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The Book That Changed My Life

3.46  ·  Rating Details  ·  527 Ratings  ·  130 Reviews
Now in paperback, a delightful collection of essays on the transformative power of reading In The Book That Changed My Life, our most admired writers, doctors, professors, religious leaders, politicians, chefs, and CEO s share the books that mean the most to them. For Doris Kearns Goodwin it was Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August, which inspired her to enter a field, his ...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published October 18th 2007 by Gotham Books (first published October 19th 2006)
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Jun 08, 2013 Lormac rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book for readers. I mean, come on, a book by authors about which books they liked? How could that go wrong? (It doesn't, in case you think I am being sarcastic.) It's tremendous fun to find one of your favorite authors in this book, see what book they chose and read why they chose it. It is like a peek inside their minds and lives. Some authoris choose their book based on how it impacted their writing, and others choose a book just because they liked it! For example, one author chose a cer ...more
Jul 28, 2015 Maggie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
years and years ago i was newly emerged from graduate school with an advanced degree in literature and a friend asked me to recommend books to him. i gave him a verbal list of the classics because i suspected two things hidden in his question 1) he didn't have a strong background in classics and 2) he really wanted to be ahead of the curve and know a cutting-edge title before a colleague, in short he wanted to look good.

his immediate response was to sniff and say, "sounds like a high school read
Jan 24, 2008 Kristen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mom
As I do with most books about reading, I loved this collection of essays. So, so charming. I haven't read many of the books mentioned by the writers but enjoyed their accounts of the books that matter most to them. It is so fascinating to learn how different books impact different people. In particular, I appreciate reading accounts of books that I hated and understanding beauty in the work.

Some notable passages:
"A good book changes you, even if it is only to add a little to the furniture of yo
Aug 04, 2010 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays, about-books
While the first essay in this book is written by Dorothy Allison, whose novel, Bastard out of Carolina, I read several years ago, the book's other seventy short essays are by contemporary writers, many of whom I have not read and do not know. Nonetheless, this book is a great reference for readers. The contributors include the literatti, if not the famous (James Atlas, Nicholas Basbanes, Harold Bloom, Billy Collins, Frank McCourt, et. al.), and, at least to this reader, the less well known (Barb ...more
Interesting book. Gave me a whole list of books I want to read. Especially liked the essay by Alexandra Stoddard about Letters to a Young Poetby Rainer Maria Rilke.
Feb 05, 2009 Shareen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I think anyone that enjoys looking at this website would enjoy the essays in this book. It's always interesting to find out why a book is significant to a person, and added to this, these essays are written by people talented at writing. I'm going to have to go through this book a second time to glean a list of reading suggestions. I love these ending lines from Frank McCourt's essay on Henry VIII: "I don't know what it means and I don't care because it's Shakespeare and it's like having jewels ...more
I was completely excited about this book because I love reading books about what other books people really love. (How is that for a lame intro to my review?) The fact that the book reveals authors' favorite reads only made it more enticing. However, as well-read as I am (or considered myself to be) I have not heard of many of the authors in this collection, nor have I heard of many of the books they selected. Not that I expected to read 71 essays about Salinger, Rand, or Lee, but still. I was ki ...more
Sep 01, 2013 Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be inspiring. As I read it, I found myself asking the question - just what book changed my life? My answer kept coming back to the same thing - ALL of them! I found this book to be an inspiring collection of essays by a variety of authors. Writing styles, humor, individual quirks; small opinions of each writer could be found in each essay. I do, however, have one small complaint. my list of to-read books got much longer during my reading of The Book That Changed My Life! So ...more
If you like being told what to read, this is a good book for you. If you want to know the inspiration behind some of your favorite authors, ditto. And if you want to feel slightly foolish for reading mostly trash when it seems everyone else is reading deep novels or non-fiction…then this is definitely your book. lol
Feb 16, 2014 Martianflash rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Book lovers, Books about books
Recommended to Martianflash by: Internet search
Have had this book since 2008 when I bought it from Strand Books in NYC. It's a good read with 71 authors sharing about the book(s) that have affected them. Some have found books that were truly 'life changing' while others found books as a source of inspiration at various stages of their lives. Since each author has written a short essay you can read them individually. I haven't read most of the books. The Catcher in the Rye, which some found inspirational, I found extremely unbearable. Found 2 ...more
Linda Lipko
What a wonderful book. In concise writing, each author tells a tale of the book that changed his/her life and the reasons why.

I was delighted that two of the authors wrote about the amazing life-changing book To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Both Wally Lamb and Susan Vreeland write eloquently and emotionally about the power of Harper Lee's writing.

Susan Vreeland writes "Harper Lee's classic and timeless plea for tolerance, To Kill a Mockingbird, gives us hope that communities racked by ignora
Jim Krotzman
Sep 24, 2014 Jim Krotzman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Book That Changed My Life contains short chapters featuring 71 contemporary authors writing about their book that changed their lives and how or why. Patricia Cornwell discussed Uncle Tom's Cabin. Wally Lamb chose To KIll a Mockingbird as the book that changed his life. Senator John McCain, a former POW of the Vietnam War, chose For Whom the Bell Tolls, a novel of the Spanish Civil War. The book also contains the authors' recommendations of books other than those written or chosen by the wri ...more
Feb 18, 2015 Thea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book owned up to its title of being "The Book That Changed My Life". This book is not mine, it was my late grandfather's. I'm not even sure if he finished it before he'd gone, but I'm glad I finished it. Somehow it created a connection not only to the contributors of the book but to its previous reader, my Tatay. It's not only informative and insightful but also a great book for people who love reading. It's a book that lets authors talk about the books that made them who they are now; that ...more
Avis Black
Has far too many unremarkable and bland essays.
Feb 24, 2014 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, art
The Book That Changed My Life: 71 Remarkable Writers Celebrate the Books That Matter Most to Them by Roxanne J. Coady (editor) and Joy Johanneesen (Gotham Books 2006) (028.8) was a surprise to me only insofar as to the books selected by the various writers for inclusion. Neither the "Remarkable Writers" selected nor the books they chose to celebrate held any particular meaning or interest for me. If you have a chance to peruse the table of contents of this volume, see if you don't agree. My rati ...more
Michele Casper
Jul 19, 2011 Michele Casper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
The editor and compiler of this collection of short essays on books, Roxanne J. Coady, is the owner of R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison, Connecticut--her vision of "a place where words mattered, where people would gather, where writer could meet reader, and where our staff would work hard to put the right book in the right hand." (Kind of reminds me of the children's bookstore in "You've Got Mail"!)

For this book, authors who had read from their works in the bookstore were asked to write about a
If this book had been described as "the 71 books that a random collection of authors think are good and important" then I wouldn't have been so disappointed. Instead, this books purported to be about how books change lives and, for the most part, it was not. Most of the essays were your typical descriptions of how great books like The Great Gatsby and To Kill a Mockingbird are. This is true, these are great books, but that doesn't make them life-changing. Most of the essays were missing this ver ...more
May 31, 2009 Aerin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, anthology
From the introduction: "It's funny that reading and valuing words is now what anchors my life."

Roxanne J. Coady is the owner of R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison, Connecticut. Together with editor Joy Johannessen, she put together a collection of essays from authors who have all, at one time or another, done readings of their works at her store. Each brief essay tells of one (or sometimes two) books which "changed the life" of the author.

I had hoped there'd be an amount of freshness, of surprise
Found this book at the library carousel entitled "Books about Books".

The editor of this book, Roxanne Coady founded R. J Julia Booksellers in Madison, Connecticut after working 20 years as a tax accountant. The book is a compilation of short stories by authors who at some point in their career, have read their book at Coady's store. In their story, they share about the book or books that have changed their life. It is a quick and fascinating read.

All proceeds go to the Read to Grow Foundation
Found this randomly wandering the library...while I enjoyed the short essays from a variety of writers, I would not necessarily say that these are "71 remarkable writers." A few are great writers, like Dorothy Allison, Chris Bohjalian, Harold Bloom, Elizabeth Berg, Jack Prelutzky, the truly remarkable Frank McCourt, etc. But many of the essays were contributed by people I've never heard of, many were journalists or politicians who've written a couple of books. For the most part the essays were g ...more
Clearly, I'm not edumacated. I didn't know who the majority of the 71 writers were in The Book That Changed My Life. I found myself not feeling very moved by their not-so-life-changing comments about books they really like. I feel hoodwinked by the title. Most of the writers' essays were not that inspiring and read like simple summaries. However, there were a few gems in the mix, particularly Frank McCourt's reflections. But John McCain? Meh.

Almost all of the titles of the supposed life-changing
Mar 06, 2013 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This semi-voyeuristic look at the books that writers love was a lot of fun. I was pleased to see that Kate Atkinson was one of the contributors, but there are many interesting pieces and lots of surprises. I am stunned, for example, that Harold Bloom not only loved Little, Big but revisits it every year.

Two of the contributors are actually acknowledged as being the authors of books acknowledged by others: Linda Greenlaw talks about how Sebastian Junger's A Perfect Storm changed her life and Jun
Kathy McC
Perhaps I set my expectations too high. I enjoyed this book and the individual essays were well written, but I wasn't "wowed". I did read about many books that I had not heard of and was introduced to some authors who were unfamiliar.

Claire Cook, (Must Love Dogs), "Once you fall in love, really in love, with that first book, you'll never be able to stop."

Senator Joe Lieberman, "Books have taken me to placees I never thought I would visit, introduced me to people I never thought I would mee, an
Jan 02, 2016 Susanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I have alot of books about "what to read". . .all are useful - but this one is really excellent. The pleasure in reading this is that 71 authors tell what book really impacted their lives - and it's terrific to find an author I value - then see what he/or she recommends and at what point in their lives was their impactful book useful to them. Really good quick little chapters.
Jessie Weaver
Jun 16, 2014 Jessie Weaver rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Now that I’ve read it, I’m sad I waited so long. As someone who loves chatting about books more than most things in life, reading this was like sitting down with a group of good friends and finding out their very favorite books of all time.

(Although I’m not sure I trust anyone whose life was changed by Catcher in the Rye. I just don’t get it, I guess.)
Sep 27, 2012 Rose rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Enjoyed reading about the choices of writers in selecting life-changing books. It would be interesting to poll bookclub members about this subject. Maybe it's coincidental, but quite a few of the books were read as young teens. I wonder if the age of reading the same selections (at 11 or 14 or 27 )would influence the selection of the book that changed their lives?
Some of the chosen works were surprising to me; some I have read, others I intend to read to see if I feel an effect from them. One
Feb 26, 2013 Ellen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would recommend this book to anyone who feels reading is important. The goal of this book is to promote a non-for-profit group that gives books to newborn babies. Personally I would haven't come up with this idea. Why do infants need books? I didn't learn to read until the age of 5! The answer is that children need to be read to. Books can literally change a person. Many of the contributors reflected on their lives as children. I was very impressed by some who went out of their way to go to th ...more
Jun 05, 2014 Cathleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Truly insightful (and quite a few incredibly well-written) essays as to the power of books (and teachers). You'd expect to see the classics and the Bible... but the Sears Roebuck catalog? Many are poignant and tear-inducing stories, some are funny. This collection leaves me with several new reads to add to my interminable list as well as some nice trips down my bibliomemory. The book that changed my life? James Baldwin's short story Sonny's Blues.
Jun 25, 2012 Gale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was quite interesting to see which one book other authors or famous other people chose as the selection that most influenced their lives. I added several books to my "to read" list. I was amazed to discover that some of their choices I had never even heard of. A synopsis was always given as well as the person's view who chose that particular book. It was also noted that some of their books were ones I particularly liked myself. A bibliography was given made by the essay writers, with short re ...more
Feb 20, 2015 Kris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Some essays are rather dull, others are fairly interesting. All are short, so it's a quick read.

Nothing very groundbreaking here. With the exception of maybe three names, I've never heard of any of these authors, or their works.
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“...books change lives, in big ways and small, from the simple desire to spend a few quiet hours in a comfy chair, swept away by a story, to the profound realization that the reader is not alone in the world, that there is someone else like him or her, someone who has faced the same fears, the same confusions, the same grief, the same joys. Reading is a way to live more lives, to experience more worlds, to meet people we care about and want to know more about, to understand others and develop a compassion for what they confront and endure. It is a way to learn how to knit or build a house or solve an equation, a way to be moved to laughter and wonder and to learn how to all our fascination with technology we've forgotten that a simple book can make a difference.” 14 likes
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