Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Can a Book Change Your Life?

In the donation pile at my library was the book Trinny and Susannah: What you wear can change your life. Well I'm all for that theory but got me to thinking. Can a BOOK change your life? Has a book changed yours?

There have been numerous books that have changed me, they've changed the way I think, act, react, travel, share and give. Books have helped me chose different paths, try different things, explore new hobbies and think outside the box. I could write daily about such books but maybe I'll just name a few and then tell you about 1 book...1 silly fluffy book that meant something to me as a girl.

Here are a few books that changed me:

The brilliant former Oxford Professor Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion was one of the most important books I've ever read. Dawkins answered questions I didn't know I was asking.

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Family, strength, friendship and love. This book has it all and made me want it all.

Fairy Tales. The real ones, not the ones messed up by Disney. The dark folk tales, where parents could be mean, bad things happened and children died. But there was hope. Always hope.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. Who hasn't this book changed. Innocent, tragic and beautiful.

Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor. Read this in high school. It has stayed with me for over 20 years. The Civil War told like no history book could.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. Classic. Epic.

The Story of My Life by Helen Keller. Inspiring, I still take sign language classes.

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. No I didn't check this out from the library. A boyfriend left it at my house and I read it....and loved it. Who knew math and cosmology could be so fascinating.

Now about my fluffy book: back in the 80's when I was a typical big haired Calvin Klein jeans wearing teenager, I received a book as a gift that I loved. The book wasn't something smart or classic, it was a book by Brooke Shields, I kid you not. Ya I really was a rather shallow teenage girl who's head was full of big dreams and pop music and my hair was teased to within an inch of my life. But I loved that book and frankly it made me grow up a little bit.

On Your Own was published while Brooke was a student at Princeton and included the usual tips on beauty, diet, dating and college. To me, that book was the big sister I didn't have. I read it cover to cover over and over again, it was like having a famous best girlfriend for a fictional sleep over. I wanted to go to college and be on my own just like Brooke Shields and damn if I didn't become a better student so I could go to college. Brooke Shields was the most glamorous teenager around during those days, she hung out with Michael Jackson, acted, modeled, went to an Ivy League school and you never read about her drinking, doing drugs or sleeping with celebrities. I was in that awkward gangly all legs and heavy eyebrows phase and for some reason, that book became my bible.

Looking back now I think it's funny that Brooke Shield became my style and college guru, but it's true. I still have that book, all dog-earred and scuffed up. I flipped through it recently and damn if she still doesn't have the best tips on eyebrows. 25 years later and that book still teaches me something.

So did any book change your life?


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Alex said...

The Killer Angels by Michale Shaara - I had to read that book in college for ROTC. It is a great study in different styles of leadership (and a great story to boot).

The Progress Paradox by Gregg Easterbrook - Studies the strange phemenon of why, as we seeming get more and more, are we less and less satisfied.

Alex said...

Oh yea, the first time I read A Brief History of Time, I listened to it. I had to check out the book just so I could see all the charts. I just felt on the edge of understanding and felt the charts would push me over the edge. It did! I added that book to our book club list the next year and the ladies, initially they were apprehensive, but they loved reading it and it spurred the inclusion of more non-fiction titles.

Pretty Zesty said...

Pride and Prejudice and The Book Thief taught me a lot!