5 Books that Gave Me A New Perspective

Both Fiction and Non-Fiction have a potential to change how we think about our own worlds — these five were pivotal in how I thought about the World

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Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Wow, what an epic read spanning continents, countries, prisons, back allies, jails, dope houses, remote villages, and city slums. This book opened my eyes to what an epic novel should encompass and it consumed my world while I was reading it and I couldn’t put it down. I’ve since re-read it multiple times. Any problems I had at the time seem small to what the narrator goes through and the narrator’s ability to start from nothing and turn it into something is inspiring.

Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills And Passion Trump Passion In The Quest For Work You Love by Cal Newton

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I tried to be a writer for about five years during my undergraduate and post undergraduate career because it was my dream job. Only after reading Cal Newton’s book did I figure out why I might not have been approaching it correctly. This book helped me think about starting a blog (thus this Medium Account) and it made me realize that skills and expertise trump passion every time.

Paris, I Love You But You Are Bringing Me Down

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I read this book before I had done much international traveling and it made me realize that most things in life we romanticize are often going to let us down in the end. People in the world despite language, culture, and religion are all more alike then they are different. Streets in New York and San Francisco are similar in appearance to those in Barcelona, Paris, or London. People eat cheeseburgers in China, Africa, Europe and the US. The narrator’s life of writing and adjusting to France is hilarious and fascinating.

The Thieves of Manhattan by Adam Langer

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This novel is for me the epitome of a narrow focus in terms of narrative that is mysterious for what it reveals as the story unfolds and for what it reveals at the very end. The story is layered so well that it makes an onion look like an apple. I never was able to get into Langer’s other work, but this story for me was so well executed in every aspect that it is continually a reference that I aspire to. It made me think that getting to where we need to go is often fraught with short cuts and that a fantastical and outlandish tale is often the best to tell.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

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I read this in High School and it further romanticized the idea of being a writer to me. It was also my first introduction to a stream of consciousness style and it irrevocably changed the way I thought about narrative and what was an acceptable way to write. It demonstrated that life is often laced with profound sadness, happiness, and that it keeps moving forward while everything seems to happen at once.

Thank you for reading, let me know what you liked or recommend something for me to read next.

If you liked this list let me know in the comments, recommend me, or follow me Anthony Maiorana

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Writer of The Polymerist newsletter. Talk to me about chemistry, polymers, plastics, sustainability, climate change, and the future of how we live.

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