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Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Has a work of literature changed your life?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (32642points) February 24th, 2012

Great words can bring great change.

I’ve read many pieces of great literature that honestly affected me profoundly. I’ll name one here from when I was young. It was Tess of the d’Ubervilles. I remember reading it and getting so excited at one point I had to stand. I cried. It marked me.

Have you read a piece of literature that altered the way you look at life?

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16 Answers

Blackberry's avatar

Nothing that emotional, but I’ve had revelations due to a writer’s words because it was something I’ve never thought of and seemed so amazing to me. I always love anything that gives me the lightbulb feeling.

TexasDude's avatar

There are three novels that changed my life which I can think of off the top of my head.

The first is a book that I have mentioned on here countless of times. It’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, and I know it’s cliche’ because every damn overly-emotional 14 year old out there says this is their favorite book because it “omg chnged my life lol!” but I’m serious. The protagonist convinced me that I wasn’t alone in who I am, and that I should embrace my idiosyncrasies.

Secondly, John Green’s Looking for Alaska encouraged me to take writing more seriously, and I’ve been sticking with it ever since.

Third, John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany has considerably shaped my spiritual beliefs and how I feel about purpose in life, and so on.

fremen_warrior's avatar

Frank Herbert’s Dune – the effect the book had on me maybe wasn’t dramatic, but it did broaden my horizons in that the author had tremendous insight and imagination – changed the way I think about many things (looks at screen name… uh… yeah, effect was negligible :P).

CaptainHarley's avatar

Having read literally thousands of books over the years, it becomes very difficult to tell which ones have influenced me most, but this is at least a partial list, in no paticular order:

The Web of Life, by Fritjof Capra ( This one stretched my mind to the breaking point! )
The Conscious Universe, by Kfatos and Nadeau ( Opened unlimited vistas to me. )
Ideas Have Consequences, by Richard M. Weaver ( Really made me think about our culture and where it might be heading. )
The Bible (The basis for many of my beliefs and my faith )
The Lonely Crowd, by David Riesman ( Made me really think about inner motivations and relationships. )

The list is long.

jazmina88's avatar

The Four Agreements
The Celestine Prophecy
The Bible

janbb's avatar

Four Quartets by T. S. Eliot brings me back again and again to ponder the intersection of the now and the eternal. It gives me some perspective in dark times. Pride and Prejudice hasn’t changed my life but always brings me joy. Time and Again by Jack Finney makes me aware that there were real live people living in the past. The Dark is Rising cycle by Susan Cooper brings alive the mythical magic that lies in England. Poem in October by Dylan Thomas engenders a sense of wonder and longing to be alive in nature. And A Dust of Snow by Robert Frost makes me aware that small moments can retrieve the day.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@janbb : I limited myself to something I read in my youth in my OP, but you can be sure Four Quartets would have been very near the top of the list had it been longer. Mainly because, “Words, after speech, reach into the silence.”

janbb's avatar

Yes, I know we share it. “And the fire and the rose are one.”

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer made me think about my own life. It was the only inanimate thing that made me almost cry. The Bible as well, because, you know. And also A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.

AmWiser's avatar

The preface of the Holy Name Bible. Very eye opening and inspiring. Changed my life forever!

ETpro's avatar

A great many works I have read have shaped my current world view. The Bible was the first. I read it several times as a kid, then again while in Bible School. Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm really hit home. Orwell’s work plus “The Scarlet Letter_ gave me my distaste of totalitarian government and moralistic legislation—my social libertarianism. Dickens A Christmas Carol brought home the evil that greed can do when it shapes policy in a government. The Diary of Ana├»s Nin gave me an appreciation for the other, and a disgust with judgmental, holier-than-thou moralists. Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem, “Ozymandias” shaped my sense of the futility of empire building and the tremendous cost in blood and treasure directed at it. The “Declaration of Independence” and the “Constitution of the United States” shaped my political views.

Sunny2's avatar

As a teen, I thought the way of life in You Can’t Take It with You sounded ideal. That’s what I wanted; everybody do whatever turns you on. Let anybody live in your household that needs to. Have a good time and stand by whatever you believe in. The realities of living let me down. In real life, it doesn’t work that way. What was a comedy, and so appealing, could not be a reality unless it was well funded and there were many caretakers. Hmm. There are places for retirees that sound like that. Now where could I get the money?

linguaphile's avatar

Howl by Ginsburg, Invictus by W.E. Henley, along with a good number of other poems. For life-changing moments, I seem to be affected more by poetry and lyrics than by stories.

“Aesthetics” by Jacques Maritain changed my perspective of creativity, creating and beauty.

I used to read about 15 novels a week, no exaggeration, so it’s hard to identify ONE book that changed my life, but I’ve had many books that changed my perspective in one way or another.

The book that got me out of my marriage wasn’t literature, but a book by Terence Real, “How Can I Get Through to You.”

Arewethereyet's avatar

Some of my Top 10— Margaret Attwood, (Oryx and Crake) Tim Winton (Dirt Music), Gabriel Garcia Marquez (everything but esp One Hundred Years of Solitude), The Life of Pi, and Dickens for his raw visceral description of ordinary life.

Arewethereyet's avatar

I read Kafka at university and this was my lightbulb moment when I realized my like was like a Kafka novel

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