Can a novel change you?

A little while ago I came across an interesting question: think of one book that has changed you as a person. I liked how open-ended it was. It could be answered simply or, taken to a place where a book helped to shape a person’s view. Initially I thought of Jenny Han’s The Summer I Turned Pretty. I have read it more times than I can count and still enjoy its simplicity of first love and how it incorporates a characters most troubling and happiest moments.

I thought a little deeper about a book that has left a greater impact on me. It made me consider whether a book can really do that and if so, how it does. The one I kept coming back to was Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. There is something about Ishiguro discussing the inevitably of death in this book that impacted me. It is not often an author pulls apart a human’s mortality; life is a short snippet of time with a beginning, middle and end.
Perhaps we all delude ourselves, just a little, that life is continuous. Life will always go on right? But it doesn’t. Ishiguro has a way of leaving this morbid impact in my mind that many other authors don’t.

A thread weaved quite strongly throughout Never Let Me Go, is the idea that human beings crave the desire to find purpose with life, whether it be something simple or extraordinary. Ishiguro highlights how, at times, humans may spend their whole lives searching for purpose, when they need only share compassion and love with others to find joy and meaning. The tragedies that occur repeatedly within the book demonstrate the harshness of humanity. Mistakes are made but must be pushed aside for there is limited time on earth as we know it.

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