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Thread: The Book That Changed Your Life

  1. #41
    FORT Fogey lambikins's Avatar
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    Nov 2003
    It's been enlightening, reading just which books influenced readers here. I had to take a couple of days to reflect on this, because I couldn't think of one single, solitary book that ever changed my life.

    But, my problem was, I was thinking of my adult life, which had already been "cast" by the books that I read in my early youth that, indeed, had influenced my thinking to such a great extent that they DID change my life, for the rest of my life.

    I was 10 years old when I read SILENT SPRING by Rachel Carson. For those of you that know nothing about her or what impact this one brave woman did for our planet, here's a brief description: "Silent Spring took Carson four years to complete. It meticulously described how DDT entered the food chain and accumulated in the fatty tissues of animals, including human beings, and caused cancer and genetic damage. A single application on a crop, she wrote, killed insects for weeks and months, and not only the targeted insects but countless more, and remained toxic in the environment even after it was diluted by rainwater. Carson concluded that DDT and other pesticides had irrevocably harmed birds and animals and had contaminated the entire world food supply. The book's most haunting and famous chapter, "A Fable for Tomorrow," depicted a nameless American town where all life -- from fish to birds to apple blossoms to human children -- had been "silenced" by the insidious effects of DDT.

    The most important legacy of Silent Spring, though, was a new public awareness that nature was vulnerable to human intervention. Rachel Carson had made a radical proposal: that, at times, technological progress is so fundamentally at odds with natural processes that it must be curtailed. Conservation had never raised much broad public interest, for few people really worried about the disappearance of wilderness. But the threats Carson had outlined -- the contamination of the food chain, cancer, genetic damage, the deaths of entire species -- were too frightening to ignore. For the first time, the need to regulate industry in order to protect the environment became widely accepted, and environmentalism was born."

    Rachel died two years later, of breast cancer.

    More can be found about about Rachel here: http://www.nrdc.org/health/pesticides/hcarson.asp

    Growing up on a small farm in Northern Minnesota, I was surrounded by wildlife and nature. This book terrified me to my cellular level, to think that my birds, my cow, my trees, my water...and ME...could die from this unseen assailant, DDT. From 10 years old, on, I became a rabid environmentalist and still am to this day. The 70's and the Earth Day movement played right into my hands, since I had been ready for them 15 years earlier.

    The second book that made a huge impact on me, and also changed America, as SILENT SPRING did, was UNCLE TOM'S CABIN by Harriet Beecher Stowe, which roused Northern antipathy to slavery in the decade leading up to the Civil War; in fact, many people "blame" Miss Stowe for being the 'match that lit the fuse' on the Civil War.

    I am constantly surprised by the snickering that accompanies people when you try to bring up Uncle Tom's Cabin. What I've learned, is that NONE of the snickerers have read it; they are either responding to the "uncle tom" or what they remember of the play from THE KING AND I. It's a book that made me sick to my stomach and enlightened me about race relations for life. It wasn't required reading for me, I just chanced on it when I was 11 years old and hanging out in the library.

    It was an interesting look back on these two books. Their impact and philosophy have been such a part of my core being, that it took a long look back to realize that "my" ideas were actually "there" ideas, wed to my soul.

    Thank you, Rachel and Harriet. You made me who I am today and I hope I carry your legacies proudly.
    Still crazy, after all these shears

    "lambikins, put the crack pipe down and back away from the keyboard." Unklescott

    "lambikins... I have come to the conclusion that you are the Jedi Master of the Kitchen on FORT!" SuperBrat

  2. #42
    Wild thang Rattus's Avatar
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    Feb 2005
    In the trees
    Quote Originally Posted by lambikins View Post
    The most important legacy of Silent Spring, though, was a new public awareness that nature was vulnerable to human intervention. Rachel Carson had made a radical proposal: that, at times, technological progress is so fundamentally at odds with natural processes that it must be curtailed.
    This book has also had a profound effect on the way I live my life. I bike everywhere (no car), I don't use chemical household cleansers or detergent, and my garden and compost are organic. It is the only way this world and future generations will survive and be healthy.
    And so it begins, the end of times..

  3. #43
    Bushbasher JFlo's Avatar
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    Mar 2003
    The soap opera in my head.
    ISHMAEL and THE STORY OF B both by Daniel Quinn. These are not the best written books, but the contents changed my life, because they both spelled out for me exactly where our culture went wrong and why the world is getting worse and worse each day. In a nutshell Quinn claims that the human race naturally and peacefully coexisted with the rest of the natural world for millions of years prior to the birth of totalitarian agriculture (A few thousand years ago). This marked an age where people began to take more than they needed to exist, which in turn caused people to fight over land and overpopulate. Our "taker" culture (not a specific ethnicity, but instead all societies that take and use more than they need) has disturbed the natural balance of this world and actually stilted our own evolution. Now here we are well past the boiling point and really feeling the effects of disturbing the natural order. Since reading these books, I have not looked at the world the same. Sometimes I wish I could go back to be blissfully ignorant. Anyone out there read these books? If so, please tell me how you exist in a "taker" society.
    Stay Gold, JFlo

    "Craft Idea: Want to prevent a rerun of the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of Iran? Just send Britney to the Strait of Hormuz and drop her on the Frigate USS Ingraham." Paparazzi As Unexploited Guardians of Democracy by Cintra Wilson [cintrawilson.com]

  4. #44
    Thinking femme fatale's Avatar
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    Mar 2005
    In a world of my own
    Quote Originally Posted by TwilightxDawns View Post
    There are two for me. 'Go Ask Alice' was the first. It's the diary of a girl who experiments with drugs and becomes addicted several times if I'm correct. And the latest one is more of an inspiration changer. After reading 'Twilight' I have become very attracted to the thought of writing a vampire book myself. I've always loved vampires, but I never could get my thoughts organized enough to write about them. Hopefully there will be a change in the winds for me.
    I totally forgot about Go ask Alice, I read it in High school. It was very well written considering that it was the diary of a teenage girl.

  5. #45
    MRD is offline
    FORT Fogey MRD's Avatar
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    Jan 2005
    somewhere resting
    The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck and A Long Way Up: the Story of Jill Kinmont.

    I was raised in a very small town to a middle class family and these two books really opened my eyes to life outside of my little town and circle of friends.

    The Jill Kinmont book was my first experience learning about anyone with a disability.

    And The Good Earth was just eye opening in the fact that people ACTUALLY LIVED LIKE THIS. I had no clue! I think it made me more aware and more socially and politically active.

    They also encouraged me to seek out other similar books and learn more about life outside of "Pleasantville".

    I've also read several Biographies that had influence in my life.

    An Hour before Daylight by Jimmy Carter also was profound to me.
    Que me amat, amet et canem meum
    (Who loves me will love my dog also)

  6. #46
    FORT Newbie
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    Feb 2006
    To Kill a Mockingbird....read when i was maybe 13 and it's been with me ever since. It's funny how a single book can touch you and change the way you see things forever.

  7. #47
    On a cupcake mission! Lois Lane's Avatar
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    Sep 2005
    Right behind you
    Quote Originally Posted by myrosiedog View Post
    A Long Way Up: the Story of Jill Kinmont.
    I loved that book as well. Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" completely changed my views on meat for a good couple years. <<shudder>>

    I still have a book from my tween years -- "Stars in Her Eyes" by Betty Cavanna. It's about a chubby, clumsy girl who goes to Paris to study for a year, finds herself and also experiences her first love. This book was originally published, I think, in the days when experiencing first love didn't equate to a triple X evening out, so it was a very sweet introduction to dating for a little kid who had crushes -- always from afar.

    Nabakov's "Lolita" blew my mind for a variety of reasons. He wrote the book in English, even though Russian was his native tongue. I speak a few foreign languages badly, and could barely write a book in English! I can't even imagine trying to write one in Russian or French or Japanese ... It also made the reader sympathesize with one of the world's most vile human beings: a pedophile. But he made Humbert Humbert a real person and not just a perv ... But knowing the book makes me cringe every time I hear someone describe a sexy young woman as a "Lolita." The whole sickness/perversion of the book was that Humbert Humbert could've had sexy woman, but he wanted a little girl. And when Lolita grew too old (18, was it?), he couldn't wait for her daughter to be born...

    As much as I love TV (and I LOVE my TV), I'll take a good book over a good TV show any day (IF I had to choose).

  8. #48
    Dreamer rt1ky's Avatar
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    Dec 2004
    Trying to free myself from the snarkside.
    Main Street by Sinclair Lewis - I read this a couple of years ago and I loved it. It's about a young woman who graduates school with lofty goals and aspirations. When she gets married and moves small town America she has to come to grips with her new reality. It really made me think about the choices women make and why we have to make them at all.
    Last edited by rt1ky; 09-26-2006 at 09:59 PM.

  9. #49
    Nevermind Lotuslander's Avatar
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    Feb 2004
    Lotusland of course
    I've read so many of the books mentioned here, including My Side of The Mountain, The Women's Room, Go Ask Alice, ( I hate that they blamed drugs for turning her boyfriend gay though ), The Far Pavillions, The Chosen, To Kill a Mockingbird ( in junior high in the whitest city in Canada ) but the book that changed my life was Cashelmara by Susan Howatch simply because it was the first book I read that had a complicated gay character in it. It's based on Edward the whatever ( the gay king other than Richard the Lionhearted ).

  10. #50
    Bitten Critical's Avatar
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    Oct 2004
    Fangtasia - The Bar With Bite
    I just read through this thread again and immediately thought of another book (probably because Lotuslander mentioned Go Ask Alice and that's a book I read around the same time). I read Death Be Not Proud, John Gunter's memoir about the death of his son, when I was 15. It really made me look at my own mortality for the first time. I think it was the fact that his son Johnny died at 17 that really got to me. You feel so invincible at that age.
    Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.' - Isaac Asimov

    I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates, who said, "... I drank what?"

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