The Secret Hunters by Sir Ranulph Fiennes is a book that may not have changed my life but certainly had a deep effect on me. A very, very moving account of a Jewish-German boys life, who went on to become a Nazi Hunter, taken from his diary which was found in the Antarctic by Fiennes.
Another of Ranulph Fiennes excellent works is The Feather Men, which is about a kind of protection squad for ex-SAS soldiers and their families.
Humboldt's Gift changed me; it made me feel a sense of responsibility...
I can't honestly say that one book has changed my life but I know that there are some books that I will NEVER read - but that's a different thread. ;-) If not, I'll go and start one!! :@)
Seasons Greetings to all.
Aww Darren, you've given up on Ulysses! Can't blame you actually, you got farther than I did (I managed a paltry 3-4 pages. *holds head high without any shame at all!* :@) ) Unless you are reading to obtain a qualification or some such achievement, to me reading should be a pleasure, a joy, a revelation, an escape. Joyce was hell on earth to me and I will never again waste my time on him. (with a small apology to anyone who likes or can even understand his gobbledegook)
Unusual possibly but Coppers by Mike Seabrook. He gave me an understanding of how being a police officer changed me and with that knowledge I became far more reflective person
The Road Less Travelled by M.Scott Peck. It was given to me by a very perceptive virtual stranger about 11 years ago and has become my well thumbed bible.
Based on the assumption that the word Fibonnacci or was it Fibonacci would bamboozle readers into thinking that this was such a cunning code sequence, unknown to anyone excepting brilliant mathematicians, that it would be difficult to spot for hundreds of years. never mind.. Facts I didn't know about Leonardo's painting of the Last Supper pointed to an interesting read. Corpse found with gory carvings on it. Photos (had delux version for prezzie) included the glass pyramid in Paris with details of number of panels. Really exciting read...nope. It degenerated into a poxy happily-ever-after. Dan Brown didn't know what else to do with the story he had started.
Rave reviews. Made squillions. The man is a genius but I could do better sez me whilst struggling to give birth to the ubiquitous book inside. Puff; tense. Groan; point-of-view. Pant; action on the page.
It's still inside. This fairly light-hearted comment belies the hours I've spent hammering at the keyboard. Maybe I'll have a ganders at a creative writing course. Perhaps an Open University tutor or two could tell me when to push and when to hold back...
'The Vampire Diaries' by LJ Smith. You may snigger, but I first picked those books up when I was 13 and loved them so much I decided to write my own novel... it's taken me many, many years but I'm just about to send it off to agents and publishers....
I think "1984" marks the point when my reading habits grew up - the change from my early teenage reading to more adult ideas. It certainly had a big effect on the way I saw the world. And my favourite books and films are still the ones with a rather grim view of humanity and rarely have a happy ending!
Or there's "The Blind Watchmaker", which I read in my first year at university. I was trying to get my head around Evolution, still trying to fit God in somehow. Richard Dawkins explained Darwin so clearly (much clearer than Darwin himself ever did) that the penny just dropped.
The name of the book is long forgotten. My Mum referred to it as "that American storybook". It contained a story about some naughty puppies who had to go without dessert, and "no dessert" were the first words I remember learning to read. I was incredibly frustrated that I didn't know how to read, and would have to wait for my sisters to come home from school to read the story to me. When the time came, I learnt to read very quickly and now can't stop. In terms of changing my life, there was definitely a time for me of 'before reading' and 'after learning to read'.
I also remember being at a Blue Peter 'Bring and Buy' sale and asking my Dad for some money to buy Alice's Adventures in Wonderland because I liked the illustrations, little knowing what joy I was letting myself in for. It's still my favourite book.
The book that had a profound effect on me was Anne Frank's Diary. She was the voice for so many people suffering at that time. A voice mainly speaking about the innocent thoughts of a young girl, with little idea of the terrible events that would befall her, all the people with her, and of so many others. I recently visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and it was a privilege to do so. The book is a collection of diary entries but its impact is enormous. It is a book that I pick up time and time again and one that I never tire of.
For me it was the James Herriot series of books I read as a child.
They inspired me to become an Auxillary Veterinary Nurse for a couple of years after leaving school, then 12 years ago move from Surrey to North Yorkshire. About 20 mins drive away from Thirsk (the real Darrowby.)
Still very much in love with the Dales!
For ages mine was Crime and Punishment (get to sneak in an extra one this way!) until I read Germinal by Zola. For me it makes all the points that Dickens makes about inequality and the differences between the haves and the have-nots, but so much more eloquently, and in considerably fewer pages!! The ending is so poignant and brilliant, but I won't give it away.
Kafka: The Trial
I've never read a book that has changed my life although quite a few have stayed with me from childhood to be read over and over again. In particular is Susan Cooper's 'The Dark is Rising' series. It is based around the legends of King Arthur and Merlin and is deliciously magical and descriptive. I still re-read it atleast once a year!
Probably two books. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, which is so amazingly crafted and opens your eyes to an alternate London Underground. It made me laugh and I thought it was simply pure genius in terms of writing style.
The other is the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer. I really could not put that book down. The way the book is written, in the form of letters, is simple, yet incredibly effective in telling a story. Pure genius!
i have to say that in my teens the book that hada profund effect on me was 1984.
but the one book that made me think,stop to look and listen to the birds was THE ALCHEMIST by Paulo Coelho.
the story is mistic and the idea that we can be in tune with something greater than us,and the fact no matter what, you need to follow your dreams.
i think nowadays we're so involve with ours lives that we forget to give importance to the little things in life.
this story just shows us a different route.....
On the Road by Jack Kerouac - couple that with the LP Subway to the Country by David Ackles and you have the voice of frustrated, confused youth in the 60s-70s. The book isn't an easy read and some passages take some re-reading but for me it focused where I was at the time and made me feel I wasn't alone in not wanting to be 'normal' - at 17 that was quite a strong feeling. However like most revolutionaries I settled down (2 children etc) and look back fondly on the book and its effect.
At this moment in time the one book that springs to mind is George Orwell 1984. I picked this book up after my teenage daughter said how powerful it was.AS a mum of three I never really had time to read much and this inspired me to fight for my own freedom and in turn gave me confidence to go out into the world and fight injustices. So after that rather long rant, I am nominating this book as my most influential read.I am now completely absorbed with reading and the amount of satisfaction it gives you to become absorbed in a good novel is amazing.I have just finished the Twilight trilogy which was a brilliant take on forbidden love rather Romeo and Juliet like.
A book, later a film, later a TV play, called `Cathy come home.` It showed the downfall of a family from being crazy youngsters getting married, spending too much money, borrowing for a mortgage, having children and borrowing still more, redundancy, loss of home, woman and children ending up on a railway staion bench waiting for Social services to arrive with the police, to take her children there and then. Horrific, absolutely, but had very funny moments too strangely enough. It also stayed with me totally, and made me fear homelessness and debt, and a huge empathy with and sympathy for the homeless and inarticulate.
Mine has to be "Under Milk Wood" by Dylan Thomas. Although not strictly a book it opened my eyes (and ears) to a world of lyrical poetry which I still love 40-plus years later.
I learned to love humour, and to laugh with people, not at them!
And it taught me to be proud to be Welsh!
Mine was 'My Mother, My Self' by Nancy Friday. It made me thankful I only had sons so that I couldn't pass the faults my mother gave me onto my daughters. (I have to say, my mother hated it!)
Who Moved My Cheese? – a parable on dealing with change in your life, very relevant in today’s economic climate. It’s in the same stable as the One Minute Manager (which I didn’t like), takes about 2 hours to read and for me changed my outlook from “Why me?” to “What’s next?”
'Middlemarch' by George Eliot changed my life. If I hadn't had the unfortunate experience of being forced to read this at school, I might have gone on to discover the pleasure of reading 19th century classics the way they were meant to be read. As it is, I haven't touched one since that 1965 O level exam. So, either I've missed out on some brilliant books, or I had a lucky escape. Either way it's changed something for me.
I still haven't read 'Middlemarch' all the way through, by the way - and I still passed the O level.
If I was to leave aside 'The Book' which changes anyones life who reads it, then I'd have to choose a Jane Austen book. Austen was the first woman author I read that I enjoyed, but by no means the last. My favourite Austen book has got to be Pride & Predjudice. I have read it more times than I can remember, studied it (and still enjoyed it), seen numerous adaptations of it and even enjoyed the rather silly TV spoof version that was on recently, only because of the 'in jokes'. I would like to have met Jane Austen, although I would think she would have been a hard person to talk to.
There are not many authors who have managed to capture the subtleties of the human condition so well.
Four books with fond memories:
Lord Of The Rings
Catch 22 (One of the eight times that I have read this was when I was in hospital with fractured and crushed vertebrae in 1978. I was shaking with laughter when a nurse came and took it from me, saying "reading this cannot be good for you!" What happened to laughter is the best medicine?
One book that hasn't necessarily changed my life, but has definitely altered my outlook is Douglas Coupland's Generation X. For anyone who has ever held down a job they hate for the sake of making money, or has felt slightly sceptical about where their life is going, this is an uplifiting account of the journey of three people who, initially disappointed with life's experiences, decide to make a change; reassuring you that you are definitely not the only one that finds life occasionally lack-lustre.
For me it was 'The Witches Bible' by Janet and Stuart Farrar... to find a form of spirituality that not only fitted in with my militant belief in green, ecological politics, but also respected and honoured the feminine in the divine in balance and harmony with the masculine was a real revelation. I haven't looked back since.
For me the book which didn't necessarily change my life but had a huge impact was The Alchemist. It gave me a totally different outlook on my life which after my divorce was needed!! It gave me the push I needed to change my life for the better.
One book which changed my reading habits was Labyrinth by Kate Mosse. It was so appalling that I have never again touched a book with the words "as featured on Richard and Judy's book club" on the cover.
Two books - 'First they killed my father' Loung Ung - a truely heroic though horrifying account of one child's survival of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. And 'Wild Swans' Jung Chang - the history of China as seen through the eyes of three female generations. From reading both books, I became increasingly interested in global human welfare and policy and the atrocities that had taken place throughout history to the present day. I began following the work of the UN as well as NGOs, and I also started studying environment, development and international studies with the OU! To work with an aid agency after finishing my degree, and being able to help lives, is my aim and my passion.
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