A Penchant for Peace: Top 10 Classic Books About Peace and Harmony

We live in a vast world wherein every step leads to some kind of amazing opportunity. Once upon a time, it was almost impossible to think of a place outside one’s country, let alone move there. Did you know that some religions even considered people crossing the ocean to be untouchables? Well, today, it’s a different story altogether. The emergence of the internet and the innovative ways of the modern travel system have made it feasible for all of us around the world to at least feel an aura of proximity. Indeed, we are now living in a world that can very well be called a global village, a term coined by media theorist, Marshall McLuhan, almost four decades ago.

However, living in a village is no easy feat. So, imagine the issues that come with living in a global one. With increased proximity, comes some new challenges. Some people think they are better than others. Their intense patriotism might make them feel that the only way to bring glory to their country and enhance their racial pride is to encroach on other cultures and territories. The greatest instances of this would be the two devastating world wars of the last century. Millions lost their lives due to the futility of the wars. Our century is not devoid of its own battles. The only difference is that now we wage a never-ending war with ourselves. A war to excel at all costs. In the process, we lose out on all the best things that life has to offer.

In today’s darkly fast-paced world, peace and harmony elude us most of the time. We don’t have the time or the mindset to feel at peace. We are in constant competition with our neighbors. So, we don’t bother to instill harmony. Due to this, depression, loneliness, greed, and the bloodthirst of wars take away uncountable lives from this earth every day.

So, let us take a pledge and decide to foster peace and harmony in whatever way we can. The simplest way to understand the importance of this is by reading. Books help us with ways to bring about peace and harmony.

So, here I am with a list of ten evergreen books that make us ponder the significance of peace and harmony in one way or another.

The Timeless Classic

Book: War and Peace

Author: Leo Tolstoy

Image Source: Public domain

Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace was first published in its entirety in 1869. Almost one and a half centuries later, it is still considered one of the greatest pieces of literature around the world. The long book follows five aristocratic Russian families as they live through the French Invasion of Russia. Its impact on the Tsarist society is portrayed in a brilliant manner. The book provides an in-depth look at both war and peace. A contrasting view of war and peace is sure to make us understand the significance of harmony.

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Dreams & Fate

Book: The Alchemist

Author: Paulo Coelho

Image Source: Public domain

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho took the literary world by storm when it was first published in 1988. The beautiful novel follows a young Andalusian shepherd, Santiago, as he traverses the deserts of Egypt in the hopes of finding a hidden treasure. This allegorical tale emphasizes that one can always realize one’s destiny if only one believes in oneself. Santiago’s story inspires us and helps us let go of all self-doubts. It is indeed a self-help book in the guise of fiction.

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The Futility of War

Book: All Quiet on the Western Front

Author: Erich Maria Remarque

Image Source: H.-P.Haack, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Whenever we think of WWI, we subconsciously picture the Germans to be the greedy villains. If only we could stop and think, we will realize that the Germans were as much the victims of the war as the rest of us. Erich Maria Remarque, a German soldier, took the bold decision of painting the horrors of the war in his wartime classic, All Quiet on the Western Front. His book gives us an unflinching look at the devastation wrought by war. The 1929 novel made Remarque a pariah to some of his countrymen. They thought that the stark depiction of the horrors of the war denigrated the German war effort. Nevertheless, this anti-war treatise stood the test of time by remaining a bestseller today. Its 1930 Academy Award-winning film adaptation is a must-watch for anyone who likes watching war movies. Remarque’s story emphasizes the futility of war and highlights the importance of peace.

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The Attainment of Enlightenment

Book: Siddhartha: An Indian Poem

Author: Hermann Hesse

Image Source: Thomas Bernhard Jutzas, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hermann Hesse follows a young man named Siddhartha on his journey of self-discovery in his book, Siddhartha: An Indian Poem. Originally written in simple and lyrical German, this spiritual treatise is set during the time of Gautama Buddha. The 1922 novel was published in the U.S. in 1951. Through Siddhartha’s story, Hesse portrays that true enlightenment and peace can be attained only when one learns to accept that worldly pleasures and spiritualism go hand in hand. The key is to find the right balance. Siddhartha’s quest to find the meaning of life is sure to bring you at least a little semblance of peace.

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Embodiment of Peace

Book: Autobiography of a Yogi

Author: Paramahansa Yogananda

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Autobiography of a Yogi was first published in 1946. Paramahansa Yogananda chronicles his life in this book. Yogananda talks about his childhood and his encounters with various spiritual figures. Translated in over fifty languages, Autobiography of a Yogi has been hailed as a spiritual classic by many. It has introduced meditation and yoga to legions of people including legends like Steve Jobs and George Harrison. This book would help you meditate your way to inner peace with utmost ease.

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An Ideal World

Book: Utopia

Author: Thomas Moore

Image Source: Public domain

Thomas Moore’s Utopia is a socio-political satire that makes you envision a perfect world. Published in 1516, this Latin narrative sheds light on a classless society where people can live in harmony. The satiric comments and sharp humor make it a delightful read for any literary scholar.

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A Tale of Love and Family

Book: The Pearl

Author: John Steinbeck

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John Steinbeck’s The Pearl is sure to take you through the wringer. The 1947 parable revolves around a pearl diver named Kino. Though the classic tale has all the elements of a tragedy, it will definitely provide you with that elusive peace of mind. Steinbeck portrays that family and love always triumph over greed, darkness, and evil. This tearjerker will make you believe that everything has a way to work out in the end as long as you have your family by your side.

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Brother Sister Duo

Book: Franny and Zooey

Author: J.D. Salinger

Image Source: Public domain

Franny and Zoey is a beautiful tale of sibling love. J.D. Salinger’s heartfelt novel portrays the sanctity of a brother-sister bond. Zooey comes to his sister, Franny’s, rescue when she has a breakdown. With no questions asked, he helps her overcome her existential crisis with love and kindness. Franny and Zoey was first published as a novel in 1961. Originally, Franny was a short story released in 1955 and Zooey was a novella published in 1957. The novel, Franny and Zoey, can easily be interpreted as a spiritual journey toward enlightenment. This book is sure to comfort you and bestow you with a sense of tranquility.

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The Art of Simple Living

Book: Walden

Author: Henry David Thoreau

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Published in 1854, Walden is a masterpiece of transcendentalist literature. Penned by Henry David Thoreau, the book expounds on the benefits of simple living in natural surroundings. Thoreau spent two years, two months, and two days in a cabin near Walden Pond in Massachusetts. During his time there, he observed nature through both poetic and scientific lenses. Through his book, he aims to underline the significance of solitude, contemplation, and closeness. Though a difficult book to read, Thoreau’s Walden will definitely open your eyes to the tranquility that can be found in nature.

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A Tale of Redemption

Book: Kuimba

Author: Priscilla B Shuler

Image Credit: Used with permission from the author

Kuimba is one of those special books that make you understand the value of harmonious living. Set in the early 1900s, Priscilla B Shuler’s novel follows the story of a unique boy named Kuimba. The blue-eyed boy was born to a black couple in a close-knit yet racially prejudiced community in South Carolina. His mystical powers did not make life easy for him. The deep affection that their overlord’s wife, Lucy, felt for him further complicated things. Lucy’s son, R.ED Barnard considered him his nemesis. The polar opposite characteristics of the two boys inevitably clashed and lead to jarring consequences. Through this tale of love and forgiveness, Shuler shuns racism and underscores the importance of peaceful living.

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Though it may seem simple, one of the toughest things to achieve is inner peace. It is not easy to be in harmony with everything going on around us. How can it be when almost anything can spiral out of control at any time? After all, life can be very unpredictable at times. Add to that, the growing concerns about wars, and you have an extremely stressed individual in front of you. So, finding inner peace is as important as fostering harmony around the world. After all, how can one promote harmony if one is not at peace with oneself? So, take out a bit of time from your busy schedules, and read a book that will make you feel peaceful and understand the importance of harmony. 

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