The Reading Challenge Group discussion

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A Quest for Answers > Question 29 - Books that have influenced you

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message 1: by Faye, The Dickens Junkie (new)

Faye | 1415 comments Mod
Has a book ever changed the way you think about something? An event in history, a current issue, a culture, a religion? What books have influenced your thinking?


message 2: by dely (new)

dely The first that I remember is Quiet Flows the Don by Mikhail Sholokhov. It helped me to see the other side of Russian Revolution, seen from the part of the Cossacks that fought in the White Army.


message 3: by Tracey (new)

Tracey | 916 comments I'm not sure that a book has necessarily "changed" the way I think about something. At least, nothing that I can remember. However, I know there are plenty of books that I know I've read that made me appreciate an issue.


message 4: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Coyle | 1557 comments Leon Uris gave me insight into the Irish dilemma, both in religion and politics. His books started opening up the horror of the holocaust in WWII. These books along with Les Miserables opened my eyes and heart to different human conditions and to point me back to God in my later teens. They also made me a thinker. Of course, these weren't the only and there have been many authors since.


message 5: by Lindsay (new)

Lindsay (sleepykitty) | 129 comments All the time. The Best of the Dalai Lama stands out. It changed how I think about lots of things by presenting an alternative perspective that made sense logically. So many though, hard to pick out more.


message 6: by Sandy (new)

Sandy I suppose over the years there are many books which have altered my attitudes at different stages of life. A recent one which comes quickly to mind is Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing by Caroline Myss, which has given me a new perspective on the connection between emotional and physical health and helped me to pay more attention to clues about my own dis-ease (not "disease" - the hyphen is intentional).


message 7: by Amber (new)

Amber (amberterminatorofgoodreads) I don't think any books I've read had me change the way I thought about anything. LOL.


message 8: by Judy (new)

Judy | 30 comments I've always been very outdoorsy. I like to camp, hike, swim in the river, and just be outside in general. I often wish that I could live off the land like our distant ancestors. It wasn't until my daughter read the Ayla series (Clan of the Cave Bear, etc.) and started talking about how she wants to live off the land, that I realized I've been guided most of my life by those books that I started reading when I was 12.


message 9: by Aitziber (new)

Aitziber I think most Goodreads users are here because they like to read (or else are writers looking for an audience! heh). But, when you're getting your Bachelors' Degree on Literature, that love of books can get lost amidst deadlines and compulsory reading.

Lectures on Literature by Vladimir Nabokov changed the way I treated books. It taught me to enjoy books, whether they were unarguable classics or best seller fare. It taught me to stop analyzing themes, symbols and motifs for a moment, and just breathe in the world created by the author. Really try to visualize what the author had in mind as they wrote.

Highly recommended. :)


message 10: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Coyle | 1557 comments Aitziber wrote: "I think most Goodreads users are here because they like to read (or else are writers looking for an audience! heh). But, when you're getting your Bachelors' Degree on Literature, that love of books..."

Aitziber, thanks for sharing, and I agree, sometimes you just love the dickens out of a book and I do not want to dissect it. It just works for me. I hope to read your recommendation, Lectures on Literature. I'm adding it to my To Read shelf as soon as I'm done with this post.


message 11: by Aitziber (new)

Aitziber Melissa wrote: "Aitziber wrote: "I think most Goodreads users are here because they like to read (or else are writers looking for an audience! heh). But, when you're getting your Bachelors' Degree on Literature, t..."

Oh, I think Nabokov does dissect the books, but rather than dissecting them linguistically or for literary elements, he dissects the world itself. For instance, the section on The Metamorphosis is in no small part devoted to just which kind of bug Gregor turns into. Then he draws a map of Sotherton Court for Austen's Mansfield Park. The result is that you have a very good idea of what Kafka or Austen were probably picturing as they wrote, you get to live in that world.

Since then, I try to look up maps, places, pictures, etc. of anything I don't already know. If it's a novel about my hometown 100 years in the past, then I look up maps from that time. If it's a breed of dog which name I don't recognize, I google pictures. If it's a style of dress, historical details of the period, etc. I look up all that I can. This works a lot better in re-read, but you can still do a mini-version during pauses. ;)

I hope you do read it, and that you enjoy it. :D

The book has lectures on:

Mansfield Park
Bleak House
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Swann's Way
The Metamorphosis
and Ulysses


message 12: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Coyle | 1557 comments Aitziber wrote: "Melissa wrote: "Aitziber wrote: "I think most Goodreads users are here because they like to read (or else are writers looking for an audience! heh). But, when you're getting your Bachelors' Degree ..."

I have it ready to order on Amazon, just need to add a couple more books to my order so I have free shipping. Thank you for sharing all of your knowledge, I learn so much from you.


message 13: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Coyle | 1557 comments I see what you mean about dissecting the world within the book, because I do love to google the things and places I am not familiar with. I should take it a step further and go back and look at old maps, too. For English literature, it has helped taking tours of different historical places while we were in England.

Lectures on Literature is ordered on Amazon, just waiting to add a couple more books. Thanks for all of your amazing insights and help. :)


message 14: by Aitziber (new)

Aitziber Melissa wrote: "For English literature, it has helped taking tours of different historical places while we were in England."

I think Nabokov would totally approve of taking tours of historical places. :D What better way to visualize what the author saw in his or her mind than to see in 3D and get right in the action?

Thanks for all of your amazing insights and help. :)

Aww, thanks! Thank you so much! I've always been really passionate about literature, but I guess I didn't think of myself as someone who had Stuff to Say because I left academia. (I do want to go back to it someday though.) Goodreads has introduced me to people who are similarly in love with books and interested in what I say, so it's both humbling and surprising. Maybe someday I'll have students who think half as highly of my rambling. :P


message 15: by ♞ Pat (new)

♞ Pat Gent I've read several essay works by Rob Bell. I've pulled some of his longer works into my Scribd account for more in depth reading. I think, based on what I've read from him already, the he has the potential to alter my religious view.


message 16: by Raquel (new)

Raquel Romero (raqueljeannie) | 35 comments I feel like I haven't ventured out enough to think so yet. But also I may have not thought about it enough. This is definitely a question I'd come back to after giving more thought and reading some more books.


message 17: by Happy (new)

Happy (worldhasteeth) I think the most important influence in a book is "What is it like to be..."

A British Navy lieutenant in the North Atlantic during World World II, watching other ships get picked off by U-boats

A Nigerian immigrant, straightening her hair before a job interview, and getting chemical burns on her scalp.

A gardener, travelling far from home, watching his best friend carry an impossible burden and unable to help.

A young woman in Regency England receiving two marriage proposals from two of the most disagreeable men she's ever met, only to discover that one of them is perhaps not quite so bad after all.

To see through someone else's life, someone else's experience. To me, that is most important influence of a good book.


message 18: by Marina (new)

Marina (sonnenbarke) I think the one that really changed something in me (i.e. the way I relate to books) is The Rights of the Reader by Daniel Pennac. Much for the same reason Aitziber states about the Nabokov book. I have studied Literature at Uni and wanted to go on with a PhD (which never happened), I wanted to be a professor at University. This means I always looked for hidden meanings, symbolisms, motifs in books - which is good, except when it is exaggerated and doesn't let you really appreciate a book. Also, I never thought I had the right to abandon a bad book or a book that simply didn't strike a chord, and this book taught me I actually can.


message 19: by Cindy (new)

Cindy  | 384 comments Letters to a Young Poet especially the first chapter really changed my attitude. I wish someone had given me this book when I graduated from high school or college.


message 20: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Pickstone | 563 comments The Collected Poems of Wilfred Owen - I became a pacifist for life from the day I first read his poetry aged 10. I still find them as powerful today.

What a legacy to leave...if only I had something important to say and the words to say it.


message 21: by beth (new)

beth (beth01) Well, there aren't any books I can think of that have made a permanent impact on me... Maybe Percy Jackson, because I reference it so often, but I'm not sure that's what you meant...


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