Stuart Turnbull, a frequent contributor to FiftyWordStories.com, challenged me on Twitter to share 10 books that “moved me”. My list, in some ways, may feel like a bit of a cop-out because I basically took the 10 most moving books from my Best Novels page. But these novels made it onto that page for a reason!
I’ve put these into some sort of order, but catch me on a different day and I might order them differently!
10. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Hunchback is the novel that taught me about tragedy (in the artistic sense). It isn’t the first tragic story I ever read, but it’s the first one that really got me invested in its incredible emotional swings from sadness to joy, triumph to defeat, and loss to hope.
9. A Scanner Darkly
Philip K. Dick’s sci-fi novel about the surreal life and twisted reality of drug addiction invoked real sympathy in me for the characters, and for their far too numerous real-life counterparts.
8. The Power of One
It’s difficult to pinpoint what was so significant about this novel to me, but whenever I think of it I feel a kind of wide-open longing to find my place in the world, to achieve something with meaning.
7. Lord of the Flies
Nooooo! Piggy! :(
6. To Kill a Mockingbird
It’s a classic, with all of the ingredients needed to get the reader emotionally invested not only in the characters, but also in the book’s broader social themes.
5. The Great Gatsby
Part romantic tragedy, part diatribe against excess and consumerism. I only read this a few years ago, but it definitely moved me.
4. Of Mice and Men
I was hooked by the waning hope and tragic inevitability of the two main characters’ journey. Lennie Small is one of the most sympathetic characters I’ve ever come across.
3. Les Miserables
Victor Hugo’s masterpiece takes us along on Jean Valjean’s incredible journey to redemption. It’s packed with emotion. And historical essays!
2. Grapes of Wrath
The final scene of this novel may be the most impactful, moving scene I’ve ever read.
1. All Quiet on the Western Front
Everything about this novel is incredibly moving. If you haven’t read it, you definitely should, in order to redefine your understanding of World War I, and war in general.
Those are the 10 books that I think have had the great emotional impact on me. Would anyone else like to share their top 3?