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10 Eye-Opening Books Everyone Should Read In Their Lifetime (At Least Once)

If you haven’t read them, you’re missing out

10 Eye-Opening Books Everyone Should Read In Their Lifetime (At Least Once)

These books will wake you up.

There are some books which once picked up are very hard to put down unless you finish reading them. Such books swallow you inside. They mesmerize you with new ideas and places.

The books in today’s list are from that category.

Go through them and take your pick!

10 Eye-Opening Books Everyone Should Read In Their Lifetime (At Least Once)

It’s time to rethink our relationship with Mother Earth.

The author holds a PhD in plant ecology.

She discusses the Western approach to the humans’ relationship with nature and plants. Then she contrasts it with the approach of the Native American people.

“We need acts of restoration, not only for polluted waters and degraded lands, but also for our relationship to the world.”

Through this book, Kimmerer shares her knowledge of plants and botany along with her personal experiences.

Being from the Potawatomi tribe, the author tries to learn more about the traditions of her ancestors. She also learns her native language.

The earth keeps on giving us even when it’s wounded, the author says.

Hence, it is important that we give back to the land. For example, planting seeds when we eat its fruit.

“We Americans are reluctant to learn a foreign language of our own species, let alone another species. But imagine the possibilities.”

This book stresses the importance of building a respectful, reciprocal, and sustainable relationship between mankind and nature.

10 Eye-Opening Books Everyone Should Read In Their Lifetime (At Least Once)

The journey towards hope.

We all have times in our lives where we have no hope. Our world goes dark. ‘Why me?’, we ask.

It’s easy to let go of hope during such times.

Frankl makes us realize that life can go on even in the darkest of places. In his case, it was the Nazi concentration camps where prisoners were beaten, starved, and killed.

“In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.”

Frankl survived his ordeal and went on to spread the message of hope. One of his renowned works is this book.

Being a psychologist, the author developed ‘logotherapy’ that focuses on finding meaning in life.

Frankl tells us that meaning in life can come from three places:

  1. Work/Cause

  2. Love

  3. Suffering

“No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him.”

As long as your life has meaning, you can survive the worst. For Frankl, it was the love of his wife that carried him through.

This book will be a shining light in your darkest moments.

10 Eye-Opening Books Everyone Should Read In Their Lifetime (At Least Once)

Don’t suppress fear.

Fear is a survival tool. And by using it right, we can protect ourselves.

This self-defense book focuses on trusting our gut to save ourselves from violent and dangerous situations.

The author discusses pre-incident indicators (PINS). These are incidents that occur before violence happens.

“Most men fear getting laughed at or humiliated by a romantic prospect while most women fear rape and death.”

By understanding PINS, people can predict violence and take appropriate steps to keep themselves out of harm’s way.

Following are the pre-incident indicators that are mentioned in the book:

  • Forced Teaming

  • Charm and Niceness

  • Too many details

  • Typecasting

  • Loan Sharking

  • The Unsolicited Promise

  • Discounting the Word “No”

Something profound that the author shares is how the kindness of others helps kids who are in violent homes. He says that kindness from a teacher, coach, policeman, neighbor, or family friend is never wasted.

“Denial is a save now, pay later scheme.”

This 1997 book teaches us to let our intuition and fear guide us to safety.

10 Eye-Opening Books Everyone Should Read In Their Lifetime (At Least Once)

A neurosurgeon’s reflections on life with terminal illness.

This is a heart-touching autobiography of a man on his deathbed.

Paul Kalanithi was a neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. This book is his memoir.

The book starts from Kalanithi’s childhood. His father was a doctor, who stayed away from his family due to work.

“Lucy and I both felt that life wasn’t about avoiding suffering. Years ago, it had occurred to me that Darwin and Nietzsche agreed on one thing: the defining characteristic of the organism is striving.”

Initially, Paul became disillusioned with medicine because he felt like he would have to stay away from family like his father. However, after studying English and biology, his curiosity gets the better of him.

He enrolls in medical school. Along with studying medicine, he keeps learning history and philosophy.

“As a doctor, I knew not to declare “Cancer is a battle I’m going to win!” or ask “Why me?” (Answer: Why not me?)”

After his cancer diagnosis, Kalanithi returns to his Christian faith. He and his wife also go on to have a daughter whom they name Cady.

The memoir is filled with Kalanithi’s reflection on life and his knowledge of literature and philosophy.

Unfortunately, the author died before this book was published. His wife Lucy wrote the epilogue.

10 Eye-Opening Books Everyone Should Read In Their Lifetime (At Least Once)

Step up your breathing game!

Breathing wrongly is impacting our health negatively.

Over time we have shifted from nasal breathing to mouth breathing. According to this book, it causes snoring, sleep apnea, asthma, autoimmune diseases, and allergies.

“We’ve become conditioned to breathe too much, just as we’ve been conditioned to eat too much.”

We eat processed food a lot, the author makes us realize. And that has impacted our breathing significantly.

Before the boom of processed foods, people relied on natural sources of food. Meat, vegetables, dairy. Regardless of the cultural differences (some ate meat primarily, others vegetables), one thing was common.

They had good teeth.

“Their teeth were almost always perfect; their mouths were exceptionally wide, nasal apertures broad. They suffered few, if any, cavities and little dental disease.”

The lesson from the book is to eat a good diet and to breathe intentionally from our nose.

10 Eye-Opening Books Everyone Should Read In Their Lifetime (At Least Once)

Big thoughts from a little girl.

Anne Frank was a young girl from a progressive Jewish family.

She and her family moved to the Netherlands from Germany to escape prosecution of Jews. When Germans invaded the Netherlands, the Frank family hid in a secret annex.

“Whoever is happy will make others happy.”

During this time, Anne wrote her diary which was a gift that she got on her 13th birthday.

Her diary talks about school, crushes, and family issues just like any teenage girl’s journal would. Anne also writes about her life in isolation and her thoughts about the world around her.

She talks about women’s rights and equality.

“Generally speaking, men are held in great esteem in all parts of the world, so why shouldn’t women have their share?”

In August of 1944, the family was found out and captured. They were led to concentration camps. After the war, Otto Frank, the father of Anne Frank, was the only one to survive.

The diary of Anne Frank was saved by a family’s well-wisher and given to Otto who decided to publish it.

10 Eye-Opening Books Everyone Should Read In Their Lifetime (At Least Once)

Are we selfish or altruistic?

Dawkins puts forth a genetic view of evolution.

When we think of evolution, we think of individual organisms and species competing to survive. Dawkins says that genes are the unit of evolution.

In short, evolution takes place on a genetic level.

“We are survival machines — robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes. This is a truth which still fills me with astonishment.”

Genes use the body of organisms to ensure their survival and replication. They are selfish.

The author says that even when organisms help another one, the aim is to ensure the survival of genes. According to him, true altruism doesn’t exist.

“If there is a human moral to be drawn, it is that we must teach our children altruism, for we cannot expect it to be part of their biological nature.”

Building on his view of evolution, Dawkins explains culture and group dynamics.

He advises his fellow men to teach altruism to their children because it is not a part of their biological nature.

This book provides a fascinating study of gene-based evolution.

10 Eye-Opening Books Everyone Should Read In Their Lifetime (At Least Once)

What would happen if everything was controlled?

This novel was published in 1949. It explores the theme of totalitarian and authoritarian rule.

It traces the life of the protagonist, Winston Smith. Smith is a low-ranking member of ‘the Party’.

“Your worst enemy, he reflected, was your own nervous system. At any moment the tension inside you was liable to translate itself into some visible symptom.”

‘The Party’ controls everything. It conducts mass surveillance and has criminalized ‘thoughtcrimes’ that might lead to a rebellion.

Smith starts a fight against this totalitarian control. He wants freedom and justice.

“The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labour.”

This book provides a frightening overview of the world where power is concentrated in the hands of very few.

If you read this book, I am sure you can draw some parallels between the scenario presented and real-life examples.

We know that mass surveillance is not a myth. Remember Jon Snowden’s exposé of the US government?

10 Eye-Opening Books Everyone Should Read In Their Lifetime (At Least Once)

An unconventional view of time.

It’s been more than a month since I read and reviewed this book.

Honestly, the information from the book has stayed with me.

The author makes us realize how mechanical clocks are ruling our lives. We ignore our body rhythm. He proposes a new way of managing time where clocks are helpers, not owners of our time management.

“For the brain, time is motion.”

He also discusses the relationship between time, movement, and memory.

When we are stressed, time shrinks for us. Our executive functioning is hampered and we make a lot of blunders.

Ever since reading this book, I consciously remind myself not to let the arms of the clock stress me out.

“… multitasking is one of the surest way to fritter away time…”

This book is jam-packed with super-important information that will transform your life and relationships.

10 Eye-Opening Books Everyone Should Read In Their Lifetime (At Least Once)

Life of an eccentric neurosurgeon.

Oliver Sacks is known for his book ‘The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat’. In that book, he discusses various case studies of his patients.

This book is his autobiography.

“Individuality is deeply imbued in us from the very start, at the neuronal level.”

He shares his love for his motorcycle, his drug habit, and his weightlifting days. Sacks also mentions his sexuality and struggles related to it.

Along the book, we learn neuroscience as well.

“There is a direct union of oneself with a motorcycle, for it is so geared to one’s proprioception, one’s movements and postures, that it responds almost like part of one’s own body.”

Oliver Sacks candidly shares his love of writing and how much he enjoys it. Writing also helped him recover from drug addiction.

This book is a mind-blowing look at the life of a brilliant yet unique man.


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If you enjoyed these book recommendations, check out the rest of my book lists on my blog-

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