Are you a traveler or reader looking for books that make you think differently? Find wanderlust-inducing inspiration or returning nostalgia to change the way you think about the world.
Welcome To The Uncorked Librarian (TUL) Book List Hub
Are you perusing the shelves for unique and uncorked book lists? Welcome to TUL’s card catalog and reference desk for book suggestions, reviews, read alikes, and book lists.
The Uncorked Librarian focuses on books for wanderlust and global books set around the world. Don’t miss these book suggestions and book lists to inspire your travels. Plus, gain international and diverse perspectives. Find travel inspiration, discover unknown secrets about a destination, and spark your wayfaring nostalgia.
I added in a few fun books lists that are exclusive to TUL, including WWII books set around the world, finding love in unique places, spooky books for adults, and my favorite travel writers.
Don’t forget TUL WORLD TRAVEL LISTS. If you are looking for book lists in a particular destination like books set in Iceland or in the Baltics, you’ll find those under “Destinations” by country.
Scroll down for some of my favorite book lists or read on to learn about books that make you think differently.
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Books That Make You Think
Books That Will Change The Way You See The World
A Pulitzer Prize Winner, Beloved is a classic that you shouldn’t miss throughout your formal or informal education. Born into and eventually escaping slavery in Kentucky, Sethe finds freedom in Ohio. Is she really free, though? Sethe can never fully escape her memories or past, including the death of a child.
Beloved is based on a true story and examines the lasting impacts of slavery.
Who hasn’t dreamed of change and finding oneself in pasta, rice paddies, and meditation rooms? Elizabeth Gilbert finds herself at the crossroads of divorce, unhappiness, and a messy life that she so badly wants to reclaim. Instead of proverbially driving her situation off of a cliff, Gilbert decides to travel around the world, embracing, love, culture, and friendship. She learns the power of compassion and how nature and silence can spark peace within.
Gilbert has enhanced my travels, and when I moved to Indonesia, her life lessons and honesty coursed through my veins.
Are you are looking for more books like Eat, Pray, Love? Check out these authors like Elizabeth Gilbert and books that inspire great travel writing.
As we headed to Iceland, I delved into Icelandic literature, both new and old. Based on the first Prime Minister’s granddaughter, Helgason recreates a true story about Iceland during WWII. Unique to this war story, the protagonist’s father heads into battle to fight for Hitler.
Readers learn more about growing up as a displaced child of war, and how we either overcome or succumb to a devastating past. You’ll both love and dislike Herra. TW for rape, incest, abuse, and brutality.
Honestly, I will never understand the Twitter backlash Kondo received in the bookish community. Kondo is a pro that loves tidying and believes the act of organization greatly enhances your life. We collect many items over the years. Some bring us joy. Others clutter our homes and should be thanked and discarded.
Marie recommends tidying as a way to connect in your relationships and surround yourself with meaningful memories. Through cleaning, we learn who we are (and how much crap we collect). I know that I reexamined how much ‘stuff’ I have and what I waste on a daily basis. Kondo’s Japanse ascetic and culture are new and eye-opening to this American.
If I ever become a published author, writing travel memoirs, my voice might match Bill Bryson’s wit and sarcasm. One of my favorite nonfiction writers, Bryson takes on an unlikely challenge: hiking parts of the Appalachian Trail. Not exactly a role model for physical fitness or being outdoorsy, Bryson and his boozy friend, Katz, traipse into the woods. In an adventure of a lifetime, they learn about their friendship, survival, and a different way of life. Perseverance is everything.
Do you love travel memoirs as much as I celebrate finding a new brewery? Head over to TUL’s favorite inspirational travel writers.
The Little Prince is one of my favorite stories of all time–perfect for any age. An illustrated book about love and the meaning of life, our Little Prince tries to figure out our motivations for work and how we interact with others. Why do we count the stars? As the Little Prince learns to tame the fox, we discover what it is like to build trust and cultivate connections and friendship. There is a small TW for implied suicide, although scholars have debated this.
When I woke up to the news of Bourdain’s death, I could barely breathe all day. Feeling like I was underwater, my travel idol had left this world, prematurely. Bourdain whispered his wanderings in my ear over and over again as I traveled the world. He saw people for who they were, never idealized a culture, and almost always realized his privileged errors.
Food brought people together. Food became the conversation starter, trailblazing a discourse about history and politics. A Cook’s Tour lays out Bourdain’s life as a chef and his initial travels. Bourdain wasn’t always an infamous TV traveler and his humble beginnings are guides for us all.
A classic, The Book Thief brings home the power of words. Another WWII novel for teens and adults, friendship and heartache engulf this story. Liesel is an adopted child who befriends the Jewish man hiding in her basement. Together, we learn how music, art, and words can shape and define our worlds.
Check out more on the Book Thief in TUL’s top World War II Book List.
Nonfiction Books That Make You Think
Before entering Smith College for undergrad, students in my year read Nickel and Dimed for assigned summer reading. In 1998, Ehrenreich explored what it means to live (and not live) off of low-income wages under the poverty level. Offering realistic and hardcore insight into the impossibility of surviving in lower working class America–even when you hold three jobs–Ehrenreich exploits a system that still plagues America today. Nickel and Dimed is eye-opening into the income gap and assumptions we make about the poor.
Back in the day, I always used to consider myself an introvert even though I pushed hard to appear as an extrovert. And why is this? Cain examines the impressions and stereotypes that we assign with intro- and extroverts in a world where the flamboyancy trumps quiet. Discover the contributions of introverts and reassurance that it is OK to be who you are, even if that means you prefer to work silently in the background. I loved Quiet as an audiobook.
Once diagnosed with terminal cancer, Randy Pausch decides to give his last lecture about the merits of life.
Seize every day and every moment because it is true that life goes by quickly. Help others, move on, and dream big are just a few messages in a book that makes you think differently about life and death.
Now made into a movie, readers follow along as Walls learns what it is like growing up with parents’ heads stuck in the clouds. With a dreamer father, Walls spends her childhood living in a precarious situation of having nothing but still possessing the undying love of her irresponsible family. The siblings ban together to care for each other.
Walls preserves and succeeds as an adult while her parents choose to live homelessly. In a story of resilience, The Glass Castle provides unique insight into living a dream-filled life that never comes to fruition versus finding the balance of a healthy, happy, and productive existence.
YA Fiction Books That Make You Think Differently
The Warrior Maiden is one of many books that make you think differently in relation to women. This Mulan retelling is about taking charge of your family and fate as a woman in Lithuania. Mulan replaces her dead father’s spot in the war to save her mother’s home. Dressing up as a man, Mulan leads an army against the Teutonic Knights while finding love and her place in a male-dominated society.
Dickerson, a Christian writer, questions the role of faith in our lives. Does religion dictate tolerance or condemnation? Feminist yet fairytale, this YA story forces you to think differently about the world around us.
The Hate U Give exemplifies the Black Lives Matter movement and gives power and voice to a story that deserves a place in literature. As a young black woman, Starr is trapped between two worlds: her preppy, white school and her home in Garden Heights, a poorer neighborhood. When her unarmed and innocent cousin is shot and killed by a white police officer, Starr has to make the decision of her life. Does she fight? Or does she stay silent? Racism, stereotypes, activism, and identity are just a few themes dissected in THUG.
Although Stargirl is a middle-grade title, you cannot help but love Stargirl. Stargirl is transitioning from homeschool to high school. Unlike the other kids in school, Stargirl walks to her own tune. Although she tries to fit in and even has an admirer, Stargirl knows that she has to be true to herself. A bit eccentric and mature for her age, I just adore Stargirl’s attitude on life. She is truly a role model for the nonconformist.
Although people either love John Green or don’t, all of his books make you think differently about the world.
For me, Paper Towns touches upon those overdeveloped gated communities that we see so much in Florida. Conformity. Sure, Margo might be a self-indulgent twat at times, but that is part of the reason why Quentin loves her. Margo disappears in the midst of their high school career, causing Q to follow a scavenger hunt where he learns about life, friendship, and coming of age.
Adult Fiction Books That Make You Think And Open Your Eyes
With the Hulu series out, I had to pick up The Handmaid’s Tale, especially with the striking garb making news during recent US protests. Offred tells the story of how modern society transforms from what we know today into a strict social order. The Handmaids are used to procreate in a disturbing and wordless act of sex with others’ husbands. Kept like prisoners, readers enter a bizarre world of intolerance mixed with religion. Perverse yet somehow witty, The Handmaid’s Tale is a satire in an overly regulated and hypocritical society. TW: Rape
Picoult is always in tune with modern issues. In A Spark of Light, Picoult decides to examine the controversy surrounding abortion. With characters ranging from anti-abortion to pro-choice and on the fence, teenage Wren finds herself trapped in a hostage situation. Wren is merely seeking birth control yet now her life is part of a deadly situation. Even worse, her father is one of the lead mediators.
Interested to read more? Check out TUL’s full book review of A Spark of Light.
If you were wheelchair bound and couldn’t move any of your extremities, would you still want to live? A somewhat controversial novel in the disabled world, Me Before You introduces boring ‘ole Louisa Clark to Will. Will used to be the glam boy living a life of luxury with a hot girlfriend and money from his successful career. Now confined to his wheelchair and dependent on everyone for help, he no longer wishes to live. Louisa must determine what true love means to her while discovering how to live your life to the fullest.
Do you ever feel like the world is attacking back after all that we have done to it? Are we creating our own Doomsday?
David is struggling to determine which of his perceived worlds is real. One day he wakes up with his fairly normal family while the next, he is involved in a field of eyes, political movements, and modified plant engineering gone wrong. While trying to stay alive, David must determine whose side he is on, and who he can trust. In a world that is filled with wires and people connected to storage clouds, you don’t want to miss this philosophical sci-fi thriller.
Sound like a book you want to read? Get the full review of The Unfortunate Expiration of Mr. David S. Sparks.
More Fun Book Lists With Book That Make You Think:
While book lists set around the world are my jam, The Uncorked Librarian loves bringing light to books that make readers think differently about life. These are a few of TUL’s favorite and most popular book lists.
Be sure to click on the image to head over to your favorite lists.
Books That Scare and Spook
I am such a wimp. Does anyone else struggle to read scary books late at night? However, this tipsy reader can appreciate a historical witch read or bone-chilling book to cool off with on the beach.
These three books lists pull together spooky, fun, and witchy titles from bloggers, bookstagrammers, teachers, and librarians. Maybe these titles will jolt you into seeing the world differently. [Cue evil laugh.]
Books That Make You Think: Diverse Books For Youth
As a former youth service librarian, I loved reading the latest realistic fiction books for teens. YA fantasy is one of my not-so-guilty pleasures, too.
Below, find book lists for teens, middle-grade students, and children. From learning about life as a refugee to living with depression or coming of age as a transgendered child, these are the best books to make you think differently and grow.
Best Indie Books That Make You Think Outside Of The Box
One of the best aspects of book blogging is working directly with authors. Indie authors and publishing thrive on TUL. Sometimes lesser known and on tight budgets, these authors need our help and support.
When was the last time you read a book from an indie author/publisher? Up until last year, I rarely read anything indie. I assumed these titles were poorly written and created by authors who could not find solid publishers. Ouch. Man, I sucked.
Did you know that many authors choose to go indie for freedom? Or that most work full-time jobs in addition to writing? Do you know how many mind-blowingly amazing indie books are out there that no one will ever hear about? As a former librarian, my system would never purchase indie titles. YET, most of my favorite books last year were…INDIE.
Don’t get me wrong: Bad indie books exist, which is why I am showcasing my favorites.
Books That Make You Think For Him
While I don’t like to suggest books based on gender assumptions, too often people ask me what books they should buy for the guy in their life. Usually, this means dad. Anyone can read and love these titles. BUT, in case you wanted books for Father’s Day, I had to create at least one book list with titles I enjoy. Find memoirs, cookbooks, and newer titles in Books For Him.
Books To Make You Think Differently About Love All Over The World
Personally, I am not a romance novel enthusiast. Occasionally, though, I am a sucker for a good love story, especially if that romance lands across oceans.
Love comes in many different forms, too. What and whom do you love? Mexican tacos? Your pups? Where do you find love? How about the local hospital? Scotland? During times of war?
Some of my favorite book bloggers and readers helped create this Love Stories book list.