What Is The Most Meaningful Book That I Can Read?
Posted on 12th of September, 2018


To me all books are meaningful in some way or another, although obviously some are more meaningful than others. One of my all time favorites is the Yann Martel book, Life of Pi. I think that most people have either read the book or at the very least watched the movie, but here is a summary just in case; It's about a young Indian boy who immigrated to America along with his family and the animals from the zoo that they operated. Unfortunately the boat sinks during the trip and Pi is left stranded on a lifeboat with an assortment of wild animals, including a massive Bengal tiger that is named Richard Parker. On one level the book is about the journey Pi has to make to survive and inhabit the same space as a ferocious animal, but it also has a deeper meaning that only becomes clear towards the end of the book.
Books that are really meaningful are rare, but one thing that I can tell is to stay far away from all of those so called "self-help" books. Most, if not all, of them are written by charlatans who are only preying on people who are desperate or down on their luck. If you are looking for meaning, it is far better to read books with true accounts of some of the things certain people had to endure. Even fiction titles are much better at providing meaning than those self-help books, trust me on that.
This is one of those questions that are very difficult to answer because different things have different meanings to different people. I could find meaning in a children's book because it might have been something that my grandmother used to read to me all the time, whereas to somebody else it might not have the same meaning. This is why I have tried to pick books that have a something about them that I believe could be meaningful to everyone who read them.

My first pick is East of Eden by John Steinbeck, who was a Nobel Prize winner. Because East of Eden is such a dense story, my recommendation would be to really take your time with it and not rush or try and find deeper meanings right away. I believe that the book was Steinbeck's way of conveying everything about the Salinas Valley to his sons when they were young boys and the book certainly succeeds in this. The time frame for East of Eden is the turn of the twentieth century up until the end of the first World War, while the setting is primarily the Salinas Valley in California. Steinbeck based the title of the book on a verse from the Bible that was related to Cain and Abel, with biblical themes also prevalent in the story. The use of Biblical allusion didn't go down too well with critics back when the book was released, but readers definitely took to it and it is still a classic. Steinbeck has a lot of good books, but this is the one that most people would credit with being the most meaningful.

My second pick is The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, who himself was a soldier. It is basically a collection of short stories that are linked by their setting, which is the Vietnam War. While the book is set in a war zone, the theme is more about peace. The characters in this book also carry a lot of guilt for their actions, which is something that I think a lot of people can relate to. I'm not sure how much the Vietnam War impacted people from other countries, but I think that if you are American, then this book should be very meaningful to you.

Lastly, I would recommend Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. This is a novel that has been called everything from dark comedy and satire to meta fiction and science fiction, which is all true. Most people will be familiar with the story and I'm not going to repeat all of that here, but one of the themes that makes this book so meaningful, to me at least, is that of fate and free will. When the author describes the Tralfamadorians and the way in which they experience time, I was blown away. The description of how a person who dies is still very much alive in the past is such a unique way of looking at things and I am sure it has helped a lot of readers to cope better with the loss of a loved one.

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