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30 Classic Books That May Change Your Life

30 Classic Books That May Change Your Life

A classic novel need not be one that was penned a hundred years ago: rather, some of the traits that define the classic genre are timelessness, universality, truthfulness. Will this work remain relevant as time goes by? Can the reader learn something heartfelt from the story? Does the narrative flow beautifully? Does it resonate with the reader?

If these questions can be answered with a hearty “yes!”, then the book can indeed be considered a classic.

Universality is usually the most appreciated aspect of a book, in the sense that people of all different ages, social status, etc. can all relate to it, somehow. Being able to glean some measure of wisdom or insight from a book is invaluable, and it’s likely that every dedicated bibliophile out there can give you a list of the books that have greatly influenced their lives. Below is a list of 30 such books—if you haven’t read them yet, you might enjoy delving into them.

1. Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn

Ishmael

    Purposely didactic, this book forces us to re-examine what we believe to be Truth, and reinforces the fact that wisdom can come from the most unlikely sources.

    2. The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

    Alchemist

      Sometimes, when we follow our dreams, we end up where we need to be, rather than where we think we want to be.

      3. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding

      Lord of the Flies

        Our feral natures are never far from the surface, as illustrated by what happens when a group of supposedly well-mannered young men gets shipwrecked on a tropical island.

        4. 1984, by George Orwell

        1984

          Many would say that issues addressed in this (prophetic?) book are coming into play now. You might wish to judge that for yourself.

          5. When Things Fall Apart, by Pema Chödrön

          Pema Chodron

            Pain is inevitable: suffering is optional. Tibetan Buddhist nun and teacher Pema Chödrön takes the reader through the different stages of grieving when life throws a curveball, giving gentle, compassionate advice on how to accept, acknowledge, and move beyond difficulty.

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            6. The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, by Sogyal Rinpoche

            Tibetan Book

              One of the most powerful books of Buddhist life philosophy, this tome guides people through the magnificent journey that is their own life and transition into death, and gives advice on how to care compassionately for others who are nearing death. In our modern world, where aging and death are verboten topics that terrify the average person, this is a refreshing perspective that softens aspects of life’s journey that may cause fear and anxiety for many.

              7. Lost in the Barrens, by Farley Mowat

              Mowat

                This isn’t your standard “coming of age” novel, but rather a tale of bravery, intercultural friendships, and respect of the natural world. It just happens to centre around two teenage boys. An alternate title for this book is Two Against the North.

                8. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

                Salinger

                  People tried to stifle Holden’s uniqueness, and he refused to acquiesce. Those who prefer to dwell outside dominant ideology may find an affinity with this tale.

                  9. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

                  Mockingbird

                    Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and this book takes into account massive injustices based on race and age.

                    10. Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius

                    Meditations Aurelius

                      Marcus Aurelius was one of the greatest Roman emperors, and this collection of meditations was written solely for his own use as he tried to make sense of the universe, and to create a standard of ethical behaviour to hold himself to.

                      11. The Trial, by Franz Kafka

                      Kafka Trial

                        A very telling illustration of the nightmare that is bureaucracy, injustice, and the powerlessness felt by a man in the face of all of it.

                        12. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy

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                        Anna Karenina

                          Poignant and heartbreaking, it’s a tale of intense passion and love, and also details the repercussions of infidelity and jealousy.

                          13. The Beauty Myth, by Naomi Wolf

                          Beauty Myth

                            A must-read for anyone identifying as female, this book argues that modern ideals of beauty are mostly driven by the advertising industry, and that the “myth” of feminine beauty is a political and economic weapon used by a male-dominated world to undermine women’s advancement in society. Whether you agree or disagree with the premise, it’s worth a read, and a ponder.

                            14. The Giver, by Lois Lowry

                            Giver

                              A dystopian tale about a young boy growing up in a commune of sameness that is devoid of colour, emotion, or individuality. This young man has the ability to experience what the others are missing out on, and he selflessly sets out to bring that experience to others at the cost of his own life. An interesting exploration of living outside a norm of “safety”, and what beauty and havoc that may wreak.

                              15. His Dark Materials Trilogy, by Philip Pullman

                              Pullman

                                Shows the heroism and bravery that young people can possess, the possibility of multiple worlds and dimensions, as well as the dangers that can occur when a dominant ideology/religion gains too much power.

                                16. A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens

                                Xmas Carol

                                  Most of us were forced to study Great Expectations in high school, thus ruining our appreciation for Dickens forevermore, but this novel really does make us pause to consider the consequences of our actions. Every stone cast into a pond causes ripples, as Ebenezer Scrooge learned during his time spent with ghosts of past, present, and future.

                                  17. A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking

                                  History of Time

                                    This is a very readable, accessible, and entertaining introduction to recent developments in physics and cosmology, as written by one of the most brilliant minds of our time.

                                    18. A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, by Eckhart Tolle

                                    Tolle

                                      Transcend your ego and leave behind jealousy, anger, and unhappiness. Life in the moment, get back in touch with your inner stillness, and stop listening to the nay-saying of that obnoxious inner voice.

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                                      19. A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini

                                      1000 Suns

                                        Part historical fiction, part social commentary, and part kick-in-the-throat storytelling, this novel is a story of intense beauty and strength buried under the surface of the cruel and capricious life imposed upon two Afghani women. Ideal for those in the West who have preconceived notions about the lives of those living in the Middle East.

                                        20. The Gnostic Gospels, by Elaine Pagel

                                        Gnostic Gospels

                                          Many deeply religious Christians aren’t aware that there were several gospels removed from what is now known as the Bible. The gospels of Mary Magdalene, Thomas, and Judas are among them, and may be very eye-opening; both to the devout, and to those of other religions as well. It’s interesting to delve into writings that were suppressed by the Church for so long, especially since they contain philosophical ideas that don’t exactly mesh with established doctrine…

                                          21. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera

                                          Unbearable Lightness

                                            This “mad myth” cannot be categorized, and forces the reader to contemplate all manner of ideas: concepts of freedom, loyalty, love, betrayal, social responsibility, and what it means to be truly alive.

                                            22. The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 

                                            Petit Prince

                                              Wonder, beauty, love, and loss, all viewed with the childlike innocence of a little Prince who lives on a small planet and is in love with a rose.

                                              “Goodbye,” said the fox. “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

                                              23. Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell

                                              Blue Dolphins

                                                Most people shy away from solitude, fearing they couldn’t survive on their own, but this story of a young girl’s life on an Aleutian island (based on a true story) shows the strength of human resilience, and the bonds that can form between us, and animal companions.

                                                24. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut

                                                Cats Cradle

                                                  This cult tale of global destruction preys on our deepest fears of witnessing Armageddon and, worse still, surviving it. Vonnegut’s classic use of sarcasm, irony, and absurdity helps to weave a tale that is as plausible as it is fantastical, showing how humanity’s juvenile idiocy can so easily bring about the destruction of the Earth.

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                                                  25. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

                                                  Brave

                                                    From the Alpha-Plus mandarin class to the Epsilon-Minus Semi-Morons, designed to perform menial tasks, man is bred and educated to be blissfully content with his pre-destined role. Except one. Like Holden’s character in The Cather in the Rye, a young man who wasn’t wired to be “normal” lives outside societal expectations, and is celebrated for his differences. At first…

                                                    26. Dune, by Frank Herbert

                                                    Dune

                                                      An intricately woven commentary about ecology, family dynamics, politics, religion, technology, and overcoming fear to attain one’s potential.

                                                      27. We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families, by Philip Gourevitch

                                                      Wish to Inform

                                                        This is not an easy book to read. This is a book that will tear your heart out and leave you sobbing as you learn about the atrocities that were visited upon the Tutsi people by the Hutu majority, a topic most people in the West haven’t even heard about it. Delving into this book requires great bravery, and no reader will remain unscathed… but reading stories from other human beings who have survived great hardship can only serve to make us more compassionate.

                                                        28. Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl

                                                        Frankl

                                                          Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, penned this book after recovering from his time in Auschwitz, where he lost his entire family (including his pregnant wife). He maintains that people can survive anything as long as they have reason to do so. “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

                                                          29. The Teachings of Don Juan, by Carlos Castaneda

                                                          Castaneda

                                                            The most serious and most truthful of Castaneda’s work, it opened countless people’s minds to the mysteries that lie beyond the mundane everyday experience we’re all accustomed to.

                                                            30. The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron

                                                            Artists Way

                                                              The perfect “bible” for any creative soul, this book cheers you on when you feel like you can only look longingly at your creative passion (writing, painting, drawing…) because life’s stresses and responsibilities have gotten in the way. It can lead you through the aching fatigue that comes from working a job that takes you from home and back to it again without a glimpse of the sun, and help you rekindle your creativity, even in the smallest of ways.

                                                              All book cover images via Goodreads.com, except the Lord of the Flies, created by Nathaniel Winter-Hébert (published with permission by the artist).

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                                                              Last Updated on February 21, 2019

                                                              Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

                                                              Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

                                                              Your brain is the most intricate and powerful organ in your entire body. It’s essentially a super-computer with brain power like a Ferrari.

                                                              If you have a Ferrari, would you put cheap gasoline in it? Of course not. You want to put in high-octane performance fuel to get the most out of your investment.

                                                              When it comes to the brain, many people are looking for the top foods that will supercharge the brainpower to help focus better, think more clearly and have better brain health.

                                                              In this article, we’ll look at the top 9 brain foods that will help create supercharge your brain with energy and health:

                                                              1. Salmon

                                                              Salmon has long been held as a healthy brain food, but what makes this fish so valuable for your brain health?

                                                              It’s important to understand that your brain is primarily made up of fat. Roughly 60% of your brain is fat. One of the most important fats that the brain uses as a building block for healthy brain cells is omega-3’s.

                                                              Omega-3’s are essential for building a healthy brain but one of the most important omega-3’s for your brain is DHA. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) forms nearly two-thirds of the omega-3’s found in your brain.[1]

                                                              Omega-3’s and DHA in particular help form the protective coating around our neurons. The better quality this coating is, the more efficient and effective our brain cells can work, allowing our brain power to work at full capacity.

                                                              Studies have shown that being deficient in DHA can affect normal brain development in children, which is why so many infant formulas and children’s supplements are beginning to include DHA.

                                                              Being deficient in DHA as an adult can cause focus and attention problems, mood swings, irritability, fatigue and poor sleep.

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                                                              2. Blueberries

                                                              Blueberries top the list as one of the most beneficial fruits to maximize your brain health and performance.

                                                              Blueberries have some of the highest content of antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, than any other fruit, which helps protect the brain from stress and promote healthy brain aging.

                                                              Blueberries antioxidant content also help reduce inflammation, which allows the brain to maintain healthy energy levels.

                                                              Blueberries have begun to receive attention for their connection to brain performance.[2] Studies have demonstrated that eating blueberries on a regular basis can not only improve brain health but also brain performance as well including working memory.[3]

                                                              Blueberries not only taste great but are low in calories, high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Manganese.

                                                              3. Turmeric

                                                              Turmeric is a very impressive spice that has well-researched and proven to have tremendous benefits for your brain. Turmeric’s main compound that benefits the brain is called curcumin, which is responsible for turmerics bright yellow appearance.

                                                              Curcumin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-cancer properties.[4]

                                                              Curcumin increases the production and availability of two important neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, two important neurotransmitters involved with happiness, motivation, pleasure, and reward.

                                                              Curcumin has been well documented to have powerful anti-depressive effects. In one study, it was found to be as effective for depression as popular medications such as SSRI’s like Prozac.[5]

                                                              Curcumin has also been shown to:

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                                                              • Increase blood flow to the brain.[6]
                                                              • Increase BDNF production, a powerful stimulator of neuroplasticity.[7]
                                                              • Increase DHA availability and synthesis in the brain.[8]
                                                              • Increase antioxidant levels in the brain to prevent brain aging and inflammation.[9]

                                                              4. Coffee

                                                              Coffee is the wonderful elixir of energy that many people cherish every single morning. The biggest reason people drink coffee is to get a dose of caffeine.

                                                              Caffeine is a natural neurological stimulant that not only gives you energy but also prevents adenosine, a neurotransmitter involved with feeling tired, from binding in the brain.

                                                              Many people are surprised to find that coffee actually contains a large quantity of antioxidants called polyphenols, which are important for reducing inflammation in the brain and keep your brain energized. The antioxidants in coffee also provide a neuroprotective effect, protecting the brain from stress and damage. [R]

                                                              Coffee can also:

                                                              • Improve alertness and concentration.[10]
                                                              • Help with neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease.[11]
                                                              • Reduce your risk of depression.[12]
                                                              • Improve your memory.
                                                              • Provide short-term boost in athletic performance.[13]

                                                              5. Broccoli

                                                              What was your least favorite food as a kid growing up?

                                                              Most likely, broccoli was your answer.

                                                              Broccoli may not have been your top choice, but it might be the top choice for your brain.

                                                              Broccoli contains a compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane has been shown to promote the proliferation and survival of brain cells by reducing inflammation and boosting production of BDNF. It has also been shown to boost neurogenesis, the production of new brain cells.[14]

                                                              Broccoli is also loaded with important nutrients Vitamin K and Folate. Vitamin K plays a vital role in protecting brain cells.[15] Folate plays a crucial role in detoxification and reducing inflammation in the brain.

                                                              6. Bone broth

                                                              Bone broth wasn’t just created to combine with soups, you can actually drink bone broth by itself.

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                                                              Drinking bone broth has become one of the biggest trends in the health and wellness industry and for good reason. Bone broth isn’t actually a new thing. Bone broth has been used for centuries as a healing tonic to promote health and longevity.

                                                              Much of the nutritional benefits and value of bone broth comes from its substantial vitamin and mineral content. Primarily calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.

                                                              Your gut is called your second brain for a reason. Research continually shows that there is a direct and indirect connection between your gut and your brain. Your gut also houses and stores many important brain compounds involved with optimal brain performance. Therefore the health of your gut is vitally important for your brain health and performance.

                                                              Bone broth has become a go-to tool for helping heal the gut and provide the gut with the vital nutrient and resources it needs to heal and perform optimally.

                                                              With the vast amounts of nutrients that bone broth contains, it makes the list as a go-to food for your brain health.

                                                              Look for high quality, organic bone broth for the best results.

                                                              7. Walnuts

                                                              Walnuts are one of the top choices of nuts for brain health. Walnuts also look similar to a brain.

                                                              Amongst the wide variety of nuts available, walnuts contain the highest amounts of the important omega-3 DHA. DHA, as seen above, is a critical building block for a healthy brain.

                                                              Walnuts also contain high amounts of antioxidants, folate, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, which help to lower inflammation.

                                                              Melatonin in walnuts is an important nutrient for regulating your sleep. Having low amounts of melatonin can make it challenging to get good quality sleep and getting poor quality sleep can dramatically impair brain health and performance.

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                                                              8. Eggs

                                                              For years, eggs were put on the nutritional naughty list; but now, eggs are finally getting the credit they deserve. Eggs can provide a tremendous boost to your brain health and longevity.

                                                              Eggs, particularly the yolks, contain a compound called choline. Choline is essential for building the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine plays an important role in mood, memory, and intelligence.

                                                              Egg yolks contain some of the highest quantities of choline. This is very important because low levels of choline can lead to low levels of acetylcholine, which in turn can cause increased inflammation, brain fog, difficulty concentrating and fatigue.

                                                              9. Dark chocolate

                                                              You’re about to love chocolate even more because chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, is great for your brain.

                                                              Chocolate boosts levels of endorphins, your brains “feel good” chemicals. This is why you feel so good eating chocolate.[16]

                                                              Chocolate also increases blood flow to the brain which can help improve memory, attention, focus, and reaction time.[17]

                                                              Dark chocolate contains high levels of magnesium, which has been coined “natures valium” for its ability to calm and relax the brain.

                                                              Lastly, dark chocolate has one of the highest antioxidant profiles out of any other food, including popular superfoods like acai berries, blueberries, or pomegranates.[18]

                                                              Conclusion

                                                              Your brain is a high performing organ and it uses quite a lot of energy, roughly 20% of the bodies energy demands.

                                                              In order to maintain a healthy brain, you need the right fuel to ensure that your brain has all the nutrients it needs to perform as well as adapt to the stress of life.

                                                              If you want to keep your brain performing well for a lifetime, then you want to make sure you are including as many of these brain health foods as possible.

                                                              More Resources About Boosting Brain Power

                                                              Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                                                              Reference

                                                              [1] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: DHA Effects in Brain Development and Function
                                                              [2] Canadian Science Publishing: Enhanced task-related brain activation and resting perfusion in healthy older adults after chronic blueberry supplementation
                                                              [3] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Cognitive effects following acute wild blueberry supplementation in 7- to 10-year-old children.
                                                              [4] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin: the Indian solid gold.
                                                              [5] Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition.: Turmeric, the Golden Spice
                                                              [6] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effect of combined treatment with curcumin and candesartan on ischemic brain damage in mice.
                                                              [7] Science Direct: Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB
                                                              [8] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin boosts DHA in the brain: Implications for the prevention of anxiety disorders.
                                                              [9] PLOS: A Chemical Analog of Curcumin as an Improved Inhibitor of Amyloid Abeta Oligomerization
                                                              [10] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of Caffeine on Cognitive Performance, Mood, and Alertness in Sleep-Deprived Humans
                                                              [11] American Academy of Neurology: A Cup of Joe May Help Some Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
                                                              [12] American Academy of Neurology: AAN 65th Annual Meeting Abstract
                                                              [13] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of caffeine on the metabolic and catecholamine responses to exercise in 5 and 28 degrees C.
                                                              [14] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Hyperammonemia induces glial activation, neuroinflammation and alters neurotransmitter receptors in hippocampus, impairing spatial learning: reversal by sulforaphane
                                                              [15] Oxford Academic: Vitamin K and the Nervous System: An Overview of its Actions
                                                              [16] Diana L. Walcutt, Ph.D: Chocolate and Mood Disorders
                                                              [17] Health Magazine: Chocolate can do good things for your heart, skin and brain
                                                              [18] Chemistry Central Journal: Cacao seeds are a “Super Fruit”: A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products

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