Summer Reads for Deep Thinkers

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This post is by TheNotMom team writer Laura LaVoie:

I was recently thinking about books I have read that inspired me, and changed my very worldview. I wasn’t sure what I would do with this list when I drew it up. But, then I thought about TheNotMom.com.

There is so much more to us as women than not being mothers, and we find inspiration in a number of places. I thought you might enjoy these classic book recommendations. I would love to hear about books you have read that have influenced you, or even changed your life.

In no particular order, here’s the 3 books that changed my life:

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
When I was 7, this story came out in movie form, and the experience was so magical the memory is burned in my mind. I saw it with my father and brother, and it was one of the best memories of my childhood. My father read to me every night, so the next chance I had to pick a book  from the library, I chose The Last Unicorn.

We didn’t finish it together then, but I’ve revisited the book several times since then. As it turns out, the story is not written for 7-year-olds. It tells of a unicorn that’s the last of her kind. She goes on a journey to discover what happened to the rest of her kind and meets a colorful cast of characters. My favorite was Molly Grue, who desperately dreamed of seeing a unicorn for so long that when she finally is face-to-face with one, she is furious.

I had the pleasure of meeting Peter Beagle several years ago, and I was able to tell him how much The Last Unicorn affected me, and an entire generation of women, too. This story taught me to search for my true self and never waver from my dreams and goals.

• Watership Down by Richard Adams
This was another movie-to-book experience for me. The animated version featuring the music of Art Garfunkel simplifies the tale. After I saw it for the first time, I really wanted to know the full story. I remember finding a beat-up copy at a used book sale while I was  in elementary school. I quickly devoured it, but, just like The Last Unicorn, this book took until much later for me to truly understand it.

Adams uses the rabbits’ journey as an allegory – and it is a powerful one. The storytelling is amazing and detailed; right down to the rabbit language. Watership Down made me rethink community, survival, and how we treat others.

• The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
When I was in college, my roommate was taking a Women’s Studies course. In it, students were asked to read this book. She tried, but the story affected her so much that she was unable to finish it. I took it and began to read.

The story bothered me too, but it was provocative, and Atwood’s writing is some of the best ever produced. Her vision of a world where infertility is rampant and childbearing women are treated as possessions is chilling. She created a future like no other author; a future that we can actually picture that makes us stop in our tracks to think hard about our society. After The Handmaid’s Tale, I eagerly read everything else Margaret Atwood ever published.

Leave a comment to share your most influential books and add to this list!

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2 Responses to “Summer Reads for Deep Thinkers”

  1. Wolfers says:

    ‘A Handmaid’s Tale” is one of my favorites- Before the H.S. banned it back then, my literature teacher encouraged me to read it after she found out I devoured all the books listed for the 3-month course, all in two weeks, and said “what next?” LOL The book haunted me afterwards, opening my eyes to the society treating women, women’s rights, and reproductive rights/health. Was a stepping stone on my path becoming an advocate for women.
    Two books that influenced my life, was Elfquest by Wendy and Richard Pini, a graphic novel of elves battling for their place in a world that saw them as alien- I was very suicidal at that time when I found the book. From the book, I realized I wasn’t alone; I may be different (being deaf), but I do have the right to living my way, and to live in the moment, so in the short, the book saved my life.
    The other book is ‘An Ordinary Man”, an autobiography by Paul Rusesabagina (which inspired the movie “Hotel Rwanda”), of a Rwandan guy trying to save many as he could during the 1994 genocide. He knew the risks, yet he managed to do it all, in public. Very courageous, and that helped me consider to become public about my infertility, to let deaf women going through infertility they are not alone; I knew the risks of being singled out. That’s fine with me, as long as it’s clear that one doesn’t have to be alone on the infertility journey, even as a deaf woman (or man).

    • Karen Malone Wright says:

      What great additions to our list. Thank you!! I’ve already downloaded ‘A Handmaid’s Tale’ to my Kindle.

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