Hello, my name is Zaheer Booth. I am a junior at CUNY Hunter College, where I am captain of the Men's Fencing Team, and this summer I am interning in the library department at Scholastic. I am working on a few projects that give me a glimpse of the professional office setting and also allow me to gain new experiences. This book print, being one of my latest projects, is a list of the top five books that have influenced my life, many of which I have read twice. The majority of the books that I have chosen are classics that most people read through their grade school days, and if you haven’t read these books I strongly suggest that you read them and get as much out of them as I did.
The Stranger by Albert Camus
Every action has a consequence. The novel by Albert Camus, The Stranger, focuses on the main character Meursault who is experiencing the death of his mother, which would rattle the average man. Meursault doesn’t seem to be affected by these events because he has no moral compass or the level of empathy that a normal person would have. With that being said Meursault goes through life simply living. His complete disregard of consequence and sense of morality leads to his ultimate downfall. What I took away from this book, and what I hope everyone takes from this book, is to see Meursault’s life as an example of how not to live life. There are times when you should just enjoy life and be in the moment, but it is important to note that many situations require you to think ahead and consider all your choices and outcomes to insure you make the best possible decision.
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
First book that I read with curse words. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is another classic that everyone should read at least once in their lifetime. This is the story of a young man named Holden who is trying to find his purpose in life. This book was the first one that I read that had curse words in it and that somehow added to the realness of the book for me and made me wonder what my life’s purpose is. I have an idea, but I still don’t know for sure. In the story, Holden finds out that what he wanted to do isn’t what he’s able to do and that finding your purpose in life is harder than it seems. What I took away from this book is that you don’t really have to know your purpose in life, especially at a young age. As long as you have a few ideas of what you want your life to accomplish, you’re golden.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Made me question my own freedom and how much media is controlled and/or is controlling me. Fahrenheit 451 is set in a dystopian society where firefighters aren’t really firefighters anymore, they are the fire starters. In this dystopia, Guy Montag, like other firemen, burns books, and in the futuristic city that the book is set in people live their lives based on the controlled media they see, mostly watching TV, and they burn books instead of reading them in order to keep the peace in this very strange society. After experiencing this book, it made me afraid of how little I actually read books (being the reluctant reader I am). This book also makes me think about the power the media has and how much control the public has over it. With technology advancing like it is people are more inclined to mindlessly tell the world what they think about huge topics on their social media platforms without actually being informed. You don’t necessarily need to read a ton of books to get information, but it is important that people control what they take in from the media and form their own opinions.
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
One of the first books that really made me cry, and I learned the life sometimes puts us in difficult situations where we have to make the hard decisions for a greater good. Of Mice and Men takes place during one of America’s hardest times, the Great Depression. This American classic by John Steinbeck is the story of two men, George and Lennie, trying to get back on their feet and find some work. George is sort of Lennie’s care taker because Lennie is mentally challenged and tends to get himself into trouble. This book has a very sad ending and taught me that the world is full of tough decisions and when you are going through hard times, you have to be strong enough to make difficult choices.
Full Metal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa
Taught me how strong the bond between brothers can be and that knowledge and the right amount of determination can help you accomplish anything. I first heard about this series by watching the TV anime adapted from the Manga series called Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. While I was watching the TV show I started getting impatient waiting for the next episode, and that led me to discover the Manga series. It is about two young and very intelligent brothers who lose their parents and through the use of alchemy try to bring their mother back. In the process, the brothers destroy their bodies and go on a long trying journey to get back to normal. This series taught me what true determination is and how your family can make you stronger.