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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.

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      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.

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        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.

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          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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                        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.

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                                    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.

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                                        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 12, 2019

                                                    12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

                                                    12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

                                                    Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

                                                    But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

                                                    I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

                                                    Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

                                                    1. Nuts

                                                    The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

                                                    Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

                                                    Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

                                                    Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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                                                    2. Blueberries

                                                    Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

                                                    When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

                                                    3. Tomatoes

                                                    Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

                                                    4. Broccoli

                                                    While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

                                                    Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

                                                    Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

                                                    5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

                                                    Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

                                                    The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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                                                    Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

                                                    6. Soy

                                                    Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

                                                    Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

                                                    Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

                                                    7. Dark Chocolate

                                                    When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

                                                    Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

                                                    8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

                                                    Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

                                                    B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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                                                    Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

                                                    Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

                                                    To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

                                                    9. Foods Rich in Zinc

                                                    Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

                                                    Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

                                                    Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

                                                    10. Gingko Biloba

                                                    This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

                                                    It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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                                                    However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

                                                    11. Green and Black Tea

                                                    Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

                                                    Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

                                                    Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

                                                    12. Sage and Rosemary

                                                    Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

                                                    Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

                                                    When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

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                                                    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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