“The book to read is not the one that thinks for you, but the one which makes you think.”

“The book to read is not the one that thinks for you, but the one which makes you think.”

Harper Lee quote

“The book to read is not the one that thinks for you, but the one which makes you think.” – Harper Lee

I love to read, but sometimes I struggle to describe my reaction to a book I’ve finished. “I enjoyed it” often feels insufficient, or even false.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being springs to mind: I didn’t enjoy it, but I’m glad I read it. To borrow Harper Lee’s rubric, it made me think.

What Alice Forgot? struck me as bubble gum chick lit, yet I found myself turning its themes over and over in my head weeks after I’d finished it. It made me think.

What book does this Harper Lee quote bring to mind for you?Β (And did you enjoy it?)

Reminder: Twitterature is tomorrow. Get your reviews ready!

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  1. Lisa says:

    I completely agree about What Alice Forgot. On the surface, it seemed like such a simple read but it stayed with with me long after I was done. I kept thinking about how much a person changes in a short time based on their life experiences. Two recent reads that had similar effects on me were The Age Of Miracles and Me Before You. Have you read either of these?

  2. Amanda says:

    Love that quote (and Harper Lee). It took me awhile to come up with something. Everything I read makes me think and if it doesn’t I don’t read it. Probably the most tumultuous relationship I ever had with a book was Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. I hated it the first two times I read it πŸ™‚

  3. Molly says:

    Siddartha by Herman Hesse was the first book I remember really challenging me and what I thought when I was 15, the following year it was, hands down, The Awakening. I still don’t like the book, but I still recommend it to everyone.

    I wrote a book list for girls “Great Girls Your Daughter Should Know” and the book that sparked the most debate was Kate from Taming of the Shrew – so many people wanted me to strike her from the list, but I maintained that she was on the list because everyone should have an opinion about her and her story (not because I necessarily thought her admirable). The reactions only encouraged me – I want girls to read the books I recommended even if they hate the character in the end because they’ve thought about and formed a solid, unique opinion!

  4. Jennifer says:

    I loved _The Unbearable Lightness of Being_ when I read it – several times – in my early 20s. I haven’t picked it up in a while, so I wonder what my response would be. My literary tastes have changed quite a bit over the past several years. I can’t come up with on specific book, but most Eudora Welty pieces are coming to mind at the moment – especially her short stories. I initially sped through them for class reading, and then, upon pondering on them a bit, I realized how complex they were – and how much I actually loved her & her work.

  5. Jamie says:

    The most recent book in this category for me is Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian. I was deep into the book before I figured out what the title meant or where it was going, but then it was powerful. I still haven’t resolved the questions it posed, but it certainly gave me a great deal to ponder!

  6. Ibukun says:

    ‘The Fault in our stars’ made me think about the brevity of life. I finished reading it sometime last week (yes, I’ve been under a rock) can’t wait to link up for Twitterature tomorrow ^_^

  7. Jeannie says:

    That’s VERY interesting: books that think for you vs. books that make you think. The trouble is, you don’t always know which it’s going to be until you get into it! One book I read recently that came to mind here is Geraldine Brooks’ novel Year of Wonders: which is about a village in England in the 1600’s which goes into voluntary quarantine to try to escape the Plague. It’s a REALLY good novel, great for book-club discussions esp. faith-related ones … but I felt the author was yanking my chain at times, trying to tell me what to think and presenting me with scenarios that I just couldn’t buy. But I’m very glad I read it; it’s so powerful and thought-provoking.

  8. Gina in Louisville says:

    The Kite Runner….seriously did not like it but the themes in it haunted me. The growth and evolution of the characters was very intriguing.

    Regarding Jeannie’s comment about “Year of Wonders”…one of my favorite books. Period. The End.

    : ) I love books.

  9. sarah k says:

    When I was growing up, my English professor dad required me to read one classic novel for every light, chick-lit style novel I wanted to read. It didn’t take too long for me to see the vast superiority of good literature and start making those kinds of choices for myself! So on the whole, I think that reading books that make you think will often lead to you loving those kinds of books–or at least many of them.

    As a mom, I’ve found it harder to drum up the mental energy for books I want to read but expect to require more thought and discipline. I’m currently listening to Moby Dick while I run; I don’t adore it, but it is certainly thought-provoking. And my stack of books on my desk includes Umberto Eco’s The Prague Cemetery. I’ve attempted it a couple of times and run out of steam. But I think it will be worth it once I get myself involved in it!

  10. The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah. I wouldn’t say I liked this book, but by the time I finished it, I was glad that I read it. It gave me a glimpse into another life that I will never experience, (but other people do live). The main character’s actions make you look at your own life, and decided if you are living right or not.

  11. Madeline says:

    Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. It was difficult to read, but it made me look at the world in an entirely different way. (As an aside, I found it through Gretchen Rubin, which is also how I found you!)

  12. keely says:

    I took an amazing course in college called Sociology of Africa. I read “Cry, the Beloved Country,” “Things Fall Apart,”and “The Poisonwood Bible” for that course, and all three books made me think!! That, and my amazing professor.

  13. Tuija says:

    I love this quote. To Kill a Mocking-Bird definitely is a book to make you think, too.

    I was going to mention The Fault in Our Stars, too. I read it in July. Some people mentioned the Kite Runner, which I have not read – and I don’t think I will – but I have read the same writer’s A Thousand Splendid Suns. I got it from my mother-in-law, who said something like “it’s not a light and easy book but after all I was glad I had read it” – and that pretty much sums up how I felt about it, too. (It’s nice that my MIL and I share very similar tastes in reading. If she recommends a book, I’ll take note. πŸ˜‰ )

    One favourite writer whom I might mention is Adrian Plass. Very British. πŸ™‚ At points, the Sacred Diary series sounds like it’s just making fun of all the silly things Christians do/say – but somehow it manages to reinforce the good and essential: being loved by God, loving Jesus, daring to be real (and to admit the struggles as well as the victories), giving grace to one another.

    • TJ says:

      I love this quote also and wish I did a better job of reading books that make me think. I would agree that A Thousand Splendid Suns is one of those books. After seeing the movie for Kite Runner, I decided not to read the book. I am going to put the Sacred Diary on my too read list.

  14. Maggie says:

    I felt this way about one of your favorites, Quiet:The Power of Introverts. I found it a little too technical for my taste, almost like reading a psychology textbook at times. But its overriding message has stuck with me. It has very much changed my mindset in parenting my 6 year old, who is quite introverted. I’m not sure I realized how I was trying to push him to be what he is not comfortable being. And it helped me appreciate the value of his quiet nature. Huge!

  15. Jackson says:

    You’ve probably already read these, but George Orwell’s 1984 is like this.
    It’s a great read if you haven’t read it before. Really makes you think about how lucky we are.

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