Most of us are avid readers, I'd assume. I'd like to give some time to what novels and books have affected you dramatically in some way - such as prompting you to change your life or just opening your mind to a new understanding of certain things. Do you read them again and again and find new meaning, or is it once and done?
Kristin Lavrensdatter, a trilogy of novels about the life of a medival Norweign woman. Author Sigrid Undset won the nobel prize for literature for the Kristin novels.
They are really about the choices you make in life, and living with the consequences. Kristin has an arranged marriage set up, when she falls deeply in love with another man. The descriptions of how they meet (he rescues her from robbers), and the development of their feelings for each other are just beautifully written. The reader is swept along with them. Then comes the disaapointment and confusion of her family, especially Kristin's father. The father-daughter relationship is also beutifully done. I should write a hub about these books, I've read them half a dozen times.
Well, good question. Look for my hub on these novels!
For me, it was the "Sound and the Fury," "Pride and Prejudice," "Crime and Punishment," and "Brothers Karamazov."
A bunch more, really, but I'd be overloading your comments with a long, long list.
Crime and Punishment is on my list also, Vivian. Wonderful novel. Thanks for your answer. And I understand. I was going to ask about just one, but knowing writers are generally readers means that few of us can point to just one!
Indeed. And I see you listed "To Kill a Mockingbird"--a novel I adore so very much. I named my little dog Atticus even!
My list of favorite novels is long. The list of those which have had the most dramatic impact on my life and character are:
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
East of Eden - John Steinbeck
The Long Loneliness - Dorothy Day
Each affected me differently. I've read TKAM no less than twenty times since my mother introduced it to me when I was 12 years old. It taught me what integrity, love and courage actually looked like.
EoE - Taught me about humility, authenticity, and the duality of good/evil that exists within most of us. Also taught me that we always have a choice.
The Long Loneliness is an autobiography written by an atheist/socialist journalist turned Catholic activist. Amazing to see how God worked in one woman's heart to change the world.
I really liked A Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr. I have read it twice or more, I can identify a lot with the main character. I also really liked Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans, it opened my mind up.
Song of Solomon. When I re-read this book last semester, for school, I was surprised to realize that many of the ideas presented in the story I've adapted into my life. (dealing with equality, and names, motives, consequences, family etc.)
I'm not personally familiar with that one. Who's the author? I'll take a gander. Thank you for your response!
Toni Morrison. It's an excellent book! I've been recommending it to everyone ever since I finished my Intro to Lit class. I first read it when I was 16 for an American Lit class in high school.
FYI - the story is told through the African-American perspective, so it can be a little challenging if you're not familiar with the culture.
(I had assistance from my black step-father when I was 16 - I read the book to him, since he can't read, and he explained what was going on
Very much worth the read! SOS taught me that people are people, and it isn't your name that makes you who you are - it's what you do.
I read "On the Road", Jack kerouac, just before traveling around the world for a year and although I didn't end up being quite as hedonistic, it certainly affected the way I viewed things!
Got to say also; the Fountainhead (Ayn Rand) and Down and out in Paris and London (Orwell) are brilliant and change your world view.
The Fountainhead was an incredible novel. I personally can't say that it changed my world view, but it certainly helped to open my mind a little and made me think critically about my own life. Not to mention - she was a fabulous writer. That can be said with no dispute at all. Thanks for the answer!
I'll keep my eyes open for them....thanks for the recommendation.
East of Eden, Anna Karenina, 1984, and One Hundred Years of Solitude immediately spring to mind. Of these, the only ones I've read more than once are East of Eden and 1984. One Hundred Years of Solitude is a recent discovery so I suppose I will wait a bit longer before re-reading it.
Of the books I have read more than once, on every re-reading I am as impressed by the novel on that second or third reading as I was on the first.
There are SO many books that have affected me deeply. But the one which always comes to mind when asked this, is Wild Swans. An autobiography about life in China in the early to mid 1900’s. This book is absolutely fascinating. It opened up my eyes to the truth about China and led me on to read many more books about the countries history. It is startling in the honesty of how apparently easy it is to brainwash millions of people. A very powerful book with a very powerful message. The writer was not seeking to do anything other than make known her story. But wow! What a story. And the fascination for me was made more powerful by the fact that this lady is the exact same age as my mother. Yet WHAT a totally different life she lived.
Another one I'll throw in here is The Age Of Innocence by Edith Wharton. Someone turned me on to it years ago, and it was a thought provoking masterpiece that made me certain that I was born in the right time and place.
Lately I've been obsessed with Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury." What an intriguing book. I have thought about it and thought about it. I read it first just straight through. I wanted to see what I got out of it on my own, since it is so hard to read. Then I gound a great webside that had color coded the text so you could tell the time and event being referred to. This was especially helpful during Benji's story. The entire story was written on the website in color code, and then off to the right was the key, where you could look to see the time and place, as mentally handicapped Benji's mind wanders from thought to thought, out of time and sequence, reminded of things from the present to the past with no differentiation of past and future. Makes it nearly impossible to tell what's going on. Then I read the cliffnotes, which helped with the finishing touches of the novel, things I had misunderstood were cleared up. What a project that was, but entirely worth it, this novel of the post civil war south, one of the greatest books of all time.
I have to revisit William Faulker now that I'm all growed up! I tried to read Faulker when I was a teenager and I found him dark and depressing. Now, though, I've gained some wisdom and critical thinking skills that allow me to see past some things for what the real message might me.
Thanks for sharing - you may have me visiting the library fairly soon!
The book that has most recently made the biggest impact on me is "The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism" by Colonel Andrew Bacevich (Ret)
But that's not what you'd call a novel.
As for novels, "The Diamond Age, or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer" by Neal Stephenson made quite an impact on me, as did "Player of Games" by Iain M. Banks.
But for long-term impact, Lord of the Rings wins. I get something new out of it every time I re-read it.
I'm just as interested in hearing about books that aren't novels...biographies, autobiographies, self-help...I want to know about anything and everything that's impacted you deeply and personally - for good or ill. Of the three I mentioned, only two are novels. The other is an autobiography.
And getting something new with every read? I find that happening ALL the time with the three I mentioned, as well as several others I did not.
Thanks for sharing!
One of the many books that I have read and have thoroughly enjoyed has been George Eliot's Silas Marner. I love it because of its simplistic beauty and has reminded me once again of the sweet innocence of children who have the capacity to bring us out of our own selfishness and open our eyes to the seeing the little wonders of the world that we often miss.
My favourite book so far has to be The Book Thief by Markus Zusack. I thought it was amazing and I recommend it I also loved The Time Traveler's Wife, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and Jasper Jones
i would highly recommend No Great Mischief by Alistair Macleod, All About Me by Philipp Keel, and last but certainly not least Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
So many! I have my favourites that I read over and over again. I have just re-read the Chronicles of Narnia - I'd forgotten how dated the language was, but it's still beautiful, maybe even more beautiful than the first time I read it.
I also love Anne of Green Gables and all the rest. Anne has stayed with me throughout my life so far, and I think she'll be with me when I die. Anne taught me how to keep hold of my inner child. I'm not ashamed at all to have her on my list, even though some people might think she's twee and trite.
Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada, was a wonderful book that I read last year. I wrote a hub on it, but I couldn't do it justice in a review because I'm not clever enough!
Lord of the Rings is one of my favourites - taught me a thing or two about fantasy writing, of course. Taught me not to bother probably, because I'll never be able to write anything as good!
To Kill A Mockingbird - goes without saying really, it's a wonderful book. I'll read it many times more.
Any of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels - Terry Pratchett taught me that it's perfectly acceptable to have a right good laugh when you're reading a book. Not all books have to be serious and intellectual, some of them are allowed to be just plain daft!
The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (or Jozef Konrad) was a book that I actually enjoyed reading at school. All of my friends hated it, but it really came alive for me, and has stuck with me all these years.
I have missed out so many important books, but that's the way it always is when we're asked to make a list of our favourite somethings I suppose.
Oh, His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman are excellent. I loved them, each and every one - even The Subtle Knife, which a lot of people hate. Very clever books, very clever imagination.
I have never actually read the Anne of Green Gables books. BUT, public television in the mid to late 80's made two movies starring Megan Follows - I watched them over and over again! I wanted to BE Anne. I thought she was beautiful, brilliant, and amazing!
I have so many favorites but I think Shakespeare started it for me A Midsummer’s Night Dream, for more contemporary works I have my favorite authors in each genre, so it is hard to list them all.
One does stand out though in the fantasy, sci/fi genre for me and that is The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon. It's over a 1,000 pages and I had to special order it - but I don't think I put it down for an entire weekend and even called off work on a Monday to finish it. It's about one woman's struggle through her life to make the right decisions and her eventual rise to becoming a Paladin, chosen by many God's. It was descriptive and engaging. I cried and laughed but the struggle for goodness, all the choices she faced and the sometimes violent repercussions... I cringed. It of course is not in league with To Kill a Mockingbird but as something that affected me when I was in my twenties, this was it. A few times I have even thought back on it when faced with a difficult choice. What was right or wrong to do type of decision. I've kept it all this time, and frankly I can't give an author a better recommendation than that.
You know classics are classics for a reason, but a "non" classic novel can be just as powerful, valuable, and meaningful for one person as a classic has been to the masses. That's part of why I posted this originally. I wanted to get an idea of whether people would point only toward known "classics" or if they might draw our attention to more modern things that haven't received the praise they might deserve!
Thanks for sharing! I'll have to look around for the book. My husband would probably enjoy it immensely, and I certainly can't say that I wouldn't. My exposure to Sci-Fi and Fantasy is fairly limited, but he introduced me to a couple novels by Orson Scott Card that began a relationship of....well, if not love, then certainly curiosity about the genre.
1. Tao Te Ching.
2. Walden - Henry David Thoreau
3. The Outsider - Colin Wilson
4. I Ching - The Wilhelm translation
5. War and Peace - Tolstoy
"Thoreau was a very early favorite of mine." Not an academic, but to mind he is the best america prose-poet of all time.
Pretty fair philosopher as well.
I can't find the quote am looking for but I like the one something to the affect: I see the farmer walking to town with a barn on his back.
Just looked him up on a quotes site, something I didn't have when I used to read Thoreau.
"As if you could kill time without injuring eternity."
"A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone."
"After the first blush of sin comes its indifference."
"As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness."
Chuck Palahniuk has had a huge influence on me, especially his writing tutorials. Reading his work is amazing.
Classics such as Poe also have changed the way I read and write.
The story of Helen keller makes you appreciate the simple things in life & health as she was Deaf, Blind & mute yet accomplished a lot in life.
I am David
the Silver Sword 8
Diary of Anne frank were all good as well.
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