The following books are real door stoppers. I mean that physically and metaphorically.
For this month’s “5 Best” booklist, I chose books that not only plumb the profound depths of our human experience, but do it brilliantly — with page-turning storylines that make the thousand-or-so-page-long experience feel like a too-short stroll in the neighborhood park.
Not to mention, if you own any of these books (especially the hardcover editions), you’ll have an extra weapon in your bag if you should ever be accosted in a dark alley somewhere.
God forbid such a thing but just in case you do meet an attacker on a dark and stormy night, just pick up one of these bad boys, chuck it at the assailant’s head, and hey presto, you’ve just bought yourself a few precious seconds to run away.
(Because these books are all chunkers, did I mention that?)
Who knew? Books: Perfect for entertainment, education, decoration, building material, self-defense, even toilet paper (if you’re really in a pinch. I hope you’re not using books as TP unless you’re stranded on an island in the middle of nowhere)…
Anyway, without further ado, I present to you:
5 Best Classic Books You Can Use as Self-Defense Weapons ~
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
“I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one…Humans are caught…in a net of good and evil…There is no other story.” — East of Eden
East of Eden is an epic story crossing multiple generations (many classics do that, come to think of it). The story begins with the end of WWI, with the story of two conflicted brothers and a psychopathic girl who grows up nearby and eventually ends up with the brothers.
One falls in love with the girl, the other sees through her. She eventually marries one of the brothers and ends up having twin boys, who are opposites who struggle with each other, just like their father and uncle. (As you may have guessed by now, throughout the book, the biblical story of Cain and Abel is a common and obvious theme).
Steinbeck himself once said that East of Eden contains everything he’s ever learned about writing over his years honing the craft, and you can tell. It’s ambitious in its scope, exploring themes of brotherhood, jealousy and worthiness, love and redemption, good and evil (of course), and, in the end, choice.
Really, this whole entire book revolves around one word: TIMSHEL. What does it mean? Why is it significant? I could tell you, but that would strip away the profundity of the story. Instead, I refer you to the book itself 😉
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
“Life’s great happiness is to be convinced we are loved.” — Les Miserables
Promotional pictures of Les Miserables, often feature the picture of a wretched-looking little girl, kind of like the title image above. And it’s true, the title Les Miserables literally means “The Miserable Ones.” But for such a…uh, miserable title, this book is actually full of hope.
Not shallow, flimsy, false hope, but a kind of deep, powerful hope that acknowledges the evil and depravity that exists in this world but holds out the message that in spite of it all, there is a way to overcome, even if it isn’t the way that you might prefer or think of intuitively.
Despite the picture of the girl on the cover, the real main character of this story is a man named Jean Valjean, who at the start of the book has been imprisoned for many years for stealing bread to feed his family. Bitter at the world, Valjean attempts to rob a bishop, whose response changes the trajectory of Valjean’s entire life.
The rest of the story follows Valjean as his actions impact a host of characters against the backdrop of the Paris uprisings in 1832. It’s a brilliant, epic story with many memorable characters and storylines that all tie together in a harmonic whole…
Speaking of harmony, if you’ve never heard of the musical version of this story, you are missing out! Go check it out right now:
But read the book first 😉 it will make the entire experience much richer when you know the context behind what the characters are singing!
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
“All human wisdom is contained in these two words — Wait and Hope.” — The Count of Monte Cristo
The Count of Monte Cristo is based on the true story of a shoemaker whose jealous friends wrongly accused him of a crime, causing him to be imprisoned for years. During this time, the shoemaker befriended a cleric who left his fortune to the wrongly imprisoned man. The man then used his newfound fortune to exact his revenge on the men responsible for his pain.
The Count of Monte Cristo follows this true history closely, telling the story of Edmund Dantes, a young man who loses his fiancee and freedom when jealous rivals’ false testimony sends him to jail for over a decade. But while in jail, Dantes befriends a kindly Abbé who eventually dies and leaves him a treasure on an island called Monte Cristo.
Dantes escapes prison and starts creatively avenging himself on his enemies with his new abilities and wealth. But this isn’t just a pure revenge plot. In this book, Dumas explores themes of human failure and redemption, of what it means to wrong and be wronged, to forgive or not, and more.
In other words, this book is not merely a door stopper or a potential dark-alley-self-defense-weapon, it’s one worth reading and re-reading multiple times, partly for the exciting and complex story, and partly for the life lessons you can subtly and not-so-subtly absorb from it.
Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace
“A man is never so on trial as in the moment of excessive good-fortune.” — Ben-Hur
Ben-Hur is the epic tale of a Jewish man who is betrayed by his childhood Roman friend, and what happens to him afterward. Like the story of Monte Cristo (above), this novel follows Judah Ben-Hur as he is wrongly accused of attempted assassination, and sent to the slave galleys. Thanks to a combination of good fortune and his own gumption, Ben-Hur makes his way out of slavery and ends up facing down his greatest enemy in an epic horse race showdown.
If you’ve ever watched the movie, this horse race scene is pretty unforgettable. But again, like Count of Monte Cristo, Ben-Hur is about so much more than just an elaborate revenge plot. The story is set in the time of Christ, and although it’s a completely different tale, the famous gospel events that are happening “off-screen” eventually converge with Ben-Hur’s fictional storyline in a profound moment that completely changes Ben-Hur and those he loves.
Action, intrigue, revenge, romance (a little), politics, philosophy, it’s all here in Ben-Hur. Highly recommended!
Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz
“Why does crime, even when as powerful as Cæsar, and assured of being beyond punishment, strive always for the appearances of truth, justice, and virtue? Why does it take the trouble?” — Quo Vadis
Whereas Ben-Hur is set during the time of Christ, and has Jesus himself making a cameo, Quo Vadis is set right after the Ben-Hur period, and the famous historical cameo belongs to the Apostle Peter, not Christ. Oh, and the crazy murderous emperor Nero also plays a significant role here, too.
But the story isn’t about Peter or Nero. It’s about a young Roman (Marcus) who falls in love with a girl (Lygia) who just so happens to be part of the new heavily persecuted group of misfits who follow that mysterious Jesus whom the Romans crucified not long ago.
Driven by romance and lust, Marcus goes after Lygia, who resists and runs away from him because of their different worldviews. But if you think this is just going to be another melodramatic romance along the lines of Gone With the Wind, let me stop you right there.
While Marcus’ pursuit of Lygia drives a good deal of the plot, the book is far from being a predictable romance, or even much of a romance at all. Instead, it explores the nature of actual love beyond romance, as well as themes like self-sacrifice, faith, persecution, suffering, and what it really means to believe.
It’s difficult to summarize all that Quo Vadis is in just a few paragraphs. All I know is when I first stumbled on this book, I thought I’d just read for a few hours. Instead, I stayed up all night and devoured the book in one sitting. So if you want a riveting, thought-provoking book that illuminates the truth of faith, trust, and (real, not shallow romantic) love, this is it!
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