This Book Changed My Life
Remember that reading experience that transformed your worldview?
As traverse the internet, our team keeps stumbling over great stories from people about books that influenced their perceptions or even changed their overall viewpoint. We all have that book that we encountered in our lives that spoke to us in ways that changed the way we think. This may have been a story you read as a child that inspired and propelled you to a future career, or something you came across during a transitional period in your life. Whatever it was, it impacted you in a way that you’ve held on to and look back on.
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It’s no secret that books can make a big impact. This is one big reason that free and open access to books is so important in our society today. Censorship and book banning may impact opportunities for readers to interact with new ideas and maybe even grow as a person. Books and reading can teach us lessons, encourage personal growth, and spark curiosity, passion, and action. Here are a few examples of what people have said about their life-changing experiences with books.
Friendship is a major theme mentioned by readers across the internet to explain why a book changed their perspective and taught them something new. This shows up in all kinds of stories and in all forms- from human friendships to animal friendships.
One reader mentioned The Godfather as his favorite book, stating it has made an impression on him as a young reader. Since then, he has read it multiple times and learned from character Don Corleone that “friendship is everything. Friendship is more than talent. It is more than the government. It is almost the equal of family.” This is something this reader has held close since reading (and re-reading) the book.
The Harry Potter series is also one that has made its mark on the lives of many, especially those that grew up on midnight book releases spent at the bookstore with hundreds and even thousands of other Harry Potter fans. (Spoiler alerts ahead). Readers continuously cite the most beautiful sentence they have ever read as the one-word sentence that changed everything: “Always.” This references Professor Snape’s devotion to his childhood friend and love. It is a word that has stuck with many readers and speaks volumes to the lengths that one would go to for friendship. Many other characters in the series also stood out and taught readers about the meaning of friendship, reinforcing some perspectives and completely changing others. For example, one reader said that Sirius Black taught him that true friendship meant standing by friends through thick and thin and never leaving their side.
There is a special way that books can instill new motivations in people. Lots have stated that books have changed their behaviors for the better and caused them to consider new approaches. For example, Charles Duhigg’sThe Power of Habits was mentioned by one reader as it made her rethink her typical day. Mindset, written by university professor Carol S. Dweck, was also listed by someone as a book that taught them new habits. It focused on having a growth mindset over a fixed mindset and the reader attests to how it fundamentally changed everything.
Health habits were mentioned as well with one reader stating that Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking was their life-changing book. This reader said they had zero intention to quit their habit and decided to quit cold turkey after finishing the book. They haven’t looked back since.
Books are introducing new ideas to us all the time.
Atlas Shrugged, as well as other Ayn Rand books, were popular answers when readers were asked about books that changed their views. Barbara Lipkin spoke highly of this book, saying she reread it multiple times from high school to when she became a young mother. This book changed her perspective in a very fundamental way and helped her realize her Democratic, even Socialist, values. She learned that self-reliance worked for the young and healthy but that it takes a village to take care of the elderly and children. Seeing Ayn Rand’s world devoid of the sick, disabled, elderly, and children helped Lipkin crystallize her thinking. Others mentioned a similar compelling fascination with Ayn Rand’s writings and listed it as their favorite reads.
Sapiens is also mentioned as a book that caused revelations. Some arguments touch on God, religion, society, evolution, and money as well as many other topics. These left many in awe and gave them fresh perspectives on the seemingly commonplace aspects of life. Others have also called it a masterpiece because of all the complex ideas it touches on.
Libraries Changed My Life
We can’t talk about books without also mentioning libraries. By housing free books for all, libraries also house opportunity, hope, and knowledge. These are welcoming spaces that make books accessible to anyone. These books have the power to change lives and libraries facilitate this, changing lives as well.
The “Libraries Changed My Life” blog tells this story beautifully. These are real accounts from library patrons whose lives have been changed because of their local public libraries.
One person used this as an opportunity to thank the unknown librarian who perfectly curates the library’s collections including the music collection, YA fiction, and nonfiction materials that taught her new perspectives.
“Someone in my boring small town had chosen the albums the library should own. Somebody made it happen. Maybe it was the same librarian who put Annie on My Mind in the YA section for me to discover. Or the librarian who shelved the hardback copy of Queer 13: Gay & Lesbian Writers Recall the Seventh Grade, which I found one afternoon by running a finger along the cellophaned spines of the entire Dewey decimal system until I found something I wanted to read. The magic, perhaps, was that I grew up in a small town with a badass library. And the librarians themselves were the magicians.”
-Submitted by Courtney to “Libraries Changed My Life”
Others stated that the library was the best friend of an only child, a pioneer of dreams, and a protector of family time. All insisted that they wouldn’t be who they are today without the library.
Book Censorship and Challenges
A sad reality that many books and librarians have faced recently is censorship and the additional ramifications that come with it. Important books, life-changing books, are being pulled off shelves and are becoming inaccessible for the public to read. In addition, librarians and library staff have been threatened with legal action when they work to protect these books. This is usually caused by the opinions of the minority, people who feel threatened by the ideas that books can share. Libraries must have books on hand for everyone. There is a reason why libraries do not censor or ban books. These actions not only limit knowledge but threaten intellectual freedom, which can create a dangerous society to live in.
Although there are millions of books in the world, it wouldn’t be surprising if each one made a crucial contribution to someone’s life. Libraries do their best to protect that.
Which book or library changed your life?
Help protect access to life-changing materials. Consider a donation to your library or visit everylibrary.org to learn about how you can have an impact.