4 Books that Have Changed My Perspective

As a huge reader, there are books that have really changed the way I think about certain issues. This list covers four out of many, but they are the ones that first came to my mind. They've all had a deep impact on me and have helped me become a better person.

1. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
I read this book after I moved to Chicago and it really helped me understand why the racial demographics of Chicago look the way they do. This book details The Great Migration, which is the migration of millions of African-Americans from the South to big cities in the North and West (think Detroit, New York, Los Angeles, etc). When they arrived, they were pushed into certain areas that became black ghettos and were offered limited employment options. The ramifications of The Great Migration are still affecting America today and it was absolutely fascinating to get a better understanding of this topic. I think and talk about this book all the time and rate it as one of the top nonfiction books I've read.

2. My Own Country by Abraham Verghese
My Own Country opened my eyes to how appalling and horrible AIDS is, and how terrifying the spread of AIDS was as knowledge about the disease was first coming to light. Reading Verghese's first-hand account as an infectious disease specialist turned AIDS expert in eastern Tennessee was incredibly moving. His stories of the patients and how they affected him, as well as his experience with prejudice, were moving and emotional. This book was unique and wonderful; I highly recommend it.

3. The Girls Who Went Away by Ann Fessler
This book showed me the human side of mothers who give up their babies for adoption. Fessler interviews dozens of women who gave up their babies for adoption when they were in their teens or early twenties, and their stories were heart-wrenching. I had never thought about the emotional impact that giving up a child would cause, and some of the stories about women (girls, really) holding their babies for the first and last time made me sob. This book helped me understand that adopting out a child was a watershed moment in the lives of each of these women with emotional ramifications felt for decades.

4. 168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam
The subject matter isn't as emotional as some of the others, but this book taught me how to rethink my concept of time. Vanderkam's whole argument is that we need to approach time management in a new way and that really, we have more time than we think. Since there are 168 hours in a week, even if you work full-time and sleep 8 hours a night, there is still ample time for you to have quality experiences with your children, exercise, pursue hobbies, take a class, and so on. She has excellent and interesting tips that I've remembered even two years after I read it. Reading this made me feel invigorated because I realized there is so much time to do what I want and it helped rethink the structure of my days and weeks.

What books have changed your perspective?


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