My Fave Five: Books That Influenced Me


1. Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux. St. Therese is my patroness, so at times when I feel that I’m losing track of my spiritual odyssey, I turn to this small book which constantly reminds me of that “little way” I ought to follow. The Little Flower wrote this autobiography when she was suffering from her illness, and by reading this book, I get a glimpse of her life and spirituality. According to her, it was not necessary to engage in manifold practices, to perform rigorous penances, to receive extraordinary graces. What we needed was simply to acknowledge our “nothingness” and approach God with love and confidence.

2. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. It was the greatest love story I have ever read. Seriously. The passion Heathcliffe and Katherine feel for each other is just so intense I even questioned myself if that kind of love actually happens in real life. The epitome of “soulmate” reverberates throughout the novel. Everytime I read Wuthering Heights, I get encumbered by the rolling thunderclap that loom over the moors as dreary as the romance of these star-crossed lovers.

3. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Years ago, I almost hoarded dirt cheap books from National Bookstore. I didn’t know Oscar Wilde at that time yet, and I guess, I just blindly grabbed Dorian Gray from the shelf. The synopsis at the back of the book seemed interesting. The novel tells of a young man named Dorian Gray, the subject of a painting by artist Basil Hallward. Basil is impressed by Dorian’s beauty and becomes infatuated with him, believing his beauty is responsible for a new mode in his art. Dorian meets Lord Henry Wotton, a friend of Basil’s, and becomes enthralled by Lord Henry’s world view. Espousing a new hedonism, Lord Henry suggests the only things worth pursuing in life are beauty and fulfillment of the senses. Realizing that one day his beauty will fade, Dorian (whimsically) expresses a desire to sell his soul to ensure the portrait Basil has painted would age rather than he. Dorian’s wish is fulfilled, plunging him into debauched acts. The portrait serves as a reminder of the effect each act has upon his soul, with each sin displayed as a disfigurement of his form, or through a sign of aging.

4. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. We discussed this literary masterpiece in our Fiction class, and honestly, none of us really appreciated the story when our professor assigned us to read it before we tackle the elements and the significance of the novel. I actually got bored, as bored as the old man waiting to catch fish in the middle of the ocean. But when our awesome teacher finally “deboned” the story in its bits and pieces, I was awestruck at how this very simple organic literary piece holds a grandeur of wisdom. What I learned about the story is how we constantly struggle through our lives. The ambition and the demands of the urbanized world tend to pull us from seeing our own humanity. We forgot to see our own courage and strength to deal with life and to survive. The Old Man and the Sea lets us realize the HERO in us.
5. The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgand von Goethe. As the title itself suggests, this book is by far the most “sorrowful” book I have ever read. I mean, there’s no tinge of joy can be found in the characters and I just so love to smash the protagonist’s head. Like Wuthering Heights, I’m pissed off at how these characters could subject themselves to suffering for the ones they love, and in Werther’s case, his love for Lotte, to the point of committing suicide. Oh, when love took hold of you, right? I only read The Sorrows of Young Werther once. Will I ever read it again? Perhaps not.




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