When asked to pick only one book to recommend to someone, most people would agree that it is quite a difficult task. Firstly, because there are so many great pieces that it seems unfair to pick just one. Secondly, definition of a great book varies from person to person. Yet, when asked what would be the one they would recommend if someone could only read once in their life, most Quora users opted for books that greatly influenced their thinking and ideas about life. Go through the list and see if you agree and maybe pick one or two for your personal library.
1. Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R. Hofstadter
The book explores lives, works and ideas of logician Kurt Gödel, artist M.C. Escher, and composer Jonathan Sebastian Bach. Using puns, metaphors and puzzles to connect concepts of mathematics, symmetry and intelligence, the book actually explores the notion of human cognition and consciousness. The value of the book is in its ability to take you on a journey of exploring your abilities to self-reflect, and it doesn’t require a scientist or artist of any sort to realize the universality of laws of our consciousness and perception.
2. Best of Quora (2010 – 2012)
Great book that covers 18 sections of creative, funny, practical and intelligent answers to all sorts of questions. A book about everything for everyone. “It’s less about the “right answer” and more about perceptions and experiences.” Says one of the reviewers.
3. Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz
Written as a means to fix the emotional scars that surgeon Maxwell Maltz couldn’t help his patients with by surgical procedure, Psycho-Cybernetics is one of the corner-stones of self-help programs. Even though the original was published in 1960, many readers still consider it the best at its niche due to its practical value that relies on science.
4. The Tirukkural
Written 2000 years ago in Tamil and since then, translated into 82 languages, The Tirukkural (Sacred Couplets) is a book of 1330 couplets that explores truths about universal topics of love, righteousness and material life. Readers consider it as a religiously neutral and universal guide for any life situation.
5. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
The Prophet consists of 26 prose poetry fables, which, written in 1923 can still be applied today. Rich in metaphor, the stories are abundant with lessons that don’t seem like lessons, on life’s most important aspects such as love, marriage, children, joy, sorrow, beauty, religion, and death.
6. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
First published in 1955, American literature classic, Lolita, was, and probably still is, one of the most controversial novels of all time, due to the appalling subject of pedophilia it explores. Captivating, yet unreliable narration of Humbert Humbert, full of word play and puns, with ironic observations about American culture, tells the story of his love for 12-year old Dolores, a nymphet he called Lolita.
7. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Set in WWII Germany, The Book Thief is another great novel that speaks of universal values in a beautiful and captivating way. It tells a story of a young girl Liesel Meminger who loses her family and struggles to preserve her own life and innocence during a cruel time. Narrated by Death, the novel explores themes such as mortality, the power of storytelling, and love.
8. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery
One of the most translated and best-selling books of all time, The Little Prince, is a novella that, disguised as a children’s book, tells a more mature and universal story of human nature. First published in 1943, the book has stood the test of time making people of all age question their perspective on life and universe they are a part of.
The longest poem ever written, Mahabharata is an epic poem written in Sanskrit in ancient India. Through the story of Kurukshetra War and the fates of the Kaurava and the Pandava princes, the poem illustrates life aspects and stories that are timeless and universal.
10. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
One of the most quoted books of our time, The Alchemist, is the book that changed the lives of so many people. Following a boy shepherd Santiago through his adventures in the quest for treasure, it tells the story of human quest for purpose, meaning and destiny.
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