My favourite reads: Yvonne Tagoe

Here are five books that have taken me on interesting mental and emotional journeys

Macbeth by William Shakespeare (1623)
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Someone once said if you don’t travel, it’s like opening the first page of a book and not reading beyond that. These books have taken me on interesting mental and emotional journeys. Each taught me a bit more about life and took me on a quest to understand the human condition.

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough (1977)

This family saga, spanning generations, weaves a complex story of human frailty, religion and loyalty. Solace can be found in family, but the distinct personalities of family members can also be a source of pain and conflict. In the end, religion can present us with so many questions but not enough answers, leading us to leave our fate in the hands of faith.

Who Moved My Cheese? by Dr Spencer Johnson (1998)

This is a small book with a big punch. It was a gift from a friend at a time when I was struggling with a personal setback. It is the story of two mice, Sniff and Scurry, and two tiny people, Hem and Haw. It taught me about individual choices – that I can choose to hem and haw about change or just accept it and move on.

Macbeth by William Shakespeare (1623)

Yes, I love Shakespeare. This story of chasing an ambition at all costs – or “vaulting ambition” – takes Macbeth on a destructive quest. This quote sums it up: “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. It is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

East of Eden by John Steinbeck (1952)

Steinbeck’s wonderful description of Salinas Valley puts the reader right there before we meet the Trask and Hamilton families. The author digs deep into the psyche of the characters and choices they make. He writes that when a child finds out “adults do not have divine intelligence … the gods are fallen and all safety is gone”. For some reason, that stuck with me.

A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt (First written for BBC Radio in 1954)

I consider this my guide to staying principled. In the book, Sir Thomas More, the Lord Chancellor of England, at his own peril, stands up to the king, Henry VIII. More was beheaded for not going along with the king’s wishes to go against the church. It makes you ask yourself how far you are willing to go for your principles.

Yvonne Tagoe is a sub editor at The National