Studies show reading fiction makes people more more open to other ideas. So the Brian Lehrer Show wants to know: what piece of fiction have you read that made you LESS certain about your opinions?
  1. Drown by Junot Diaz
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    Having grown up in poverty and project housing, had been ashamed of my past and just reading about a character who was able to share some of my experiences and face even greater hardships while embracing his own culture and upbringing helped me to become ok with who I was and where I came from and to better serve a similar community where I’m working. (Submitted by Robert Gibbs)
  2. The Known World by Edward P. Jones
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    The story of black slaveholders in the antebellum south that looks at slavery in all its moral complexity. (Submitted by Julie)
  3. Push by Sapphire
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    We all have an inclination to see someone and make assumptions about them but we don't know what kind of barriers they face, and that was a very real portrayal of things we see everyday in our neighborhood. (Submitted by Edwin Maxwell)
  4. Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin
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    As a typically conservative college freshman, this book helped me tip the scales away from being a casual homophobe. A stunning story of love and heartbreak, of Paris at its most romantic, of a man doing the best he can to figure out who he truly is. Masterful stuff.
    Suggested by @natecorddry
  5. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
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    It taught me to love learning and academics. (Submitted by @DanielleQing)
  6. The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
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    Apartheid seen through the eyes of a young boy and his relationship with his rooster, his only friend. (Submitted by @JaneSegall)
  7. Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger
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    In college, it made me question my devout atheism. (Submitted by @BrooklynSkulls)
  8. Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehreneich
    The author takes social commentary to the next level by giving up her cushy life and attempting to survive on minimum wage.
    Suggested by @aminam
  9. A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn
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    The United States you don't learn about in school and which kind of throws in the trash can everything you were taught that was amazing about the discovery of the "New World" and the founding of America.
    Suggested by @ChrisK
  10. Fantasy Life by Matthew Berry
    A humorous collection of stories about the fanaticism and insanity of fantasy football. Not a joke, it softened my "eye-rolling" reaction to football fans significantly. It's also really fucking funny.
    Suggested by @saytrumbo
  11. Gender Trouble by Judith Butler
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    I read this in grad school, and it completely challenged my idea of gender and sexuality. Butler's theory is basically that 1. sexuality and gender are socially constructed 2. You cannot "be" a sex/gender, you can only be "being" it. Ultimately then you don't have a true solid inner self, but you identify something (externally) and then perform it. I don't totally "buy into" all aspects of it, BUT it's extremely useful as a lens and invites a new perspective on gender that's so relevant today.
    Suggested by @LizDawson
  12. Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed
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    Over and over again, Cheryl would surprise me with her wisdom, her honesty, her bravery. I consider myself a reasonably empathetic and maybe even wise person, so I sometimes arrogantly imagined I would know what the answers should be. But time and again she surprised me with advice and understanding that was so far beyond or different from what I would have said, and that challenged my own thinking and way of looking at the world and other people.
    Suggested by @bookishclaire
  13. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    Really intriguing look into race and the immigrant experience in America.
    Suggested by @macnchz
  14. Kindred by Octavia Butler
    A black woman living in the 1970s is drawn back in time to save her white ancestor in the antebellum south. An interesting look and imagining of the complex thoughts and relationships surrounding slavery.
    Suggested by @macnchz
  15. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
    A cliche choice perhaps but I thought about this book for weeks after I finished it in my early twenties. It really made me think about how every person has a whole life as big as mine and that judging them from the outside is almost absurd.
    Suggested by @gwcoffey
  16. Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg
    This book pulled away a layer of ignorance I didn't even realize was there regarding transgender issues. About a "masculine girl" growing up in the "McCarthy era and coming out as a young butch lesbian in the pre-Stonewall gay drag bars of a blue-collar town". It's poignant, and strong, and raw. I think everyone should read it.
    Suggested by @femme_feminist
  17. Room by Emma Donaghue
    I feel that this book would give anyone a deeper understanding of living in an abusive relationship. But to an extent also illuminating regarding being a woman and being a mom, especially in traumatic circumstances. I think it has a lot of wisdom about the power dynamics between men and women in the world, and the strength we all have as humans to push for good in our lives. This book tore me open, so read it just for that. Tearing your heart open often leads to change, I think.
    Suggested by @femme_feminist
  18. All the Kings's Men by Robert Penn Warren
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    A true American epic. Jack Burden, history scholar turned journalist turned right-hand man to a crooked Southern politician, contemplates power, passion, and the capacities of human nature.
    Suggested by @JongheeQ
  19. The Chosen by Chaim Potok
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    When I read this book in my early 20s I was struggling with leaving the fundamentalist environment I grew up within. I identified strongly with the character's unapologetic search for truth and the peril of his ostracism from his community. It helped me understand the feelings I had were far more universal than I had realized and that I wasn't alone.
    Suggested by @stribs
  20. The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
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    As a teenager, it taught me that an unconventional life is a viable choice.
  21. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
    The book offered me a different perspective on the challenges faced by immigrants as they answer new questions that were not asked in their native homes. To me, it was a story of the compromises we make in our immigrant lives, and how these choices define us. It made me think a lot about how an immigrant like me could reinvent a new self, which I think I did, while perhaps keeping whatever is worth keeping of the old self. It is also a reminder that my new society gets to choose a place for you.
    Suggested by @Peterthelaw
  22. Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante
    Every man should read this book. I'm in the middle of it right now. It puts you inside the head of an Italian woman jilted by her husband as she's left to care for their two children. It captures the rage, self-hatred, despair, and dark, dark thoughts of a woman scorned. A precise emotional landscape that men will never experience.
    Suggested by @mmercier
  23. A Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein
    Suggested by @DrMary
  24. A la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time) by Marcel Proust
    Suggested by @kirkmc