- The Rainbow Troops, by Andrea Hirata
The book I have been carrying around since I was 14! It is highly remarkable and full of life lessons. If asked what I have learned from this novel and what are the things that have rubbed off on me, I would definitely say optimism, determination, sort of rebellious attitude against the unfair system and its fatalistic belief influenced by the religion. It tells about a bunch of elementary school students who live amidst tough time; poverty, corrupted government officials, “colonialism vibes” spread by the greedy corporations, and severe lack of infrastructure, but they have a high level of enthusiasm and hope to pursue their education and to uplift each other, thanks to their only two excellent teachers. The story of their inspiring life struggle is told in simple, humorous, and tender tones. It also has some exotic Indonesian words and places to explore. Honestly speaking, this novel and Andrea Hirata’s third book — Edensor–has helped me design my future. Some events happening in my life where I am right now are the results of the novel’s influence, which is to achieve what I aspire to in life against all odds.
2. Tanyalah Aku Sebelum Kau Kehilangan Aku (Ask Me Before You Lose Me), by Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri
A compilation of advice and wisdom from Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (the fourth Caliph) is eloquently conveyed in this book. It comprises all aspects of human’s layers that need to be learned; the layer of spirituality that revolves around an individual’s vertical relationship with God; the layer of society that focuses on an individual’s horizontal relationship with fellow human beings; the layer of intelligence in which human learns to understand the self; and insights into the environment (treatment towards animals and plants) and unseen world including destiny, unpredicted future, death, devil and angels, and so forth. I personally find this book as a cure when I feel so down and a constant reminder when I start to cross the line. The book has helped me comprehend myself and respect the time I have to do something useful for myself and others. The book is in two languages; Arabic and Indonesian. Unfortunately, I cannot find the English version of it, but I did find a pdf that is somewhat similar to it (judging from the table of content).
3. Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
A book I read back in college and had no idea would have an impact on me. The book presents a story of adventure combined with humanitarian spirit experienced by a mountaineer who plans to build schools in Korphe, a small village in Pakistan. Some series of failures to realize his goals take place including being kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan, having a lack of funds, and facing personal problems. Nonetheless, he eventually succeeds. Thanks to this book, I was inspired to establish my own school, even though it is considered an informal school a.k.a English language course with the curriculum and materials I designed myself as well as put a priority to voluntarily invite the kids who have social and financial issues in my community. It is the perseverance and determination to give an opportunity to children who suffer from the misfortune that I admire and imitate.