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Life Changing Books
Old 02-24-2008, 07:06 PM   #1
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Life Changing Books

I got to thinking that this is really a reading crowd, and feel fortunate to get to hear your many wonderful book suggestions.

So, if you aren't already tired of book questions: what books have been not just great reads, but really life-changing in some way for you?

Here are mine, from teen years on up to now:

Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand (I'm not antisocial, I'm an objectivist!)
No Exit JP Sartre (I'm not just an angst-ridden teen, I'm an existentialist!)
Gullivers Travels Jonathan Swift (I'm not just irritable, I'm a satirist!)
The Capable Cruiser Lin Pardey (quit work and go sailing? sign me up!)
Dove Robin Lee Graham (dream big and sail around the world)
Sell Up and Sail Bill & Laurel Cooper (dream big boat and don't come back)
the novels of John D. MacDonald (to live the life of Travis McGee, now there's an ambition worth striving for)
Walden Henry David Thoreau (life, figuring it out)
Your Money or Your Life Joe Domininguez & Vicki Robin (money, figuring it out)
Financial Peace Dave Ramsey (money, figuring it out 2.0)
The Omnivore's Dilemma Michael Pollan (changed the way we eat)
Merle's Door Ted Kerasote (incredibly moving perspective on the dog/human relationship)

I'm sure I've left something out, but these are what come to mind when I am thinking of what started me on some path that has led me to now.

“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it's worth watching.”
Gerard Arthur Way

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Old 02-24-2008, 07:24 PM   #2
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I recommend John Delorean's Biography.

This is partially related to money management, but it has a strong moral story behind it that teaches most effectively about not throwing what you have away.

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Old 02-24-2008, 07:40 PM   #3
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I have done quite a bit of fiction reading/writing, so most of the books that were life changing to me were fiction. But some were non-fiction. Here are a few of each.

Woody Guthrie: A Life by Joe Klein. This book showed me how much one person can accomplish in life, among many other things.

Into the Hearth by Kenneth Good. Anthropologist goes into the Brazilian rain forest to study the Yanomamo Indians. He ends up falling in love and marrying one of the women. He takes this lady out of the jungle and they live in New Jersey for a while. This book gave me such a perspective on how our culture and upbringing shape everything we see in life. Everything. It made me question everything I'd been taught, in a good way. This isn't the most well-written book, but it was life-changing.

Your Money or Your Life. It woke me up and I have been fascinated with investing, saving and FIRE ever since. Okay, that was only a year ago, but still.

The Yearling by Marjorie Rawlings, 1939 Pulitzer Prize. First book that showed me that my people (poor, rural, Southerners) even had something written about them. I think I was 15 or so when I read this. I've since discovered that there are libraries full of outstanding Southern literature, but this one showed me that not all books were cast with Dickens-like characters or others that we'd read in school. I guess, more than anything, it gave me a literary mirror to see myself (for the first time), as weird as that sounds.

The Grapes of Wrath, by Steinbeck, 1940 Pulitzer Prize. I know, sort of weird that two books that were life changing for me were back to back PP winners, but that's the truth. This book taught me that there is beauty in even the ugliest of things.

Faulkner. I don't know how I'd pick which one of his was the best or most life-changing for me. Maybe Absalom, Absalom or Sound and the Fury. All I know is that as someone who wrote about 20 pages of fiction everyday for seven or eight years, his work taught me that I will never be as a good as him. lol. That guy taught me that anything is possible with words. He was beyond a master of literature.
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Old 02-24-2008, 07:49 PM   #4
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Anything by Stephen King. Yeah, maybe shallow...but his writings take me away.....bwahahahahaha.
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Old 02-25-2008, 01:38 AM   #5
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I read regularly. Not a lot of fiction though.

Over the years, I have read a number of theology books and books about Christianity.

One book that stood out was: The Sermon on the Mount: The Key to Success in Life. by Emmet Fox.

He had a way of describing faith and life that was profound. It was very insightful.

Fox was alive and writing about the same time C.S. Lewis.

Emmet Fox - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 02-25-2008, 05:20 AM   #6
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For readers here I expect a list to include those that show saving and managing money. I have a different set of nonfiction books, people that achieve remarkable things despite poverty, great odds and political oppression. They serve to remind it isn't all about the money. Follow your dreams!!

A Fine Balance Rohinton Mistry A story about India and four people trying to survive among the castes, forced sterilization, imprisonments. Absolutely fascinating and will make you glad to be living anywhere but there during that time.

Dervla Murphy Full Tilt
A diary of a young girl and bicycle trek from Dunkirk, across Europe, through Iran and Afghanistan, over the Himalayas to Pakistan and India in the 60's. Full of courage, grit and colorful stories.

City of Joy Dominique Lapierre A physician reluctantly at first works in Calcutta slums. The book is much better than the Swayze movie.

Curve of Time M. Wylie Blanchet A woman takes her five children and sails alone around the pacific northwest summers in the 20's and 30's on a 25 foot sailboat.

Loving and Leaving the Good Life Helen Nearing
Based in Maine, written by Helen after Scott died (at 100 years old!), Living and Dying on your own terms. This tells the story of Scott in his 90's building a stone wall moving rocks around in a wheelbarrow. True simplicity.
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Old 02-25-2008, 07:39 AM   #7
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52, I really have been thinking a lot about that Nearing book; read it a few months ago. I think I've mentioned it here before and it is really shares the profoundly personal decision that Scott made to end his life on his terms, with dignity and without fuss, by simply not eating. Powerful book!

Another "travel" book that has stayed with me, that your list brought to mind, was the wonderful early Michener book called The Drifters. It made the exotic places these young people experienced really come alive for me. Still a great read, but the politics are dated.
“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it's worth watching.”
Gerard Arthur Way

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Old 02-25-2008, 10:07 AM   #8
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I rarely read fiction, and I'm sure I'm forgetting something but my favorites (in random order):

The Four Pillars of Investing by W Bernstein
The Millionaire Next Door by Stanley/Danko
Walden by HD Thoreau
The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need by A Tobias
Your Money or Your Life by Dominguez/Robin
The Intelligent Investor by B Graham
Body for Life by B Phillips
The World is Flat by T Friedman
The Machine that Changed the World by Womack/Jones/Roos
Eat the Rich by PJ O'Rourke
The Good Life and it's Discontents by R Samuelson
Free to Choose by M Friedman
any of the WF Buckley Sailing Adventure books
The Coast of Summer by A Bailey
First You Have to Row a Little Boat by R Bode
Sailing Alone Around the World by J Slocum
The Not So Big House by S Susanka (any of her NSBH books really)
How to Retire Happy, Wild & Free by E Zelinski (content not writing)
Work Less, Live More by B Clyatt
Marley & Me by J Grogan
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Old 02-25-2008, 10:31 AM   #9
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In no special order:

Everything by Mark Twain (especially The Mysterious Stranger)


Your Money or Your Life

The Rubaiyat of Omar

Tao Te Ching

Childhood's End
-Arthur C. Clarke

Greek Mythology

Norse Mythology
"Knowin' no one nowhere's gonna miss us when we're gone..."
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Old 02-25-2008, 12:54 PM   #10
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hmm, off of the top of my head and in no particular order:

The Screwtape Letters

The Hobbit (my dad and I read this together; it probably started my early interest in reading)

The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement

I'm sure more will come to me. I've read a lot but I feel that, largely, books have helped shape who I am over time rather than causing an immediate 'ah hah' moment. They've served more as lenses through which I see the world than a bat to the back of the head.
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Old 02-25-2008, 01:42 PM   #11
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Your Money or Your Life

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Old 02-25-2008, 02:08 PM   #12
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The Little Engine that Could

These threads are great -- the thread in one tab, library in another, and in a third, and the books magicly appear at my local branch or in my mailbox.
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Old 02-25-2008, 03:08 PM   #13
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Fate is the Hunter by Ernest K. Gann. About the early days of airline flying and how trivial things determine who lives and who dies.
I heard the call to do nothing. So I answered it.
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Old 02-25-2008, 04:20 PM   #14
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The Magic of Thinking Big -David Schwartz

The Alchemist -Paulo Coelho

The Celestine Prophecy -James Redfield

If you're looking for life changers, read these three.
Rather go to bed without dinner than to rise in debt. - Benjamin Franklin
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Old 02-25-2008, 04:40 PM   #15
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The Number
Your Money or Your Life
Start Late, Finish Rich
Secrets of a Millionaire Mind
Work Less, Live More
The 4 Hour Work Week

and of course, any Dirk Pitt novel by Clive Cussler
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Old 02-25-2008, 05:44 PM   #16
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On Liberty -- John Stuart Mill

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