Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Baby if I Could Change the World

Having worked in a movie theater from the ages of 16 to 21, I have certain songs that I normally don't like or listen to on my own memorized either from having to listen to it as a Movietune or as an end-credit song.

Eric Clapton's "Change The World" is one of these songs. Ugh.

Seguing into changing one's world and listening to things, I was listening to This American Life* on my ride home tonight.

The theme of the week was "Books That Have Changed Lives" or something like that.

One story was about a girl who connected to her dead grandpa through the notes he made in the margins of one book in particular.

One was about a construction dude that started collecting rare books and reading them and he achieved a new found life in this scholarly pursuit.

Another was the requisite David Sedaris reading one of his stories about his kooky childhood and a dirty book he found in the woods growing up. (I'm convinced if I had the time I could write just as kooky stories about my childhood as him. Dr. Mad Scientist assures me that my family is weird. Either that or his family is abnormally mainstream and boring.)

And the last story was about a girl who moved to Nebraska to the little town where Laura Ingalls Wilder grew up. She had become obsessed with the Little House On the Prairie series (which I can't deny, I loved as a kid too.)

Which got me to thinking: has any book changed my life?

There is a small handful of books that I go back to and reread from time to time. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn is one. I like to break that out when belts are tight and think "Well thank god we're not that bad off!"

There are also books/authors I become obsessed with from time to time as well.

Right now that would be Pat Barker's books--specifically her Regeneration triology.

If you haven't read them I highly recommend them.

Unless you're squeamish. They can get graphic in a war-novel sort of way and there are a few Brokeback Mountain love scenes that I find most people who don't like the books base their whole opinion on those scant scenes--but if you can overlook your revulsion of gore and one or two brief bi-sexual romps, then you'll do OK.

Once a certain someone starts working again, I want to buy at least those three books for myself. As a cheapass, that should tell you something about them. I never buy books for myself. Why? That's what libraries were invented for.

If you've made it this far, is there a particular book, that you could say changed your life? (Excluding say the Bible--that's cool if that's the book for you--but is there anything else too?)

You even get a random picture of a cat getting stoned on a cat nip 'nanner.

100_4776

Mmmmmm....nippynanner!

*Because I am old, pseudo-hip, and white, and this is what we do--we listen to PRI podcasts.

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26 Comments:

Blogger Carol said...

I love to read. So does my hubby., Probably on eof the reasons we get along. He doesn't diss my reading. Cause he's too busy reading his stuff. But one book htat changed my worldview? not really. I do have snippets that I remember. I don't always remember what book they came from. Like

Aim high. You might miss, but you won't shoot your foot off

Challenges are a gift. The greater the challenge, the greater the gift.

9:21 PM  
Blogger Jo said...

S.M. Stirling's Nantucket Series and the connected EmberVerse series. Alternative history - way cool.

9:46 PM  
Blogger DPUTiger said...

I don't know that it changed my life, but the book series closest to my heart are two series I started reading when I was probably about Chunky's age: The Black Stallion series by Walter Farley (have read the entire series at least 10 times, own all the books, and four of them are hardbacks that were my dad's). I also love The Great Brain series by John D. Fitzgerald.

But a book that changed my life? Possibly The Sneeches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss. Taught me that all Sneeches are the same on the inside whether they have stars on their bellies or not. ;-)

10:43 PM  
Blogger SiressYorkie said...

I love books and read them over and over again...it's like visiting with an old friend.

One that really got me was Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart". Had that assigned in Uni and man, I've been plumbing its depths ever since.

I think the book fits whatever stage of life I'm in now. Currently I'm enjoying the Alexander McCall series "The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" which BBC made into a 6-ep series, then canceled in their infinite wisdom. Pah.

More drug addled feline pics, please...I derive a sick pleasure from watching a cat get high.

11:05 PM  
Blogger Coco, not as in Chanel :) said...

Dr. Laura books - go ahead and boo and hiss all you want.

She hits the nail on the head when she states that most women are not liberated. If they were women would make more factual, realistic decisions in lieu of those made almost strictly on feelings -- and men.

And sorry Bezzie, but the Bible is above and beyond the no. one thing that has changed my life and so many others before in and currently, and will later.

5:10 AM  
Blogger sgeddes said...

I'm sad to admit that any reading I do now, or have done for years is not really that life altering. I read a lot of mystery novels.

And really any favorite books I have are those I remember reading as a child.

My dad often passes on books to me that he has felt are life changing - I read them dutifully, but still nothing.

7:21 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

Hubby listens to This American Life podcasts on his way to/from work on his iphone. :)

Books...I'm a big fan of reading. I don't know about life changing, but my favorite is Falling Leaves: Memoirs of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter. Very insightful and a great read.

7:30 AM  
Anonymous katie said...

Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank. I read it in 8th grade and I still break it out once a year (28 now). It's about the aftermath of nuclear war and it focuses on a small group of people in a town in Florida. Yeah, sounds a little melodramatic but really it isn't, and the point of the story (which is revealed at the end) makes me think.

7:42 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Who Ate My Cheese?
Loved it.

and as a younger girl (say jr. high I think) V.C. Andrews books were a really strangely disturbing eye opener.

8:50 AM  
Blogger Deeners said...

I don't really have any books that I read and felt that they changed my life. But I remember being a little awkward and strange and geeky in my childhood. But after reading Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett and other similar books I realized that there were people out there that were strange and geeky and too smart for their own good and they were successful and writing books. It meant I could survive childhood and high school like they did and still be who I was. I still know I've met a bit of a kindred soul when I use "42" as an answer to a question and they laugh too.

9:23 AM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Possum Living by Dolly Freed.

It totally changed my life!

9:34 AM  
Blogger rita said...

I was going to say "Twilight series", but then I saw someone mentioned Alas, Babylon. That's the one for me. I grew up in the shadow of the Cuban Missle Crisis and have always had nuclear annihilation in the back of my mind. Another good one in the same genre, Level 7. Terrifying.

And I love to terrify myself.

9:43 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. It was given to me by a neighbor when I was 14 as a gift for taking care of their dog while they were out of town. At the time, I was reading books with titles like "Betty Jean, Prom Queen" and was in no way ready for Bell Jar! But having read it, there was no going back to poor old Betty Jean. Changed my reading landscape permanently and, I like to think, for the better.

9:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess if I have to tell of one book it would have to be the Quilt book by Carla Hassler. Turned me on to quilting and made me the quilter I am today.
Nice picture of Springs!
Love, Mom

9:58 AM  
Blogger Diddy said...

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Had to read it for English Lit. I re-read it every couple of years. I just sticks with me.

I was a big fan of the, Little House on the Prairie Books as a kid too.

10:46 AM  
Blogger Mag said...

I think you should write up your childhood stories and attempt to get them published. People love to read about what they perceive to be a "different" world. Alaska on its own is an "exotic" subject to most people.

Book that changed my life, The Handmaid's Tale, by Atwood. Not that it is a great book and definitely not my favorite book, but it opened up an entire new world for me. It's more than I can explain on someone else's blog. Loved the post.

11:19 AM  
Anonymous Marie Grace said...

Hands down my favorite book ever is my copy of Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales. I love the illustrations and the old language and the fact that these antique fairy tales are so cryptic and far from cutesy-fartsy stories kids are used to now. My mother gave me the book as a gift when I was 9 which is also waayy weird because my mother knew absolutely nothing about literature and even less about my likes and dislikes so it was some sort of fluke. I still read the stories over and over and gave my oldest daughter her own copy a few years ago.

11:32 AM  
Blogger knottygnome said...

i hate that clapton song too. it makes me want to hit things.

i've read a lot of books in my life but i rarely remember most of them, and certainly not in a life-changing way. as a kid i read the lorax and went through an environmental phase. that might be as close as i get.

12:43 PM  
Blogger T. Budnik said...

Jane Eyre seriously changed my life. One day after all my solo travels, I'll hear my Mr. Rochester calling my name. (I just hope he isn't disfigured.)

Oh, and I like that nippynanner. It's too bad my Monsieur le Coriander Copernicus doesn't like his catnip doobie.

-T.

PS. I heard that episode, too...I just wasn't paying that much attention.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

My DH just read Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food, and it's changed my life....does that count?

I can't remember recent reads which changed my life, but I do remember being obsessed with Sherlock Holmes stories as a young reader. I had the gigantic book of the Complete Sherlock Holmes and I loved reading them, and I loved watching the BBC productions starring Jeremy Brett on PBS.

2:01 PM  
Blogger Cindy in Happy Valley said...

I have to say, I'll read ANYTHING, from cereal boxes to trashy novels. Someone puts a book down, I'll pick it up.

I don't know of a book that "changed my life" but I love Tolkien. The detail in those books convinced me that writing truly is an art.

Gabaldon's series is serious entertainment. Bought it because it had a science fiction tag, and found it not quite my usual fare. It was like falling down the rabbit hole.

A book that completely blindsided me...The Hours. Didn't see the end coming. Really fun.

2:21 PM  
Blogger weezalana said...

I LOVED the Little House series when I was a kid. I think I still have the set somewhere in the garage.

I've read many books that have been emotionally moving, but I don't know that there's a singular piece of literature that has actually changed my life. Right now I'm reading "Good night : the sleep doctor's 4-week program to better sleep". If it works and I can actually get a decent night's sleep, *that* will certainly change my life! ;)

P.S. I was SO tempted to say Harry Potter, just to annoy you. ;)

2:25 PM  
Blogger Crafty Christina said...

I love to read and always have my nose in a book. I don't know that any book changed my life, but I love Tolkien and Chesterton. Amazing authors!

6:38 PM  
Blogger Tactless Wonder said...

Life-changing books, huh...hmmm, hard to say...I got the reading bug all at once at about 12 or 13...when I found out that I HAD to read EVERY SINGLE BOOK in a series once I started it...thank the gods for libraries.

Ones that opened my eyes have to be the ones I read just starting high school: Jane Eyre, Catcher in the Rye, The Colour of Magic, as well as The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, et al.

The straight up fiction taught me that peoples were all messed up way back when...and the sci-fi, as Deeners said, that I wasn't as weird as I thought I was.

(And yes, still reading the discworld novels...but it is so very hard to be #200+ on the waiting lists sometimes...)

9:51 PM  
Blogger Ellie said...

I've been thinking about this all frigging day (and hearing that damn song in my head too)... and I can't come up with one single definitive answer. I read SO much it's not even funny.

I guess the books that I keep going back to as 'inspiration' (for lack of a better word) all happen to be by Madeleine L'Engle. I read A Wrinkle in Time as a 12-year-old, and anything else by her that I could get my hands on once I had a credit card and an Amazon account, both kids books and adult fiction. I still read them over and over, actually.

I read the Handmaid's Tale when I was in college, and glad that I hadn't been forced as a highschool student; I appreciated the message more. Not life-changing, but thought provoking.

(I also read a LOT of sci-fi, mainly Asimov, but also Peter Hamilton lately; very fun and fluffy at times. Combined with the knitting and the post-doc'ing, that secures my place in geekdom forever)

10:27 PM  
Blogger Yeah So said...

"Stitch and Bitch" by Amy Stoller - it was the book that finally finally made knitting click for me! Oh, thats not what you meant by change my life? Well, I have been knitting non stop ever since......Any way, there are two books that I can reread over and over (and I NEVER do that) - one is Blackhouse by Stephen King and the other is Outlander (or any from the series) by Diana Gabaldon. Adventure novels with a strong female lead and a hunky male love interest.

7:02 AM  

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