Books That Changed My Life discussion

Most influential books

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message 1: by Pierce (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:29AM) (new)

Pierce | 2 comments Mod
What books have been the most influential in the way you lead your life/think about the world?

message 2: by Deb (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:29AM) (new)

Deb | 1 comments Lead my life?
Omnivore's Dilemma - Eating became a political act.

Think about the world (the people in it, at least)?
Moral Animal - helped me understand the origin of people's behavior (including my own)

message 3: by Renee (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:29AM) (new)

Renee | 2 comments Wow! I had to think about that! Well, there are several.
The Vagina Monologues
A Round Heeled Woman
A Hero's Journey
A Pilgrams Almanac
The Ethiopian Tatoo Shop

message 4: by Natalie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:31AM) (new)

Natalie | 2 comments I think I have to say Oliver Twist and Bleak House by Dickens. They really kick-started my now obsessive interest in causes/effects of poverty.

message 5: by Sherrie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:40AM) (new)

Sherrie | 1 comments The book that changed my life (AND the way I eat) was Veggie Soup for the Chicken's Soul: Shameless Visions and Prayers for World Peace, Inner Peace, and Animal Liberation (Paperback)by Judy McCoy Carman. A lightbulb literally went off in my head. I heard it pop! I was an animal shelter volunteer for about a year and I had just started reading books about animals and their lives in connection to ours. This book led me to Buddhism and such a feeling of patience and peace. I haven't eaten meat in over 8 years. I know we are all connected and I feel ashamed of the waste and pain we as humans inflict upon weaker beings. What a joy this book is. It made me cry and it made me smile. It led me to peace.

message 6: by Betty (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:06PM) (new)

Betty | 1 comments I think one of the books that had a profound effect on me was The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker.

It made me think about fear in a differnt way. I had always thought that if you were afraid of something that you should avoid it. But his opinion was that fear is just like anger or any other emotion. It can be useful but it can be harmful too and its best to use it and discard it rather than build your life around it. I started to di that and my life improved a lot.

message 7: by Courtney (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:06PM) (new)

Courtney Miller | 2 comments So I realize this might sound crazy, but I read Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions in the 7th grade and it completely changed my way of thinking about the universe (does a seventh-grader think about the universe?).

It really set in motion my value system and has really influenced the way that I deal with people in general ...

message 8: by lynna (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:06PM) (new)

lynna | 1 comments Reading Fast Food Nation has changed my life more than any other book. For starters, I haven't touched fast food in over 5 years. The book made me think of major corporations in a different way, it opened my mind to marketing schemes, migrant workers, and a whole host of other nasty things. I can't think of another book that has helped to shape so many of my day to day habits after reading it.

p.s. The film truly didn't do the book justice (as often is the case).

message 9: by Shelly (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:07PM) (new)

Shelly Jain | 1 comments Many Lives, Many Masters

message 10: by Tracy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:08PM) (new)

Tracy Bertolt Brecht's Work Journals made me realize how much fun thinking and journaling and working through ideas can be. he kept these great journals for years that were full of ideas for plays, revolutionary inovations and his opinions about articles in the paper, people he came in contact with. also he would scrapbook as well, cutting out articles or pictures and then commenting on them. such a girl! and he's funny!

i pick up his journals when i feel worn out and find him invigorating. highly recommended.

message 11: by Farid (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:08PM) (new)

Farid "ECCE HOMo" by F.W. Nitzsche was the last book of him which completely devastate me previous life style and entrapped me in an endless circle of looking for the complete entity: its availability and how to reach it.

message 12: by GiGi (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:08PM) (new)

GiGi Rose | 1 comments My favorite book in the whole wide literary world is the Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell. I know two people who have read it so I never have new people with whom to discuss this amazing novel.

message 13: by Cameron (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:08PM) (new)

Cameron | 1 comments I actually got hit in a similar manner as Courtney, by Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle, which I read around my freshman year of high school.

Not only did it throw me into a whirlwind of so many new thoughts, but it also revealed to me a totally amazing literary that I have yet to be more affected by. So it goes...

message 14: by Norman (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:09PM) (new)

Norman (normanince) | 1 comments While I would hardly say that any one book has really 'changed' my life, Zorba the Greek is a novel that can at least give me temporary respite from the chaotic madness of modern urban life. And its message, in conjunction with many other lucid moments, has at least validated some of the life-changing decisions I have made.

message 15: by Eric (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:11PM) (new)

Eric Hamen | 4 comments "Godel Escher Bach" by Douglas Hofsteadter (sp?). Compares consciousness to software and demystified (to me) the concept of self. He, along with Daniel Dennett (who wrote the amazing "The Intentional Stance") co-edited a collection called "The Mind's I" that further explores similar territory.

message 16: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 28, 2007 10:47PM) (new)

The Communist Manifesto. The Prophet of Khalil Gibran. But nowadays, I both hate and love William Golding's Lord of the Flies.

message 17: by Owen (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:12PM) (new)

Owen Carver | 1 comments Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Hill's book opened my eyes to the world's possibilities and Card's book helped give me humanity and spirit.

message 18: by Sara (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:13PM) (new)

Sara | 1 comments Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. A brilliant description of her philosophy about basically every aspect of life - from capitalism vs. communism to friendships to sex. All of her work is amazing, but Atlas Shrugged is really the pinnacle and if you only read one of her books, it should be this.

Probably also changed my life since I read it for the first time when I was nine... But then again, I've read it two times since and it's managed to change my life, again, each time.

Ria: why do you hate Lord of the Flies? I love that book, so I'm curious.

message 19: by Al (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:14PM) (new)

Al | 5 comments atlas shrugged is truly a masterpiece. hopefully rand will be given her due by posterity. her predictions about america are coming true every day. and that really saddens me.

and yes lord of the flies has to be one of the best. no reason to hate it at all.:))

message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

Sara, its not that i absolutely hate LOF; am ambivalent of it, tha's all. It is a very beautiful and awful tale.

message 21: by Nephyr (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:18PM) (new)

Nephyr (friendlytoanimals) | 1 comments The Man Who Fell In Love With the Moon by Tom Spanbauer - can't explain why, but if you read it you'll probably understand - unless your one of the few who can't stand it.
Illusions - read it at just the right age, I was like, 18 and it made me think that maybe anything was possible.

message 22: by Al (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:18PM) (new)

Al | 5 comments Illusions is like a Bible to me and my wife Mrinal. We still turn to its pages opened at random for insights when we are down. and it never fails. and yes. anything IS possible.

message 23: by Deborah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:12PM) (new)

Deborah | 1 comments Fast Food Nation really did show the circular way in which america's economy works and how incestuous one industry is with another.

message 24: by Jen Dent (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:14PM) (new)

Jen Dent Alice's Adventures in Wonderland perpetually. A Coney Island of The Mind during high school. Being and Time during college. V for Vendetta more recently.

message 25: by Mouse (new)

Mouse I have to say Lies My Teacher Told Me. Totally changed how I think about history and my country and what authority figures really try to convey when they talk.

message 26: by Karen & Gerard (last edited Mar 28, 2008 10:10AM) (new)

Karen & Gerard (wwwgoodreadscomprofilekzemek) | 3 comments "Become a Better You" by Joel Osteen is very inspirational and gave me more of a positive outlook on life.

"Leota's Garden" by Francine Rivers helped me understand the elderly a bit better.

The Holy Bible is a big influence on my life--it's my guidebook for living!

message 27: by Liz (new)

Liz | 1 comments I Know This Much Is True

message 28: by Catamorandi (new)

Catamorandi (wwwgoodreadscomprofilerandi) "Your Best Life Now" by Joel Osteen changed my life. It made me much more positive and turned me into a Christian. I just bought "Become a Better You" by Joel Osteen. I am hoping to become even more positive after reading that.

message 29: by Jen (new)

Jen Donnelly I like books (and discussions and movies, etc) about how we are all connected. And how everything we do affects more than just us and our immediate situation. 'The Five People You Meet In Heaven' by Mitch Albom and 'Traveler's Gift: Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success' by Andy Andrews are two books that I will read over and over and over some more!


message 30: by Wilhelmina (new)

Wilhelmina Jenkins | 1 comments The first book that comes to mind, as it has for others in this group, is "The Autobiography of Malcolm X." I read it when I was 18 in 1967, when the way that African Americans viewed themselves was making a tremendous change. That book was transformative for me.

Spiritually, "Seeds of Hope: A Henri Nouwen Reader" changed the way that I viewed God, especially with respect to my own chronic illness. No one conveys the limitlessness of God's love the way that Nouwen does.

message 31: by Eileen (new)

Eileen (eileencolucci) | 1 comments I so agree with this choice. "The Prophet" has been an inspiration to me all my life. I have two copies, one a 1945 pocket-size edition from my dad. It is a place to go for comfort or motivation. The title of my first novel, "The Strings of the Lute," comes from Gibran's poem on marriage.

For me, it's truly a timeless classic whose power lies in its simplicity.

message 32: by allison (new)

allison (itsmealliebee) | 2 comments Way Of The Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman. Hands down, most life-changing books I've ever read.

message 33: by Eric (new)

Eric | 1 comments Jesus CEO...This book is amazing! I highly recommend it.


message 34: by Kevin J. (new)

Kevin J. | 1 comments In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan (Author of the Omnivore's Dilemma) is a book that has inspired me to continue the healthy eating life.

message 35: by Charmless (last edited Aug 20, 2008 12:29PM) (new)

Charmless (mysocalledreads)
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

I read this in my early teens and because of it, I grew up not judging people in superficial terms. "On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur, l'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux."

message 36: by Carl (new)

Carl | 2 comments I think that my latest release, "Bader Field" published by Nightengale Press may have a far reaching and profound effect on a great many lives; at least that is my hope and my vision.

Check out the overview at in their store to get a sense of what I have written. Fair warning, it is a very emotional story which reads like fiction but is absolutely real. Having taken me well over twenty years of writing and rewriting and then finding the right publisher and editor, this book has been a true and exhausting labor of love.

It is currently only available through their website but it will be in,,, and others shortly and will be in the book stores in 2009.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I truly appreciate it.

Carl David

message 37: by Carl (new)

Carl | 2 comments Writing "Bader Field" my latest release, changed my life. If you even read the overview on or catch a preview on you will understand.

To date, everyone who has read the book has had the same "Oh My God" reaction. It has impact and reads like fiction but as we all know, truth is far more powerful than fiction.

If my book helps even one person, then I have done my job and have "paid it forward." I am certain that it will bend the minds of a great many people; in a good way, through the shared experience of my own life struggles overcome.

Thank you for caring.


message 38: by Tosh (new)

Tosh Dawson (toshlikesquash) | 1 comments Everything by Joseph Conrad, but initially "Lord Jim." Just imagine being in that situation...what would you do? Amazing to me that he wrote in English, which wasn't his native language.

message 39: by Hywel (new)

Hywel Owen (hywelowen) | 1 comments Hi All,

Ok, so this is going to be a bit hokey, but the most influential books I have read are what I think are the most influential books in history - the Bible (any version), and the Koran (any English translation). Coming from a semi-atheist background, I somehow missed the religious upbringing of the church- and synagogue-goers around me, and came to traditional religious texts later in life. I would now consider both these books to be essential reading for anyone who would have pretensions to understanding spirituality in any sense, as much to convince you that you don't believe as that you do.

On to less ivory-towered regions, I think that Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel is a perfect book to start out in the spiritual quest. Conrad's Heart of Darkness is also hugely thought-provoking (unlike Lord of the Flies which I think is trite). Julian Jaynes 'The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind' is a mouthful but an eye-opener. Finally, Friedrich Hayek's 'The Road to Serfdom' is a great challenge to youthful conceit when you're a firebrand student (as many of us were).

Zen in the Art of Archery

message 40: by Jim (new)

Jim | 1 comments I'd say THE RISE AND FALL OF THE THIRD REICH influenced my view about how evil human beings can be while THE LITTLE PRINCE spoke to me about caring/being special in the Universe (I recently gave THE LITTLE PRINCE to my teenager -won't give her THE RISE AND FALL OF THE THIRD REICH)

message 41: by [deleted user] (new)

A Prayer for Owen Meany

message 42: by Nicole (last edited Sep 18, 2009 12:22PM) (new)

Nicole Celaya (flatground) | 1 comments Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins-opened my eyes to US foreign policy and its cycle of debt and poverty.
Ominvores Dilemma by Michael Pollan-the importance of conscious eating and the giant commodities machinery.
Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu-launched me into a whole new realm of spirituality. many more!!

message 43: by Mary108 (new)

Mary108 | 1 comments I found You Can Be Right or You Can Be Married to be influential in how I live my life because it taught me the true definition of love. Author is Brett R. Williams.

message 44: by Rebeca (new)

Rebeca | 1 comments Owen wrote: "Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Hill's book opened my eyes to the world's possibilities and Card's book helped give me humanity and spirit."

my husband just read atlas shrugged and the fountain, he just think those are his favorites, I am going to start reading myself.

message 45: by Thad (new)

Thad (Thad72) | 1 comments As A Man Thinketh - James Allen

Since reading this book, I have discovered the ability to make a conscious decision about how I will react to events in my life rather than let the most primitive parts of my brain decide for me.

It convinces you to choose a better attitude rather than allowing events in your life to decide whether you are optimistic or pessimistic.

message 46: by Kim (new)

Kim | 1 comments Mans Search For Meaning

message 47: by Emily (new)

Emily Walker | 1 comments -The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
-An Old Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott
-The Hours by Michael Cunningham
-Any of William Wordsworth's poems (Although especially "The Tables Turned")
-Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
-The Giver by Lois Lowry

message 48: by Jscorse (new)

Jscorse | 1 comments sarah wrote: "the autobiography of malcolm x is probably the one book that made me think differently about the world."

Yeah, me too- reads like a mythic tragedy- and how he comes to see the errors in his ways at the end is so deep.

message 49: by GR Sans (new)

GR Sans | 1 comments Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions and Slaughter House IV were very influential on me when I was younger. Also, A Rumor of War (a Vietnam war memoir) and Notes of a Native Son.

message 50: by Diane (new)

Diane Bluegreen (dianebluegreen) the lazy man's guide to enlightenment by thaddeus golas.

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