I have heard that we are all living in a tower with one window, and thus one view of the world. Every book that we read opens another window. So as more and more windows open our view and understanding of the world expands enormously.

Reading CHANGES us.

Here are five books that changed my life, my view and my understanding of the world that we live in.

I get emotional even writing about these books. I LOVE THESE WOMEN. I feel honored to know them through reading about them.

I hope you will take them into your heart.

  1. Wild Swans
By Jung Chang, Non Fiction

THIS BOOK. I have read this twice and I probably will again. This is a story of a family under the rule of Mao. Three generations of women in China. It is non-fiction but reads like the most epic literary saga.

Here’s a review that says it for me:

“Wild Swans is riveting. It’s blindingly good: a mad adventure story, a fairy tale of courage, and a tale of atrocities. You can’t, as they say, put it down.”

Carolyn See, Newsday

2. In the Time of Butterflies

by Julia Alvarez , Fiction, based on real events

This book is about 3 sisters living in the Dominican Republic during the rise of Trujillo’s dictatorship, who fought back and were eventually assassinated for their efforts against his regime.

Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa. The Mirabel sisters.

Everyone should know who they are.

The book is beautiful and powerful and, once again, you won’t be able to put it down.

In the DR they are known as “las mariposas” or “the butterfiles”.

In 1999, in their honor, the United Nations General Assembly designated November 25 the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against women.

3. The Kitchen God’s Wife

by Amy Tan, Fiction

I have read all of Amy Tan’s book and this is, in my opinion, THE BEST.

Two friends…Winnie and Helen. I love them so much.

This is my second book about China on this list. Here’s the thing. There are so many people living there. It seems we should know something about them.

This story is so BEAUTIFUL and POWERFUL. It will open a HUGE window in your tower.

4. These Is My Words

By Nancy E. Turner, based on the diary of her grandmother.

I love Sarah Prine. And I want to be more like her.

This book is a TREASURE!

Sarah Prine scrupulously recorded her experiences of her extraordinary life and left behind a wonderful journal.

This book came about because Nancy Turner took a writing class at her local community college and was encouraged to write something from her family history. I’m so glad she did.

I wish I could SEE her in all that she does. I want to experience it all with her. She taught me so much. She is one of my HEROS.

5. A Thousand Splendid Suns

by Khaled Hosseini , Fiction

When my daughter Kylie was in college she called one day because she had an assignment to do a book report and she had procrastinated. So I mailed her this book. She got it a couple of days before the assignment was due and started reading it.

She called me the next morning because she read it through the night, and we cried together.

I have read all of his books and let me just tell you, THIS IS THE ONE.

Kite Runner has received all the attention, but it doesn’t hold a candle to this.

Once again, it’s a story about women. Two BEAUTIFUL AND AMAZING WOMEN.

They happen to live in Afghanistan and they live from the time of the Soviet invasion to the rule of the Taliban and after.

UNFORGETTABLE. And you may well find yourself staying up all night to finish it too.