Little Princes: Other Inspiring Readings

Conor Grennan’s story about saving the lost children of Nepal is inspiring to say the least. If you are looking to read more books that make you want to get up and help humanity then check out these other inspiring true stories.

1. Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace One School at a Time

The astonishing, uplifting story of a real-life Indiana Jones and his humanitarian campaign to use education to combat terrorism in the Taliban’s backyard. Anyone who despairs of the individual’s power to change lives has to read the story of Greg Mortenson, a homeless mountaineer who, following a 1993 climb of Pakistan’s treacherous K2, was inspired by a chance encounter with impoverished mountain villagers and promised to build them a school. Over the next decade he built fifty-five schools—especially for girls—that offer a balanced education in one of the most isolated and dangerous regions on earth. As it chronicles Mortenson’s quest, which has brought him into conflict with both enraged Islamists and uncomprehending Americans, Three Cups of Tea combines adventure with a celebration of the humanitarian spirit.

2. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

Anne Frank’s diary needs no introduction. This beautifully written memoir of a young girl caught in the middle of one of the most horrific periods of human history, is a testament to the indestructible human will to persevere and survive in the face of the most adverse of circumstances.

3. Tuesdays with Morrie

Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher, or a colleague.  Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, helped you see the world as a more profound place, gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it. For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago. Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as you made your way, and the insights faded, and the world seemed colder.  Wouldn’t you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you, receive wisdom for your busy life today the way you once did when you were younger? Mitch Albom had that second chance.  He rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man’s life.  Knowing he was dying, Morrie visited with Mitch in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college.  Their rekindled relationship turned into one final “class”: lessons in how to live. Tuesdays with Morrie is a magical chronicle of their time together, through which Mitch shares Morrie’s lasting gift with the world.

4. Free Fall: A Memoir of a Family Surviving the Suicide of a Loved One and Reclaiming Life on Their Own Terms

“Understanding suffering always helps the energy of compassion to be born.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh In an instant my husband stripped away my identity as wife, stay-at-home mom, and best friend. With his suicide, our world changed forever. He’d been the center of our universe, but then he was gone. Grief is a dark journey, one often tainted with judgment and false perceptions. Add the word ‘suicide’ to the mix and more complications arise. This memoir, Free Fall, is intended for those who may be facing their own tragedy and feeling alone, hopeless, confused, scared, and misunderstood. Free Fall is the journey of piecing our lives back together—overcoming children’s anxiety as we traversed the brutal grief and trauma process, learning to say the words ‘widow’ and ‘single mom’ without cringing, surviving the fall out with friends and family who simply couldn’t understand our healing process, triumphing over the stigma of ‘suicide’, forgiving my husband, and finding peace after chaos. Free Fall is for widows, widowers, parents, survivors of suicide, family members or friends of one who mourns. This story is for anyone who needs encouragement that there is another side to grief. There is. We’re there now. We’re looking back and holding our hands out to you saying, “hang in there, you’re not alone, and you’ll get here, too.”

5. The Hiding Place

Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch watchmaker who became a heroine of the Resistance, a survivor of Hitler’s concentration camps, and one of the most remarkable evangelists of the twentieth century. In World War II she and her family risked their lives to help Jews and underground workers escape from the Nazis, and for their work they were tested in the infamous Nazi death camps. Only Corrie among her family survived to tell the story of how faith ultimately triumphs over evil. Here is the riveting account of how Corrie and her family were able to save many of God’s chosen people. For 35 years millions have seen that there is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still. Now The Hiding Place, repackaged for a new generation of readers, continues to declare that God’s love will overcome, heal, and restore.

6. Banker to the Poor: Micro-lending and the Battle Against World Poverty

Muhammad Yunus is that rare thing: a bona fide visionary. His dream is the total eradication of poverty from the world. In 1983, against the advice of banking and government officials, Yunus established Grameen, a bank devoted to providing the poorest of Bangladesh with minuscule loans. Grameen Bank, based on the belief that credit is a basic human right, not the privilege of a fortunate few, now provides over 2.5 billion dollars of micro-loans to more than two million families in rural Bangladesh. Ninety-four percent of Yunus’s clients are women, and repayment rates are near 100 percent. Around the world, micro-lending programs inspired by Grameen are blossoming, with more than three hundred programs established in the United States alone. Banker to the Poor is Muhammad Yunus’s memoir of how he decided to change his life in order to help the world’s poor. In it he traces the intellectual and spiritual journey that led him to fundamentally rethink the economic relationship between rich and poor, and the challenges he and his colleagues faced in founding Grameen. He also provides wise, hopeful guidance for anyone who would like to join him in “putting homelessness and destitution in a museum so that one day our children will visit it and ask how we could have allowed such a terrible thing to go on for so long.” The definitive history of micro-credit direct from the man that conceived of it, Banker to the Poor is necessary and inspirational reading for anyone interested in economics, public policy, philanthropy, social history, and business.

7. An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in Western India in 1869. He was educated in London and later travelled to South Africa, where he experienced racism and took up the rights of Indians, instituting his first campaign of passive resistance. In 1915 he returned to British-controlled India, bringing to a country in the throes of independence his commitment to non-violent change, and his belief always in the power of truth. Under Gandhi’s lead, millions of protesters would engage in mass campaigns of civil disobedience, seeking change through ahimsa or non-violence. For Gandhi, the long path towards Indian independence would lead to imprisonment and hardship, yet he never once forgot the principles of truth and non-violence so dear to him. Written in the 1920s, Gandhi’s autobiography tells of his struggles and his inspirations; a powerful and enduring statement of an extraordinary life.

8. Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela is one of the great moral and political leaders of our time: an international hero whose lifelong dedication to the fight against racial oppression in South Africa won him the Nobel Peace Prize and the presidency of his country. Since his triumphant release in 1990 from more than a quarter-century of imprisonment, Mandela has been at the center of the most compelling and inspiring political drama in the world. As president of the African National Congress and head of South Africa’s antiapartheid movement, he was instrumental in moving the nation toward multiracial government and majority rule. He is revered everywhere as a vital force in the fight for human rights and racial equality. LONG WALK TO FREEDOM is his moving and exhilarating autobiography, destined to take its place among the finest memoirs of history’s greatest figures. Here for the first time, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela tells the extraordinary story of his life–an epic of struggle, setback, renewed hope, and ultimate triumph.

9. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

This is how wars are fought now: by children, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s. Children have become soldiers of choice. In the more than fifty conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them. What is war like through the eyes of a child soldier? How does one become a killer? How does one stop? Child soldiers have been profiled by journalists, and novelists have struggled to imagine their lives. But until now, there has not been a first-person account from someone who came through this hell and survived. In A Long Way Gone, Beah, now twenty-five years old, tells a riveting story: how at the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he’d been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts. This is a rare and mesmerizing account, told with real literary force and heartbreaking honesty.

10. Man’s Search for Meaning: The Classic Tribute to Hope from the Holocaust

Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the experiences of others he treated later in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Frankl’s theory-known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos (“meaning”)-holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful.

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Books that Are Better Than the Movie: Additional Readings

When are books not better than the movie?! Imagining your own creative space based on the elaborate written description hardly ever translates to the screen! Now, it is very easy to create a list of books that surpass the film, so we are going to focus on ones with prominent female leads. Of course there are hundreds more and these are just a selection of my favorites, feel free to comment with ones you feel are essential to add!

The Princess Diaries Series By Meg Cabot
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The Princess Diaries movie starring Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews is a certifiable classic and a personal favorite. However, if you read the book, the movie was so Disney-ified it took away from the real and relatable problems that Mia faced. The book also added depth to the story! Large essential pieces of the book were missing or changed to make it more pleasant for a family. Like her grandmother is meant to be a meanie, think Yzma and not Grace Kelly.

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Also, her father is not deceased. He suffered from testicular cancer and with his perpetual revolving door of much younger women, was unable to have an heir other than Mia. She is the last resort for the family when confronted with the possibility of losing the crown. The series of now 11 books, with the most recent installment coming out in 2014, the story continues to grow and evolve well beyond the two movies. Much love to Chris Pine, but the second film was so off track from the book, that it is hard to even consider it. If I have ever given you book recommendations, ditch whatever nonsense I fed you and put this series at the top of your reading list.

Pride & Prejudice By Jane Austen

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For that matter any Jane Austen, movie, retelling, or web series, is such a blessing to have to relive the content of 200 years ago. I will find any chance I have to discuss the work of Jane Austen and therefore it is no shock that she has made this list. Pride & Prejudice has numerous remakes, but the two that are considered the crux that Austenites perch their hopes on are the Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen’s 2005 film and the original masterpiece is the six hour 1995 mini series featuring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. However, for the sake of being nitpicky, we will just discuss the 2005 rendition. Though this movie is beautiful and adds to the story the almost kiss in the rain, the way he flexes his hand and his face changes with every meeting from stern to free and hopeful, and the happiness we saw between Jane and Bingley’s proposal.

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However, I feel it is essential to read the book to really feel the depth of Elizabeth’s and Darcy’s change in affection.Throughout the movie it appeared to be a somewhat abrupt change as he repaired his “transgressions”, but the book correctly shows that it was the work of several meetings, their shared interests, and his actions. Yes, Pride & Prejudice is not in today’s vernacular, but that just increases the amount the book pulls you into its world of Austen’s day. Austen probably never imagined her work would make the impact to the movie, television, and web industries as it has, experiencing her work in the way in which she intended is essential. I’ll leave you with this famous quote by the author herself, “I declare there is no enjoyment like reading!”
Other renditions that are worth a read/watch are North and South by Elizabeth Glaskell and released as a miniseries in 2004, 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher and released as a Netflix show in 2017, Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty featured on HBO in 2017, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins premiered in 2012.

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Some upcoming exciting small screen releases are Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, A Wrinkle In Time By Madeleine L’Engle, and Anne of Green Gables By LM Montgomery. I am so excited to see these portrayed again! Please share what you are excited to see coming to the screen and feel free to recommend other books that you feel just blew the movie out of the water!

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