to grow my company, and my own personal skills. I didn’t expect to get the children to be cleaning up after themselves and my partner being more attentive! It all feels a little magic.”

                                                    The moral is that out of the scariest of moments, we can find great skills we didn’t know we had. Find better, healthier, happier ways to live and find ways to enjoy life more. (And have a bit of magic!)

                                                    What a great place to be in ready for the next fear that thinks it’s going to get in the way of you, right?

                                                    13. Own Your Fear

                                                    Think back over these tips and come up with at least one example for each one. Write them down. Put them on your phone. Turn them into a piece of art. Turn them into a poem. Frame them. Go for a fast walk across the fields, beach, down town and repeat these things in your head to the sound of your feet on the ground.

                                                    We rarely take the time to appreciate how far we have come, how much we can achieve or what we are capable of – by really owning the tips in this article you will have given your brain a big fat dose of “Damn right I can do this!” and the motivation and accountability to say “Let’s find a way” through any fear.

                                                    You can’t help but feel good when you see that can you? And fear doesn’t stand a chance, does it?

                                                    More Resources About Fighting Fear

                                                    Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

                                                    Read Next