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Top 10 Life Changing Books

Updated on May 30, 2015

From the perspective of an American man

I'll be the first to admit that my experience is not one shared by everyone. Nobody else has lived the same life that I've lived, so each of the following books may impact someone else differently than they've impacted me. With that said, here is my list of the top 10 books that have changed my life:  

Animal Farm

George Orwell's dystopian novel tells an allegorical tale of Stalin's rise in Socialist Russia using farm animals. Orwell, a democratic socialist, was strongly opposed to the totalitarian regimes he saw using propaganda to control otherwise intelligent people between the first and second world wars.  

East of Eden

John Steinbeck's magnum opus tells the interwoven story of two families. Most of this novel takes place in California between 1900 and the beginning of World War 1. Some have suggested that this book shows some of Steinbeck's socialist leanings.  

Nineteen Eighty-Four

Another Orwell novel makes the list. This futuristic dystopian novel shows the evils of totalitarianism and oligarchies and why we must stand up to unjust government rule before it's too late. Once again, Orwell creates a setting where those in power control the information that's fed to the general populace.  

Brave New World

Another futuristic dystopia, Aldous Huxley's world is not so obviously evil as Orwell's. Instead, it's a world where efficiency and advancement through science are king, so much so that people are controlled with non-recreational drugs and entertainment. In hindsight, Huxley was much more accurate than Orwell.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Robert Pirsig describes a motorcycle trip with his son and friends and in doing so looks back upon his life and ponders the meaning of "quality" and the good. No book has done more to promote philosophy in the past 50 years.

Slaughterhouse Five

Kurt Vonnegut drew from his personal experiences at the bombing of Dresden in this anti-war novel set in World War 2. This was also among the first books to acknowledge that gays were a target of the Nazis during the holocaust.

The Holy Bible

No book has had a greater influence on Western society than the Bible. Even a non-Christian like myself can appreciate how life-changing this book has been for so many. The King James version is a must read for English majors.

House of Leaves

This Mark Z. Danielewski novel is the only book under 30 years old on this list. It's written in a bizarre style with many footnotes and references to books that have never existed. There might be better modern books, but this one will hit you hard.

On the Road

With the publication of this novel, Jack Kerouac pulled over on the side of the rode and picked up a generation of young Americans looking for something different. The Beat Generation was the result, and that in turn would become the counter-culture of the 1960's.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

The pioneer of the self-help book, Dale Carnegie wrote this over 70 years ago. It'll teach anyone how to get people to agree with them and how to get their way and climb the ladder, whether it be corporate or social.


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  • attemptedhumour profile image


    8 years ago from Australia

    Have only read Animal Farm, Nineteen Eighty Four and Brave New World My favourite book is Papillon. Loved Of Mice And Men And the grapes of wrath is brilliant because each chapter is written in a different style, the characters are rich and diverse and it has the most amazing and profound ending. I must red East Of Eden Cheers mate.


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