Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Books that Changed Your Life

I had an interesting discussion with my best friend Melissa the other day. We both love to read, so naturally the conversation turns to books whenever we spend more than five minutes around each other. 

We talked about books that changed our lives. I don't necessarily mean something as dramatic as "I had lupus-cancer-diabetes, and when I rubbed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone* all over my body I was cured!" 

Books that changed something inside you. That after you read them, you felt like you were a slightly (or majorly) different person. A few titles sprang to mind, and I thought I would share them with you.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding: Lots of you had to read this one in school, so the forced reading might ruin things for you. When I was younger I would simply grab books off the library shelf and check them out without really looking at the spine. It was an adventure.

One day I innocently picked up Lord of the Flies. I was thirteen. I read it in one sitting, and I was horrified. There are still images that book created in my mind that haunt me.

I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier: I cannot stress what an amazing author Robert Cormier is. I read everything I could get my hands on after stumbling across I Am the Cheese. It too scarred me for life when I got to the ending and discovered exactly what he meant by the title, taken from a nursery rhyme "The cheese stands alone, the cheese stands alone..."

She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb: I read this book as a teenager, and then promptly passed it around to my other friends. Every year I reread this book, and it still manages to captivate me. It's one of those books where it's really hard to describe what it's about. "There's this girl, and her life is really messed up, and the story describes her situations..." The characters are vivid and real, and it really challenges what we've been taught about how to structure a story. I have two other books by Wally Lamb that's on my stack of "To Read" and I can't wait.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman: Again, this book really challenged my ideas about people, and places, and how a story could be told. I love Gaiman's novels, but American Gods just stays with me. I think about certain scenes from time to time.

There are tons of other books that I've read and felt moved by. Heart Shaped Box, The Gargoyle, Hearts in Atlantis, and Shelter to name a few. Some of it I think it timing. Sometimes you need to read a book that will change your view on the world, that if you'd read even a year later it wouldn't have affected you in the same way. All I know is I felt like a different person after reading these books. The foundation of myself, if you will allow me a dramatic analogy, was forever shaken.

So what books left you feeling like a different person? What books changed you inside in ways you can't describe?

*Note: As far as I am aware, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone has never cured someone of their ailment other than boredom and lack of awesome in their lives. I haven't tested the British version of the book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone**, so perhaps there's still hope.

**Further Note: My inferior American search system on Amazon did not pull up the UK edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, just the 10th Anniversary Edition and the Welsh translation. Go figure. So you're just going to have to take it from me there's a British version of The Sorcerer's Stone, and it's actually called the Philosopher's Stone, and for some reason they thought the American audiences wouldn't know what a Philosopher's Stone was, so they changed the title. Even though as a fantasy author, I already knew what a Philosopher's Stone was, and felt gypped that they changed the title. As since the author is British, you should know that when I say "British version" I really mean the original book.

1 comment:

  1. Most recently, Suzanne Collins The Hunger Games trilogy. Seriously a game changer for me. Not only did she shatter my ideas about a lot of things, including my pacifism toward my government, but she changed the way I want to write.

    Do you have a bookprint yet? It's Scholastic's collection of these lists from normal people and celebrities. Is lots of fun! You can check out mine here. Make your own here.