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“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers,” Charles W. Eliot.

Books encapsulate infinite powers. The power to persuade you to believe in the art of living, the power to educate you about the moral and immoral and the power to influence you to voice your ideas boldly. Books are windows that lead to an imaginative world and beautifully intertwines the fictitious with the non-fictitious realms. They allow you to understand the intricacies of fantasy and reality and develops a strong emotional connection between the readers with the writer.

We believe in what Zappa said, “So many books, so little time,” and hence have compiled a list of 12 great lines from bestseller books, suggested by the World Economic Forum Book Club. These excerpts will not only inspire you to think out-of-the-box and challenge the ordinary but will also set aside your preconceived notions about societal values, politics, religion, economy and life in general, making your lives much richer and full of meaning.

1. That’s What She Said: What Men Need to Know (and Women Need to Tell Them) about Working Together by Joanne Lipman

“It doesn’t matter how much companies talk about equality and inclusiveness. What matters are the incentives it creates for employees. Those incentives speak louder than any speeches by the CEO, or bias training workshops, or posters on a wall.”

That’s What She Said: What Men Need to Know (and Women Need to Tell Them) about Working Together by Joanne Lipman

2. Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress by Steven Pinker

“Most people agree that life is better than death. Health is better than sickness. Sustenance is better than hunger. Abundance is better than poverty. Peace is better than war. Safety is better than danger. Freedom is better than tyranny. Equal rights are better than bigotry and discrimination. Literacy is better than illiteracy. Knowledge is better than ignorance. Intelligence is better than dull-wittedness. Happiness is better than misery. Opportunities to enjoy family, friends, culture, and nature are better than drudgery and monotony. All these things can be measured. If they have”

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress by Steven Pinker

3. A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee’s Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival by Melissa Fleming

“By the end of 2014, UNHCR would record close to 60 million forcibly displaced people, 8 million more than in the previous year. Half of those were children. Every day that year, on average, 42,500 people became refugees, asylum seekers, or internally displaced, a fourfold increase in just four years.”

A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee’s Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival by Melissa Fleming

4. Fifty Million Rising: The New Generation of Working Women Transforming the Muslim World by Saadia Zahidi

“This fifteen- to twenty-nine-year-old Muslim cohort is also the most educated generation ever seen in these countries.”

Fifty Million Rising: The New Generation of Working Women Transforming the Muslim World by Saadia Zahidi

5. Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak

“Whether in the name of God or science, there was no satisfaction for the ego quite like the satisfaction of converting someone to your side.”
6. Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World—and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling,

“Forming your worldview by relying on the media would be like forming your view about me by looking only at a picture of my foot.”

7. The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy by Mariana Mazzucato

“Some heterodox economists today argue that growth will fall if finance becomes too big relative to the rest of the economy (industry) because real profits come from the production of new goods and services rather than from simple transfers of money earned from those goods and services.40 To ‘rebalance’ the economy, the argument runs, we must allow genuine profits from production to win over rents–which, as we can see here, is exactly the argument Ricardo made 200 years ago, and John Maynard Keynes was to make 100 years later.41”

8. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

“Morality doesn’t mean ‘following divine commands’. It means ‘reducing suffering’. Hence in order to act morally, you don’t need to believe in any myth or story. You just need to develop a deep appreciation of suffering.”

9. New Power: How It’s Changing The 21st Century – And Why You Need To Know by Jeremy Heimans

“People actually begin changing behavior when [an] idea gets validated by their community, rarely when it has not.”
10. Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

“Vision without execution is hallucination. .. Skill without imagination is barren. Leonardo [da Vinci] knew how to marry observation and imagination, which made him history’s consummate innovator.”

Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

11. The Future is Asian: Commerce, Conflict and Culture in the 21st Century by Parag Khanna

“Billions of Asians growing up in the past two decades have experienced geopolitical stability, rapidly expanding prosperity, and surging national pride. The world they know is one not of Western dominance but of Asian ascendance.”
12. Imagine It Forward: Courage, Creativity, and the Power of Change by Beth Comstock

“Developing a habit of self-permission will instill in you the belief that you are in control of your career and your life, regardless of what is going on around you.”

Imagine It Forward: Courage, Creativity, and the Power of Change by Beth Comstock

The culture of book reading has never been a national hobby in Pakistan and its fortunes have dwindled further with the advent of social media and other digital modes of entertainment.

While a majority of the younger lot would rather remain glued to binge watching seasons of a favourite TV series rather than grab a favourite book, truth is, reading books will always offer more to a reader than a sitcom or movie ever can. So without much further ado, we list five classic books that we think every university student must find the time and effort to read before setting off on a journey called “practical life”. Enjoy the read, friends.

  1. The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank

‘The Diary of a Young Girl’ is the original diary of teenage Anne Frank, who commences writing her accounts on 12 June 1942 in the diary which she receives as a birthday gift at the age of thirteen. The diary details the life of her family, which lives in Frankfurt, Germany, and her own concerns about life. The diary also contains a portrayal of her family hiding from the threat of SS forces and Nazi party’s treatment of Jews during the Second World War. The accounts within the diary end abruptly on 1 August 1944. Apart from an important historical document, the diary is a beautiful work, which exhibits the world seen through the innocent eye of a teenage girl. The diary provides a number of wise lines and quotes about courage, suffering, and freedom, which also reveals the prodigious talent of the young Anne.

Quotes:  “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

“Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power, but in character and goodness. People are just people, and all people have faults and shortcomings, but all of us are born with a basic goodness.”

  1. The Road Less Travelled, M Scott Peck

Beginning with the famous line “Life is difficult”, The Road Less Travelled is a treasure trove of wisdom gleaned from various traditions, literature, and books across the world. The prominent self-help classic discusses in a lucid style the issues which are of immediate concern to every growing adult, such as love, family, vocation, career, trauma, depression etc., and much more. Peck employs psychotherapy and traditional wisdom regarding life from various traditions and develops ideas about real-life themes and the steps leading to self-actualization. In the life of a student, the university years happen to be more troublesome as they somewhat expose one into to the throes of independence, practicality and decision making by one’s self. The Road Less Travelled might not have answers to all your problems but it will definitively prove to be a helpful guide in keeping your head high in bleak times.

Quotes: “Human beings are poor examiners, subject to superstition, bias, prejudice, and a PROFOUND tendency to see what they want to see rather than what is really there.”

“Problems do not go away. They must be worked through or else they remain, forever a barrier to the growth and development of the spirit.”

  1. Sophie’s World, Jostein Gaarder

Although presented as a children’s book, Sophie’s World is a novel for young adults regarding the history of philosophy. Sophie Amundsen, whose 15th birthday is approaching, receives a letter from a stranger Albert Knox, who commits to educate her. The novel is not a dry assortment of philosophical essays as it blends together the life of Sophie with simplified explanations of some of the most prominent philosophical ideas in Europe. The novel is written with the aim of evoking basic curiosity regarding life and everything it subsumes and helps one to return to the state of childhood when everything was an amazing mystery. It is one of the most recommended novels for students of humanities because they would find many ideas and themes sprinkled across the novel, which are relevant to their class studies too.

Quotes: “A philosopher knows that in reality, he knows very little. That is why he constantly strives to achieve true insight. Socrates was one of these rare people. He knew that he knew nothing about life and about the world. And now comes the important part: it troubled him that he knew so little.”

“The most subversive people are those who ask questions.”

  1. Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky

Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky comprises of a collection of unpublished talks, question-and-answer sessions, and seminars of Noam Chomsky, the famous American political philosopher. In these talks and seminars, Chomsky interprets with his radical lenses the significant political events of the last three decades, including the Vietnam War, Clinton administration, Palestine-Israel problem, and American imperialist foreign policy. Chomsky elucidates in these talks a rigorous critique of the modern world and analyses the dynamics of power in the modern world. Although some might label the writings of Chomsky esoteric, these talks are lucid and easily understandable. Not only the students of political science, history, and international relations, but every university student needs to read this book to gain an informed perspective about politics, power, and social change in the modern world.

Quotes: “The countries that have developed economically are those which were not colonized by the West; every country that was colonized by the West is a total wreck.”

“Real education is about getting people involved in thinking for themselves- and that’s a tricky business to know how to do well, but clearly it requires that whatever it is you’re looking at has to somehow catch people’s interest and make them want to think, and make them want to pursue and explore.”

“…jingoism, racism, fear, religious fundamentalism: these are the ways of appealing to people if you’re trying to organize a mass base of support for policies that are really intended to crush them.”

  1. A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking wrote one of the most famous and widely read books of science ‘A Brief History of Time’ for non-specialist readers, who did not have any previous knowledge of scientific laws and theories. In his book, Hawking presents his theories about the origin, structure, development, and consequent destiny of the universe without employing cryptic jargon. He covers topics like space, time, elemental units called quarks, Big Bang, black holes, quantum mechanics, and many others. Towards the end, he searches for a merging theory that could explain the universe in an appropriate and coherent manner. Like other books on the list about philosophy, self-help, and international politics, this book gives a vigorous account of the scientific discoveries of modern age regarding the universe. The book is essential because it gives immense knowledge about quantum physics and universe without demanding prior knowledge from its readers.

Quotes: “If time travel is possible, where are the tourists from the future?”

“Ever since the dawn of civilization, people have not been content to see events as unconnected and inexplicable. They have craved an understanding of the underlying order in the world. Today we still yearn to know why we are here and where we came from. Humanity’s deepest desire for knowledge is justification enough for our continuing quest. And our goal is nothing less than a complete description of the universe we live in.”

“We find ourselves in a bewildering world. We want to make sense of what we see around us and to ask: What is the nature of the universe? What is our place in it and where did it and we come from? Why is it the way it is?”

Do you have a book in mind that you think should be on everyone’s reading list? Let us know with your comments.