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12 Brilliant Books That Will Change Your Life

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Anyone who has ever held a brand new book for the first time remembers that sweet anticipation of getting lost in a story. And as the allure of the unknown takes the better of us, we sink our teeth into a compelling plot sometimes overlooking those hidden messages left for us to decipher. These 12 thought-provoking stories have all the potential to shake your core beliefs, making you question the meaning of life. You will never look at these books the same way ever again.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

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“Many readers will agree that Yann Martel touched nerves with his story of a teenager cast adrift on the Pacific in a lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, an orang-utan and a Bengal tiger for company. Far from being told like an allegory, the novel's central episodes are carefully explained where animals commonly simplify human characteristics. You might read Life of Pi in this light, as a fable. When Pi reaches land after 227 days at sea, he describes the tiger with whom he has shared his boat as "companion of my torment, awful, fierce thing that kept me alive". - Guardian

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

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At first glance, Wonder might appear to be anything but fictional eye-candy. However, don’t be fooled by its cover, as it packs some powerful punches. Born with several facial disfigurements, 10-year-old August struggles to fit in at his new school. Having no confidence to draw on from his home-schooled years, socially inept and self-conscious Auggie becomes a prime target for bullies. Relayed from different perspectives, the story draws you in to witness the ripples the size of the tidal waves set off by abusive behaviour.

Inspired by a real life incident, Palacio creates a cautionary tale that might teach society a lesson or two about compassion.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

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But, Heathcliff, if I dare you now, will you venture? If you do, I'll keep you. I'll not lie there by myself: they may bury me twelve feet deep, and throw the church down over me, but I won't rest till you are with me. I never will!

“Emily Brontë’s masterpiece is a dark and enormously fervent tale of obsession. This is not love with lace, frills and flowers, but shorn of all the decorous notions to reveal an intensity more akin to beast than man. It is the unpolished passion of this torrid affair that really shines brighter than any diamond ever could.”- S. Penkevich

The Old Man and the Sea by Earnest Hemingway

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One of the most powerful novellas ever written, The Old Man and the Sea represents Hemingway’s last literary gem published during his lifetime. Inspired by real events, the story is centred around a Cuban fisherman Santiago who is considered to be cursed failing to catch a fish for weeks. In his strive to redeem himself, the old man ventures into the Gulf Stream where he encounters the largest marlin he has ever seen. The next few days can only be described as an agonising battle to bring the marlin to the market in one piece. By the time Santiago reaches the shore, the giant fish has been devoured by sharks leaving nothing but a skeleton as a reminder of the fisherman’s stoicism and courage.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

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“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself," the alchemist replies. "And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second's encounter with God and with eternity.

"When I'm on the set with young actors and sometimes you meet people in life who you feel they are a little confused and they want to be re-centered, there are two books that I always recommend. One of them is Siddhartha, and the other is The Alchemist.”
Russel Crowe

1984 by George Orwell

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He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.

“In a world of constant war between three all-controlling superpowers, every single human being in Oceania is being ruled by the Party. All freedom is gone, all pleasures are forbidden, all information is propaganda, rebellion is unthinkable, and your relatives will not hesitate to betray you. Even thinking rebellious thoughts is a crime, bound to get the attention of the Thought Police and a harsh punishment. And the masses live in constant fear. For they know that Big Brother is watching them…” - Marcus

To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee

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Published in 1960, this quintessentially American novel instantly shot to fame winning the Pulitzer Prize and inspiring a myriad of film and stage adaptations. Set in the 1930s Alabama, Harper Lee’s iconic story explores the racial tensions in the midst of the court hearing. Insightful and compassionate, the novel portrays the moral values of Atticus Finch and his family that stretch far beyond the colour of the skin.The only defence attorney willing to represent a black man accused of raping a white woman, Atticus battles hostility and inequality during the trial. This poignant tale of innocence, cruelty and hatred delights the readers with the description of human courage in pursuing justice and overcoming the prejudice in the 20th century America.

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

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A desperate young man plans the perfect crime - the murder of a despicable pawnbroker, an old women no one loves and no one will mourn. Is it not just, he reasons, for a man of genius to commit such a crime, to transgress moral law -- if it will ultimately benefit humanity? So begins one of the greatest novels ever written: a powerful psychological study, a terrifying murder mystery, a fascinating detective thriller infused with philosophical, religious and social commentary. Crime And Punishment takes the reader on a journey into the darkest recesses of the criminal and depraved mind, and exposes the soul of a man possessed by both good and evil… a man who cannot escape his own conscience.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

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Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you! Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing.

“A story of evil, debauchery, and scandal, Oscar Wilde’s only novel tells of Dorian Gray, a beautiful yet corrupt man. When he wishes that a perfect portrait of himself would bear the signs of ageing in his place, the picture becomes his hideous secret, as it follows Dorian’s own downward spiral into cruelty and depravity.”- Penguin English Library

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

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Set in the 19th century, this coming-of-age story is centred around the March family and their battle for survival during the Civil War. When Mr March joins the army his penniless family is left with no other option, but to fend for themselves. While Marmee assumes the role of a breadwinner, her young daughters go out of their ways to ease the burden by taking on some extra responsibilities. The March sisters could not be more different. While tomboyish Jo might lack the elegance of her older sister Meg, or the patience of her younger sibling Beth, this fiery-tempered character certainly has a lot more in common with mischievous Amy. From Christmas parties to secret society gatherings, the author creates a rich tapestry of social occasions, accentuating the stark contrast between the young ladies. Yet, despite their differences, the sisters display an incredible resilience and optimism in the face of a harsh reality, challenging the perception of gender roles.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

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I felt dreadfully inadequate. The trouble was, I had been inadequate all along, I simply hadn't thought about it… I felt like a racehorse in a world without racetracks or a champion college footballer suddenly confronted by Wall Street and a business suit, his days of glory shrunk to a little gold cup on his mantel.

“The Bell Jar is honest, disturbing, powerful, and poignant. It opens with "the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs," as if it were an omen of what is to come. Conspicuous and beautiful, it tells a story of despair as a young woman falls to the pitfalls of depression. The beauty of this novel, packed with bleak truths, difficult topics and wryly dark humor surprises and teaches us that our sorrows are simply us being human. This uncovering, if nothing else, should make us grateful.”- Lizzy

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

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Written during the World War II by a Jewish girl who spends her last years in hiding from Nazi persecution, this remarkable memoir blends together the atrocious details associated with war as well as the emotional turmoil of adolescence. For Anne, her diary represents an outlet in which she could commit her innermost thoughts - the guardian of her secrets. Discovered by accident, the diary was not intended for general public, which added authenticity and uniqueness to the story. This compelling and deeply-moving account is a reminder of the high price mankind was forced to pay for its freedom.

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