Monday, November 10, 2008

Books That Make A Difference

When I was in library school, my favorite teacher asked our class, “What’s the one book that has made the most impact on your life?” The book that immediately came to mind was The Bible. But, thinking that choice would not be cool to a group of graduate students, the seemingly safe lie that feebly came out of my mouth was “Tom Sawyer.”

Just about every person has a book that has touched them deeply and made a difference in their lives. People of all ages and from all walks of life have their favorites. For example, in 2007 the Los Angeles Daily News asked basically the same question to its young readers. It elicited some very well-thought-out answers, including this one from an 8-year-old who liked Holes by Louis Sachar: “The things that I learned from the book is to never give up and always keep going no matter what happens.” The entire article can be found at http://www.dailynews.com/family/ci_5748869.

The library, as you might guess, has books about books that made a difference. Two books with identical titles, The Book that Changed My Life, include interviews with celebrated contemporary authors. Another, Books that Shaped Successful People, includes a wide variety of people. It’s interesting that presidents Thomas Jefferson and James K. Polk listed books about gardening as their number one choice. Humorist Dave Barry includes books by famous cartoonists and, no surprise, humorists, plus “Various dirty books I discovered when I was 13.”

What books have made a difference in your life?


Linda K. said...

So many books. How do I choose? While working in corporate suburbia I loved the Dilbert humor books by Scott Adams. At the time he worked for Pacific Bell while I worked for Ameritech. My co-workers and I always had the calendars and comic strips hanging on our cubicle walls. He gave a talk once at Motorola and signed a bunch of my Dilbert books with a Dogbert cartoon. He made me laugh and "lighten up" when it came to the craziness of the job.

Karen said...

What a difficult question! My first thought was also The Bible, specifically what Christians call the New Testament, where I find lessons I can turn to over and over again when I'm struggling with how to be a better, more compassionate human being. But many of my favorite books are favorites simply because of their power to transport me away from everyday cares and renew my smile - childrens' books are great for that, and my faves were Tove Jansson's "Moominfamily" series. I confess, I still read one occasionally when I feel a need to escape!

Jo B. said...

Books in general have changed my life but not one book. I have friends, however, who give this honor to John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany and Thornton Wilder's The Bridge of San Luis Rey. It's not shock that both have spiritual overtones, I suppose.

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