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A book that has changed your life... Or at least made a big difference

#1 User is offline   starsinmyeyes Icon

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 08:58 AM

After having read Dannydeps' thread on Conversations with God (which I have read), it made me think about other books I have read and which ones have left a lasting impression or have actually created changes in my life.

I remember reading How To Make Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegeie when I was a teenager, and that certainly influenced me as I grew up.

But in recent years, I would have to say that the last book that made a huge difference and still continues to do so, is The Best Year Yet by Jinny S Ditzler (she wrote the book with her husband Tim) which encourages us to think about what we have achieved this year and our goals for next year. It really made me kick into gear and start a scrapbook of all the song/lyric comps I've entered, and anything of note that has happened like collabs etc... At the end of each of the last two years, I had quite a list! It made me so grateful and appreciative, and it also amazed me at just how many small steps I had taken in my journey. I am doing the same thing again this year!

To me, The Best Year Yet has been a life-changing book. I now say to my children "Well, I made today count!" And they know what I'm talking about. Sometimes they even say it to me!!!

What books have you read that have made a change to how you live your life?
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Posted 21 February 2012 - 11:11 AM

Great topic! Although hardly a literary masterpiece...for me, it was a book called 'The Highly Sensitive Person' by Elaine Aron. It was illuminating because it gave an alternative way of looking at certain personality characteristics of mine, which I had only seen as weaknesses until then.

Also in the pop psychology genre, the book 'Emotional Intelligence' by Daniel Goleman helped me to gain insight into myself and, to a certain extent, helped me to gain a whole new way of understanding others and of looking at the world.

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 12:52 PM

Non-fiction

Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, compiled and translated by Paul Reps.
Chimpanzee Politics by Frans DeWaal and others
Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R. Hofstadter
The User Illusion by Tor Nørretranders
The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins
I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was by Barbara Sher

FIction:

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
The entire works of Kurt Vonnegut
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 01:03 PM

the diving bell and the butterfly.. I adored :)

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 03:48 PM

The Tao of Pooh (Benjamin Hoff)

"Lots of people talk to animals," said Pooh.
"Not that many listen though."
"That's the problem."


Jumping Mouse (A story from the Plains Indians, but the version I read was by the poet, Brian Patten. The story can be read here)

There have been others, but I like these.
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Posted 21 February 2012 - 04:38 PM

To be honest, probably the only books that have truly changed my life are any of the technical or inspirational books on photography I've gotten over the years. The very first ones because they gave me the tools to turn photography into a career and the later, more philosophical, because they taught me how to turn it into a career I love :)

Of all of them, probably the most important to me were the Ansel Adams series: The Camera, The Negative, The Print. My favorite photographer teaching me how to take photos...doesn't get much better than that.
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Posted 21 February 2012 - 05:03 PM

The Bible.

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 05:34 PM

View PostGravity Jim, on 21 February 2012 - 12:52 PM, said:

Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R. Hofstadter


I have this sitting on my bookshelf. Started reading it once and can't say exactly why I put it to one side. It's worth finishing, I think.

Thanks for the reminder.
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Posted 21 February 2012 - 06:58 PM

Non-Fiction

Nelson Mandela - Long Road to Freedom
It just reminds you what an extraordinary man he is. Written in 94 as he became president, he retells stories of his life as a grandfather telling his grandchildren. His childhood is almost poetic!

Frames Of Mind - Howard Gardner
The only set reading book I had at university I read from cover to cover, oh the amount of times I had to reference it! But its the book that got me enthused about teaching and interested in education psychology.

Elephant in the Classroom - Jo Boaler
An interesting read on how to make maths fun in the classroom and our perception of taught maths and why as adults we still struggle because the anxiety we went through in the classroom.


The Phillips Children's Atlas - David and Gill Wright
It sits proudly on my book shelf as it has done since I was about 7 - I used to read it religiously as a kid looking at different places, testing myself on the quiz in the back (and when I do pick it up I still struggle on the quiz where you have to identify countries by their outline!)

The Progressive Patriot - Billy Bragg
A look at the changing identify of the english, by a socialist who sees himself as patriotic (and a bloody good songwriter too!)

Fiction

Oscar Wilde anthology - Not only has the easily quotable picture of Dorian Gray but also a collection of his shorter stories that are pre gothic. Some beautiful use of language really inspired me.

Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell - redefined my thought of what a story had to be - 6 stories intertwined and told in different genres at different points in history and the future pure genius

Much Ado About Nothing - Shakespeare - got me hooked on Shakespeare, which led me to his sonnets, led to me wanting to write songs

1984 - George Orwell - My English teacher at secondary school Mr Gregg handed this to me to read and it got my hooked on reading again just when my interest in reading was waining as a 14 year old.

Propa Propaganda - Benjamin Zephaniah - Fine its poetry but its got me hooked on beat poetry but also has a poignant message about racism from someone who has lived through it


Almost put Curious incident down too Jim - such a great read and Alistair The Tao of Pooh is ingenious!

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 07:03 PM

I bought a cookery book with a nice cover (Sarah Raven's Garden Cookbook) just after getting married and I think it changed my life...
the recipes are based around vegetables and when they are season and since then I've been getting more into my cooking ....and especially trying to cook that way (i.e with vegetables/fruit in season)

There is also another writer I love called Wendell Berry who writes about agriculture and food...there is one of his books which has essays I've read over and over and will probably keep on reading.

And at the moment I'm loving George Orwell...


#11 User is offline   DannyDep Icon

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 11:10 PM

View Poststarsinmyeyes, on 21 February 2012 - 08:58 AM, said:

After having read Dannydeps' thread on Conversations with God (which I have read), it made me think about other books I have read and which ones have left a lasting impression or have actually created changes in my life.
...................
What books have you read that have made a change to how you live your life?
That's what we're supposed to do on the Muse, right? :unsure: Inspire? ;)

I wish i could say that there were books that "changed" my life.
I understand Mark's reference to Ansel Adams book.

The only book that I ever read from cover to cover in one sitting was Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea".
But that was a long long time ago. Perhaps I was meant to read it then to prepare me for now? :unsure:

But Conversations with God came awfully close. It has brought me to a state of Transformation though. :huh:
Carry on. ;)
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#12 User is offline   Simple Simon Icon

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 02:02 AM

Hmmm.... in no particular order....

Mathew, Mark, Luke and John (the only books of that eclectic collection of books and letters now known as "The Bible"), because they are amongst the few examples of texts that purport to relate some of the words and ideas of that Jesus fellow; and many of those words and ideas still resonate with me just as deeply as they did when I was a child, although I have a somewhat different understanding of those teachings now.

The Book On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are. [Alan Watts]. (Actually, pretty much all of his books, thanks to the way they helped me reconcile my experiences and perceptions of "reality" around the time that I first read them).

The Tao of Physics [Fritjof Capra]. For similar reasons to the above.

Autobiography of a Yogi [Paramhansa Yogananda]. A facinating book on so many levels, but chiefly, for me, in its bringing the concept of "miracles" into a relatively modern setting and without the accompaniment of any kind of heavy religious dogma. Like Watts, above, Yogananda was a key player in the introduction of Eastern philosphies into the West.

Brain Sex [Anne Moir and David Jessel]. Because it was the first book to cast a truly rational and scientific light upon the vast vagaries of sexuality.

Conversations With God [Neale Walshe], because it contained much that I needed to be reminded of during a certain period of my life.

The Power of Now [Eckhart Tolle]. I have similar reservations about Tolle himself to those I have about Walshe, but I have absolutely no reservations about the essense of his message, which represents the essence of all the spiritual/mystical traditions throughout the ages.

Ramana Maharshi: His Life [by Gabriele Ebert]. Maharshi's "focus" (if you could call it that) was on the relentless questioning and examination of that illusive thing we contemporary Westerners blighely refer to as our "Selves". Although coming from a more traditional Indian cultural context, the essense of his teachings was very much in accord with those that Alan Watts (above) translates from Zen Buddhist traditions.

I'm sure I've missed a couple, but those are the ones that come to mind right now. :)

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 06:11 AM

Too many to come up with at any time, but definitely included are:

Fiction (But true B) ):
Foundation (The trilogy and rest of the series) – Isaac Asimov
Ender’s Game; Speaker for the Dead; Pastwatch – Orson Scott Card
Walden Two – B.F. Skinner
The Art of Racing in the Rain – Garth Stein
The Dante Club – Matthew Pearl

Non-Fiction:
Basic Neurochemistry - Edited By Scott Brady, George Siegel, R. Wayne Albers
The Neurosciences – Vol 1 – 3 MIT Press
Nonparametric Statistics – Siegel
Beethoven’s Anvil – William Benzon
Made to Stick – Heath & Heath
Blink; Outliers; Tipping Points – Malcolm Gladwell
On Writing – Stephen King
700 Sundays – Billy Crystal
Dog Walks Man: A Six-Legged Odyssey –John Zeaman
How Good Do We Have to Be? – Harold S. Kushner
How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
Death be not Proud - John Gunther
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Posted 22 February 2012 - 09:27 PM

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Bronte
The Book of Psalms
The Book of Hebrews
The Persecutor, by Sergio Kourdakov
The Autobiography of Malcolm X, with Alex Haley
Tisha, as told to Robert Specht
Our God is Awesome, by Tony Evans
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, by Dee Brown
Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys
Black Like Me, by John Howard Griffin
The Religions of the Oppressed, by Vittorio Lanternari
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Posted 05 March 2012 - 02:24 PM

Oh, the Places You'll Go - by Dr. Seuss.

Neal
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Posted 05 March 2012 - 07:36 PM

The Great Evolution Mystery - Gordon Rattray Taylor (not a book about creationism vs evolution)

Chariots of the Gods - Erich von Daniken

If you really knew me, you'd know why I picked these two. :lol:

Many books have had an effect on me but these in particular still give me so much to think about in terms of what I enjoy spending too much time thinking about.
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Posted 05 March 2012 - 11:54 PM

I have found it really interesting to read the titles of all these inspirational tomes. I was also surprised to see that some fictional books have made the cut, I'll have to read some of those!

At the moment my teenage son is listening to Life Without Limits by Nick Vujicic (a man born without limbs). I try to expose my boys (and myself) to as many inspirational sources as possible. He has told me that eventhough he has enjoyed

Dan Millmans' Way of The Peaceful Warrior

and the mountain of Anthony Robbins Personal Power CDs that I have bought him,

as well as The Voice of Knowledge book and Cds by Don Miguel Ruiz (which I myself found truly life-changing)

that this Life Without Limits is the best leveller yet. He tells me that he has begun using some of the strategies in his life and that it is helping him reduce self-inflicted stress.

Books are so powerful - I love them

Oh and Neal, I would be interested in hearing how you have been influenced by Dr Seuss!
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Posted 07 March 2012 - 04:57 PM

The World Book Encyclopedia set my parents bought for our home when I was a young boy.

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 06:50 AM

View PostDavid@HoboSage.com, on 07 March 2012 - 11:57 PM, said:

The World Book Encyclopedia set my parents bought for our home when I was a young boy.



Oh, how I can relate to this. :) In my case, it was the "Books of Knowledge" series, now no longer available. They were my joy and my salvation.

One recent major influence, however, has been "The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver. Not only did it generate a couple of lyrics 2 years ago, but it drastically heightened my awareness of how much food I'd been tossing away casually each month, and - most importantly - it led to me becoming a participant in the sponsoring organisation "Women for Women International" as well as in another organisation "Plan Nederland", in which I'm sponsoring a child in Bolivia through her primary and secondary education. I'd say that "Poisonwood Bible" expanded my horizons. :)

Many other books, of course, have affected and influenced me on a number of levels.

A great thread. And a super reading list. :)

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 06:28 PM

Books are useless! I only ever read one book, To Kill A Mockingbird, and it gave me absolutely no insight on how to kill mockingbirds! Sure it taught me not to judge a man by the color of his skin . . . but what good does that do me?

(...actually this is a Homer Simpson quote...)

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 05:17 AM

For me it was/is



The man who mistook his wife for a hat - Oliver Sacks

The conscious universe - Dean Radin
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Posted 08 April 2012 - 11:48 PM

View Postfabkebab, on 08 April 2012 - 11:17 PM, said:

The man who mistook his wife for a hat - Oliver Sacks
I really enjoyed this book too.

Quote

The conscious universe - Dean Radin

I haven't read this one, but the process of looking for a bit more information about it turned up this essay by Rolf Jackson which, despite it being quite poorly written, grammatically (I suspect Jackson mightn't have English as his first language) I found really enjoyable and interesting - not least because it very closely reflects views I have long held about the nature of "reality". I'd be interested to know how closely Jackson's views parallel those in Radin's book.



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Posted 09 April 2012 - 06:23 PM

Thanks to Simple Simon, who put me onto the first "Conversations with God" book by Neale Donald Walsch, I have been reading several of his others.
Currently, I've been reading "The New Revelations - A Conversation With God" and there are as much use of highlighting pens in this one as in the original.

But I've been thinking about the original question of a book that has changed your life and have come to this conclusion.

The only thing that has changed my life is me. I am changing my life.
Just as you are the only one who can change your own life.

I know, I know, not exactly rocket science.
But it has certainly taken me a long time to reach that conclusion.
And it is such a simple truth. ;)
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Posted 09 April 2012 - 10:30 PM

View PostSimple Simon, on 09 April 2012 - 12:48 AM, said:

View Postfabkebab, on 08 April 2012 - 11:17 PM, said:

The man who mistook his wife for a hat - Oliver Sacks
I really enjoyed this book too.

Quote

The conscious universe - Dean Radin

I haven't read this one, but the process of looking for a bit more information about it turned up this essay by Rolf Jackson which, despite it being quite poorly written, grammatically (I suspect Jackson mightn't have English as his first language) I found really enjoyable and interesting - not least because it very closely reflects views I have long held about the nature of "reality". I'd be interested to know how closely Jackson's views parallel those in Radin's book.


The Dean Radin one doesnt have anything particularly existential like the essay you found - it just points out (very eloquently) that the more we test scientifically for things like telepathy, the more reliably we seem to be showing that they exist - Its probably more like the "what the bleep do we know" movie than anything else (not that I have actually watched the movie, but I remember you leading a discussion on it a while back)- I beleive Dean Radin features at some point during that movie, coming to think of it



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Posted 10 April 2012 - 03:57 AM

View PostSimple Simon, on 08 April 2012 - 09:48 PM, said:

View Postfabkebab, on 08 April 2012 - 11:17 PM, said:

The man who mistook his wife for a hat - Oliver Sacks
I really enjoyed this book too.


I haven't read the book but I've listened to a number of interviews w/ Sacks. Especially stories from his book Musicophillia.

I dunno if it changed my life, but I read Bios by Charles Wilson a couple of years ago and, Sci-Fi nerd that I am, I just keep thinking about the ideas in this book. Basically it explores the idea of us interacting with an alien biosphere. I've read a lot of Sci-Fi and it's actually something I'd never really considered and I just found it terrifically interesting.

Peace,

Ian


PS - Sorry for only linking Amazon- I'm NOT trying to promote them, they're just easy to find.
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