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Book that 'changed your life'

Created: 10/16/10

Replies: 8

Posted Mar. 19, 2011 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert

Join Date: 10/11/10

Posts: 369


Book that 'changed your life'

To say a book has "changed your life" might be a bit extreme, but most of us have read books that, at the particular point in our lives when we read them, caused us to sit up and reassess things; and, indeed, changed the course of our lives to some degree. Is there a book that has done that to you, and how did it change you?

Posted Mar. 24, 2011 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert

Join Date: 10/18/10

Posts: 40

Fast Food Nation

The true answer to the question "What book changed your life?" is "Almost every book I've read." I think my personal definition of a good book is one that has changed my perspective somehow. So when I first saw this topic, dozens of books ran through my head. But I chose Fast Food Nation because it gave me a big push to change physical aspects of my life, not just mental.

I had already stopped eating beef when I read Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser. My reasons were fuzzy and hard to explain to other people, but this book gave me sound-bite-worthy answers to their constant questions. If they thought that 'saving the environment' wasn't a good reason, I'd talk about the horrific working conditions in American slaughterhouses. If they thought that was stupid, I'd talk about food safety and how no one in this country is testing for Mad Cow, and therefore no one is finding it - and how E. coli is a direct result of the factory farming system. And on and on.

After reading Fast Food Nation, I quit eating at all fast food restaurants. What I learned in this book helped me to stay on course with my healthy food choices when I was tempted to eat junk. It was well-written and informative, so I started reading more non-fiction (especially food-related books, such as The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver). I shop local and organic at every opportunity. The way I shop and eat has completely transformed in the last 10 years, and much of that can be credited to Fast Food Nation.

Posted Apr. 14, 2011 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert

Join Date: 04/11/11

Posts: 37

RE: Book that 'changed your life'

I think the book that had the most impact on me as a teenager was "The Wall" by John Hersey. It is a fictionalized account of the uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II. I remember having a difficult time reading some of the book because of the depiction of persecution, starvation, betrayal. I remember my English teacher telling me I might not be able to handle the information,but I am glad I read on. It was based on research of actual events and people who were in the Ghetto and still reminds me of how powerful the will to live no matter how dire the conditions may be or to fight to die with the knowledge you fought for those who could not fight. It was published many years ago but is still a very good read and a book worth re-reading.

Posted Apr. 15, 2011 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert

Join Date: 04/15/11

Posts: 3

RE: Book that 'changed your life'

Many books have had an impact on me. The most recent is Nomad by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Her first book, Infidel, was about her growing up life in Somalia and other African countries. It was difficult to read but was encouraging when she got away and she made her way to Holland and, ultimately, to the U.S. I just finished her second book, Nomad, where she relates a little more about her family to help people who didn't read the first book to understand where she is coming from. She feels she has some answers to some of the problems of Islamists migrating to different countries and then forming their own cultural and religious conclaves. She talks about possible solutions for the host country to try and for the migrants to try as well. I had been vacilating back and forth between various thoughts, but this book helped me to put my thoughts together and come to my own opinions. I recommend both books to all.

Posted Apr. 20, 2011 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Lea Ann

Join Date: 04/20/11

Posts: 93


RE: Book that 'changed your life'

Yes, to say a book changed my life may be a bit of a hyperbole. However, one that certainly caused me to sit back and rethink some of my ideas re life on Earth, the possibility of life on other planets and what it costs in human relationships to search for that life is "The Sparrow" by Mary Doria Russell. A truly remarkable volume that set my mind to spinning with many more questions than answers and which I have recommended over and over again to others, have in fact purchased several copies to give to others.

Posted Apr. 21, 2011 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert

Join Date: 04/14/11

Posts: 2

Bloomability by Sharon Creech

This is a young adult book for grades 5 to 8, but adults can enjoy it too. I had to take a children's lit class in college and this is one of the books I selected. It is about Dinnie, who comes to terms with her past and establishes a secure identity for the future. Her older sister and brother tend to get into various kinds of trouble, and her parents are always looking for a new "opportunity" in some other town. By the second chapter, Dinnie explains that she's been "kidnapped" by her Aunt Sandy and Uncle Max, who take her with them to Switzerland to attend the school where Max is headmaster.
In Dinnie's "second life" in Europe, her family continues to neglect her, forgetting even to let her know where they've relocated. Dinnie gradually adjusts to her new environment as she makes friends with other students from around the world: exuberant Guthrie; bitter Lila; and language-mangling Keisuke, who says "bloomable" when he means "possible." Together, these middle schoolers share classes and adventures. Everyone can relate to the hard struggles of life, but, as the heroine comes to realize, the world is still full of "bloomability."
I loved the descriptions of living in Switzerland and the fact that there is a whole community of expatriates living and working overseas. After finishing college, I applied to international schools overseas because of how wonderful this book was. I spent the best 2 years of my life at an international school in Thailand discovering my "bloomabilities." This book was definitely a factor in my decision.

Posted Jun. 15, 2011 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert

Join Date: 06/15/11

Posts: 136


RE: Book that 'changed your life'

I agree with others that every book has changed me in some way or I wouldn't keep reading! Ones that had an impact on me at various times in my life that come to mind are: SOME MEN ARE MORE PERFECT THAN OTHERS, OLD YELLER, WHERE PEACHTREE MEETS SWEET AUBURN, PEACHTREE ROAD, THE RICH PART OF LIFE, ANDERSONVILLE, GREAT EXPECTATIONS; applying the principles of a book on win-win fight resolutions definitely made me a much better parent!

Posted Jun. 16, 2011 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
pennyn's Gravatar

Join Date: 10/21/10

Posts: 23

RE: Book that 'changed your life'

Nisei Daughter by Monica Itoi Sone -- I read this book when it came out. I don't know how I picked it. But it moved me to tears, frightened me and still resonates strongly in my heart. The books tells the story of an American Japanese family from the Northwest during WWII. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor they were rounded up like criminals and interred in barracks in Idaho. Living conditions were despicable. The lesson I learned taught me to trust people first - not to judge them by actions of others, skin color, eye folds, language and religion. Many years later I found out my own ancestry included white, black and native American branches. Sometimes it still feels as tho' this book somehow pulled the genetic imprinting from my soul to allow me to see myself and this family being treated in the same way. Past and present - it is STILL happening.

Posted Jan. 17, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert

Join Date: 09/18/13

Posts: 10

RE: Book that 'changed your life'

When I was 11 years old, it was a one-two combination. And it wasn't so much books as authors, the many books those authors had written.

Every Sunday night back then, "60 Minutes" on CBS was always on in my household. I remember it well because there were so many car commercials, but it was most important to me because of Andy Rooney and his commentaries.

Even with all the books I had read up to then, I thought writing involved fully-formed stories, characters who moved from one stage to another in deeply affecting ways, and that it was never ordinary. Certainly I read nonfiction books, attracted to such books as "A Week in the Life of an Airline Pilot" by William Jaspersohn, but flying a 747 never seemed ordinary.

And here was Andy Rooney. You mean you could write about the different styles of restaurants? You could write about working in your woodshop at home? About how cold it gets during winter and how you cope?

My family and I went to a thrift store in South Florida during that year, and I found a three-book collection called "The Most of Andy Rooney," which contained "A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney," "And More by Andy Rooney," and "Pieces of My Mind." I pored over that book, reading favorite commentaries often, and decided that I wanted to write like him. Literally write like him. I don't remember what I wrote about in my own life that I tried to write in his style, but it was then that I realized what a writer's style was. It varies with each writer. I couldn't write like Andy Rooney because I wasn't him. I had to find my own style.

That's where Natalie Goldberg came in, she of the Taos, New Mexico residency who instilled a nascent interest in me to want to visit New Mexico, but which I didn't realize until a certain novel set me full-blown on that desire (more on that later), and who showed me that yes, in order to be a writer you have to write, but you also should write what gets you excited.

I constantly read her "Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life," with that inviting tan cover and the marker-based drawing of that cafe with the red tablecloths and the overhead fan at the top of the red frame, and the bakery case to the side, and that hardwood flooring. I loved reading not only her advice which still guides me to this day, but also her "Try This" exercises, in which I wondered if I could really write about all those things. Did I have anything to say about them, such as "a subject, a situation, a story that is hard for you to talk about"? Or how about sitting down to write something that I "have never managed to get around to"? Of course, back then, I was 11, and was only just starting. There's plenty now that I have never managed to get around to......yet. I hope.

From there I went to her "Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within," and I now own nearly all her books, including her novel "Banana Rose," all sitting on a shelf in my main bookcase, my permanent collection, the books I will always keep. I don't yet have "Thunder and Lightning: Cracking Open the Writer's Craft" or "The Great Failure: My Unexpected Path to Truth," but I'll remedy that upon reorganizing my book collection after moving soon.

As to that book that makes me want to visit New Mexico so badly, I must have been entranced with the name Taos, which appeared in Goldberg's bio at the back of her books. What was Taos? What kind of community was it? I didn't think anything of it beyond that and briefly mulling over those questions, but it apparently became firmly entrenched in my mind, only to surface years later when I read "The Secret of Everything" by Barbara O'Neal and wanted to leave right then and there for New Mexico. If Barbara O'Neal could describe New Mexico like THAT simply from the fictional town of Las Ladronas, what must it be like in person?

One day, I will find out. But it was because of Natalie Goldberg and her Taos that gave me such a desire to see it. And I've no doubt that it's because of her, and Andy Rooney, that I'm a writer today.


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