Ten Books that Changed My Life

Books can change lives. In this Ted Talk , Lisa Bu discusses just that. And it got me thinking, what books have shaped my life? The way I write today? The way I act? The way I think?

What books have made me… me?

So here they are. The 10 most influential books (so far) in my life:

1- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Not because this was my favorite of the series (it’s the fourth, if you must know), but because this was the first book that really drew me completely into a world I found much cozier and more welcoming than the one I was in at the time. Books are an escape, but to me, even today, this series feels like home.

2- Where the Red Fern Grows
I can’t exactly say why this one sticks out in particular – perhaps it is because I love dogs so much, or perhaps it is because this was the first book I ever remember making me cry (okay, cry is an understatement.) I read this in fourth grade when my best friend’s mom had just passed away. I suppose it stands out because it was during this year that I began to understand loss in a real way.

3- Dying to Be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing
Not at all a Fiction, like WTRFG, but for me, one of the weepiest reads of my life. It is about a woman, Anita Moorjani’s near death experience. It will make you look at life – and death – with new eyes.

4- The BFG
The BFG, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory… it’s hard to say which has been the most influential in my reading, writing, and just plain living preferences. These books, from the earliest of ages, had me diving deep, deep, deep into my crazy imagination. It’s my favorite place to be.

5- Why Is God Laughing?: The Path to Joy and Spiritual Optimism
I believe this was the first of my many Deepak Chopra books. It’s a great, light introduction to the prolific (and genius) writer – an almost childishly simple look at God, life. And that’s what I love about it. Why should things be any more complicated?

6- The Tao of Pooh
Along the same lines as No. 5 – The Tao of Pooh brings a much needed lightness to the spiritual conversation. Plus, it’s Winnie the Pooh!

7- The Secret
Go ahead. Are you done sneering? That’s fine. This book may have gotten an awful lot of flack for promoting goals based around wealth – and let’s be honest, fulfilling one’s one selfish needs. But it got a lot of people talking about something bigger – what you put out, you bring back (sometimes tenfold!). You create this thing you call life, and this book really brought that into a sharp relief for me.

8- The Hobbit
The Hobbit over the rest of The Lord of the Rings trilogy? Really? Yes, really. The Hobbit was one of the first Fantasy books I ever read, and no matter how many times I read it, at no matter what age, I still love its simplicity. The whole thing feels, to me, very much like taking a stroll through the Shire.

9- The Giving Tree
This book is perfect in its simplicity, from its words to its loosely sketched illustrations. ‘Nuff said.

10- The Fault in Our Stars
Oh, John Green, you emotional ninja! This was the first of Green’s books I ever read – when I was done, I promptly bought all of the rest and read them, back to back. This book introduced me to beautifully crafted, emotionally gripping YA fiction, ripe with complex and utterly real characters- of which there are a surprising number of books. If you want any more recommendations in this vein, just ask. 🙂

Bonus- The Fantastic Fable of Peter Able
Of course this book changed my life. Not only is it the first I’ve had published on a large scale, but writing it (along with its sequel) has gotten me through a lot of life’s difficulties. I don’t know where I’d be without it.
(Thanks, Peter!)

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

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