Stories and books have been the way humans express themselves for generations, and in many cases books have been written to respond to a societal issue or to convey their own personal story. These types of books are my favourite types of books, the one with a stronger meaning behind it that I can learn from while being interested and entertained. So here is a list of four books matching this description:
1. The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
The Hate U Give is not just the book’s title, but it also stands for “THUG”, which is an inspiration from the rapper Tupac’s song “THUG LIFE” which expresses the hardship of racism and social oppression. The book is set in 21st century USA with the main character, Starr, struggling between her two competing worlds. One being her home, a Black neighbourhood with some gang life while being very community based, and her private school that is predominantly white. When Starr witnesses one of her Black friends from her neighbourhood shot dead by a policeman, she becomes the star witness to the trial. During this time, she becomes anonymous while this trial deepens her struggle of her two worlds as this issue makes her become increasingly vocal of the racism in her friends, thus propelling her to speak out about systemic racism. Overall, this book taught me so much about racism, as most of the time we see racism as this blatant thing but in reality, there is subtle racism that is equally damaging.
2. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
When I was 10 years old, I started reading Pride and Prejudice, purely because I loved the romance, but it was when I got older and read some parts again, I learnt that it was much more than that. The book is centred around the relationship of Mr Darcy, a rich aristocrat, and Elizabeth Bennet who was the daughter of a country gentleman and one of 5 sisters. It is set in 19th century rural England, a time when there was an enormous amount of pressure on the Bennet sisters to find a rich husband as they had no brother to rely on. The relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy can only succeed when they both get over their sins of pride and prejudice. It is hard to believe now that through this book, Austen was a raging feminist but in in the 19th century, there was no such thing as a book on the unfair treatment of women in the social world let alone the outspoken character of Elizabeth.
3. Survivors Club, by Michael Bornstein and Debbie Bornstein Holinstat
This book was an eye opener for me when I was in Year 9. It is centres around Michael Bornstein’s story as a young child in the the Holocaust, who ended up surviving Auschwitz, a horrific concentration camp. The photo on the cover of the book, became very famous around the world and Bornstein is front and centre, showing his number tattoo that the Nazi imprinted on all people in Auschwitz. However, it’s not just about him but about the strength of his Father, Brother, Mother and Grandmother who strived to keep him alive. It is not a happy story; it is deeply sad. So sad that it will make you wish that this was just a fictional story, but it’s not. Bornstein wrote this book with the help of his daughter because he needed to tell his story, which is one of so many, so that these stories are never repeated. However, I would only recommend people 15 years or older to read this book as it is very confronting.
Overall, these books are not just books. They represent the life stories, fictional or not, of not just one but many. The stories of women in history, Black people, and Holocaust survivors are stories that are so important, so we learn and understand where we have come from and what is happening today.