My parents inspired my love of reading when I was little by giving me the collector's edition of Jane Austen's seven novels and since that moment, I've spent my life surrounded by books. Although traveling to foreign countries gives me exposure to an intriguing and differing way of life, the worlds I have found in books has transformed my worldview more than I ever have with stamps on my passport. In light of this fact, I'm always looking for books about people with drastically different lives than me. Without further ado, here are what I believe to be the top 5 must reads for expanding your worldview.
1. "Americanah" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
Adiche astounded the world with her eloquent TED talk "We Should All Be Feminists." Americanah was her first novel and chronicles the life of Ifemelu, a young Nigerian woman who travels to America for college, is no different. Centered around topics of love, loss, culture, she realizes her "blackness" for the first time in America. With beautiful language and endless poise, Adichie weaves a story of romance and confronting your identity in a multicultural world.
2. "All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr
With chapters almost like a collection of short stories, Doerr subtly weaves a narrative of a chance encounter between a young blind Parisian girl and a drafted German boy during the occupation of France during World War II. Told from alternating perspectives, their loss, and strength to continue through hardship will inspire you.
3. "Small Great Things" by Jodi Picoult
"Small Great Things" by Jodi Picoult centers around an African American nurse who is held responsible after a newborn baby dies. The case that follows in the courtroom is full of suspense. This is one story that I could not put down; it sheds light on institutional racism and the power of confronting one's own beliefs.
4. "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini
"The Kite Runner" is the ultimate tale of redemption and unconditional love. It also centers around ethnic majority and minority struggle. Humans since the beginning of time have sought to find minute ways to justify the oppression of minority groups, and Afghanistan in the 1980s is no different.
5. "The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas
Of the five of these novels, I read "The Hate U Give"" the most recently because of its imminent adaptation to the big screen. The title is based on Tupac's lyrics acronym for "THUG LIFE" and it centers around Starr, an African American girl living in a poverty-stricken neighborhood. She watches her best friend shot by police after being pulled over. The story centers around police brutality and has an honest and enlightening take on race relations that is infinitely important in modern America.