Discussion Forums - Hidden Gems Hidden Gems

Topic: Books that changed your life...

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
  Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: Books that changed your life...
Date Posted: 1/10/2015 12:55 AM ET
Member Since: 9/14/2005
Posts: 30
Back To Top

Thoreau said - "How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book".  Well for me, the major authors whose books greatly affected my life include

1 )HenryDavid Thoreau -  esp. Walden

2) M. Scott Peck - esp. The Road Less Travelled

3) Carl Sagan - multiple books

I'm interested to know what books fellow PBS members would list.

Date Posted: 1/10/2015 7:36 AM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
Posts: 3,275
Back To Top

I would say Storm Canvas by Armstrong Sperry. It was my first experience as a small boy to leave my body and go into the action of the story. I remember the amazement I felt when I realized what had happened. It gave me that first sense of the power of reading.

Date Posted: 1/13/2015 12:13 AM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2008
Posts: 6,563
Back To Top

I have been thinking about this question for a while and today it occurred to me that Shogun by James Clavell changed the entire way I think about life.  I read it at just that right moment in my youth.  Another book that changed me was Raising the Stones by Sherri Tepper.   

Date Posted: 1/13/2015 1:01 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
Posts: 3,275
Back To Top

speaking of Thoreau there is some interesting stuff about him in American Bloombury by Susan Cheever. It's a small book but the viewpoint is unique.

Date Posted: 1/15/2015 3:03 AM ET
Member Since: 5/30/2006
Posts: 132
Back To Top

A Man Called Peter

The Robe

The Silver Chalice

Date Posted: 1/15/2015 12:40 PM ET
Member Since: 9/14/2005
Posts: 30
Back To Top

Interesting - will have to look into some of these books !

Date Posted: 1/16/2015 9:14 AM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2011
Posts: 9,615
Back To Top

Exodus by Leon Uris.  Timing being everything, read this book as a teenager and it opened my eyes that the world outside the sheltered world I lived in could be very mean and equally heroic.

Unquestionably, though, the one thing I've read that has had the biggest impact on my life is a newspaper article by columnist Art Buchwald that my mother gave me to read. It was in the editorial pages of the newspaper at a time when my newspaper forays were mostly to read the comics followed by Ann Landers and Dear Abby.  So my mom calling me over to read something in the paper's editorial section was highly unusual.   I would have been in my very early teens, it was during the Vietnam War, I was a military brat so between those around me, including my dad, who rotated in and out of the war zone, the body counts and war coverage and the politicians fighting over it and the anti-war protests on the evening news every night, and the vigorous debates among my peers at school, the war was a big backdrop to my life.  I don't remember the details of Buchwald's article but I remember it was written so that it raised my fury that anyone would dare, dare to do this to the United States of America. It was so cleverly written that it wasn't until you got to the end of the article that you realized all these atrocities and the thefts of freedom weren't being threatened against America but where actually happening in Vietnam and WE were the biggest perpetrators.  It forever after opened my eyes to the realization that there are always more sides to an event than your's and that 'might' isn't always right.  A HUGE moment in the formation of how I viewed world, and not so worldly events.  To this day I can still remember exactly the scene of when my mom called me over to read the article.  And still to this day I wish I had clipped the article out of the paper and tucked it away in my boxes of treasured tokens from my youth to pull out and remind me that the world isn't black and white but many different shades of gray and how I view an event may be very, very different from how the other guy views the same event.

Last Edited on: 1/16/15 9:19 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: Fantasy
Date Posted: 1/26/2015 2:10 PM ET
Member Since: 2/15/2006
Posts: 167
Back To Top

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe~C.S.Lewis: This is a classic which opened my eyes as a kid, not the first fantasy that I read and certainly not the last, but this is the one that stirred my imagination and me see the vast possibilities in fantasy fiction!

It stirred my other senses too, I can still recall trying imagine the taste of ambrosia and I found it in chai tea, I mean GOOD Chai tea!!

Date Posted: 2/1/2015 5:51 PM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2008
Posts: 6,563
Back To Top


That was a great post.  The article by Buchwald I remember because it caused quite a stir at our house.  My parents are first generation American whose parents and families never quite assimilated.  Criticism of the authority of the USA really scared them.  We were forbidden to ever speak or act against the war in Vietnam.  

 I had forgotten about Exodus.  I too read it young enough that much was lost on me but it moved me so much.  So did Topaz and Mila 18.  Heatbreaking books about real events.

Date Posted: 2/2/2015 4:19 PM ET
Member Since: 8/3/2014
Posts: 853
Back To Top
John Knowles A Separate Peace
Sharon -
Date Posted: 2/3/2015 5:18 AM ET
Member Since: 12/5/2008
Posts: 61
Back To Top

C.S. Lewis - all the Narnia books - read at age 12

T.H. White, The Once and Future King--read at age 12

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings--read in college in the late 60s


Date Posted: 2/13/2015 2:12 PM ET
Member Since: 7/17/2008
Posts: 471
Back To Top

Catch 22, Joseph Heller - I was 13 and it wasn't until the 3rd attempt that I "got it".  Taught me patience when it comes to books.  To read the story, not anticipate the message.

Date Posted: 2/20/2015 5:17 PM ET
Member Since: 10/20/2012
Posts: 793
Back To Top

If any of the books I read had changed my life, I'd be in an asylum.  I only read high fantasy (taking place on another planet) or heavy sci-fi.

Ah yes, I can see me sitting at the table of Polgara, chewing on a mutton leg, suspended by my fairy-elf stool, donned in my emerald encrusted gown, discussing transfiguration spells with the sorcereress sitting next to me.  Pass the nuts, please!

As to other types of books I have read, I can't think of any that have changed my life.  I dislike non-fiction, and I despise self-help books.  I've started a few and slammed them shut.  I can decide for myself how I behave, thank you.



Date Posted: 3/30/2015 9:16 PM ET
Member Since: 8/3/2014
Posts: 853
Back To Top
John Knowles' A Separate Peace
Date Posted: 4/6/2015 3:33 AM ET
Member Since: 11/21/2007
Posts: 7,641
Back To Top

Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin and Death At An Early Age by Jonathan Kozol  Both of these (required reading for various HS classes) opened up my eyes to the amount of pure racism in this country during the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Date Posted: 4/7/2015 9:34 PM ET
Member Since: 8/3/2014
Posts: 853
Back To Top
I liked that one too. Certain books of the Bible. I prefer KJV but read NIV when I need clarification. My favorite books are the psalms, they are soothing and comforting to me. I often feel inspired by them.

Last Edited on: 4/11/15 5:22 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: ...
Date Posted: 6/10/2015 6:22 AM ET
Member Since: 5/23/2006
Posts: 193
Back To Top


Beach Music (I love Pat Conroy)

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Trail of Tears (I must have slept through ALL history classes in high school, as this was all about Native Americans being forced out of the South)


Subject: Island of the World (Michael O'Brien)
Date Posted: 11/29/2015 9:05 PM ET
Member Since: 2/9/2010
Posts: 21
Back To Top

Island of the World (Michael O'Brien) is a tremendous book.

I call it a "crucifixtion and resurrection" book and have pushed this book on anyone I can.