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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 October 16, 2018

                                                              The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

                                                              The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

                                                              It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

                                                              If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

                                                              One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

                                                              Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

                                                              In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

                                                              Why you can’t sleep through the night

                                                              The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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                                                              Stress

                                                              If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

                                                              Exposure to blue light before sleep time

                                                              We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

                                                              While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

                                                              Eating close to bedtime

                                                              Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

                                                              Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

                                                              Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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                                                              Medical conditions

                                                              In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

                                                              The vicious sleep cycle

                                                              The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

                                                              Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

                                                              You get a bad night’s sleep
                                                              –> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
                                                              –> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
                                                              –> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

                                                                You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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                                                                How to sleep better (throughout the night)

                                                                To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

                                                                1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

                                                                What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

                                                                Here are a few suggestions:

                                                                • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
                                                                • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
                                                                • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
                                                                • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
                                                                • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

                                                                2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

                                                                What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

                                                                • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
                                                                • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
                                                                • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
                                                                • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

                                                                3. Adjust your sleep temperature

                                                                Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

                                                                Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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                                                                Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

                                                                Sleep better form now on

                                                                Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

                                                                I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

                                                                As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

                                                                Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

                                                                Reference

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