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Thread: The Book That Changed Your Life

  1. #51
    FORT Fogey cricketeen's Avatar
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    I almost feel silly. The book that changed me was not profound at all. It was the book version of the movie Jeremy starring Glynnis O'Connor and Robby Benson. It wasn't the content of the book at all. I was in ninth grade and the teacher was taking Scholastic book orders. She stipulated that anyone who ordered that book needed a note from a parent giving permission (today, it would probably be rated PG13). Then she approached me after class and told me I didn't need a note, that she knew my reading level and maturity, and that I could handle it. I had attended Catholic school up to that year, and I had brought a lot of "teacher baggage" to public school with me. Having a teacher express that much confidence in me was huge, and from that point on, throughout high-school, I always made a conscious decision, when choosing books, to read far beyond grade level.
    You could argue that it was the teacher who changed me, but if not for that book, the conversation would have never taken place. Thank you Marjorie Majors.
    "If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough." - Mario Andretti

  2. #52
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    I think I'd have to put two on my list. First, I'll join the chorus for To Kill a Mockingbird. NOt only is it just an incredible story and statement on life, but it was the first book I had to read for a class that I adored. Up until then, I'd thought that great literature was nothing but a bunch of stupid boring books that mean English teachers forced you to suffer through. I skimmed all my reading assignments. When I had to read To Kill a Mockingbird, it sucked me right in. I read every word on every page, and went back to read it again when my class was done studying it. That book transformed the word "literature" for me.

    The second book would be The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night. I have a friend whose son has the same form of autism as the boy in that book, and he's the reason I read it in the first place. He and I have always had a good relationship, but that book is written in such a masterful way that it allowed me to "get him" in an entirely new light. I've been able to communicate with him better, and have grown closer to him because of that book.

  3. #53
    FORT Fogey candor's Avatar
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    My, Veruka, we have something in common. "To Kill a Mockingbird" absolutely changed my life, and informed my values to this day. Now pass the damn ham.

  4. #54
    Fight Queen corprip's Avatar
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    Early in my adolescence, the first book that really changed my life was "No One Here Gets Out Alive", a biography of Jim Morrison. I read it after seeing the Oliver Stone movie, and it added more depth to an enigmatic character that Stone made out to be almost cartoonish. It inspired me to start pkaying bass and form a band with my friends. Hehe.. to think of those days is almost embarassing. I went from normal, dorky kid to neo-hippie almost overnight.

    Two other books changed my life when I was a young(er) adult. HP Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine, and Alice Bailey's Esoteric Astrology (with her Treatise on White Magic in near third). Those books greatly informed my general attitude on life, religion, and even politics. I was going through a deep soul searching, and those books really helped me find an anchor in a vast sea of thought and philosophy.
    "I've got soul, but I'm not a soldier." The Killers.

  5. #55
    FORT Biscuit VeronicaBelle27's Avatar
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    Hmmm... I'll agree with those upthread who mentioned Johnny Got His Gun. Phenomenal Story. Whoa. And of course, I only picked it up because of the Metallica Video (I'd read anything my idols thought was worthy). I was in eighth grade when I read this, and mom did not relish my chosen reading material, but my parents and teachers never held me back. I was reading at 4 and had been a 99th-percentile kid since , and while my mom refused to let me watch violent cartoons and TV, she would never ban a book.

    I also agree with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn... THE best book about the melting pot of American culture, as further defined in New York City.

    I think Go Ask Alice was a wonderful book, and I kind of resented the information of it being fictional so long after its publication...that was more of a downer than the book itself.

    My absolute favorite book of my teenage years, that I read over and over and over was "I Never Promised You A Rose Garden"... I was always (and still am) obsessed with books and movies that deal with mental illness, and I thought this book was gripping.

    Another book, while not life changing, was certainly eye-opening, was the Kitchen God's Wife, by Amy Tan.... opened my eyes to a whole new world at a young age.

    In college I did all that deep, dark, heavy reading, Nietzche, Jung, Burroughs, and Plath and Shakespeare and the like, but since then, not so much..

    A few years ago, I read a book called "Little Mama's Rules" by Sheneska Jackson. It starts out as a mostly-lightweight read, then hits you with a brick when she is diagnosed with HIV. What follows is an insightful read about how her life went on after everything changed. It did not pander to the reader, but it didn't lay it on harshly over and over. Life went on, but was never the same, and the weaving of sickness and her new mentality infused with the day-to-day issues of life stuck with me long after I finished the book. I wouldn't necessarily call it life-changing, but it has certainly stuck with me as a book of importance since I finished it.

    I resisted, kicking and screaming, reading Lord of the Flies. Once I did, I loved it, and am now always willing to give a book a try for a few chapters... so it was life-changing in that respect...thanks to Miss A, who I will always remember fondly.

    I also remember other books as being harbingers of milestones. I've fondly remembered Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret and Forever, by Judy Blume as being the reference books for certain times of life. I remember reading these books (illicitly, with my best friend, hiding them underneath our mattresses) in preparation way before I was going to be "needing them"...
    Last edited by VeronicaBelle27; 09-28-2006 at 06:13 PM.
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  6. #56
    FORT Fogey Leftcoaster's Avatar
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    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
    It taught me to embrace twistedness rather than deny it.

    But seriously, folks...

    I'm inclined for whatever reason to approach "changed your life" as designating something of more elevated stature than need be, associating it with a profound shift, but thats too limiting.

    One representative title which opened my eyes/changed my life that comes to mind is An Island Called California. This book and others like it expanded my awareness of and appreciation for the natural world that surrounds and lies beneath us, and opened doors to linking subjects that I may or may not have stumbled through otherwise. Even had I done so, I likely wouldn't have viewed them with the same sense of connectivity lacking the descriptive abilities of authors writing popular science books for the masses.

    Two choices mentioned earlier that I'd like to validate are The Chosen and Ishmael. Ishmael is a book that actually can change a life, depending on how receptive the reader is.

    Heck, I consider an innumerable number of books as life changing, but generally instead of the entire book, it is smaller bites like a chapter, paragraph or even a single sentence that provide the shifting prompt, and the change is more often evolutionary than immediate.

    One book worthy of mentioning that I always associate with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas because it possessed the same power to cause me to irrepressively laugh while reading or recollecting whether time appropriate or not is P.S. Your Cat Is Dead, a hilariously dark and sweet unconventional love story by James Kirkwood.

  7. #57
    would rather be cruising! marybethp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by suncat7 View Post
    While I love the works of A.A. Milne and Beatrix Potter, I have to say the book that changed my life (as a reader) was "Ramona the Pest" by Beverly Cleary. That's when I discovered reading ALL the books by a particular author. My favorite by her was, and still is, "Socks". (about a kitty, naturally.) I still have my childhood copy, and read through it once in a while. Her books are what got me obsessed with book COLLECTIONS.

    *I still remember the moment in the library when I realized she wrote OTHER books than Ramona....I pulled every one of them off the shelf and carted them to the librarian, only to be told I could only check out TWO at a time.*

    While I've read many many books that have affected me, influenced me, educated me, I still have to choose "Ramona the Pest."
    Sunny I could have written this post. It's funny now, because my daughter is an avid reader and has just started the Ramona books. We were at the library just today and I pulled out Ramona the Pest and it was written in 1968 (I was born in 1969). Claire couldn't believe how old (??!!) it was!!

    I adored her books and between that and the Judy Blume books, while obviously not as deep as most of the choices on this thread, absolutely began my love of reading.

    I also loved and read (and re-read about 100 times) The Pigman by Paul Zindel. Loved that book.

  8. #58
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    I was an early avid reader so it's hard to go back and think of one book now... so many of the ones you all mentioned influenced me at some point--interesting that Black Like Me was mentioned by so many when you don't really hear of it today (unlike To Kill a Mockingbird).
    To pick just a couple that haven't been mentioned, Day of the Triffid started me on my enjoyment of what my kids and I call apolcalypse fiction and my tendency to try to acquire craft skills that would be useful in a low tech world--can you guess why I first watched Survivor? (which of course is very little about surviving, but who knew?) And Star Beast, one of Heinlein's teen fiction books, was my very first SF book, and the one that led me to the revelation Suncat refers to, that authors write more than one book!! Only several years later though.
    I really know more about influential books from watching my kids become readers--we knew we were successful parents when we caught them reading in bed under the covers with a flashlight after lights out! We read Star Beast to our kids at the point when they were just about to become independent readers and it got them started on the SF trail, too. That same summer we were driving across the country and while one of us drove the other either snoozed or read to the kids...my S. O. read a child's biography of Hitler (they are both still interested in WWII history) and I read them Gone with the Wind, which was the first really really long book I had read. They were both so enthralled that they started reading ahead in it when my SO was in snooze mode. And boys at that. There are many, many negative things one can say about GWTW, especially about its depiction of slavery (and we talked to the kids about that), but it also was way ahead of its time in its ridiculing of the traditional gender roles (e.g., eating lunch before the party so one will have a feminine appetite) that Scarlett manipulated so coldbloodedly, and its images of the devastation that war leaves in its wake, whether a justified war or not, and those were burned in my 8th grade mind.
    Others I shared with them and they loved at an early age....Rite of Passage, a fantastic grown up SF book with a feisty young heroine by Panshin, that you can pretty much only get 2ndhand these days--makes you really think about crosscultural differences, ecology and sustainibility [sp?], and my older son's obsessively re-read The BFG, (the big friendly giant).
    I also really loved Stranger in a Strange Land (I agree, clearly a Christ figure) for its varied view of gender relationships, I also loved The Moon is a Harsh Mistress for the same, and for its ecology views.

  9. #59
    TV Fanatic leogirl_21's Avatar
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    Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. That really did a number on me. It really teaches so much about life and lessons that we learn, things that we do and tells us that we are never too old to learn nor are we ever too wise. Life needs to be lived to the fullest.
    Remember that you only live once, and if you do it just right, once is just enough.

    BE the change you wish to see in the world. - M. Gandhi

  10. #60
    Rock Stars! bbnbama's Avatar
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    I have to admit I feel slightly foolish for coming into a thread called "The book that changed your life"

    I have always been a big reader but my books were more for entertainment value than learning value, tho inevitably I did learn from each and every book I've read.

    I can look back and think of books and they would describe where I was in my life at that time.

    When I was young, I can remember one of my parents taking me to the library weekly and I would check out 8 books of either The Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew books and I would devour them over the week and then go back and check out more the following week. I can also remember being given the entire set of Little House on the Prairie books from my aunt and reading them all in a matter of days.

    When I was in my teenage years I can remember reading the trashy romance novels or the Jackie Collins books and dream of having that torrid, unabashed and passionate love.

    I went through my Stephen King stage where he would keep me up all night reading books and scaring the life out of me.

    When I was pregnant with my son, I was given a illustrated short book called "Love you Forever" by Robert N. Munsch and Sheila McGraw. I sobbed for days whenever I thought about that book and still to this day I cannot get through reading the entire book without sobbing (not crying but actually sobbing!). Its a beautiful book.

    A funny memory involving a book: When my son started kindergarten, they had a parents night at the beginning of the school year where only the parents would go to the teachers room and she would explain to you her rules and what she expected. Well, here we are in this kindergarten class and all us parents are having to sit in these little bitty chairs at these little bitty tables and she pulls out this book that she wants to read to us. It was called "The Kissing Hand" by Audrey Penn. Its a story about a raccoon that doesn't want to go to school and the mom convinces him and she kisses the inside of his paw so that whenever he gets lonely during school all he has to do is press that paw to his cheek and he will feel the warmth of his mom's kiss. Well let me tell you...I sat in that room at that little bitty table in that little bitty chair and the tears rolled down my face. I know that teacher had to think "oh no what kind of parent am I stuck with!"

    In my adult life, I've went through the series of "Left Behind" books. They helped me to understand the bible in ways that I can't grasp by reading the actual bible.

    Its hard for me to think of one book or even several books that have changed my life but books have always been a big part of my life. Thanks for everyone listing their books...I think I'm going to start to try and read some of these books too!
    Reality is the beginning...not the end....Wallace Stevens

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