Life-Changing Books: Your Picks

Image by George Red­grave, via Flickr Com­mons

We asked our read­ers what books made the biggest dif­fer­ence in their lives, and here’s what they had to say. The list below tells you what books shaped their lives and why.

1984 — George Orwell

1984 “was the first book I actu­al­ly enjoyed read­ing. It com­plete­ly blew my mind at the time (I was 16) and it opened my eyes to the pow­er of ideas and to the joy of read­ing a good book.” Tim

A Short His­to­ry of Near­ly Every­thing — Bill Bryson

“Wow this book is incred­i­ble. At close to 500 pages Bryson cov­ers every­thing from the moment the uni­verse expand­ed from the intense­ly dense mat­ter that was (aka the big bang) to man’s ori­gin. Read­ing this book has impact­ed the way I look at every­thing from bac­te­ria to aster­oids.” Alex

Ariel — Sylvia Plath

“After read­ing through these sug­ges­tions, I real­ized there’s a big hole: Poet­ry! So much poet­ry has affect­ed my life: Sylvia Plath’s _Ariel_; Camp­bell McGrath’s _Road Atlas_; James Wright’s _Above the River_; Bren­da Hillman’s _Cascadia_…Walt Whit­man, Emi­ly Dick­in­son, Robert Bly… Poet­ry may not be the “win­ning pick” here, but it def­i­nite­ly should be cel­e­brat­ed! And not just in April.” Aman­da


Cat’s Cra­dle — Kurt Von­negut

“This book reignit­ed the pilot light of my imag­i­na­tion like no oth­er book had done in quite awhile. The whim­sy of its nar­ra­tive, which end­ed with the utter destruc­tion of our world thanks to mankind, was stark, shock­ing, yet refresh­ing when it seemed every oth­er book I read was just an exer­cise towards get­ting to a hap­py end­ing. Great book!” Spam­boy

Crooked Cucum­ber — The Life and Zen Teach­ing of Shun­ryu Suzu­ki

“Although I am not prac­tic­ing Zen (yet), this book is like my Bible in that I plan to always read over it and reflect upon the mes­sages there­in. Suzu­ki had a hum­ble vision that in order to change this world, we need to change the way peo­ple think and live, not just to change the symp­toms of what is wrong. Not just to get rid of pop-prej­u­dice and hatred, but to get rid of labels entire­ly, to ‘fight’ war and injus­tice with peace and under­stand­ing instead of anger.… That’s just some of the stuff that is shap­ing the way I think right now.” Luel­la

Dis­turb­ing the Peace — Vaclav Hav­el

“I read it as a junior in high school, picked up on the bar­gain pile at a B. Dal­tons. It impact­ed me because it illus­trat­ed the con­cept of learn­ing through­out life and how peo­ple can live with dig­ni­ty. I’ve loaned it out sev­er­al times and re-bought it at least three times.” Emmett

Extreme­ly Loud and Incred­i­bly Close — Jonathan Safran Foer

“…It’s as though that book has tak­en so much life from the past and made it all tan­gi­ble to us here in the present. I love the emo­tion­al com­plex­i­ty that’s repli­cat­ed in the grandmother’s and grandfather’s man­u­script and let­ters, how they show how mem­o­ry is frag­ment­ed, over­whelm­ing, and some­times incom­pre­hen­si­ble. Seri­ous­ly, I could go on and on. And I can think of hun­dreds of oth­er books that have changed me just as much. It’s just this one has been at the fore­front of my mind ever since I read it a cou­ple of months ago.” Aman­da

Great Expec­ta­tions — Charles Dick­ens

“I think it was the first time I had felt such a bond with a char­ac­ter. I tri­umphed with [Pip’s] suc­cess­es, felt the blow of fail­ure in his defeats, and felt sor­row when he broke his own prin­ci­ples. I saw val­ues in Pip that I want­ed to emu­late in my own life — a ded­i­ca­tion to pur­su­ing my dreams, over­com­ing my weak­ness­es, and treat­ing oth­ers respect­ful­ly regard­less of what frus­tra­tions I may have in my own life…” Jamie

Heal­ing Invis­i­ble Wounds: Paths to Hope and Recov­ery in a Vio­lent World — Richard F. Mol­li­ca

“A stel­lar book released last year that I believe will qui­et­ly grow to clas­sic sta­tus on par with Vic­tor Fran­kl and Elie Wiesel… Mollica’s the­sis, rad­i­cal for a pro­fes­sor of med­i­cine, is that humans have the tools to heal them­selves from even the worst imag­in­able trau­mas. He gen­tly shows the recipe for self-recov­ery, and reveals that the sur­vivor is, in fact, the great­est hero for us all.” Megan

Hiroshi­ma — John Hersey

“Hersey retells what hap­pens when an atom­ic bomb falls on your city. Culled from inter­views with sur­vivors of the atom­ic bomb attack, this nar­ra­tive was orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished as an entire issue of The New York­er mag­a­zine. Haunt­ing.” Mor­gan

How to Read a Book — Mor­timer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren

“Quite sim­ply it has enabled me to get more out of the books that I’ve read.” Greg

In Cold Blood — Tru­man Capote

It was the first “adult book that I read upon grad­u­at­ing to the adult sec­tion of the Munic­i­pal Library in Krakow. Hav­ing read all the clas­sic sci­ence fic­tion on the shelves, Capote’s mat­ter of fact prose was as dis­turb­ing to me as it was new. No aliens here among far away stars but a world almost ordi­nary and with­in reach, tan­gi­ble and so total­ly fright­en­ing. Read­ing it felt like being caged with a wild ani­mal, a quick fear fol­lowed repeat­ed­ly by the mind’s pangs of pride to sub­due the brute. This was no fic­tion yet it read stranger than any­thing else up till then.”

Lan­guage in Thought and Action — S.I. Hayakawa

A book that “pro­vides a whole ratio­nale for read­ing fic­tion that I have nev­er for­got­ten. I grew up in a time and a house­hold where read­ing fic­tion was analagous to wast­ing your time. Hayakawa writes of fic­tion as a tool to increase your expe­ri­ence of life, to increase the num­ber and vari­ety of expe­ri­ences in your life, your appre­ci­a­tion of those expe­ri­ences, to under­stand oth­ers and so much more!” Ter­ry

Love in the Time of Cholera — Gabriel Gar­cia Mar­quez

–“It’s for me ‘life imi­tates art’ because an old lover appeared in my life after 31 years. And if I hadn’t read that book I think I would have refused him.” Regi­na

–“Epic. Beau­ti­ful. My inspi­ra­tion to become a writer.” Valenti­na

Man’s Search for Mean­ing — Vic­tor Fran­kl

“[It] is one of the best books I have read. The book describes the author’s impris­on­ment in sev­er­al con­cen­tra­tion camps. Faced with ter­ri­ble suf­fer­ing and loss he sur­vives by find­ing mean­ing in the midst of this. He dis­cov­ers that all of our free­doms can be tak­en from us….except one….the free­dom to choose how we think and act under the very worst of cir­cum­stances.” Andrea

Med­i­ta­tions — Mar­cus Aure­lius

“A how-to man­u­al of human behav­iour, one that should be required read­ing for all aspir­ing politi­cians and lead­ers.” Car­ol

Nar­row Road to a Far Province — Basho

“A quar­ter cen­tu­ry ago, I set out on a bicy­cle trip across North Amer­i­ca, and a friend stuck a paper­back copy of Basho’s ‘Nar­row Road to a Far Province’ in one of my pan­niers. ‘Nar­row Road’ … is a diary kept by the Japan­ese poet Basho in 1689 as he made a jour­ney into the north­ern provinces of Japan. When I was in the Sier­ras, delayed by snow, I read through ‘Nar­row Road’ two or three times. I don’t know whether the book affect­ed me more great­ly because I was trav­el­ing or my trav­el­ing affect­ed my per­cep­tion of the book (one of those zen­ny ques­tions), but I came away with a much bet­ter sense of the jour­ney that we all make through life, both the phys­i­cal and philo­soph­i­cal jour­ney, and a more hum­ble sense of my place among the sojourn­ers.” Char­lie

Now What? 90 Days to a New Life Direc­tion — Lau­ra Berman Fort­gang

“I’ve read this book 3 times over the past 2 years and it’s allowed me to over­come my fears, real­ize my dreams and start work­ing toward new goals in my career, rela­tion­ships, etc. It’s giv­en me the courage to leave the things (mar­riage, career, etc.) that weren’t work­ing for me and to face the fear of the unknown to start work­ing toward a new future.” Mer­lene

Slaugh­ter­house 5 — Kurt Von­negut

“Read at 12 or 13 this book cer­tain­ly opened my eyes to a whole new world.” Jason

Teach­ing as a Sub­ver­sive Activ­i­ty — Neil Post­man

“One title that has had a big impact on me through­out my teach­ing career has been Neil Postman’s Teach­ing as a Sub­ver­sive Activ­i­ty. His con­cepts of help­ing kids devel­op their instincts for eval­u­at­ing and ana­lyz­ing all the mes­sages tossed at them dur­ing their lives (he called it their crap detec­tor) are more valid today than when he wrote the book in the 70’s.” Tim

The Broth­ers Kara­ma­zov — Fyo­dor Dos­to­evsky

“As a teenag­er I was mys­ti­fied by the audac­i­ty of the grand inquisi­tor. I’d nev­er read such a suc­cint indict­ment of faith. As I got to my twen­ties I read the whole book, but in my late twen­ties I began to appre­ci­ate it. I’ve nev­er read a more pow­er­ful and real­is­tic tes­ta­ment to faith in my life, and as I’ve grown, my read­ing of the book has grown with me.” Don

The Can­dles of Your Eyes – James Pur­dy

“If the dev­il were alive he would be writ­ing the works of James Pur­dy. ‘The Can­dles of Your Eyes’ changed my out­look on lit­er­a­ture for­ev­er.” John

The Catch­er in the Rye — J. D. Salinger

–“This nov­el touched my heart deeply.” Ellen

–“I’m going to go back to high school and say that Catch­er in the Rye had a big impact on my life. While the con­tent of the book in terms of char­ac­ter and sto­ry were acces­si­ble to me at 16, that isn’t real­ly what made the dif­fer­ence. It was only after read­ing some crit­i­cism and talk­ing with oth­ers in school and out that I began to see all that was going on in a nov­el beyond the plot: sym­bol­ism, irony, lan­guage and the rest. When I saw how much could go on in a book, how many things were going on simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, I became very impressed with the com­plex­i­ty of lit­er­a­ture as art. From then on I was pret­ty well hooked on books.” Jack

The Chaneysville Inci­dent — David Bradley

This book “arrived in my library, as part of our rental col­lec­tion, in the mid-70s. Since then, I have giv­en away at least half a dozen copies, bought it for oth­er libraries I’ve worked at, and had a brief cor­re­spon­dence with David Bradley, the author. It’s about time for me to reread it…. If only one of you, read­ing this, gets the book, I’ll be sat­is­fied. Even if you don’t get past the dis­ser­ta­tion on long dis­tance pub­lic trans­porta­tion.” Paper­maven

The Cho­sen — Chaim Potok

“I read this book as a teenag­er. I remem­ber being com­plete­ly fas­ci­nat­ed with the Jew­ish cul­ture por­trayed in the nov­el, but the main impact came in the way Potok empha­sized the val­ues of intel­li­gence, intel­lec­tu­al achieve­ment, and com­pas­sion for oth­ers. I was incred­i­bly moved by the con­flict between these val­ues, and find myself re-read­ing this nov­el and the sequel “The Promise” almost year­ly for over 20 years.” Judy

The Com­plete Sto­ries of Edgar Allan Poe

“Short and punchy, his macabre tales pack a visu­al whol­lop that mod­ern longer sto­ries lack. He can cre­ate mood and tone in less than a page. When I need a break from stu­dent nar­ra­tives, I read a short sto­ry by Poe. There is a rea­son the guy’s writ­ing has sur­vived.” Chris

The Grapes of Wrath — John Stein­beck

“I read The Grapes of Wrath in the 7th grade. That was 43 years ago. Steinbeck’s ten­der and lov­ing prose and voice have nev­er left me. I don’t think it’s too much to say that I actu­al­ly, fac­tu­al­ly, love that book, and its author, very, very much.” Fuz­zo

The His­to­ry of Sex­u­al­i­ty & Dis­ci­pline and Pun­ish — Michel Fou­cault

“Both of these books philo­soph­i­cal­ly ush­ered me into the mod­ern world, chang­ing the way I saw pow­er, sex, sex­u­al­i­ty, school, and noth­ing less than the Mod­ern Self.” Drag­on Man­age­ment

The Jour­ney to the East — Her­mann Hesse

“For a young read­er, this became a por­tal for enjoy­ing books.” Bob

The Lord of the Rings — J.R.R. Tolkien

“The book that most influ­enced my life was “The Lord of the Rings” that I read when I was 15 years old. That book intro­duced me to the world of fan­ta­sy books. Ever since I keep read­ing this genre of books (plus a lot oth­ers of course), both in Eng­lish and in Ital­ian.” Francesco

The Illu­mi­na­tus! Tril­o­gy - Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wil­son

– “It’s chock full of free-think­ing anar­chism and did a lot to push me towards my cur­rent semi-lib­er­tar­i­an view point.” Dave

–“I would imag­ine this book had a sim­i­lar effect on a lot of peo­ple who read it. This book real­ly changed the way I think and intro­duced me to a lot of real­ly great infor­ma­tion. I went on to read almost all of Robert Anton Wilson’s books. He was a great philoso­pher who wasn’t afraid to state his mind. He recent­ly passed away and I know a lot of peo­ple will and are miss­ing him. His great­est effect on me was the intro­duc­tion of ‘maybe log­ic.’” Cyen

The Plea­sure of Find­ing Things Out — Richard Feyn­man

“A col­lec­tion of assort­ed writ­ings by a great sci­en­tist shows the full palette of a sharp intel­li­gence ani­mat­ed by all-around curios­i­ty.” Davide

The Secret Gar­den — Frances Hodg­son Bur­nett

“I have two books that impact­ed my life; one from child­hood and one from ear­ly adult­hood. In the sixth grade, our teacher read The Secret Gar­den to us every day. I was cap­ti­vat­ed by the imag­i­na­tion, com­pas­sion, and touch of fan­ta­sy that this book awak­ened in me.” Jan

The Stranger — Albert Camus

“I love it so much. This book is for me pure phi­los­o­phy.” Ellen

Ways of See­ing — John Berg­er

“A book that first opened up my eyes to the fact that there are many ways that one can exam­ine things.” Dar­cy

Zen and the Art of Motor­cy­cle Main­te­nance: An Inquiry into Val­ues — Robert M. Pir­sig

–“Although I am not too much into phi­los­o­phy, this book real­ly made me see a lot of things dif­fer­ent­ly!” Har­ish

–“After 18 years explor­ing philoso­phies I still return to Pir­sig for clar­i­ty. Although I see many par­al­lels now with more “respectable” philoso­phers, such as Hume, there is also a very human dimen­sion to these books which man­ages always to move me. There is a sen­sa­tion for many who read Pir­sig of re-con­nect­ing with some long-for­got­ten well­spring of wis­dom long lost to the reduc­tion­ism of our dai­ly exis­tences.” David

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  • […] read­ers con­tributed to cre­at­ing a list of books that left an indeli­ble mark on their lives. You can review the orig­i­nal post here. But we fig­ured why not add them to our “My Library” page on Google, a new prod­uct that […]

  • […] Life-Chang­ing Books: Your Picks […]

  • Stefana says:

    “Ish­mael” by Daniel Quinn should be added to this list.

    It’s a ground­break­ing state­ment of and against human­i­ty as a whole, about our past, our down­fall, and how we must change this instant to change out future. It’s changed how I think about the nations, inter­na­tion­al inter­ac­tion, and the human race as not the only nor the most impor­tant crea­tures on this plan­et.

  • Lois R says:

    “The Foun­tain­head” by Ayn Rand should be added to your list too.

    The intro­duc­tion of Objec­tivism detailed in this work was tru­ly inspir­ing. It shows the strength of a Dominique Fran­con, female lead char­ac­ter and the com­plex rela­tion­ship she holds with Howard Roarke, the pro­tag­o­nist. The strife of Roark, from his strug­gles in an ear­ly life through the peak of his pro­fes­sion paint­ed a world pit­ted against him — though he nev­er com­pro­mised his vision.

    In this work Rand designed char­ac­ters we love to hate, and per­son­al­i­ties in we which we all are famil­iar such as the sen­sa­tion­al­ist media, the oppor­tunist, and the manip­u­la­tors.

    There are deci­sions we make as indi­vid­u­als con­tribute to the whole of our soci­ety. We can be empow­ered to make deci­sions to improve our lives. After read­ing this book, it was tru­ly life-chang­ing. The Foun­tain­head is tru­ly the source for change, as it is where the source of infor­ma­tion begins.

  • wheelnut53 says:

    “man­child in the promise land” by Claude Brown
    this guy grew up in harlem briefly met Eleanor Roo­sevelt at a reform school, he went on to fin­ish Law school. No mat­ter how low your sta­tion in life you can rise above it all

  • wheelnut53 says:

    “Man­child in the promise land” by Claude Brown
    this guy grew up in harlem briefly met Eleanor Roo­sevelt at a reform school, he went on to fin­ish Law school. No mat­ter how low your sta­tion in life you can rise above it.

  • Allister says:

    I agree with Cat’s Cra­dle!

  • Michelle says:

    “The Good Earth” by Pearl S. Buck. It was the first book taught by Mrs. Bil­lone my fresh­man year of high school in Deer­field, IL. I did­n’t even like it very much. But it was the first time I real­ized that books offered much more than casu­al sto­ry — that the tricks of a skill­ful writer’s trade — lan­guage, sym­bol­ism, pur­pose­ful struc­ture — could cre­ate a mirac­u­lous depth and rich­ness.

    My reac­tion was­n’t won­der. It was to be intense­ly ticked off. Here I’d been read­ing my whole life and no one had ever told me this! My four­teen-year-old self want­ed to go back and re-read every book I’d ever touched — from “Hop On Pop” to “Cad­die Wood­lawn” — and find out what I’d been miss­ing.

  • Lanie says:

    Where is the bible? :roll:

  • Mostafa says:

    The lit­tle prince

    i read this book a few days ago. I am 35 years old, but I think I could com­mu­ni­cate with this book. the book described the dif­fer­ece between grown-ups and the chil­dren in a very sim­ple and nice way. you can find the phi­los­o­phy of life and a nice edu­ca­tion­al method in it.

  • Kevin says:

    Real­ly sur­prised Enders Game and Fahren­heit 451 are not on here. The way enders game made me feel when i first read it in 7th grade I hon­est­ly can not tell you how excit­ed i was through the entire book. I could not put it down at all. Ender being such a small boy impact­ed the entire human race and for some rea­son this sto­ry has stuck with me through the years. I could not describe in words to you how i felt read­ing this book. It touched me on so many lev­els heart,soul and mind. 451 was the same way. But no book will ever com­pare to Enders Game. Ever

  • Derrick says:

    Com­plete­ly agree with Cat’s Cra­dle (also Sirens of Titan), Ish­mael, and espe­cial­ly the Lit­tle Prince (the clay­ma­tion movie is fan­tas­tic)!

    Carl Sagan’s “The Demon Haunt­ed World” real­ly opened my eyes to how I look at and ana­lyze the world. This and his oth­er works show how impor­tant sci­ence is not as a sub­ject but as a lifestyle.

  • bob sauerbrey says:

    I’d like to add Annie Dil­lard, “Pil­grim at Tin­ker Creek.” Dil­lard con­nect me with the whole nat­ur­al process involv­ing all sen­tient beings and the whole cos­mos. She is deeply lov­ing with­out ignor­ing the often bru­tal real­i­ties of the whole rhythm of life liv­ing off life.

    She is also writ­ing some of the most beau­ti­ful prose in the con­tem­po­rary cor­pus.

  • josh says:

    Mil­ton’s Par­adise Lost… because of the way the lan­guage (eng­lish) sounds when an epic lyric is well done. Non native-eng­lish speak­ers would do well to look at Mil­ton. He’s not as flashy as Shake­speare, but the poem is more acces­si­ble, ie: it uses less devices, but has such a pow­er­ful force of lan­guage when spo­ken aloud and digest­ed. I reread parts some­times with­out even con­scious­ly under­stand­ing them just for the joy of his dic­tion. But be pre­pared for the dread­ed ‘clas­si­cal ref­er­ences.’ :)

  • […] out there on the net. But here’s one from Open Cul­ture I think is kind of inter­est­ing: “Life Chang­ing Books.” It’s read­er […]

  • River says:

    So many books have impact­ed my life that I could not fea­si­bly list them all. How­ev­er, there are a few which I feel deserve recog­ni­tion and should be men­tioned on this list. From child­hood I must add Tuck Ever­last­ing. I was utter­ly enthralled, along with every child my fifth grade class, with this book.

    From ear­ly adult/adulthood I would like to draw atten­tion to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prej­u­dice which is so well writ­ten, enter­tain­ing, and the­mat­i­cal­ly com­plex, that I would rec­om­mend it to just about any­one.
    I alos agree that Slaugh­ter­house 5 is one of the best books i have ever read. I loved it so much I passed it on to a friend who thanked me and says it was life chang­ing for her as well.

    Last­ly, The Col­or Pur­ple and The Tem­ple of My Famil­iar by Alice Walk­er are to of thee most dear­est books to me. I can­not even express the grat­i­tude I have to Alice Walk­er for hav­ing writ­ten such beau­ti­ful, rel­e­vant and human works. I real­ly hope that some­one read­ing this makes the choice to read these two works, they real­ly are worth your time.

  • Joe says:

    Where’s “Atlas Shrugged?”

  • Jon says:

    This is a great list I’m look­ing for­ward to read­ing some of the books on here. The books that have impact­ed my life the most are Good to Great, although the book is about busi­ness it real­ly moti­vat­ed me to pur­sue great­ness. The Sev­en Habits of High­ly Effec­tive Peo­ple real­ly helped to give me con­trol of every aspect of my life. The last book I have to rec­om­mend is The Total Mon­ey Makeover, this book has taught me how to take con­trol of my mon­ey. If you want more detail on why I enjoyed this books you can go to Life chang­ing books.

  • Anonymous says:

    defi­nate­ly tues­days with mor­rie

    this book changed my out­look on life and helped me get through every lit­tle curve­ball life has thrown no mat­ter how insignif­i­cant. It helped me to appre­ci­ate all i had and taught me to always count my bless­ings

  • […] Dis­cov­er a life-chang­ing book: great list of books and why to read them […]

  • […] more infor­ma­tion on the books than that list pro­vides, you might try the Open Cul­ture post list­ing read­ers’ favorite life-chang­ing books. The sto­ries asso­ci­at­ed with the books are inter­est­ing, and this list, too, is pret­ty broad, and […]

  • KG Alton says:

    I would have to agree with the addi­tion of “Fahren­heit 451”. One of the first books that real­ly opened my eyes to the con­trol that gov­ern­ment can impose on a soci­ety and that soci­eties’ gen­er­al com­pla­cence about being con­trolled (think about the lib­er­ties we’ve qui­et­ly giv­en up over the anti-ter­ror­ism act and oth­er leg­is­la­tion). “Catch 22” and “Con­fed­er­a­cy of Dunces” also have a a spe­cial place in my heart for oth­er rea­sons.

  • D. Schram says:

    Atlas Shrugged formed the basis of my con­ser­v­a­tive thought many years ago. For that I am for­ev­er grate­ful. I tru­ly feel like the world is implod­ing just like Ms. Rand fore­told.
    Who is John Galt?…

  • Suzanne says:

    Above, I saw many books that have changed my life. How­ev­er, one was bla­tant­ly absent. Books typ­i­cal­ly have dif­fer­ent aims depend­ing on their cat­e­go­ry. For exam­ple the­o­ry tends to change the process and con­tent of peo­ples think­ing where­as fic­tion usu­al­ly expands one’s emo­tion­al and cul­tur­al life humor makes us laugh, dra­ma makes our hearts race etc.
    How­ev­er, in tru­ly great writ­ing these aims are indis­tin­guish­able and dis­solved into one anoth­er. Arund­hati Roy’s “God of Small Things” affect­ed my life pro­found­ly, alter­ing both my intel­lect and my empa­thet­ic capac­i­ties. I have read it sev­er­al times and the beau­ty of her prose caus­es invol­un­tar­i­ly gig­gle and tears each time.
    For this books life chang­ing qual­i­ties, I place Roy among oth­er favorite authors such as, Borges, Der­ri­da, Mar­quez, Fou­cault, Von­negut and the like. It is my hope that even­tu­al­ly her name will car­ry sim­i­lar weight and pow­er of asso­ci­a­tion to these, more his­tor­i­cal­ly famous, names.

  • A nod says:

    The lord of the flies is by far my favorite book. I have nev­er read a book that is so well inter­twined with themes and can still make me stay up until 2 a.m. because of the page-turn­ing action. I’ve read it three times, and still have not got­ten tired of it

  • […] time for a new group project. Last year, I asked you to tell us about your Life-Chang­ing Books, and we pulled togeth­er an excel­lent list that many read­ers have enjoyed. Now we want to know where do you go for intel­li­gent video? If you list the sites that you like […]

  • […] list of “Life Chang­ing Books” rec­om­mend­ed by read­ers came from Open­Cul­ture (pub­lished Aug 19 2007).  Note:  The titles […]

  • Patrick says:

    “Amer­i­can Psy­cho” by bret Eas­t­on Ellis

    Maybe I’m alone with this pick, but it cer­tain­ly red­ifined a few bound­aries for me.

  • Dharma says:

    Awe­some list ! Sort of counter intu­itive that on ‘open­cul­ture’, all the books had Ama­zon store links, none had free sources. Pro­vid­ing a quick link to a store leads one to buy it with­out spend­ing the time to find it, cor­rect?

  • I’m very glad to see “1984” top this list. It was defi­nate­ly the equiv­a­lent of tak­ing the red pill pill in the Matrix and try as I may have in the last decade I have nev­er been able ful­ly climb out of the rab­bit hole :)

    Dr.Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Mean­ing” also changed my life. I believe that human strength lies in the mind and under­stand­ing of one’s self first, then one’s sit­u­a­tion and oth­ers..

    Last­ly I’d like to offer up Franz Kafka’s “The Meta­mor­pho­sis”. I strug­gled with the way Kaf­ka places the com­plete­ly absurd, with almost syringe like pre­ci­sion, into an oth­er­wise ordi­nary env­ior­ment. But the result is such a beau­ti­ful look at the psy­chol­o­gy of human behav­ior, and naked truth of what vuner­a­bil­i­ty and fear are and do.

  • […] way. They have their orig­i­nal take. But if you want a more tra­di­tion­al list of life-alter­ing books, then check out this col­lec­tion cre­at­ed by our read­ers and feel free to add your own books to the com­ments. The more, the […]

  • 57Kevin says:

    “Code­pen­dent No More” by Melodie Beat­tie

  • Dave says:

    “The Self­ish Gene” by Richard Dawkins was the final nail in the cof­fin of my belief in a divine Cre­ator.

    I’ve heard it said of the the­o­ries of evo­lu­tion and nat­ur­al selec­tion that “if you don’t believe it, it’s because you don’t under­stand it” — well, this is the book that will make you real­ly, prop­er­ly, under­stand (or to para­phrase George Orwell: “bel­lyfeel”) it.

  • […] in Books, Dai­ly life at 8:55 am by LeisureGuy Inter­est­ing list. The intro: We asked our read­ers what books made the biggest dif­fer­ence in their lives, and […]

  • JonG says:

    The Pos­si­bil­i­ty of an Island, by Michel Houelle­becq

    For the Time Being, by Annie Dil­lard

    Blood Merid­i­an, by Cor­mac McCarthy

  • VioletT says:

    No spe­cif­ic book real­ly changed my life. Each con­tributed incre­men­tal­ly to my cur­rent lit­er­ate state.
    When a child I would surf ency­clo­pe­dias and dic­tio­nar­ies for hours. They did change my life. Lat­er on, study­ing text­books changed my life.
    I’ll select a cou­ple of books that made me real­ize years ago that there had been a few sane and bril­liant peo­ple who lived more than two thou­sand years ago and who had writ­ten time­less and fas­ci­nat­ing books:
    ‘The His­to­ries’ by Herodotus; ‘Lucius, The Ass’ by Lucian.

  • J Davies says:

    The Future of Life by E O Wil­son

    A real eye open­er — describ­ing how man is caus­ing mass extinc­tion of species.

  • Tol­stoy’s “A con­fes­sion” and Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cab­in” were the ones for me.

  • JohnK says:

    Hunt for Red Octo­ber… I had nev­er real­ly red much before this book. I got hooked.

  • […] com­put­er or mp3 play­er, then lis­ten any time. (On a relat­ed note, you might want to see our list of Life-Chang­ing Books, accord­ing to our […]

  • […] com­put­er or mp3 play­er, then lis­ten any time. (On a relat­ed note, you might want to see our list of Life-Chang­ing Books, accord­ing to our […]

  • Phil says:

    The Dune series (6 books) by Frank Her­bert, who took our entire civ­i­liza­tion and made it a tiny part of his immense imag­i­na­tion.

    The detail of his cre­ation — after read­ing just the first book — leaves one with the feel­ing of a new exis­tence, and the Earth a dis­tant mem­o­ry.

    A deli­cious per­spec­tive.

  • Ed says:

    “The Way of Peace­ful War­riors” by Dan Mill­man,
    “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coel­ho,
    “Lit­tle Prince” by Antoine de Saint


  • […] for more good reads? Check out the col­lec­tion of Life Chang­ing Books assem­bled by our read­ers. […]

  • JB says:

    It’s hard to believe no one men­tioned one of the Eng­lish lan­guage’s great­est books, “Alice in Won­der­land.” This book has not gone out of print since it was pub­lished well over 100 years ago. It appeals to chil­dren and adults. The pow­er of lan­guage nev­er had so strong an exam­plar as this remark­able book. It nev­er grows old, and it nev­er stops being fun­ny. I re-read it fre­quent­ly, espe­cial­ly when I need to remind myself that humor can be found in just about any­thing; that lit­tle girls are made of a lot more than sug­ar and spice; and that the remark­ably flu­id and inclu­sive Eng­lish lan­guage can be fash­ioned to say any­thing you want it to say, seri­ous or sil­ly.

  • KNV Venkataraman says:

    Walden, and the Essay on Civ­il Dis­obe­di­ence — by Hen­ry David Thore­au

    An Exper­i­ment with Truth — M K Gand­hi

    The Bha­gavad Gita.

  • Stone magick says:

    Wind In The Attic is one of the most mov­ing and com­pelling per­son­al accounts of grow­ing up Pagan. This book helps peo­ple dis­cov­er new social and mag­ick­al sys­tems coined by the author, and with detailed per­son­al accounts, prac­ti­cal under­stand­ing of Chaos and Elven High Mag­ick, and with easy to fol­low instruc­tions, Wind In The Attic is one of the most reveal­ing books on the Mar­ket.


    I am very inter­est­ed in sell­ing books and look­ing for writ­ers or authers whom books I could get in my stand. New books and old one. Please send your list and the writ­ers names.
    In hope to hear­ing from you, find my con­tact. 2496–8th Ave.#5 D. New York-NY 10030. Many thanks.

  • Todd Holycross says:

    i saw the foun­tain­head and atlas shrugged on here and that made me very hap­py, her books are like a bible to me even though i am athe­ist every­one should read Ayn rands books they changed my life so much peo­ple look at me dif­fer­ent­ly and when i tell them about her philosophy,objectivism, it blows their mind. I have spread her books to at least ten of my friends and they are spread­ing them too. if you haven’t read her stuff your miss­ing out.

  • […] com­put­er or mp3 play­er, then lis­ten any time. (On a relat­ed note, you might want to see our list of Life-Chang­ing Books, accord­ing to our […]

  • Nadine says:

    Eat Pray Love — Eliz­a­beth Gilbert, if you have a pas­sion for trav­el and you feel like your wast­ing your life stuck in sit­u­a­tions you hate. read this book its help­ing me decide what i real­ly want out of life.

  • Gaye says:

    “Absalom,Absalom!” by William Faulkn­er is a book that still affects me deeply, after decades of read­ing it. It is mag­nif­i­cent. Like Fitzger­ald’s “The Great Gats­by,” Faulkn­er’s nov­el is a cri­tique of the Amer­i­can Dream and its pow­er to cor­rupt. Yet, unlike “Gats­by,” it ris­es to a grandeur only found in books like “The Ili­ad” and plays like “Oedi­pus Rex” and “Ham­let.” I know of no oth­er nov­el in which the read­er becomes more active­ly involved. When I taught this nov­el in prep school and uni­ver­si­ty class­es, it was always my stu­dents’ favorite, the one with which they iden­ti­fied. Its lan­guage, sto­ry­telling tech­nique, rich char­ac­ter­i­za­tion, and high sense of pur­pose lifts it above all oth­er nov­els I have read. A mas­ter­piece.

  • Mark Gary Blumenthal, MD, MPH says:

    As a physi­cian, I (nat­u­ral­ly!) read a fair amount of sci­en­tif­ic lit­er­a­ture, includ­ing His­to­ry of Sci­ence. My absolute favorite text in this genre is The Mak­ing of the Atom­ic Bomb by Richard Rhodes. In this Pulitzer Prize win­ner, Rhodes gives a primer into mod­ern physics, weaves it with fas­ci­nat­ing biogra­phies of great sci­en­tists, and presents the most com­pelling anti-war analy­sis I have ever read with the pos­si­ble excep­tion of Death in Life: Sur­vivors of Hiroshi­ma by Dr. Robert Jay Lifton. Read them both. You will nev­er regret doing so. MGBMD

  • James says:

    I’ve only read a few of the ones list­ed, but catch 22 is prob­a­bly in my top 3 of any­thing I’ve read.

    I would sug­gest His Dark Mate­ri­als tril­o­gy by Philip Pull­man. I just think it’s one of the most com­plete, intel­li­gent and well bal­anced fan­ta­sy books writ­ten in recent times. I read them when I was 12/13 and slight­ly fell in love with Lyra.

    The oth­er is Fight Club. It’s the first Chuck Palah­niuk book that I read. The sar­casm just drips from the pages, and the dark humour indulges a part of me that I fear may be quite emo­tion­al­ly unhealthy…

  • Chris says:

    I know it sounds sort of corny, but I believe Austen’s Pride and Prej­u­dice should be on here. I’m still only a teenag­er, but read­ing Austen makes me feel enlight­ened. She man­ages to cap­ture the real­i­ty of social life quite per­fect­ly; the par­ties; the joys; the van­i­ties; the inequities. Her dis­play seems satir­i­cal, in a stretch, yet high­ly accu­rate in its attempt. The nov­el is not sen­ten­tious­ly writ­ten, but its lessons are well seen. She has opened my life to the under­stand­ing of human behav­ior more, has giv­en me an inter­est­ing nov­el to pass the hours, and has left me with a pro­found inspi­ra­tion. As i said, I am only a teenag­er, but this nov­el deserves to be rec­og­nized as tru­ly life-chang­ing.

  • inna says:

    I need this book to under­stand world cul­ture in depth.Thank you for your site!

  • Dalyn says:

    Watch­men by Alan Moore com­plete­ly changed the entire way I per­ceive moral­i­ty, ethics, time and space. I don’t care if it’s a graph­ic nov­el the print alone speaks for itself.

  • John W says:

    The Peren­ni­al Phi­los­o­phy by Aldous Hux­ley

    Hux­ley’s book pro­vides a superb analy­sis of and insight into the philo­soph­i­cal and spir­i­tu­al ideas, val­ues, beliefs, prin­ci­ples and world-views that influ­ence our lives as well as brief passages/quotations to rein­force and illus­trate his rea­son­ing, with a List Of Rec­om­mend­ed Books that are well worth read­ing and reflect­ing upon. Hux­ley’s The Peren­ni­al Phi­los­o­phy is a book that can be read repeat­ed­ly and each time it will offer new plea­sures and greater depth of under­stand­ing to the read­er. It is high­ly rec­om­mend­ed to all read­ers who wish to learn from the lives and teach­ings of the world’s great­est saints and sages

  • John W says:

    The Holy Bible (King James Ver­sion)
    The Bha­gavad-Gita: The Song of God trans­lat­ed by Swa­mi Prab­ha­vanan­da and Christo­pher Ish­er­wood
    The Upan­ishads
    The Dhamma­pad­da
    The Imi­ta­tion of Christ by Thomas A’ Kem­p­is
    A Bud­dhist Bible edit­ed by Dwight God­dard
    The Pil­grim’s Progress by John Bun­yan
    The Cloud of Unknow­ing
    The Bible of the World edit­ed by Robert O. Bal­lou
    Don Quixote by Cer­vantes
    The Broth­ers Kara­ma­zov by Dos­toyevsky
    War & Peace by Tol­stoy
    A Cal­en­dar of Wis­dom by Tol­stoy
    Bleak House by Dick­ens
    The Yawn­ing Heights by Alexan­der Zinoviev
    Say­ings of Sri Ramakr­ish­na
    How to know God: The Yoga Apho­risms of Patan­jali trans­lat­ed with a com­men­tary by Swa­mi Prab­ha­vanan­da and Christo­pher Ish­er­wood
    The Com­plete Works of Mon­taigne: Essays, Trav­el Jour­nal, and Let­ters trans­lat­ed by Don­ald M. Frame
    Med­i­ta­tions by Mar­cus Aure­lius
    The Spir­it of Prayer and The Spir­it of Love by William Law
    A Seri­ous Call to a Devout and Holy Life by William Law
    Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
    Songs of Kabir trans­lat­ed by Rabindranath Tagore
    Drink­ing the Moun­tain Stream: Fur­ther Sto­ries and Songs of Milarepa
    Songs of Kabir trans­lat­ed by Rabindranath Tagore.
    The Tibetan Book of the Dead: or The After-Death Expe­ri­ences on the Bar­do Plane edit­ed by W.Y Evans-Wentz
    Tibet’s Great Yogi Milarepa edit­ed by W.Y Evans-Wentz
    Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doc­trines edit­ed by W.Y Evans-Wentz
    The Tibetan Book of the Great Lib­er­a­tion edit­ed by W.Y Evans-Wentz
    The Analects of Con­fu­cius
    The Book of Chuang Tzu
    The Dia­logues of Pla­to

  • Lindsay says:

    What about the Out­sider’s by S.E Hin­ton. It has been my all-time favorite book since we read it in class in the eighth grade. I will nev­er tire of it.

  • […] metų nak­tį leng­va ran­ka paža­da keisti gyven­imą. Inter­nete aptikau skaity­to­jų atsiųstų knygų sąrašą, kuris, anot sudary­to­jų, pakeitė […]

  • John says:

    In my opin­ion Ish­mael absolute­ly belongs on the list, how­ev­er it is actu­al­ly first of a series, next being My Ish­mael which is a very good book and anoth­er The Sto­ry of B which is arguably the best and cer­tain­ly the one most like­ly to change your think­ing for­ev­er.

  • Enrique says:

    The Gift: Imag­i­na­tion and the Erot­ic Life of Prop­er­ty

    I LOVE this book…highly rec­om­mend it oth­ers.

  • […] few years ago, Open Cul­ture read­ers list­ed Slaugh­ter­house Five as one of your  top life-chang­ing books.  But Kurt Von­negut was not only a great author. He was also an inspi­ra­tion for any­one who aspires […]

  • Sccoast1700 says:

    Liv­ing the Good Life, by Helen and Scott Near­ing.
    This book has inspired many for back to the land liv­ing.

    Sid­dhartha by Her­mann Hesse.
    This book saved me from utter despair when I was get­ting divorced. I was dev­as­tat­ed and thought I would lose my young son. It helped change my out­look so that I could free myself from suf­fer­ing.

    Walden by Thore­au

    Being Nobody Going Nowhere by Aya Khe­ma

    I Will Bear Wit­ness by Vic­tor Klem­per­er
    His courage and will to sur­vive are very inspir­ing.

  • Melinda says:

    His Dark Mate­ri­als by Phillip Pull­man

  • Bethbrokenshire says:

    The Sil­ver Met­al Lover by Tanith Lee is always my go-to book when there’s noth­ing else handy. It’s incred­i­bly deep, but quirky and easy to read.

  • Badfish138 says:

    No Ray Brad­bury?

  • Quarterpint75 says:

     A Peo­ple’s His­to­ry of the Unit­ed States by Howard Zinn

  • […] years ago we asked you to tell us about the books that changed your life, and you deliv­ered. (Your first choice by a wide mar­gin was George Orwell’s 1984.) This time […]

  • Anne F says:

    Has­n’t any­one read Illu­sions by Richard Bach? This sto­ry of an ex-mes­sian­ic barn­stormer has light­ed my path­ways for 4 decades.

  • koudra says:

    Η ασκητική του νίκου Καζαντζάκη. τι άλλο !

  • Rich says:

    Paren­the­sis in Eter­ni­ty and Thun­der of Silence by Joel Gold­smith. At 18 yrs old (in 70’s now), Mr. G influ­enced my life to move beyond “what we see, hear, taste and smell” and relie on an ‘inner world’ of love, peace and prac­ti­cal action. Great­est Mys­tic of mod­ern times.

  • Steve says:

    “Faces in the Clouds: A New The­o­ry of Reli­gion” by Stew­art Guthrie: the world’s reli­gions are best under­stood as “sys­tem­at­ic anthro­po­mor­phism.”

  • S says:

    “Some­times A Great Notion” and “One Flew Over The Cukoo’s Nest” both by Ken Kesey.
    Both pow­er­ful nov­els, great prose…inspired me to become a writer…

  • al says:

    I have enjoyed many of these books.
    2, I would add. The Red Pony.…..might
    seem juve­nile to some.
    All Crea­tures Great and
    Small series.…..just won­der­ful reads.

  • Ashley says:

    The Dra­ma Of The Gift­ed Child
    The Foun­tain­head
    The Naked Ape
    Reli­gion Explained
    Jesus The Man

    Enlight­ened com­mon sense that gave me rea­son to go on liv­ing when there was no oth­er hope.

  • Russel says:

    By Eli Paris­er, “An eye-open­ing account of how the hid­den rise of per­son­al­iza­tion on the Inter­net is con­trol­ling-and lim­it­ing-the infor­ma­tion we con­sume.

  • Shruti says:

    Bha­gavad Gita As It Is, with trans­la­tions and enlight­en­ing com­men­tary from A. C. Bhak­tivedan­ta Swa­mi Prab­hu­pa­da (Sri­la Prab­hu­pa­da), the founder of the Inter­na­tion­al Soci­ety for Krish­na Con­scious­ness, is tru­ly a pow­er­ful book that has changed numer­ous lives.



  • Alice says:

    *Feel­ing Good by David Burnes-Won­der­ful intro­duc­tion to Cog­ni­tive Think­ing. Helped me get ahead in Col­lege Psch.

    *Don Qui­jote-Won­der­ful­ly Col­or­ful. Need I say more?

    *Inside Art-Sto­ries of Genius Painters

  • The catch­er in the rye… such a great book, I stayed up all night to fin­ish it!

  • David A says:

    Nic­colò Machi­avel­li’s — The Prince(1517).

    His famous dis­ser­ta­tion on pow­er, which I have made much prac­ti­cal use of in busi­ness and per­son­al set­tings.

    Sun Tzu’s — The Art of War

    Two time­less pieces, full of the­o­ries and advice which can be applied to many sit­u­a­tions even today.

    Death of a Sales­man by Arthur Miller
    “He had the wrong dreams. All, all wrong.”

  • Claudio says:

    One of the books that had and influ­ence on me and opened my imag­i­na­tion would be the lord of the flies. This book had so many dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter rep­re­sent­ing how dif­fer­ent peo­ple can be and the themes the book por­trays. I stud­ied it in an eng­lish class in school, and i appre­ci­ate the lit­er­a­ture.

  • Jack says:

    Ulysses by James Joyce con­tin­ues to have a pro­found effect on my life after read­ing it over 15 years ago. No one writes quite like Joyce. All his works are mas­ter­ful, and as tough as they can be to read, the reward is worth the effort. Joyce nev­er for­gets that in the long run, it’s all about the story…it’s a shame that some don’t always appre­ci­ate that in his work…but only genius writ­ers like Joyce can mesh the art of writ­ing and the art of sto­ry­telling so seem­less­ly.

  • I was glad to see David Bradley’s The Chaneysville Inci­dent on this list. I first met this book in a lit class and could­n’t put it down. It is deeply chal­leng­ing and reward­ing and now I want to take a long week­end to read it over again.

    I would also rec­om­mend The Grand Meaulnes by Alain-Fournier. It was his only nov­el as he was killed in WWI. It is an unusu­al book, the pre­de­ces­sor to many com­ing-of-age nov­els of the 20th cen­tu­ry, such as the Catch­er in the Rye.

  • Mike says:

    I find that Pla­to’s Repub­lic and Thomas Moore’s Utopia should be on there

  • gunay says:

    i liked gone with the wind best of touched me very much

  • karl koch says:

    Peo­ple. Huck Finn. Come on now.

  • LaraP says:

    Excel­lent choic­es, par­tic­u­lar­ly Love in the Time of Cholera (my per­son­al favorite and yes, it changed my life). I’d add To Kill a Mock­ing­bird as my sec­ond — one of the few books I was ‘forced’ to read in school that I tru­ly, tru­ly loved and could­n’t get out of my head. My per­son­al list comes pret­ty close to this one:

  • David says:

    Song­lines by Bruce Chatwin; dragged me from my Eng­lish chair which led to 20 years wan­der­ing & I now live in Aus­tralia

  • ettemad says:

    also the book of :
    sev­en cities of love from Attar‑e Neishabo­ry
    was a good life-change book…

  • Eddie says:

    HUCKLEBERRY FINN: My first great read­ing expe­ri­ence- 10 or 11 yrs old, read it in one big gulp. I felt like I was Huck.

    CATCHER IN THE RYE: 15 yrs old. I felt like I was Hold­en. dis­cov­ered Bob Dylan around same time. spent sum­mer in Man­hat­tan, 1965, all 3 changed my life.

    BOUND FOR GLORY, Woody Guthrie

    So many more!

  • Lenia says:

    I would say the four hour work week. It is a dif­fer­ent style of book than the books list­ed here. But this book real­ly changed my life. I read it one year ago and after that I decid­ed to trav­el around the world for 6 months.

  • phill joyce says:

    Well I’d have to say Luke Rhine­hart’s “The Dice Man.” read it in my teens and have been hooked on read­ing ever since. Will Self­’s “Great Apes” is fan­tas­tic and I’ll always be great­ful to the old man in the pub who caught me read­ing “Slaugh­ter­house 5” when I should have been pulling pints and rec­om­mend­ed Thomas Pyn­chon’s “Grav­i­ty’s Rain­bow.”

    I men­tioned these three because no-one else has and because each in their own way had an impact on my life and under­stand­ing of my role with­in in.

  • David Fowler says:

    What a superb list! It reminds me of a few books I’ve long been mean­ing to read. Actu­al­ly, read­ing this prompt­ed me to head over to Ama­zon and buy Vik­tor Fran­kl’s ‘Man’s Search for Mean­ing’. I’ll be hon­est, I’ve been avoid­ing it think­ing it would be too ‘heavy going’, but it’s such an impor­tant book I can no longer put it off! I can’t wait to get stuck into it now! Thanks.

  • MF says:

    The Fifth Moun­tain by Paulo Coel­ho. I could relate to the sto­ry and the mes­sages.

  • esra says:

    very inspir­ing list with a lot of famil­iar books, my favorite is TERZANI, “Let­ters against the war”. When I read it in orig­i­nal (ital­ian) I hard­ly could speak the lan­guage but the the mes­sage is uni­ver­sal, his words reached direct­ly to my con­scious…

  • 2+2 says:

    ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand should def­i­nite­ly be on this list.

  • Eve says:

    I can’t believe Cor­mac McCarthy is not on that list! His prose blows me away every time. He writes as if every word is exact­ly per­fect for the sen­tence it lives in.

  • oana says:

    Won­der­ful selec­tion, must say! in my opin­ion at least a few oth­er books are wor­thy of this selec­tion:
    The Glass bead game, Her­man Hesse
    The Tri­al, Franz Kaf­ka
    The Van­i­ty Fair, William Make­peace Thack­er­ay

    thanks for this!

  • dedc79 says:

    MY FAMILY AND OTHER ANIMALS — Ger­ald Dur­rell

    I don’t think a book has ever made me laugh and smile the way this one did. It makes you rethink your rela­tion­ship with the nat­ur­al world and with your fam­i­ly all at the same time. Plus, it’s an incred­i­ble nov­el-long adver­tise­ment for vis­it­ing the island of Cor­fu.

  • Gloria Stern says:

    I was in my ear­ly teens when I read On The Road by Jack Ker­ouac. It opened my mind to all the pos­si­bil­i­ties that life could hold and the themes of free­dom, courage friend­ship, loy­al­ty and love gave my life depth from that day for­ward.

  • Bruce LePage says:

    Jonathan Liv­ingston Seag­ull
    by Richard Bach

  • thepegasean says:

    The King James Trans­la­tion of the Bible.

    Although decid­ed­ly irre­li­gious, no book has had a more pro­found influ­ence on my life than the so-called holy. It was explor­ing this trea­sured tome as a child that led me into the labryinth of a con­tem­pla­tive life, inspir­ing a love of words and wis­dom along­side an endur­ing fas­ci­na­tion with our ancient ances­tors. This is, in my opin­ion, the most com­plete and com­pelling epic of the antique world, with pro­found­ly beau­ti­ful works of phi­los­o­phy and poet­ry hid­den with­in it, such as even athe­ists can enjoy, and learn from despite them­selves. Not even Shake­speare has had a greater influ­ence on our lit­er­a­ture, and no book influ­enced Shake­speare more.

    Just try not to take it lit­er­al­ly…

  • patrick murphy says:

    Night­wood by Dju­na Barnes
    Par­adise Lost by Mil­ton
    Ani­mal Farm by George Orwell
    The Coral Island by R.M.Ballantyne
    Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
    Fran­ny and Zooey by J.D.Salinger
    Julius Cae­sar by W. Shake­speare

  • saleem says:

    i need a cor­re­spon­dence free course pls

  • Caribastur says:

    Sur­prised to be the first to put up:
    The Road Less Trav­elled by M.Scott Peck

    Anoth­er less obvi­ous, prob­a­bly the most under­es­ti­mad­ed nov­el­ist in the Eng­lish lan­guage, Mal­com Lowry: and I pay homage to his nov­el Under the Vol­cano.

    The writ­ers of the Latin Amer­i­can Boom are con­spicous­ly absent up to now, beyond the men­tion of Love in times of Cholera by Gabriel Gar­cia Mar­quez, his One Hun­dred Years of Soli­tude arrived with greater impact in the Boom lit­er­ary scene, flanked by Mario Var­gas Llosa’s “La Ciu­dad y Los Per­ros” (“The City and the Dogs” ‑my trans­la­tion of the title) a strange case where lit­er­al trans­la­tion of the title appears to be the best; and Julio Cor­tazar’s Hop­scotch (Rayuela in Span­ish).

    Anoth­er great­ly under­es­ti­mat­ed writer in the Latin Amer­i­can nov­el scene with uni­ver­sal dimen­tion, Jose Leza­ma Lima with his Par­adiso.

    No doubt the New Tes­ta­ment Book of The Bible should make the list.

    Agree whole­heart­ed­ly with:
    Man’s Search for Mean­ing
    Catch­er in the Rye
    Camus’ Meta­mophor­sis

    Should add in there:
    To kill a Mock­in­bird
    Koestler’s Dark­ness at Noon

    Could go on but will stop right here. Great exer­cise!

  • Essen­tial:

    Begin­ning of Infin­i­ty by David Deutsch
    Blood Merid­i­an by Cor­mac Mac­Carthy
    Glam­ora­ma by Brett Eas­t­on Ellis

    and, unfor­tu­nate­ly for Dutch read­ers only:
    Bezorgde Oud­ers by Ger­ard Reve

    Should­n’t there be more ‘essen­tial’ lists?

    Love the site!


  • Sylvester says:

    John Lock­e’s Sec­ond Trea­tise on Gov­ern­ment and Pub­lius’ The Fed­er­al­ist Papers. I was nev­er taught any­thing about the philo­soph­i­cal under­pin­nings of the U.S. sys­tem of Gov­ern­ment while trav­el­ing through school to get my M.S. Prac­ti­cal­ly each page turn of the above two works revealed some dis­tor­tion of pol­i­tics or eco­nom­ics which the polit­i­cal left­ists in acad­e­mia had fed to me. My eyes were opened and I have nev­er been the same.

  • Sarah says:

    I have to echo the man who said Sid­dhartha — Her­man Hesse saved him from utter despair. That book has for­ev­er stayed in my mind as one of the few com­plete best books I’ve ever read. Sec­ond­ly, the Grapes of Wrath and last­ly, The Solace of Open Spaces by Gre­tel Erlich.

  • Saundra says:

    The Wis­dom of Inse­cu­ri­ty by Alan Watts was life chang­ing for me as a teenag­er. It opened my mind to a whole new way of think­ing and look­ing at the world. Krish­na­mur­ti’s books did too. Years lat­er, Hands of Light by Bar­bara Bren­nan pro­found­ly changed my life direc­tion.
    As a child, I loved The Secret Gar­den, As a teenag­er, Pride and Prej­u­dice, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, The Grapes of Wrath, and The Poor Mouth by Flann O’Brien. Lat­er, Lin­den Hills by Glo­ria Nay­lor, Sula by Toni Mor­ri­son, Their Eyes Were Watch­ing God by Zora Neal Her­ston, The Col­or Pur­ple by Alice Walk­er, The Sea by John Banville and more recent­ly, all books by Sebas­t­ian Bar­ry (The Secret Scrip­ture, A long, long way, etc.)

  • Saundra says:

    The Good Life by Helen and Scott Near­ing, Ten Days That Shook The World by John Reed, Touch The Earth by T.C. McLuhan, Our Bod­ies Our­selves by The Boston Wom­en’s Health Book col­lec­tive and Bet­ty Friedan’s The Fem­i­nine Mys­tique

  • Saundra says:

    Stand­outs: The Good Life by Helen and Scott Near­ing, Ten Days That Shook The World by John Reed, Touch The Earth by T.C. McLuhan, Our Bod­ies Our­selves by The Boston Wom­en’s Health Book Col­lec­tive, Bet­ty Friedan’s The Fem­i­nine Mys­tique.

  • Carl Jung’s auto­bi­og­ra­phy deserves a men­tion — Mem­o­ries, Dreams,Reflections. I can’t say exact­ly why, but Jung’s sto­ry of his inner life did change my life. I sense that there may be a nexus between that mys­tery and the book’s impact.

  • Ajay Tyagi says:

    Thank you for the list.…comments are also impor­tant…

  • Ajay Tyagi says:

    atlas shrugged by ayn rand.… favorite.….must read.……also think and grow rich by nepoleon hill..

  • Dan Leibert says:

    Good choic­es and I have read many. Two that deeply influ­enced my life and made me whom I am today I did not see men­tioned. First, “The Auto­bi­og­ra­phy of a Yogi” by Parama­hansa Yoganan­da and the sec­ond, “Memories,Dreams, and Reflec­tions” by Carl Jung

  • sue loomis says:

    The Pow­er of Pos­i­tive Think­ing by Nor­man Vin­cent Peale. This is a book I have reread sev­er­al times and encour­aged friends and fam­i­ly to read as well. It helped me to get over my fears and live life to the fullest.

  • Ganesh says:

    For me, its Antho­ny Rob­bins books “Awak­en the Giant With­in” and “Unlim­it­ed Pow­er”. I keep return­ing to these books for the past 15 years. Pri­or to that, my favorite one was “The Pow­er of your sub­con­scious mind” by Dr.Joseph Mur­phy. All 3 are my life chang­ing ones!

  • scooter.dee says:

    Can’t believe there is no C.S Lewis on the list..??..

  • Danielle says:

    ‘East of Eden’ by John Stein­beck ..

  • Judy O says:

    Thanks to who­ev­er final­ly men­tioned The Great Gats­by and Huck­le­ber­ry Finn. And I would add Inno­cents Abroad. And — please — To Kill a Mock­ing­bird.

  • Dan says:

    Third vote for ‘Atlas Shrugged’ and to a less­er extent ‘The Fountainhead’…Rand was pre­scient in telling us exact­ly where we were head­ed.

  • patrick murphy says:

    Zen in the art of archery — by eugen her­rigel
    Night­wood by dju­na barnes
    coral island by rl steven­son
    the giv­ing tree by shel sil­ver­stein
    Par­adise Lost by John Mil­ton

    Upon Apple­ton House by Andrew Mar­vell

  • paola rl says:

    “The Alchemist”-Paulo Coel­ho

    real­ly helped me to move on and get through a very sad moment in my life and I can find hope and strength in it every time I read it!

  • backspace says:

    Sur­pris­ing­ly poor list.

  • Avi says:

    It’s beyond shock­ing that The Unbear­able Light­ness of Being, or any Kun­dera for that mat­ter, goes unmen­tioned…

  • Bonnie Walker says:

    Great list but frus­trat­ing. How can i read all these hreat books? My favorite all time book is Gone With the Wind. It con­vinced me at an erly age of the futil­i­ty of war.

  • Vicky says:

    Bury my Heart at Wound­ed Knee -

    When I read this I was hor­ri­fied. It was the first time I real­ized my for­mal edu­ca­tion was san­i­tized. It opened my eyes to oth­er per­spec­tives.

    I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou was a pro­found read for a shel­tered lit­tle white girl from the sub­urbs. It changed me in sub­tle ways, and exposed me to pover­ty, prej­u­dice and tri­umph in a very per­son­al man­ner.

  • Yasho Sarda says:

    As a Man Thin­keth By James allen
    beau­ti­ful­ly writ­ten and tru­ly inspir­ing.
    you can get a free down­load from james allen library

  • l.k.adhikary says:

    The Secret by Rhon­da Byrne & The Pow­er by the same author changed my life.Am sur­prised how till now these do not find men­tion in this long list.

  • John Holt says:

    Instead of Edu­ca­tion. Dut­ton, 1976, (Sen­tient, 2003).

    “This book turned my think­ing upside down and changed the course of my life–it inspired me to let go of my career as a frus­trat­ed school­teacher in favor of explor­ing and then advo­cat­ing self-direct­ed learn­ing. As the homeschooling/unschooling pop­u­la­tion mush­rooms, many fine books and oth­er resources become avail­able, but none replaces John Holt’s vision­ary, rev­o­lu­tion­ary, atten­tive, and spe­cif­ic work, as rad­i­cal now as it was 30 years ago. If you haven’t read him, good chance you don’t ful­ly under­stand the depth or pos­si­bil­i­ty of our move­ment. In Instead of Edu­ca­tion, Holt address­es a huge question–how can peo­ple live and work more pur­pose­ful­ly? In doing so, he tack­les many medi­um-sized and small­er questions–What do schools real­ly teach? What could libraries lend, in addi­tion to books? Why do chil­dren seem hap­py in a par­tic­u­lar school in Den­mark? Through­out, his writ­ing is–as usual–simultaneously rev­er­ent and sci­en­tif­ic.”
    —Grace Llewellyn, author of The Teenage Lib­er­a­tion Hand­book
    “Be clear about this: Instead of Edu­ca­tion, although less wide­ly known than his more famous titles, is John Holt at the top of his game. If you are one of the mil­lions of walk­ing wound­ed still stag­ger­ing from your own encounter with forced insti­tu­tion­al school­ing, and try­ing to spare your own kids from its dam­age, this book will be your guide and a good friend.”
    —John Tay­lor Gat­to
    For­mer New York State Teacher of the Year,
    Author of Dumb­ing Us Down and The Under­ground His­to­ry of Amer­i­can Edu­ca­tion

  • LWP says:

    Toward A Psy­chol­o­gy of Being by Abra­ham Maslow found me at just the right time. But I nev­er did fin­ish it, even though I must have bought at least three copies — that way of think­ing about our­selves was too good to keep to myself.

  • Amy says:

    A Tree Grows in Brook­lyn is an awe­some book and so relat­able.

  • Davor says:

    Ter­ri­bly Anglo-Sax­on and lit biased. I would argue for a broad­er spec­trum.

    Say, I have this book on ants e.g., though I still have not read it.

    Lit­er­al­ly every­thing is inter­est­ing. You might want to start study­ing your friends, supe­ri­ors, col­leagues etc. first. Even yr gro­cer or cashier.

    • David M. Brown says:

      Ter­ri­bly Anglo-Sax­on and lit biased? What does this even mean? The list is a com­pi­la­tion of tes­ti­mo­ny from read­ers point­ing to books that have had an impact on them. It would be biased of a respon­dent to ignore the books that actu­al­ly did influ­ence him and cite oth­er vol­umes instead in order to sat­is­fy the cri­te­ri­on of some­one who wants ran­dom inclu­sive­ness, not hon­est report­ing of influ­ence. nnAnd how is a friend or cashier any kind of book? Those are per­sons. A book, when print­ed, is a gen­er­al­ly an oblong bound object with black type. It is not alive. A per­son, by con­trast, is alive and has arms and legs and eyes. A per­son is not a book.

  • BPannell says:

    Please add “To Kill a Mock­ing­bird”. To me this is mankind judges each oth­er.

  • BPannell says:

    Also “the Road by Cor­mac McCarthy opened my eyes immense­ly to what life may come down to even­tu­al­ly. What will I become?

  • Clete Peters says:

    On my for­teenth Christ­mas, my moth­er gave three hard­cov­er books. They were the first real “grown up” books I owned. These books opened up the world of lit­er­a­ture for me. I have been trav­el­ling on that road for the past 38 years. They were Hem­ing­way’s-The Sun Also Ris­es, For Whom The Bell Tolls and A farewell To Arms. I have re-read these three books many times, and I always come back to them. To this day, it was the great­est gift I have ever been giv­en.

  • Anant pandadiya says:

    The Monk who sold his Fer­rari Is also a book the should be on this list. This inspir­ing tale pro­vides a step-by-step approach to liv­ing with greater courage, bal­ance, abun­dance, and joy. A won­der­ful­ly craft­ed fable, The Monk Who Sold His Fer­rari tells the extra­or­di­nary sto­ry of Julian Man­tle, a lawyer forced to con­front the spir­i­tu­al cri­sis of his out-of-bal­ance life. On a life-chang­ing odyssey to an ancient cul­ture, he dis­cov­ers pow­er­ful, wise, and prac­ti­cal lessons that teach us to:

  • karleen says:

    Go Ask Alice is a good book for teens that opened my eyes about life sit­u­a­tion we may get our self into, even if there not the best or right ones, they helps us get through each day that much stronger and just a lit­tle bit eas­i­er. And mis­takes are imper­fec­tions that help you improve what ever it is you want to achieve and could be a wake up call when your on the wrong path. (:

  • Katherine Webster says:

    Tears of a Tiger by Sharon M. Drap­er is one book that was life chang­ing for me. It was one of the first books that I have read that made me think about my actions. This was an inspir­ing book about a young high school stu­dent who sim­ply was hav­ing fun with his friends while drink­ing. Lit­tle did he know that drink­ing and dri­ving could have con­se­quences. You will not be able to put down this book as you trav­el through the sto­ry of the strug­gles of this young stu­dent. You will also nev­er for­get this sto­ry.

  • Rebecca Henshaw says:

    Walk two moons, and one flew over the cuck­oos nest

  • lorraine says:

    all the clas­sics bronte, poe ‚dick­ens

    but a few books con­stant­ly come back to me ‘The Love­ly Bones’- its the heart bound­ing sus­pense sequences matched with the beau­ti­ful descrip­tions of Heav­en that stick out in my mind.
    Lit­tle Women
    One flew over the cuck­oos nest
    and my soft spot for stephen king books … love a bit of a scare

  • lorraine says:

    tues­days with mor­rie

  • Jacqueline says:

    Cry the Beloved Coun­try

  • Rick says:

    I have two books that have impact­ed my life and I keep read­ing them over and over. The Bible and Mere Chris­tian­i­ty by C. S. Lewis. Both great reads and life chang­ing.

  • Raeana Henderson says:

    This is my favorite book and it can open up the eyes of any­one to learn what true beau­ty is.

  • Raeana Henderson says:

    Ill be see­ing you by Lur­lene McDaniel

  • Ann H says:

    The Celes­tine Prophe­cy by James Red­field — dis­cuss­es var­i­ous psy­cho­log­i­cal and spir­i­tu­al ideas — taps into the source of syn­chronic­i­ty

  • Sandy Witman says:

    I read A Tale of Two Cities in high school. The French Rev­o­lu­tion fas­ci­nat­ed me and I was total­ly inspired by the Sid­ney Car­ton, who in the end, became a moral man by com­mit­ting a self­less act.

  • Der Zauber­berg, The Mag­ic Moun­tain. A reminder that time is short and the issues com­plex. The hearts deci­sions at least of equal weight to those of the intel­lect, and some­times lead­ing to a good deal more adven­ture. “Sug­ges­tions for exot­ic trav­el des­ti­na­tions are danc­ing lessons from god.” — Kurt Von­negut.

  • Tom says:

    “Two Years Before the Mast” by Richard Hen­ry Dana first pub­lished in 1840. It is an incred­i­ble sto­ry of the hard­ships endured by 19th Cen­tu­ry sailors as well as an amaz­ing­ly rich geo­graph­i­cal and his­tor­i­cal descrip­tion of Cal­i­for­nia in the ear­ly 1800s. Made me real­ize how easy our lives are today, thanks to the sac­ri­fices of our fore­fa­thers and sad­ly how few of us appre­ci­ate it. Read it! — and I guar­an­tee you will nev­er com­plain about any­thing again.

  • Elke Sehmrau says:

    The Nar­nia Books as a child helped me to real­ize that in fan­ta­sy one can escape the tor­ture of soci­ety, the mind-numb­ing expe­ri­ence of school, and the emo­tion­al devis­ta­tion of a tox­ic envi­ron­ment.

  • bLliS says:

    Milan Kun­dera, the unbear­able light­ness of being??!

  • yungcin says:

    Atlas Shrugged def­i­nite­ly a big yes and com­ing true today, also I would have to rec­om­mend Where the Red Fern Grows. As a boy grow­ing up it taught me the val­ue of deter­mi­na­tion and the true val­ue of friend­ship in any form and the supreme pain of loss with the promise of hope in the end.

  • maggie says:

    fever­ish­ly writ­ing all these book titles down, see what I can get up to this sum­mer.

  • Aarti Rani says:

    plz… send me some inter­est­ing life chang­ing books.

  • Karen Kowalski says:

    The Kitab-I-Iqan, or in Eng­lish: The Book of Cer­ti­tude. The book was writ­ten by Baha’u’l­lah, and as the title sug­gests imparts cer­ti­tude in the read­er. Essen­tial­ly, a sum­ma­ry of human­i­ty’s expe­ri­ence of reli­gion through­out the ages.

  • syam says:

    I am a farmer. I love this book so much! The One Straw Rev­o­lu­tion — Masanobu Fukuo­ka

  • Abdul Gani says:

    All these books are not of much use. Just read one book and it would suf­fice — The Holy Kuran. You need noth­ing else.

  • P. Jamison says:

    Brad­bury’s 451 has been men­tioned, as has been Rand, Shake­speare (and even Salinger and Bach — less impor­tant but dis­tinc­tive in ways). I’d add West With The Night by Beryl Markham (and her short sto­ry col­lec­tion The Splen­did Out­cast), plus The Great Pier­pont Mor­gan (the best look at his life I’ve seen so far). In auto­bi­og­ra­phy, Snakes And Lad­ders by Dirk Bog­a­rde is also very high-qual­i­ty.

  • Santiago Jiménez says:

    Guns, Germs & Steel: the fates of human soci­eties by Jared Dia­mond. A mag­nif­i­cent way of learn­ing how where and why ancient cul­tures man­aged to grow, estab­lish, sur­vive and trascend.

  • [url=]Christina[/url] says:

    You should have includ­ed “Bhag­vad Gita” in the list. That is an all time great clas­sic high­ly praised by many.

  • ed y. says:

    all of them

  • Ted Brown says:

    Despite its con­tro­ver­sies, Kosinki’s The Paint­ed Bird stands out. When I was 16, it was sim­ply like noth­ing I had ever read before. I remem­ber read­ing it alone and not talk­ing about it that much to oth­ers, almost like I’d get in trou­ble in the same way I’d hide a Black Sab­bath album.
    I liked Tolkien’s stuff too. Weird, at times annoy­ing, but beau­ti­ful and sad. Try to find the John Gard­ner review of the Sil­mar­il­lion. Spot on.
    Final­ly, John Fowles, the Magus, which I read as a fresh­man in col­lege on after­noons out on the bluffs at UC San­ta Bar­bara. A cold beer, a good nov­el, and the set­ting sun. I felt, well, grown-up.
    Non-assigned read­ing makes life liv­able.

  • Mike says:

    - The Snake That Went To School (4th grade: dis­cov­ered the plea­sure of read­ing)
    — Over the Fence Is Out (dit­to)
    — On The Road (14 yrs)
    — Real­ly The Blues (13 or 14yro)
    — Cut­ting Through Spir­i­tu­al Mate­ri­al­ism (27 yro)

  • Kristen says:

    i have sooo much read­ing to do!
    life chang­ing can be so many dif­fer­ent things. but for me (aside from many already list­ed):
    Gould- The Mis­mea­sure of Man
    Dawkins- The Mag­ic of Real­i­ty
    Adler- Six Great Ideas
    McCullers- The Heart is a Lone­ly Hunter.
    *this last one i stum­bled across at a book sale when i was young. thought i had this great find …lit­tle did i know it was already loved by many!

  • Erin says:

    As a kid, The Out­siders. As a teenag­er, Man­child in the Promised Land. As an adult, The Foun­tain­head. Would love to read Man­child and the Out­siders again…as for the Fountainhead…fascinating phi­los­o­phy. I read and re-read Roark’s speech in court. I ignore Rand’s fol­low­ers. Her phi­los­o­phy, to me, is very per­son­al and about one’s cre­ativ­i­ty; one’s goals as a human being. Noth­ing is more per­son­al that one’s own cre­ativ­i­ty and goals.

  • As a writer, To Have and Have Not, prob­a­bly made the most influ­ence on me. I was around 17 and been taught by my teach­ers this idea a nov­el must be linear.n I read Hem­ing­way’s Key West tale and thought, ‘what the hel­l’s he doing, switch­ing pov like that. He’s just doing what­ev­er he wan­t’s.’ Then I read it a cou­ple more times cuz I was fas­ci­nat­ed by how it just worked. That was about 30 some years ago, still a favorite book, and have always since wrote what­ev­er and how­ev­er the hell I want­ed as long I thought it was work­ing. It showed me there was more than one way to skin a story.nZ&AMM blew me away too.

  • Angela Minton says:

    I must agree with the sug­ges­tion to add “To Kill a Mock­ing­bird” to this list. Harp­er Lee’s book, writ­ten from a child’s view point, scratch­es at the sim­plest yet, dark­est parts of all of us, while at the same time show­ing us that we can, in the end, tri­umph over our uni­ver­sal ten­den­cy toward hatred and intol­er­ance. The book is time­less.

  • Melissa says:

    Dark­ness Vis­i­ble by William Sty­ron!

  • BurakKumuk says:

    Zor­ba by far is the great­est life chang­ing book ever. Espe­cial­ly if you are old­er than 30 and male.…

  • Fergus Quinlan says:

    The Self­ish Gene: by Richard Dawkins.n The most chal­leng­ing book I have read since Bertrand Rus­sel. Look­ing at the world through the eyes of the gene it is inspir­ing and more than a lit­tle unset­tling. Are we just the sur­vival machines and repli­ca­tors of our our draw­ing and spec­i­fi­ca­tion. Or can we take con­trol with our new found cog­nis­nce? A mas­ter­piece of sci­ence writ­ing

  • nathaniel dionysus says:

    Morav­agine by Blaise Cen­drars changed my life.

  • Micayla vranic says:

    A tree grows in Brook­lyn, by Bet­ty Smith, is a life-chang­ing, sim­ply beau­ti­ful read.

  • Rach says:

    The Bible — stands alone and above. I ploughed through the exis­ten­tial­ists, Sartre, Camus, Niet­zsche, Dos­to­evsky, stud­ied Bud­dhism, check out new age, got into r.d. Laing and thought Jung was get­ting close to some­thing… Avoid­ed the bible as any­thing worth­while, read it and con­clud­ed Jesus was the per­fect man but that mir­a­cle stuff I just did­n’t get. One day I sur­ren­dered and said, ok, I’m not run­ning from You any­more. You can have my life to do Your will. nLife is big­ger, wider, more peace­ful and free than I imag­ined, in my Jesus.nSo, the Bible. Start with the book of John. Love.….

  • G Hamilton says:

    I would sug­gest:
    Gul­liv­er’s Trav­els (Jonathan Swift); Alice Through the Look­ing Glass (Lewis Carol)and Hitch­hik­ers Guide to the Galaxy (Dou­glas Adams; as books that work on dif­fer­ent lev­els simul­ta­ne­ous­ly.
    Gul­liv­er’s Trav­els is a scathing dia­tribe on the human con­di­tion; a polit­i­cal satire and a tale of adven­ture all in one book.
    Oth­er books have shaped my; view of: Life the Uni­verse and Every­thing:
    Zen and the Art of Motor­cy­cle Main­te­nance (Robert Pir­sig)
    The Illu­mi­nate Papers
    (Robert Anton Wil­son)
    (George Orwell)
    .…. to name but a few.

    I believe the Scot­tish Philoso­pher, David Hume, was cor­rect when he said “Rea­son should be the slave of pas­sion”.

  • Jamiela Ismail says:

    the prophet by Khalil Gibran is awe­some. some real thought pro­vok­ing poet­ry! intu­itive well­ness by lau­ra alden kamm is good as well.

  • Jack Lyon says:

    The Book of Mor­mon, for ask­ing an over­rid­ing ques­tion: “Why can’t we all just get along?”

  • Jim says:

    “Auto­bi­og­ra­phy of a Yogi” by Para­me­hansa Yoganan­da. Eas­i­ly the most impor­tant book of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry because it’s a true spir­i­tu­al Mas­ter writ­ing in Eng­lish about the sci­en­tif­ic meth­ods we can use to draw clos­er to God. The book is also Incred­i­bly enter­tain­ing and wit­ty and a fas­ci­nat­ing jour­nal of a world trav­eller who met Gand­hi, Pres­i­dent Coolidge and many others…A tru­ly life chang­ing book…

  • Jim says:

    Glad to see “AY”…I thought I was the only one!

  • Tatiana says:

    No naked lunch??? No Bur­roughs???

  • Max says:

    “The Pow­er of Now” by Eck­hart Tolle. This book saved my life. I read it in the midst of sui­ci­dal depres­sion, and now three years lat­er, I enjoy life in near­ly every moment. It points to san­i­ty in the midst of this insane world.

  • Jill Beerman says:

    Catch-22 (Joseph Heller ) — changed my life when I first read it at 13. It taught me not to trust author­i­ty and to be cyn­i­cal about almost every­thing, yet look for some glim­mer of hope. And laugh out loud fun­ny!

    Moby-Dick (Her­man Mel­vivlle) — Ahab’s speech­es about what the whale rep­re­sents to him are shat­ter­ing and the last page is extra­or­di­nary.

    Stones from the Riv­er (Ursu­la Hegi) — for its unique nar­ra­tor, its look at ordi­nary life in Nazi Ger­many and, most of all, its beau­ti­ful writ­ing.

    Chaneysville Inci­dent (David Bradley) — a mas­ter­piece; it not only elab­o­rates on the black expe­ri­ence, present and past, but on the impor­tance of know­ing one’s iden­ti­ty and where one its in the world. And the writ­ing is won­der­ful, too.

    Going After Cac­cia­to — (Tim O’Brien) — I know The Things They Car­ried is prob­a­bly more read because they teach it now in school, but the mag­i­cal real­ism he brings to Cac­cia­to gives it some­thing unique. It’s a one of a kind war nov­el, but with a strong writer total­ly in charge. And once again, the writ­ing is gor­geous.

  • Jim B. says:

    I thought i respond­ed to this sev­er­al years ago but just in case it was on anoth­er thread then i must men­tion Niet­zsche’s “The Gay Sci­ence”. Read before reach­ing the age of 25 yrs.old

  • John Christopher Thomas says:

    The Upan­ishads is some­thing I have con­tin­u­al­ly gone back to over the years.

  • bellabell says:

    alchemist it is one of the best books i have ever gives us a good mes­sage to suc­ceed in life.

  • Lawrence says:

    The Bible — Atlas Shrugged — Pil­grim’s Progress — Susi­la, Bud­hi, Dhar­ma — The Qui­et Mind — Nine O’clock in the Morn­ing — Sid­dhartha — Krish­na­mur­ti — all changed my life. After that there are only trav­el books for enter­tain­ment. Sug­gest Mary Kings­ley’s Trav­els in West Africa (very fun­ny)

  • Anonymousbob says:

    The Giv­er is.……beautiful. It teach­es us that peo­ple are blind towards the truth of the real world and why they are so igno­rant about it and reluc­tant to accept. This piece of lit­er­a­ture is the def­i­n­i­tion of devel­op­ment; it buries the old flaws and comes out with new and improved ways of liv­ing. But in real­i­ty these “old flaws” are neces­si­ties in our world, and the new devel­op­ments that makes this world so easy to live in are real­ly hurt­ing us. They give milk with­out the cow. Those who have access to them learn to take their lux­u­ry for gran­ite and begin to for­get what the mean­ing of life real­ly is. Some may argue that we are just using are world to fit our needs, such as a mole may dig a hole in ones gar­den to have shel­ter. We are not like the mole. Some may argue that we are sim­ply using our increased intel­li­gence to cre­ate these liv­ing con­di­tions, but I don’t see apes dig­ging huge pits in the ground to cre­ate inef­fi­cient fuel sources that mur­der our ozone. Sor­ry, not our ozone, the Cir­cle of Life’s ozone. A cir­cle we have bro­ken apart from.

    Milk with­out the cow.

  • Pseudonymousbob says:

    Art in writ­ing, but I think you could word that dif­fer­ent­ly…

  • Anonymousbob says:

    You have a point. Nowa­days we must keep our­selves from rant­i­ng about the issues and instead search for solu­tions to our prob­lems. A con­tin­u­ous stream of neg­a­tiv­i­ty towards one sub­ject won’t make it dis­ap­pear overnight. This is some­thing I have to work on, because cur­rent­ly I am a big fat hyp­ocrite. We must take it upon our­selves to fix these faults, for we can­not com­plain enough to get ones atten­tion, one who is in the right posi­tion to do so. If we take it upon our­selves, we will one day come to a posi­tion where we can do some­thing. Some­thing worth while, and for some­thing worth fight­ing for. And to tie this into The Giv­er, we will one day be in the posi­tion of Jonas, where oppor­tu­ni­ties are end­less — you just need to remem­ber to look into them at that per­fect angle…

  • Pseudonymousbob says:

    Very wise, very accu­rate. I look for­ward to the moment when some­one like your­self is in that posi­tion…

  • Thanuji says:

    Under­stand­ing the essence of Bha­gavad Gita can inspire chil­dren and help them cul­ti­vate good val­ues. Here are some of the life lessons that this holy book teach­es chil­dren.

  • david says:

    in the dust­bin with the oth­er garbage

  • Professor Christopher Moeller says:

    Regard­less of your spir­i­tu­al beliefs and back­ground, the writ­ings of Meher Baba of India will broad­en and enliv­en your mind and your life, more than Gand­hi or any spir­i­tu­al per­son before him.

    A uni­ver­sal spir­i­tu­al philoso­pher, Meher Baba writes in deep, pro­found ways about every major sub­ject of study and action in life. From life after death to cor­rect­ing the mis­con­cep­tions of evo­lu­tion and how God does­n’t have to be left out of the equa­tion, from pro­fes­sion­al and lead­er­ship prin­ci­ples to love and romance, the life prin­ci­ples laid out in the books of this man has changed my life and that of my stu­dents for­ev­er.

    I am a Holis­tic human poten­tial coach and train­er, Founder and Pro­fes­sor of Human Poten­tial at The Quan­tum Empow­er­ment Instu­tite™, an Holis­tic Uni­ver­si­ty akin to the old Mys­tery Schools of Pythago­ras and the Bud­dhist schools of the Maji who attend­ed young Yeshua/Jesus of Nazareth (Nazareth was Not a town btw).

    I have an exten­sive library of hun­dreds of books I have been study­ing since I was a child, but none are more pre­cious to me, not even ancient sacred books I was raised on, than the books of Meher Baba. If you read noth­ing else in life, for your own sake I implore you to read even one of his books and con­tem­plate how you live your life.

    I rec­om­mend pri­mar­i­ly “God to Man and Man to God”. The Dis­cours­es are writ­ten from a more East­ern per­spec­tive and gram­mat­i­cal prac­tice, includ­ing using words from mul­ti­ple lan­guages. It can be dif­fi­cult for west­ern minds.

    “God to Man and Man to God” is a ver­sion of this New Tes­ta­ment of God for the west­ern mind. In a world of con­fused lan­guage and phi­los­o­phy, lack of morals and under­stand­ing of much of any­thing: this book makes a world of chaos make sense again and returns us back to the ancient prin­ci­ples large­ly lost to his­to­ry.

    When try­ing to make sense of ancient philoso­phies and spir­i­tu­al prin­ci­ples, this book is indis­pens­able because it explains in mod­ern lan­guage, and in deep and mean­ing­ful, life-applic­a­ble ways, what the old prin­ci­ples real­ly were and where gen­er­a­tions of mis­un­der­stand­ing have gone so ter­ri­ble wrong as to cre­ate this mod­ern soci­ety of igno­rance, con­flict and destruc­tion.

    If you wish to free your­self from the chaos and suf­fer­ing of this world, look no fur­ther than this book, for it holds with­in it’s pages all the keys of wis­dom (and more) that has tak­en me a life­time of learn­ing from the wise of his­to­ry and mod­ern times to gath­er and even begin to under­stand. It has helped me live, in mean­ing­ful and pow­er­ful ways, the prin­ci­ples I once strug­gled to even under­stand.

  • Vilstef says:

    The Dis­ap­pear­ance by Philip Wylie. It shows how lost men and women can become with­out each oth­er. One of the best philo­soph­i­cal nov­els I’ve ever read as well.

  • Lori says:

    Any­one will find your post use­ful. Keep up the good work.

  • Joseph Ellis says:

    Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bun­yan: Beau­ti­ful­ly writ­ten metaphors pro­vid­ing tremen­dous insights into the nat­ur­al con­di­tion of man and his strug­gle to find inter­nal, and eter­nal, peace. For cen­turies it has made a tremen­dous pos­i­tive impact on mil­lions of peo­ple around the globe. (Over sev­er­al decades I have found the major­i­ty of those who crit­i­cize the work to either nev­er hav­ing actu­al­ly read it, or oth­ers who dis­miss it as a fairy­tale, because of their strong bias against the Chris­t­ian faith.)

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