Books That Change Your World

I’m not going to write a book review of the Hunger Games.
Not because it wasn’t a fascinating read or a extremely well written book.
But because it was one of those books…you know the kind that lingers in your mind long after you’ve read “End of Book 1.”

The kind that changes your world.

It made me think and reassess.

Like how amazingly lucky I was to be born in the United States and into my family. I have freedoms that are unheard of for many women in the world. Dystopia isn’t something that exists only on the pages of a book. Read about the genital mutilation in Africa, the stoning of women who were raped in the Middle East. There are some scary regimes right now, right here on planet Earth.

I’ve been well provided for. Loved by my family. Food has never been a problem. In fact, I’ve been downright glutinous. I overeat. I’ve taken every bite for granted. Every brownie swallowed without a thought for how many people have never tasted a crumb of a brownie.

We’ve always had hot showers and indoor plumbing. Heat and air-conditioning. Things I took as a given.

I was worse when I lived in NYC. I can see myself in the people from the Capital in this book. Caught up in my own little world. Hunting for the next cool thing to own. Chasing trends. Fixated on the most unimportant things. As if it somehow made me cool. Made me matter.

I’ve been selfish and self-absorbed. I don’t have enough gratitude for all the things I’ve been gifted with. Many of which I didn’t earn. Being a girl in the United States is a gift. Being able to live in one of the more freed societies in the world is a gift.

I’m not saying it’s a perfect society or a perfect government system. It isn’t. But when I look at the rest of the world, I cannot help but see it’s one of the best places in the world to live as a woman.

I want to be more aware of how lucky I am. I want to be thankful for my blessings. And I want to do more to help others who weren’t given as much. I’m not quite sure what action that will translate into, but it’s a stirring. An awareness and a motivation I am so very grateful to Suzanne Collins for.

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28 Responses to Books That Change Your World

  1. kford2007 says:

    I loved this post and I agree with everything you said. I was born in Germany an adopted by an American military family and thank the Lord, the stars, every day providing me with all that I have in my life today. Had I been adopted by anyone else, my life would be so much different. I can’t even fathom it.

    I, too, take my surroundings and luxuries for granted. I’m spoiled. I admit it. Some have said the US is the Panem of the world. I disagree. The US is a loving, caring nation, always at the door of other nations when in distress. We are always the first to reach out with aid, compassion, money and volunteers in the face of a disaster. Sure we have our problems, but there is nowhere else on earth I’d rather live.

    To answer your question about books that changed my life? The Hunger Games would have to be right up there, along with Atlas Shrugged and The Handmaiden’s Tale. All gripping. All thought provoking.

    • Thanks Jenny! And it’s such an act of fate. No one decides to be born or raised in a specific country. It happens to them.

      To anyone that calls the U.S. Panem, I would ask have you traveled to third world countries? Because I find the people that think the U.S. is so evil have never experienced other nations and seen what a real dictatorship does to its people. The U.S. has it faults, but I think it is the best place in the world to grow up. If it was such a horrible place why would everyone be trying to get into the country and raise their children here? We have a remarkably peaceful existence here.

      I loved Atlas Shrugged as well. Definitely a life changer. Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why was another one. I never read the Handmaiden’s Tale but I heard it is really mind expanding. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I know exactly what you mean, it made me feel the same way. It’s so easy to get caught up in selfish day-to-day complaints and completely forget the bigger pictyure.

    • I’m glad it affected you too! The book really made me think and that was a gift. To realize how absorbed I am in my own life and all the things I take for granted as basic standards.

  3. Jeyna Grace says:

    No matter where we are born, it isnt as bad as the districts of panem… that’s for sure.

    • Jeyna, thanks for stopping by! I think I’d have to disagree with you. There are dictatorships here that exist and inflict brutality and cruelty on people everyday. Genital mutilation, children kidnapped and forced to fight in wars. There are very scary places that exist on Earth.

  4. Some people need to travel and see first hand how life is for many people on this planet (nothing like seeing tanks in the street beside you to impress that life is different)
    Some have enough imagination to realize this from a book. (And Handmaiden’s Tale and Atlas Shrugged are excellent.)
    Awareness is important
    There’s a reason people still do whatever they can to get to the US – it may not be perfect, but it’s good.

    • Well said!

      When I was in Beijing, I saw people living in shanties without proper indoor plumbing. In the capital of one of the most powerful nations in this world. There is a level of poverty that we can’t understand found in other countries. And freedoms, freedoms we think are the norm are beyond most people’s reach. Having your private parts electrocuted for speaking out against the government or daring to practice your religion. It happens in this world far too often.

      There is always room for improvement. But the citizens of the U.S. are so incredibly lucky.

  5. crubin says:

    Almost every evening at dinner I remind my family how lucky we are to have been born in a country where freedom is taken for granted. This usually comes after a day spent reading or listening to horrific news stories. People tell me they don’t watch the news because it brings them down, and yes, it brings me down, too. But then I think, isn’t it my duty to know what goes on? Won’t it make me that much more appreciative of what I have and hopefully that much more likely to make choices that improve the well-being of others?

    I love your blog, Kourtney. You post on a variety of topics and manage to keep the entries to a respectable word count. Guess that’s why everyone keeps coming back. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Carrie, I wish I was having dinner at your house. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s so easy to insulate ourselves from what is happening in the world. To ignore the suicide bombings in Israel, the violation of every human right in areas of Africa. I studied politics in graduate school and I had to read about so many atrocities committed around the world. It hurt. But that’s good. It should upset me. The day it doesn’t is a day I never want to face.

      It is such a luxury to turn the tv off and not have to hear about the bad stuff. Because it isn’t happening in our front yard. But I agree, we have to listen and hear what is going on. That’s the only way we can be grateful for what we have and what we do not have to endure first hand.

      Thanks so much! I try to give a slice of me on the blog. I decided to post often, but that I should keep it short. Aw, *blushing*

  6. 4amWriter says:

    I definitely spent most of my life spoiled, selfish, ungrateful. Then I had kids. Then things changed for me. It is amazing the vision kids have, the things they see in nature that I took for granted as an adult. Seeing the world through their eyes helped show me that I needed to make some changes. Especially if I want to support their beautiful views.

    Thanks for reminding me, all of us, of what’s really important.

    • Kathryn, I can’t imagine how having children must have changed your world view. It must be really cool to see things with them. ๐Ÿ™‚ What amazes me is how easy it is to keep my head down and stay in my own little cocoon. And how much I take that for granted. Safety, a relatively violence free existence. Those are not givens.

      Glad you liked the post. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. I just finished The Hunger Games book 1 and was very caught up in the idea of living in a society where you had absolutely no power or choices. This was a very thoughtful and well written post.

    • Thanks! The book really got into my psyche. And made me think about how different my life would be if I had been born in Iran or Ethiopia. It’s so random that I had so many things when I started out and others have so very little.

  8. jmmcdowell says:

    Excellent post, Kourtney. We do take so many things for granted in the US. And I doubt there are many places that could be better for women. I spent time in graduate school in Honduras and Mexico, and that was such an eye-opener for me. The biggest reason I didn’t want to focus my career there was the treatment of women.

    There are times I want to run from the news of the world, but I know that’s not the answer. Still, there are times when I just have to escape into a book where things go better.

    • Thanks JM! I think it’s okay to need a break from reality. I can’t watch the news 24-7 or read about human rights atrocities for hours on end. It’s painful and soul-sucking. I just want to remind myself to be grateful that I am able to escape into a book or watch a romantic comedy within the safety of my home. ๐Ÿ™‚ I tend to favor books where things are better too. I’m not a fan of dystopian. But this one was worth reading just from the perspective of excellent writing and pacing.

  9. Honest, beautiful and inspiring, Kourtney. We can never savor our blessings enough!

    • Thanks August! ๐Ÿ™‚ I know I’m guilty of not savoring them enough. Thank goodness for Suzanne Collins and writers like her who shake me out of my own head. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. It's the little things that make life great.berry says:

    Don’t like hunger games. Not interested.

  11. Very thought-provoking. I agree about the importance of gratitude, and about how glad I am as a woman to have been born where and when I was. (Think about Afganistan…) But I’m also glad I was a wanted child, and that I was born to middle class parents who valued education. Not everyone in this country gets the same breaks. I have children. Two sons. And what they make me see (especially after having gone through a prolonged period of unemployment) is that things will be more difficult for them than they were for me. My high school-age son and I were talking about the future a while ago and he told me that most of the kids he knows expect the future to be worse. Not dystopian, he said, but worse in little ways. I asked, what about technology, new gadgets? He thought a moment, and said, “yes, there will be those, but there will be a price.” There are far worse places to live, true, but when we look for what needs fixing in the world, we should not overlook things close to home.

    • Carol, you raise an important point. We cannot be content with what we have achieved. We should always aspire to be better. And we should take the time to appreciate all the advantages we have had and realize that not everyone else has had them. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. klynwurth says:

    We do have so much to be thankful for. Today I have seven guests, including my two grandchildren. They remind me that I don’t always have to entertain or impress people by being productive. What matters is to touch them, hold them and listen, entering their world. The 4 year old girl was talking to me and I imagined her life going on after I’m gone, and how blessed I am to help her grow up, to be that woman she’s meant to be. I hope she remembers me as kind and as someone who listened. She carries a part of my body and soul with her own, into those who come after her. Love moves forward, heart to heart.

    • It’s amazing to be surrounded by family. ๐Ÿ™‚ I look in my grandmother’s eyes and I think of everything she went through to make sure I had a better life. I’m forever grateful. And I remember all the times she listened and was there for me. We still share laughs together. She will always be a part of my world, just as you will always be a part of your granddaughter’s world. Those little moments mean so very much as we get older. She will treasure her memories of you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Ottabelle says:

    Hold onto that feeling and you will find what you need fo do.

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