Ryan Healy posted about 12 books that changed his life….read about them here:http://www.ryanhealy.com/books-that-changed-my-life/
I made a list as well….some titles are representative of the author as much as the book itself, as sometimes it is the author’s body of work that was the influence, not just the author.
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
The first Heinlein book I read was Starship Troopers, my first look at science fiction, and I loved it, especially the line about women making better starship pilots than men. I was eight or nine. But the philosophy of Stranger in a Strange Land reflected to me the American culture that increasingly seems driven by hype and spin–and this was a long time before Jim and Tammy. Heinlein was science fiction’s answer to Mark Twain.
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
What Heinlein did for politics and religion, Heller did for war. I read this in high school, and it convinced me that war in general was wrong. I had been a hawk before, but I saw the absurdity that war creates as more detrimental than the so-called good it does. Sometimes there does not seeem to be any other choice, but I’d reallly like to see some other way…chess games or gladiator contests or maybe they should just take them out and see who can piss the furthest.
Little Women (et al) by Louisa Alcott
Jo….what little girl of odd size or shape would not want to be Jo, a writer and then a teacher of wild boys? I envied Jo her hair, as mine was stringy, but she is the reason I wanted to be a writer, and perhaps why I settled for teaching.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
The setting of 19th century England was as far away from reality for a North Carolina redneck girl as the corridors of a Moon station. Most girls go through a horse stage, but this book was about how people treat each other and how they think as revealed by how they treat animals. Sentimental, probably, but again, I was seven or eight when I read it the first time. I loved the insights into the foreign world and the lack of horse sense most of the people exhibited.
Grandmother of Time by Z. Budapest
Beautiful goddesses modeled by women of substance, the divine Feminine, and the earthy stories of real women discovering the Feminine in themselves. As a father’s daughter, I came to accept my femininity late in life.
The Spiral Dance by Starhawk
How to do ritual, how to conjure, how to be the goddess and live in the world. She gave me practical tips that got me through widowhood, bankruptcy and isolation of being single and over 40.
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
One of my English professors caught me carrying a copy of Rand, and began to fuss at me. I told him it was okay, that the book was for a philosophy class. I have often wondered how two people with diametrically opposed world views could learn to negotiate withou either of them being evil…of course, fiction tends to work better if there is a Good Guy and and Bad Guy. This was yet another view of industrialist as evil, the military-indeustrial complex Eisenhower (I do remember IKE) warned us about. …..HELL-OOOOO????
The Internet Business Books 1 & 2 by James Brausch
I found James Brausch form a post on Randy ingermanson’s blog, and began reading it, then bought both books, and severl of his products. I was in the intern program for a while, and that too changed my life and my view of myself. I passed my copy of The Voice Said Obey to my brother, who is now looking to learn how to operate a computer and start his own music business.
1984 by George Orwell
A frightening future, and all too close to what I see around me.
The Joy of Cooking by Rombauer and Becker
Hey, even I can cook! Great quotes and humor about food lore. They quote Mark Twain on the subject of watermelons, saying that the fruit Eve ate was not watermelon, as she repented!
Thud by Terry Pratchett
I continue to learn from Pratchett how to take pop culture and make entertaining literature from it. Thud in particular follows one of Pratchett’s best characters, and shows how many levels a book can plumb. His use of the same plot device for two books at the same time (The other is A Hat Full of Sky) is most instructive. Pray for his health to continue.
And last, one I almost forgot….Teaching as a Subversive Activity by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner
I started teaching in 1973 in a South Carolina school that experienced race riots the year before. The entire English department was first year teachers, except for one who was two years away from retirement. That district and the others where I taught needed some serious subversion of the dominant paradigm, where I was told by my principal, “Keep them in their desks and keep them quiet. You aren’t going to teach them anything anyway.” I went back years later, beaten by the system to see if the concepts of teaching real life rather than facts was just some dream I had. I still agree with many of their ideas, and I think all first year education students should read this book.