Nathan Bransford, Author


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What Book Most Changed Your Life?

First up, speaking of changing lives, there is still time to leave a comment for a great cause! Check out Monday's post, where every comment means $1.00 for Heifer International. There are many other great blogs participating, and please consider making your own pledge! Whatever amount you decide.

Meanwhile, one of the things I love about the holidays is that they seem like a time of possibility. Maybe it's the crisp air, the lights, the tradition, or the spreading of goodwill, but it is definitely a time where life feels a little more magical.

And to that end, I thought I'd bring this around to magical books: which one most changed your life?

I would personally have to go with Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I just never knew books could be that funny, and reading it in high school literally opened up a whole new universe.

What about you?






171 comments:

Rebecca T. said...

There are SO many books that have impacted me over my life, but the first one would have to be Little Women. It was the first book I cried over and shortly after that I took my first attempt at writing a novel. I was amazed that people in a book could affect me so deeply.

ibc4 said...

Mine was Susan Hill's "I'm the King of the Castle".

Although many books have deepened my love of literature - including LOTR, Iain Banks's Wasp Factory/Walking On Glass, Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh, Pratchett's Discworld - Hill's work was the one that reached into my mind and laid out my innermost thoughts onto a page.

Loved it. Still do.

Bittersweet Fountain said...

I'm going to go with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

It's not just that it opened my eyes to Fantasy (only read Science Fiction before this), it's that I was suddenly a part of something. I was always the girl who read a lot, but suddenly every one else was reading too--and talking about it! Suddenly I belonged.

Harry Potter changed my generation, and it changed me. I was in the seventh grade when I picked up the Sorcerer's Stone, and I have no regrets. :)

Cameron Chapman said...

For me, it would have to be Atlas Shrugged. It had such a profound experience on me, and really solidified my outlook on a lot of things, and put into words things I'd always kind of felt but had never been able to express.

Kenner R. McQuaid said...

In grade school/high school it was definitely The Chocolate War and Of Mice and Men.

Recently, I'd say Grisham's non-fiction work The Innocent Man, Edward Abbey's Desert Solitare and the obligatory On the Road.

LS said...

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut.
Something about that book opened my eyes up to the world of possibilities and showed me that life was bigger than my own little sixteen year old world.

CKHB said...

There are so many, I don't know where to begin...

In elementary school, there was the epic fantasy and amazing world-building and characters of The Hobbit and Watership Down.

In junior high, there was classic dystopia like 1984/Animal Farm/Brave New World, and my dad gave me his copy of Salinger's 9 Stories.

In college, there was John Irving's Setting Free The Bears, and The World According to Garp (and all his early works, really). Hemingway's short stories.

In law school, there was A Farewell to Arms.

In the end, I keep coming back to The Cider House Rules. My husband would answer Zorba the Greek.

Rena said...

I think I'd have to say the Little House series. Those books really helped me build a love for reading, which opened the door to many, many other great books.

cheekychook said...

The Diary of Anne Frank. I read it when I was ten. Amazing that a girl so young could impact the lives of so many with her thoughts and words.

Andrea said...

Nausea. but before that was A Clockwork Orange. When I read that I knew that anything was possible with books. And books like House of Leaves remind me of that fact.

Jessica said...

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. Before that I didn't know you could twist fairy tales so much and make stories so fun and interesting and that book is still the one I turn to for a good read.

Lisa Kilian said...

A Friend in the business; Honest Advice for Anyone Trying to Break into Television Writing by Robert Masello

The book's almost unheard of and I'm not trying to break into television writing at all, but this was the most serendipitous find of my life.

I came across it while I was shelving books at my library and couldn't put it down after I read the first paragraph. He's really funny and very honest and he did more for my writing ego than anyone else could have. After I read that book, I got serious about my work.

Mr. Masello, if you're out there.... THANK YOU!

Kelbian Naidoo said...

Is Kindred considered magical? It was to my sixteen year old mind. I'll never forget that read. It started something that will never be stopped :)

Cat Moleski said...

I feel like every book I read changes me at least a little. When I was a kid, reading was a refuge from my everyday life. Each book took me to a new world and let me live a different life from mine. I learned real life lessons from some of them and just escaped with others.

My parents had shelves full of all kinds of books, medical, fiction, adult, child, non-fiction. I loved having a library of paperbacks at home to choose from. I hope that kind of access never disappears.

Nikki said...

Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke changed my life and got me started on my love affair with Sci-fi. I am glad my high school english teacher chose this with the normal classics normally assigned.

Kiki said...

The Bell Jar, it was as it says in the book itself "like a secret voice speaking straight from my bones".

J said...

LOTR.

The first "big" book (or books?) I ever read. I learned big books could be cool.

Plus, the first (maybe only?) time I read a book and was "there." I invested emotionally. Big lesson in the power of books.

"Three rings for the elven-kings under the sky..."

Terry Albert said...

Black Beauty- my love of horses and dedication to rescue and preventing animal cruelty started right then and there. I was probably 10 years old.

Susan Antony said...

Most recently The Twilight series. I had succumbed to the rat race. Work, work, work for money 24/7. The series reminded me that there is pleasure in reading, and it also inspired me to follow my dreams and become a writer.

Author Aleja Bennett said...

Wow! Being an author of self help-inspiration-motivation and spirituality makes it hard to decide on my favorite book. Only The Strong can Survive was the first out of seven books that I've published and that book started the drastic changes in my life. The last seventh book All I can Do Is Stand made drastic changes right before God told me to write it. He had to prepare me for such a powerful book of inspiration that it just filled me with so much positive energy. It led me to write Part two to All I can Do Is Stand. What amazes me is how we can turn a life that was full of open wounds and watch then start to close. Awesome-just amazing, I'm glad to be a survivor because the voices that are no longer here I will be their voice. To the abused-victims-addicts-runaways-depressed there is hope in standing. http://tinyurl.com/32wwg3f

Nicole L. M. Jurkowki, Esq. said...

Magic's Pawn - Mercedes Lackey.

Not only was it my introduction to fantasy and medieval culture, but I became fascinated with sword fighting (fencing) as well. Considering I ended up going to Nationals and two Junior Olympics tournaments with my fencing, I'd say it was a winner. In addition, my best friend and I started writing our own fantasy novels, and it's taken me to college and law school seeing my manuscript through - not to mention the latin degree and the medieval reenactment society along the way. So much for one little book!

Jay said...

Chesterton's Orthodoxy

Anonymous said...

Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs. It made my imagination soar. And made me want to write.

RobynBradley said...

I remember my heart thump-thump thumping when I read Bradbury's short story "The Veldt." I was probably in 5th or 6th grade? Also, "Tiger Eyes" by Judy Blume. Oh, and I remember being wowed by Elie Wiesel's "Night" in high school. And, of course, "The Little Prince." As an adult, Jo Ann Beard's "The Fourth State of Matter" made me want to write personal essays. And Jodi Picoult's "My Sister's Keeper" showed me what to do with all the voices in my head. Mostly. :)

monkeybethmedia said...

There are so many, but the one that continually changes me is The Alchemist. It seems so simple, but every time I read it I learn something profound.

I believe books find you when you need to read them and The Alchemist certainly found me at the right time. That beautiful fable helped me to pursue my own personal legend and take risks.

M.E. Pickett said...

I have to admit that I kind of hate the phrase "life changing" when applied to most books. I think that in order for something to be life changing it has to drastically alter your life, i.e. your behavior, your circumstances, your trajectory. While I spend a lot of time reading fiction, I don't know if any of it has done that. A lot of great books have impacted me, and have made my life more meaningful and rich, but haven't actually changed it.

With that said, I will name two books that have fulfilled my criteria for "life changing" status:
THE BIBLE and THE BOOK OF MORMON.

Nicole said...

Anne McCaffrey's Dragonflight. It made me believe and kick-started my own writing. I devoured the Pern series and began seeing dragons everywhere. :)

I have an old battered copy from my school library where I checked it out in 7th grade. I kept it all year, and I think the library staff must have taken pity on the crazy reader girl, because they let me keep it once school was done!

Leila said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leila said...

There were so many.

The scariest, yet eye opening impact (as a teenager) was 1984, George Orwell.

Otherwise I think Catch 22, Joseph Heller, and Hitchhiker's Guide are a tie for me.

christine said...

The little house series
Diary of Anne Frank
A New Earth

onefinemess said...

The Illuminatus Trilogy, read at some point between HS & College (in the 90s).

Laurie Boris said...

Gail Parent's "Sheila Levine is Dead and Living in New York." I read it over and over as a young teen, and knew that this was exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up...(a novelist, not a suicidal Jewish woman.)

Lena Coakley said...

I remember pulling Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges off a shelf at a friend's summer house when I was about twenty. The reaction I had was physical--like a kind of shock. I didn't know fiction could do that! I wanted to write like this! Of course what I didn't know was that many young writers decide they want to write like Borges and ten years later realize that it's impossible--no one but Borges can write like Borges!

dwkazzie said...

The Stand by Stephen King.

I remember reading it for the first time in December 1993, while I was home from college for Christmas, and since then, my goal has become to write something people loved as much as I loved that book.

Rick Daley said...

At risk of sounding narcissistic, my first novel FATE'S GUARDIAN changed my life more than any other book.

While it remains in a state of revision, and it's relegated to the back-burner for the time being, it is the work that inspired me to take a serious shot at writing. It set me on a quest for publication, and that path took me to this blog, which introduced me to many other online writing resources and a number of cyber-friends.

This blog also introduced me to my agent, who helped me get book number 3 in shape to submit (NOTE: a very long exercise in patience, this submission thingy).

Although I haven't been published yet, I did have the chance to read book 3 to my son's 3rd grade class, and after the laughter subsided, several non-reader / non-writers in the class took pencil to paper and wrote me fan-fiction. That was when I realized how cool writing can be, and the impact it can have on others. (See, I care about others. Take THAT, narcissism!)

Book 3, titled RUDY TOOT-TOOT, is a 16,500-word chapter book about a boy with a special power, almost like a super hero: he can fart. It comes natural when you're born on a bean farm.

But after one monstrous emission scares all the customers away from the family bean market, Rudy must learn to use his special power at the right place and the right time to lure the customers back and keep the bank from taking their home.

Katherine Hyde said...

C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia, Space Trilogy, and Mere Christianity changed my life most radically, convincing me you don't have to be stupid to be a Christian.

I also have to include Anna Karenina (serious lessons about relationships), Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale (little people can make a big difference), and Lief Enger's Peace Like a River (it is possible to write incredible fiction with God in it, even today).

Pete Witte said...

Coming from white guy in his thirties, it may sound weird, but the book that most changed my life was the Autobiography of Malcolm X (as told to Alex Haley). I didn't grow up a voracious reader and I didn't particularly love writing. But when I picked up his autobiography, and read about how he evolved throughout his life experiences, I became intrigued with him and books in general. I read more about him. I read more books from that time period. I read more books about African Americans. And I read continued reading more and more. I suppose this explanation doesn't make perfect sense, but somehow I fell in love with books when reading his autobiography. And books, reading, and writing have "changed my life."

The Red Angel said...

I think either the Harry Potter series (I practically grew up with these witches and wizards!) or My Sister's Keeper (extremely powerful and moving) by Jodi Picoult were most influential in my life.

~TRA

http://xtheredangelx.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Look Homeward Angel

BL Bonita said...

That would be Ashes in the Wind by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. I believe it was the first romance I'd ever read and from there my imagination took me into my own world-building romance. After some time my work shifted to a more erotic flavor.

And I wouldn't change a thing! *g*

Hannah Jenny said...

Wow . . . only one?

Peter Pan in some ways formed my childish brain to fantasy, escapism, adventure--that is still who I am and what I love.

The Lord of the Rings taught me just how much it is possible for me to love a book, gave me a model of what I most want to write like (not that I don't have plenty of other influences!), and taught me that not all endings must be 100% happy for the book to be worthwhile.

Inkheart brought me back to fantasy when I had tried to stray into writing other things (for the record: I can't write anything but fantasy. I have now accepted this) and showed me that it is possible in the modern day to be quite influenced by all the lovely books before you and still say something original.

whew . . . I have never learned how to be brief with words :)

Theodore Q. Rorschalk said...

Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel. Prior to that novel, I was a fantasy/adventure geek. Nothing wrong with that, but for some reason that book vaulted me into the classic literature genre and I've been on that track ever since.

Mira said...

Cool question. :)

I know I've said this before here, but LOTR trilogy helped me survive my childhood. I read them over and over. Not only as an escape, the values in that world of heroism, self-sacrifice, character development and courage helped form me. Immersing myself in that world got me through, and there will never be any books that mean as much to me.

In writing, Brenda Ueland's "If you want to write" is the most inspirational and permission giving book I've read, and it's my touchstone whenever I have doubts about this writing thing.

In college - Alexis De Toquville's Democracy in America opened my eyes to evaluation and change on a grand societal level. A weird choice, I know, but it was a major impact.

That's just the tip of the iceberg!!! So hard to leave it at just three, when you only asked for one! :)

Eddie said...

As pretentious or whatever as it sounds, my answer has to be Plato's Republic. I had to pull an all-nighter to read it for a college course 5 years ago, and I still am amazed at how that book changed everything in one night. Plato didn't put much stock in the written word, interestingly enough, but his Republic will always remind me of the transformative power that books can have.

Bryan Russell (Ink) said...

The Hobbit, most definitely, trailed closely by Infinite Jest. For very different reasons, needless to say.

adam.purple said...

I have to say The Fountainhead. I don't agree with Rand's philosophy or politics, but The Fountainhead exposed me the heady idea that it was ok to trust my own mind, and that I should use it well.

Sierra McConnell said...

Every one I read.

Because from the moment I pick it up, it has altered my timeline. Never again will I be the person I was before I picked up that book. There will be words and phrases that will stay with me. Characters that I carry along. Feelings that stick to my bones and make me just a little bit different.

I have been touched by the pages, changed irreperably, and never again the same as I was before. Regardless if the book was good or bad.

I couldn't possibly put that on the spine of just /one/ book. All of the books have cut into me like a thousand paper cuts, molding and shaping me into the person I am today.

Books are, after all, just the same as people. You just have to be able to speak their language.

The Invisible Writer said...

Louise Lowry's "Number the Stars" turned me into a reader.

Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" turned me into a Libertarian.

Other books have been important to me (1984, Brave New World, Animal Farm) or simply enjoyable (Fablehaven, The Book Thief, Hunger Games), but only those two count as "Life Changers" besides holy script...

Anonymous said...

Angela's Ashes taught me that you can read such misery and still laugh. Such a rare and wonderful gift McCourt had: the magic of laughing through tears

Geoff said...

A few come to mind:

I read The Hobbit for the first time in 7th grade and loved it. But that was sort of about the time I stopped reading for a long while. It happens to a lot of teenage boys, I guess. A few years ago when I deciding to take this writing thing seriously I knew I'd have to learn to love reading again. I went back to The Hobbit first because I remembered enjoying it so much. It again sparked my imagination the same as it had when I was young, and to this day I'd say it's my favorite book.

R.L. Stein's Goosebumps series really impacted my imagination as a child and shaped the wild stories I would come up in in my head.

Neil Gaimen's Stardust really showed me that illustrated books and graphics novels have no limits. Something with pictures can still be gorgeous, thought-provoking, funny, and wonderfully written. I see the lesson of Stardust (and of Neil in general) as: present the story however it calls to be presented. Don't put your stories in a box, let them tell you how they should be written. That's impacted all of my writing.

Merry Christmas, Nathan and Happy Holidays you all!

Jon said...

Many books have. Interesting question because I just wrote a post about 4 books this past year which led me to take some action afterwards. Two of those were The Art of Non-Conformity and The Happiness Hypothesis. Both led me to do new things, to explore more. I love books that plant a seed and then take on a life within you.

Jenny said...

Two books:

1. Just As Long As We're Together by Judy Blume showed me that friendship is and important relationship that takes work.

2. The Babysitter by R.L. Stine--I was babysitting and it scared the living bejeezus outta me. Showed me that stories can cause real emotional reactions!

Sudam said...

I started late but one book changed my focus. The Guide by R K Narayan. In the meanwhile read many books but this is my first book that i read and thought to write something. The something though is yet to come still i love this book.

thanks

Corrie Wachob said...

A Prayer for Owen Meany is the one that made me think I could be a writer. I started that week. I don't know if I should thank John Irving or not, but that's pretty life changing. :)

Kristina said...

The Neverending Story. It was the first big book I ever read. My mom forced me to read it and it took 6 months because, at the time, I hated reading. Then I finished it and realized how wonderful reading is, and I've been hooked ever since. :)

Teralyn Rose Pilgrim said...

Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher. It's the first chapter book I remember reading, and I read it around the same time I decided to be an author. It literally sent me on a path that defined who I am and the life I would live. It's a little insane how much a book can change someone.

salima said...

Hermann Hesse's Narcissus and Goldmund.:) Hesse introduced my idealistic fifteen-year-old mind to what was possible in life and, as cheesy as it sounds, that my dreams could manifest. 'Cause school certainly wasn't teaching me that. :)

Kristin Laughtin said...

SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE. I was an avid reader before reading this in high school, but somehow it was the first book that made me realize what could be done with words.

Becca said...

Almost every book I read changed my life in some way. But I'd have to say Lois Duncan's Stranger with my Face, (with John Green's Looking for Alaska coming in a close second.)

This book opened up a new genre for me. It introduced me to a type of story I'm more attracted to, and helped me realize I wanted to be a writer.

Jeigh said...

I don't know if I'd call them "life-changing", but "The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle" by Avi had a huge impact on me as a child.

"The Two Princesses of Bamarre" by Gail Carson Levine really inspires me as a writer.

And C.S. Lewis' "The Last Battle" gave me a lot to think about.

N.A. said...

The Bean Trees - Barbara Kingsolver.

I must have been about twelve when I read it - and I really liked it. Not necessarily because of the story at all, but because it was the first time reading a book was like sitting down to hear a story being told RIGHT AT THAT MOMENT.

That experience is what I still look for as a reader - reading that feels like listening.

As an adult, I've found that much more often in short stories than novels.

Taryn Tyler said...

Lloyd Alexander's Westmark trylogy. Without a doubt.

Sarah said...

Though there have been hundred of books that changed me, I think the books I read when I was about ten years old probably had the most influence.

The first one was Jane Eyre. The character is so well written, I felt like I had finally found someone I could relate to. I identified with Jane and she made it alright for me to be strange, quiet, thoughtful, ordinary-looking, and creative. Still love her!

The other one was the Lord of the Rings series, because it showed me exactly how large a world can become within the confines of a novel. That one probably got me started wanting to be a writer.

IanBontems said...

I think it has to be The Lord of the Rings for me.
When I read them aged 10, they opened my eyes to the how books could take you far away and work on an amazing scale.

A.C. Tidwell said...

Richard Dawkins The God Delusion and Don Quixote. I read DQ a year ago for grad school and it made me appreciate Spanish writers all over again. Dawkins book was the first of its kind that made sense to me. Twice in the first twenty pages I went to my wife and said "listen to this" or "you've gotta hear this" I've never been that excited before.

Stephanie said...

Not to sound boastful, but writing my own novel "Warring with Emeralds." I never intended it to be a 550 page novel--it was just supposed to be a fun little short story--but it changed me, opened my eyes to so many things, revealing my true self.
But if I had to pick a book not my own, it is without a doubt "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" by Jaime Ford. I've never cried so much reading one book. I never knew Americans put Japanese in concentration camps, and it broke my heart to learn this.

John said...

Frank Herbert's DUNE revealed that I wanted to be a writer in 1984. Oddly, it was the movie and the sequels. I didn't read the book until 1996.

J. T. Shea said...

The Bible. A fairly obvious choice, but it certainly changed my life the most, along with the lives of billions of other people, many of whom never read it, and not always for the better. Apart from that, anything by C. S. Lewis. Also TOXIC PSYCHIATRY by Dr. Peter Breggin, the title being self-explanatory.

I'm doubtful about HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY. The last time I went hitchhiking across the galaxy with it I got lost near Alpha Centauri...

AnnabelleOsborne said...

The Everafter by Amy Huntley, that book changed the way I looked at life and death. Not long before reading it I lost a loved one and this book helped me feel much better about it. I really think everyone should try it. Even though it's very sad I think it's a great book.

Mark Terry said...

This is surprisingly easy for me. "Fear Itself: The Horror Fiction of Stephen King" edited by Tim Underwood and Chuck Miller. But that's actually not as specific as this actually is. From that book, there's a Foreword by Stephen King titled "On Becoming A Brand Name."

I read this in college. It was between my junior and senior year. I was finishing up a BSc in microbiology & public health. I was struck by the fact that one didn't necessarily go to school to become a writer (specifically a novelist), but one wrote.

And so, inspired, I wrote an SF short story. And a year or so later I tried my hand at a novel.

And now, some 24 years or so after reading that book and that essay, I am a full-time freelance writer, editor, novelist and ghostwriter. With 10 novels published, one nonfiction book, several short stories and well over 600 articles, etc.

That's life changing.

Barbara's Spot on the Blog said...

The book that changed my life was The Splendid Art of Decorating Eggs by Rosemary Disney. I read it many times as a child and then as a teenager I read it again and from the directions in the book learned to make the Faberge-like eggs. Then I started my first business as an artist. I was 19 and it was awesome. I learned so much from that whole experience. I'm forever grateful to that author for sharing her knowledge.

Emy Shin said...

It's definitely the Harry Potter series, for me. It isn't my favorite series of all time, but it gave me the love for writing. :)

write4chocolate said...

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I first read it at age 15 and it had a profound impact on my thinking about the poor, justice, and what it means to be a humanitarian. During my PhD program I chose French as my required language so I could read the original.

Nicole L Rivera said...

How to Eat Fried Worms. When, Mrs. Jenkins, my forth-grade teacher read it I fell in love with books. Then I went through my rebellious middle-school years and stopped reading. In high school Harry Potter pulled me back in. Post-highschool horrific romance pulled me away and then The Left Behind series brought me back in. So I owe my love of writing and the dozens of books I read a year to three books: How to Eat Fried Worms, Harry Potter Series, and The Left Behind Series.

lexcade said...

The Island of Dr. Moreau by HG Wells. It inspired the novel I'm querying and propelled me into wanting to write for a living. Changed EVERYTHING.

D.G. Hudson said...

Books have changed my way of thinking and through that, have changed how I look at life in general.

ON THE ROAD - Jack Kerouac - made me realize I needed to see more of the world. I wanted to see the places I read about. (in college)

THE HOBBIT - Tolkien - made me remember the world of fantasy with Elves, fairies, and the like. Elves, swords, magic - what's not to like? (late teen years)

Asimov's FOUNDATION, any novel in that series, but the first one in particular made me realize my favorite thing to read is science fiction stories written in the epic manner.

Books have played a major role in my life, as has writing. Books can change the way we perceive - and help us grow into a more tolerant species. Maybe.

Great question.

Backfence said...

Aside from The Bible – two come to mind. Both reflect the writers’ optimism and belief that there is good in the world, despite the horrendous vantage point from which each sees it. 1) The Diary of Anne Frank, and 2) Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. Also The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker gets honorable mention. Good, sound advice on how learning to listen to your instincts could save your life.

patlaff said...

I used to hate reading. Then I read Bonfire of the Vanities.

I was in high school in southeastern Connecticut (a distant suburb of NYC) when the whole Tawana Brawley and Rev. Al Sharpton fiasco gripped the city (if not the nation). Ten years later while on vacation somewhere, I read Bonfire of the Vanities and realized, in awe, how an author can manipulate the real, raw emotions of the reader to create a unique, powerful emotional tie to his work of fiction. The book must have been 700 pages and I would have kept reading for another 700 had Tom Wolfe not decided to move on to his next project by tying everything up in the epilogue.

It, more than any other book, changed my life.

Book Bird Dog said...

The Once and Future King by T. H. White certainly got my imagination rolling.... as well as the books of C. S. Lewis.

Anonymous said...

I'd have to say, when I was younger, it was The Lord of The Rings trilogy. The book was so expansive and rich and it opened up a whole new world to me (well, it was Middle Earth).

Nowadays, I'd have to admit to The Twilight series. I know they aren't the best written or the most imaginative but the books strike an undefinable chord within me. So much so, that I've read the books over and over.

Stasia said...

As a little girl, BALLET SHOES - Noel Streatfeild. As a teen, OF HUMAN BONDAGE - W. Somerset Maugham. As a writer, CRANK - Ellen Hopkins and THE FLYING CHANGE - Henry Taylor.

DesertComet said...

The Giver was probably the first novel I ever read and liked. It got me to read fiction.

Ender's Game was the first time I read a book that made me think and that really resonated with me. I remember reading it in high school and then deciding that I didn't want to be a writer anymore. It was so good and I felt that nothing I would ever write would be even a sixteenth as good as that. For whatever reason that discouraged me for a while, lol.

The last one is The Catcher in the Rye. I won't go into details but Holden thought the exact same way I did as a teenager. The book became a lens that let me look at my childhood, make peace with it, and move on.

Books are amazing. Not only can they be incredibly entertaining but they can open your eyes to new possibilities and show you things you never could have seen before. Reading through all the comments and seeing how different books have touched people's lives has been great!

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I'd like to say it was one of the classics, like Pride and Prejudice or I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. But actually it was Jen Lancaster's first memoir, Bitter is the New Black. She was one of the first writers I ever read who was totally neurotic and obsessive but made these qualities seem hilarious. I also liked that in her memoir she didn't try to portray herself as an innocent victim or as the perfect heroine; instead she portrayed herself as a real person that I could relate to, someone I would want to be friends with. Reading her books makes me want to write even more.

Kath said...

Podcayne of Mars. A revelation that the protagonist could be strong, funny, smart, engaging, three dimensional, and female.
Kath
kath-lettersfromearth.blogspot.com

Down the well said...

Weird choice for a girl maybe, but My Side Of The Mountain by Jean Craighead George changed my life. Seriously, the book ricocheted my life in a direction that lasted until well past college. It influenced what degree I sought, where I live, and how I view the natural world around me.

Fenris said...

As one of the younger generation, I'd probably have to go with the first 'Harry Potter' book. I read it when I was about seven, after a friend of mine told me I looked like the main character.

The fantastical, somewhat whimsical voice impacted me especially at that age, since my imagination was still unfettered by petty things like realism. And since I was younger than the age of "acceptance" in the book, I frequently dreamt of getting a letter from Hogwarts myself -- hey, I was seven!

Now that I've started writing, nearly ten years later, I look back and realize that the HP series impacted me more than I thought, as I've found myself adopting a bit of Rowling's writing style, and even a bit of the voice. So it's with confidence that I can say "Harry Potter and the Sorceror's/Philosopher's Stone" was easily the book to leave the biggest impression on me.

So of course, I now write fantasy.

Diana said...

There are three books that I read when I was a teenager that had an impact on my life.

Testimony of Two Men by Taylor Caldwell - the story is about a doctor who is accused of performing illegal abortions on women. The real culprit is the other doctor in the story who for years uses his position to mutilate women without fear of being caught or prosecuted because none of the women that he mutilated would press charges as they would also have been prosecuted for having an illegal abortion.

Mandingo by Kyle Onstott - this was a novel about slavery before the Civil War. It showed all the brutality and cruelty that slaves were subject to.

Cape of Storms by John Gordon Davis - set in the early days of Apartheid in South Africa. When they start segregating the races, the heroine who only has 1/16th "black blood" (ie only one of her 16 great great grandparents was black) is prohibited from visiting her white mother and must move into the black sector. The story showed how wrong Apartheid was and for many more reason than what I have stated.

It was horrifying to see how bad mankind can treat other humans.

Danielle La Paglia said...

I love books. All kinds of books. I read (probably) too much. But...reading The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe with my daughter before the movie came out will stay with me longer than anything I read for myself. Discovering a new world together was the most amazing experience.

Ermo said...

Freakanomics. In terms of positioning how I view the world, I would say that is the book I've read that has had the most impact.

Kari said...

The first four Harry Potter books. I can say without a doubt that these books saved me from MANY hours of boredom.

lahn said...

One Hundred Years of Solitude. My first taste of magical realism.

Icy Roses said...

Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia for instilling a lifelong love of reading.

Ella Enchanted (Gail Carson Levine) and Spinners (Donna Jo Napoli, Richard Tchen) for a lifelong love of fairy tale retellings.

Mary, Bloody Mary (Carolyn Meyer) for a lifelong love of history, which incidentally, my major in college.

Anassa said...

I thought this would be a hard question to answer but it isn't, really. I have to say The Canterbury Tales, because reading it sparked a chain of events that's lead to me becoming a writer.

My second most influential book, because I can't just name one book in a comment, is The Hobbit, because it's the first novel I read on my own and the first novel I reread.

MJR said...

Other than kid's books (I have a very long list of those), I think JANE EYRE. I remember reading it when I was 11 and I literally couldn't put it down--my mother drove me someplace and I took the book with me in the car. That was the beginning of my love of literature....

Kristi Helvig said...

Going back to my childhood, I would have to either say A Wrinkle in Time or The Wizard of Oz.

treeoflife said...

The Hobbit. I read it way back in grade 3, and I continue to read fantasy more than 20 years later.

Sadly, the genre is pretty stale... they all seem the same now. My love of the genre manifests itself more in MMORPG's than in books these days.

Anna said...

This one isn't very deep, but Baroness Orczy's Scarlet Pimpernel sparked my passion for all things French and Revolution-y. I'm now in grad school studying Romanticism and about to leave on a vacation to Paris.

Huntress said...

At the risk of getting hate mail or derision, Twilight.

I lost 70 pounds and began running 4 miles a day. The books made me want to be a better person.

lindsey lane said...

Black Beauty
Because it told me the truth about life...that cruelty lived right alongside kind and gentle people and your path could go either way.

Postman said...

Good choice on "Hitchhiker's." Remains one of the few books that actually makes me laugh out loud until my sides hurt.

I think the one that really changed my life was H.G. Wells's "The Time Machine." That, and Wells's other excellent stories, got me into science fiction. I found it an enjoyable genre to read, and it showed me that not all fiction has to be grounded in the real and familiar, and that you don't have to write books like "Of Mice and Men" and "The Great Gatsby" to be a "credible author."

Anonymous said...

Atlas Shrugged; no other book comes close. For me, most "great" novels and stories can be entertaining and moving and even enlightening in little ways (e.g., Mark Helprin's stories), but not truly life changing like Atlas Shrugged. It was (and remains) a momentous intellectual event in my life.

Tim Riley said...

Without a doubt, To Kill a Mockingbird. Years later, when the doctor told my wife and I we were going to have a girl, I knew immediately her name would be Scout.

Ali Katz said...

At risk of aging myself, I'm going to admit to Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse. It's message helped open my mind to the world around me.

gideon 86 said...

My book actually started by my discovering the movie first. I was enchanted by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. I viewed this film at a very sad time in my life.

Discovering the world JK Rowling created brought me back to reading and eventually writing. Not only children were influenced by this amazing woman.

Happy Holidays, Nathan.

Michael

dan radke said...

At 13, I read The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King. It made me realize that books rock. After that I started putting down my playstation controller every once in a while.

And Nathan, I have a possible beef with your 'literally' usage. The way you put it, wouldn't it mean that an actual universe up there in the cosmos was opened up because you read hitchhiker's guide? Or is it okay to say because the word 'universe' has multiple meanings? Honestly curious because I've got a big 'literally' pet peeve, and to see you use it, possibly incorrectly, well it hurts, Nate. Hurts, Nate-Dogg.

Nathan Bransford said...

dan-

Yeah, not literally. Metaphorically or figuratively.

chelsea said...

The Hobbit. My first grade teacher read it to our class. Sometimes, I think Bilbo's adventures are actually my own childhood memories. After that, I became a voracious reader, and now I write.

Anonymous said...

Frog and Toad. Definitely.

CageFightingBlogger said...

American Psycho. It taught me that we're all a bit crazy, and we can't be nice to everone all the time. I loved that it dared to make us recognise ourselves in such an evil character, anddared us to laugh at things that we're equally disgusted by.

Judith Mercado said...

It's hard for me to believe it now, but when I was in high school it was Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I believe I ultimately pursued an MBA and a business career because of her strong female protagonists. Much later, it was Robert Caro's biographies of both Lyndon Johnson and Robert Moses. Hmm. There is a pattern of strong characters there.

Colleen said...

Where the Red Fern grows, by Nathan Rawls. I used to keep it in the crease of my math textbook in 4th grade, and got caught when I started bawling during a math lesson. It solidified my love of escaping into new worlds. I was brought up with a love for reading in general, but that's the touchstone.

Lucinda said...

A small paperback book, "It's Like This Cat" about a boy and his boy living in New York City. I remember he loved spaghetti sandwiches.

Remembering that book helped me realize the writing style I loved best....

Lucinda said...

er...that was a boy and his cat...

scott neumyer said...

It wasn't an entire book, but a short story. John Updike's "A&P" was the story that made me want to be a writer.

Glory Lennon said...

You'll laugh, but the Harry Potter books and I'll tell you why. I laughed and laughed and laughed reading, re-reading and re-re-reading them. Then I said to myself, "I want to make people laugh like that. I want to be a JK Rowling." and That is when I started writing. Haven't stopped yet and don't plan to until my laptop is forced out of my cold dead hands and every pen and sheet of paper is gone from earth!

Chassily Wakefield said...

The Nancy Drew series saved my soul when I moved to a new town at the beginning of 4th grade, where I did *not* fit in. It wasn't cool to read or to be seen as a smart kid, so I had no friends. It was the loneliest year of my life. My grandmother enrolled me in the Nancy Drew book club, which sent 6 or 8 books a month until the whole series was delivered. I'd read them all in under a week, then have to wait for another three weeks for the next installment while rereading the ones I already had. I'd always enjoyed reading, but escaping with Nancy, Ned and the rest took my love of books to a new level.

After that, the Louisa May Alcott books, the Trixie Belden series, then some romance classics like Kathleen E. Woodiwiss's Shanna and A Rose In Winter, Sidney Sheldon, Stephen King, Dean R. Koontz, Patricia Cornwell and others - they all had an impact on my life, my reading habits and my own writing.

But... if ever a book (or a series) truly changed my life, it would have to be Harry Potter. I read Sorcerer's Stone prior to giving it to my eldest daughter for Christmas in 2000 to make sure it was okay for her to read. I'd heard some (completely ridiculous) rumors about the books, so wanted to check them out. I was hooked, from the very first sentence.

After that, we quickly went through the next two, and it was at the end of Prisoner of Azkaban that I realized these were not simply entrancing YA novels. They were something much more, and I had to go back and reread them from the beginning (several times) while waiting for Goblet of Fire. I became a member of The Leaky Cauldron.org, and that's when the life-changing nature of the books came to a peak. Suddenly, I was immersed in a community of people who loves Harry and everything Harry stands for as much as I do. I've made some of my very best friends through Harry, aged 12 to 85, and my own family has bonded closer than ever through sharing the books, the movies, midnight releases, charity events, the HP Alliance, wizard wrock and fan conferences. Next summer we'll be in Orlando, FL for the biggest HP convention ever, in conjunction with the final film and the theme park, and we'll finally get to meet some of the friends we've only known online. I can't wait! I owe a huge debt of gratitude to JK Rowling. She truly did change my life with the creation of her world.

Watcher55 said...

Another HITCHHIKER'S fan - cool. Great stuff. My barracks roommate had some of the radio shows on tape and the bound version of the scripts.

I gotta say though, OF MICE AND MEN was the most important novel for me. It changed how I thought about everything.

Chassily Wakefield said...

The Nancy Drew series saved my soul when I moved to a new town at the beginning of 4th grade, where I did *not* fit in. My grandmother enrolled me in the Nancy Drew book club, which sent 6 or 8 books a month until the whole series was delivered. I'd always enjoyed reading, but escaping with Nancy, Ned and the rest took my love of books to a new level.

Many other authors have had an impact on me, but... if ever a book (or a series) truly changed my life, it has to be Harry Potter. I read Sorcerer's Stone prior to giving it to my eldest daughter for Christmas in 2000. I'd heard some (completely ridiculous) rumors about the books, so wanted to check them out. I was hooked, from the very first sentence.

After that, we quickly went through the next two, and it was at the end of Prisoner of Azkaban that I realized these were not simply entrancing YA novels. They were something much more, and I had to go back and reread them from the beginning (several times) while waiting for Goblet of Fire.

I became a member of The Leaky Cauldron.org, and that's when the life-changing nature of the books came to a peak. I immersed myself in a community of people who loves Harry and everything Harry stands for as much as I do. I've made some of my best friends through Harry, aged 12 to 85, and my own family has bonded closer than ever through sharing the books, movies, midnight releases, charity events, the HP Alliance, wizard wrock and fan conferences. Next summer we'll be in Orlando for the biggest HP convention ever, in conjunction with the final film and the theme park, and we'll finally get to meet some of the friends we've only known online. I can't wait!

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to JK Rowling. She truly did change my life with the creation of her world.

ElizaJane said...

Just this year I read a life-changing book, Christa Wolf's *Patterns of Childhood.* Masterpiece. Cannot stop thinking about it; it made me look differently at selfhood, history, humanity.
In my childhood, The Book was definitely Antonia Forest, *End of Term.* Really affected the way I understood people, values, and language.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Nathan. You just misused the word "literally." I'm so disappointed in you. Maybe it was a typo for "literarily?"

My answer would have to be Perelandra. C. S. Lewis turns my brain inside out.

CindyLou said...

Louise Lawrence's Children of the Dust. I was about ten when I read it the first time and, with the exception of Grimm's Fairy Tales, was the darkest story I had ever read. Happily Ever After looked very different to me after reading that.

Nathan Bransford said...

Oh - people still serious about the literally thing. I meant literally in the sense that it literally led to creating a new universe, i.e. Jacob Wonderbar. But then, I didn't literally create an entire universe. Gray area?

CindyLou said...

Well, in that case, Nathan. I hate to admit it and I hope everyone keeps their tomatoes, but Twilight. And not so much the stories, but Meyer. If she can do it, so can I.

Sally Jo said...

Aside from the Bible, I'd have to go with Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Rocked my world and I'll never be the same.

Jil said...

The Princess and Curdie. Ever since reading that whenever I shake someone's hand I imagine I can tell the kind of animal they are inside.
Also "The Cuckoo Clock." Come visit me." says the cuckoo and when the child says she can't because she's much too big, the cuckoo replies, "Of course you can, it's just a matter of fancy."
That taught me to believe I can do whatever I want to.

Carson Lee said...

"All The King's Men,"
by Robert Penn Warren.
Junior year, high school,
plus three times through, since.

Tambra said...

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. I still love that book and read it every so often. That's probably where my love of fantasy began.

All of Beatrix Potter's books. I'm also a watercolorist and she's at the top of my list for artists.

There are many more books and series but the two I mentioned hold a special place in my heart.

Hugs,
Tambra Kendall

ed said...

...hands down, MOBY DICK - Herman Melville...my family had the Modern Library Giant Edition with woodcuts by Rockwell Kent...it now resides in my personal library...

hannah said...

I don't care if it's a cliche: The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Emily Ward said...

Even though there are so many (and besides the Bible, because it's sort of "above" the others). . .I'm going to have to go with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - it was the first I read of the Harry Potter series, and it started a new part of my life. I spent my teenage years in love with Harry Potter. And I wouldn't be the writer I am today if not for fanfiction! Sad, but true. Thanks, JK Rowling!

Runners up:
The Chronicles of Narnia, which I read as a kid.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

J. T. Shea said...

Careful, people! If Nathan ever really makes a mistake, the universe will literally vanish!

BTW, I'm happy to see Harry Potter and the books of Ayn Rand cited by so many.

karen wester newton said...

The book that most changed my life is one I never read-- or at least never finished. I was dating two guys casually, and at Christmas one of them gave me a stuffed animal (I was 26!) and the other gave me the collected works of Winston Churchill, because he knew I was interested in history. I never read more than half the first book in the series (Churchill loved to make speeches, even in print) but the fact that he THOUGHT I would read them won me over. We have been married for 30 years.

Deborah Serravalle said...

Diana Gabaldon's, THE OUTLANDISH COMPANION. In it, she discusses how her characters take on a life of their own and once put into action, they write her stories. It was that statement,coupled with some other events in my life, that prompted me to start writing.

Micky said...

A Little Princess, no question. It was the first book that I ever read that really interested me. it showed me how a book is so much more than just a story, it's a different world were everything and anything can happen.

Alyson said...

The Harry Potter series and the Warriors series come neck in neck here. Harry Potter was spellbinding, of course. I was already a tremendous reader when I first picked it up, sometime in 3rd grade, but it gave me a sense of belonging no matter where I went; I had fictional friends scattered everywhere, it seemed, especially after one of the book releases. The Harry Potter community became one warm world I could escape into online, and, more recently, real life. The Warriors books, while not such a great example of literature, swept my middle school younger self into an electric online community of like minded young'ns, a place where for the first time I felt important, where I learned everything from web design to literary criticism to how to introduce oneself to strangers. I still have fantastic friends met and made over these books, and I'm sure without them I could have never overcome my social fears to have faith in kids my age once again.

February Grace said...

As much as I'd love to say Hitchhikers because it's probably been the most influential to me, I have to say that the book that changed my life was a Little Golden Book called Mickey Mouse's Picnic.

Why?

Because when I was two, my grandmother taught me to read using that book.

Thanks, Grandma. I miss you, and I still have the book.

~bru

abc said...

Bridge to Terabithia was the first book I loved so much I had urge everyone else to read it. It was the first book that made me feel like books could do amazing things (like make you feel so good and so sad at the same time). And it probably put the idea in my head that writing for young people was something I'd like to do.

Madeleine said...

There have been tons of books that have changed my life for the better - but it all comes down to NANCY DREW AND THE HIDDEN STAIRCASE. My mom brought it home from Borders eight years ago, I read it in two days, and, suddenly, I wanted to read more than anything else. Nancy Drew #2 got me rolling.

Kate said...

It's not my favorite book. But John Knowles's A Separate Peace really did a number on me. I would do well to read that one again.

Anonymous said...

Mine

You see, I was living this reasonably normal life till this bug caught me. Writing and publishing this book has given me such a heartburn.

So yes, my book most changed my life.

phew

Maureen said...

I can't remember the exact title of the book that changed my life but I know it was an "I can read" chapter book about kangaroos that I read at 7 years old. When I finished this book, I was secure with the knowledge that I could read anything by myself. And from that point on, I have been a voracious reader. Books have marked every passage in my life.

Jess Haines said...

THE LEGEND OF HUMA opened my eyes to the existence of a wider world of fantasy. That book was my segue into D&D, and my subsequent descent into geekdom.

<3,
-J

Sarra said...

For me, it was definitely ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand. When I first read it, I had a very naive view of the world, but that book opened my eyes to the way things work. There were a lot of "aha!" moments for me in that book and I still think of it when people act a certain way. The book gave me a deeper understanding of why the world sometimes works the way it does. It truly changed my life and my view of the human situation.

Sarra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lauren said...

Hmmmmm....today I'll go with the Phantom Tollbooth for saving me from the Doldrums on long summers when I had far too much time on my hands. Such a lovely and sensible book.

cherry said...

Like so may of the others many books have changed me.

Yes the Bible was the biggest life changer. As a kid my older brither read The Hobbit to me, which remains a firm favourite.

What book convinced me to love reading and writing? The Oak King and the Ash Queen by Ann Phillips. I don't know why. I read it as a child and then hunted for a copy as an adult (it is out of print). Eventually a friend found a secondhand copy and bought it for me. The story stayed with me for years - I wanted to be able to create something that would stay with people like that.

Claude Nougat said...

Sooooooooooo many books have meant sooooooooooo much for me! But the first one that changed my life (I read it when I was 12) was War and Peace (Tosltoy) and the next one (I was 13) was Candide (Voltaire) : two masterpieces that couldn't be more different!

Sheila Cull said...

Me, Night by Elie Wiesel

And Nathan, a book about hitch hikers in a galaxy sounds too cool.

And a special thank you for keeping your blogs outstanding.

dcamardo said...

THE BOOK OF THREE by Lloyd Alexander was the first book to ever capture me. I'd say that's probably where it all began for me and books. I cannot remember a novel that read (all the way through) before it.

An obscure book that inspired me to reach the stars with writing was a book called THE MAN IN THE CEILING by Jules Feiffer.

I've lost my beaten old paperback copy of THE BOOK OF THREE, but THE MAN IN THE CEILING remains my most prized book on my shelf

Anonymous said...

My mother said little...Judy Blume said a lot..."Are you There God it's me Margaret" and every other Judy Blume book.

"A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" touched my heart forever.

Anonymous said...

The Bible of course has had a huge impact on my life and on society across the world.

If you are looking for a novel then I am going to go with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

Anonymous said...

Mister God, This Is Anna by Fynn was the most amazing book. It made me see the world in an entirely diffent way. You MUST read it.

Lisa R said...

Wow, so many great books mentioned by everyone.

Mine is Black Boy by Richard Wright (ironic I suppose since I am a caucasion female). There is a passage in that book about learning and knowledge that changed the way I looked at and approached the world. It set me down a different path--that one passage. Very powerful.

See my website for a complete list of books that changed my life :)

Anonymous said...

Before I Die by Jenny Downham.

Absolutely beautiful young adult fiction.

KH said...

As many people have said, there are so many. But I am choosing Mists of Avalon. I read it at a time in my life when I was questioning things spiritual, and it gave me confidence to investigate new opportunities and roles in my life.

Anonymous said...

John Grisham- A Time to Kill.
I never read books, never cared too. Then my father-in-law unexpectedly passed away. My mother-in-law was cleaning out some of his stuff weeks later, and handed the book to me. She said, "he always wanted to read this book, he was only on the first chapter when he passed".
I took the book home, left it on my nightstand for a week or so, looking at it each night. One day, I picked it up and started reading. I was hooked within minutes, and have never looked back.

Peter Dudley said...

Pat the Bunny
Before that, I couldn't even READ. Talk about life-changing.

OK, OK. Hitchhiker's Guide is definitely a great choice. But I think I'd have to go with The Hobbit. The Misty Mountains, the city of Dale, the dwarves and wood elves and giant spiders and Beorn and Smaug and goblins and wargs and all the rest... they fueled imagination for me like nothing else and drove me into years of Dungeons & Dragons.

Horserider said...

I'm going to go with the Harry Potter series. I literally grew up on those books. And more recently The Book Thief which opened my eyes to the world of incredible prose, and I Am the Messenger which taught me how much one person can make a difference.

Pamala Owldreamer said...

The book that most impacted my life was my first grade reader about Susan and Bill and Dick and Jane.I hated them. They were so boring and I had to read them even though I was already reading Black Beauty,the Wizard of Oz and Marvel comics with a bit of help with the bigger words. Those boring books led me to create my own stories and aspire to write a better book than what I was forced to read at an early age.

Anonymous said...

Night by Elie Wiesel -- The greatest survival story ever written.

Edward A.K. Summers said...

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace changed my life. I read it shortly after graduating college with a UG in English Lit, and IJ taught me many lessons that I did not learn in school. Also, I was going through many personal issues that the book and author seemed to understand and convey in ways I wanted to say but did not know were possible. An entire world of fiction opened up to me, and I realized the power of connection through art and ideas. Dave Eggers' AHBWOSG and Ellison's Invisible Man are very close seconds.

Samantha said...

I've read so many books and so many have impacted me in different ways. But it has to be "the death and life of charlie st. cloud." An amazing book, it was also the first "modern adult" book I had ever read. (Before I had only read classics, YA and childrens.) I cried and I was amazed at how touched I was by characters in a book. It was from then I wanted to write a book that could touch others the way charlie st. cloud had touched me. A brilliant read and I would recommend to anyone

Laura Campbell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laura Campbell said...

My love for reading started at a young age. Ottie and the Star and Addie Meets Max (sadly, both out of print) are two children's books that I remember well as if 26 years hasn't gone by. I wrote book reports on them, and still have the reports buried in my parent's attic. I can't remember what about the books caused them to imprint on my memories, but I can say an overwhelming sense of giddy delight washes over me when I think about them. I've been reading ever since.

Homayoon said...

For me, it was Stanislaw Lem's The Invincible, the first science-fiction story I ever read. I read it at the age of 13, and it made me hungry for more (though I never read anything quite as good as that).

The honorary mention is Lord of the Rings which gave my hunger for books another boost, and also made me like fantasy even better than sci-fi.

These two books had a huge impact on my lifestyle which, for better or for worse, quite literally revolves around books.

Jan Priddy, Oregon said...

THINGS FALL APART by Chinua Achebe talks back to Western assumptions about civilization. This book more than any opened the world to me.

A Writer from India said...

Many books have touched my life, too many of them, but to pick just one - The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth.

It gave me comfort, solace and fleeting moments of happiness during a prolonged period of depression. I was ten when the book was first released and was intrigued to read the reviews that celebrated it as "a
masterpiece of a novel in verse". Many years later, this memory prompted me to pull it off a library shelf on a rainy evening in one of the darkest periods of my life. A few pages into the book, and I was laughing aloud for the first time in years. The humour in the book had less to do with it, than relief in the knowledge that everyone shared the feeling of loneliness that was a universal truth of life.
Realising that "the whole world shares your fears" is one of the first steps towards adapting to life. At that point in life, Mr. Seth's poetry, especially 'The Golden Gate' was the catalyst that helped me to realise this, and survive.

Maia Powloski said...

Many have already said it, but Harry Potter in many ways defines my generation. I grew up with those books; I was 17 when the seventh book came out, the same age as many of its characters. Rowling's books create worlds that feel fully-formed and also infinite. And characters that never leave you.

Later, the book Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, changed my life. It isn't my favorite book by either author, but it is the first book I read by either of them, and turned me on to both of these brilliant (and very different) fantasy writers. Once I started exploring Gaiman's work, I found that horror, a genre that I'd previously shunned, can be beautiful, captivating, and moving. Especially Coraline, the short story collection Fragile Things, and--most of all--the novel Anansi Boys. Anansi Boys proves that all the imagination, humor, horror, and delight of Harry Potter really can be condensed into a single amazing book--you don't need a whole series.

A.M Hudson said...

Which book most changed my life?

The one I just wrote. Because before that, I didn't know there was this amazingly creative and open person inside of me..blah, blah, blah. You get the idea.

No seriously people, I recommend you STOP reading, and start writing. You never know what talent, or soul crushing devastation you might find under all that fear and resentment of the big cruel world.

So yeah! My book...oh and Twilight. But who doesn't say that? (said with humor and a little smiley face at the end;)

Bree D said...

The Chosen by Chaim Potok. I was 15 and had been reading a lot of fun fluff, when I discovered this amazing book with unforgettable characters. It actually had the nerve to talk about religion, and in the process exposed me to a new culture and some of it's history. After numerous reads, I still cry at the end.

Gabrielle Renoir-Large said...

The first book I ever read, or was read to me, caused me to love books. From that moment on, I was hooked. Then, in my pre-teen and very early teen years, the Nancy Drew series was fun for me. At about age sixteen or so, I read "Wuthering Heights" and I was hooked on great fiction forever. That's still one of my favorite books of all time.

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