The Book that Changed Your Life

Let’s face it. If you’re reading this blog post, you are most likely a lover of books. A lifelong reader. A bibliophile. That means you’ve read -a lot- of books. You may cherish some of those books and re-read them once or more than once. It’s a cliché to say some event or person or book changed your life. But there is truth in clichés. How and why can a book change your life?

A photograph of a young woman reading a book while curled up on a red sofa illustrates Lynette M Burrows's post, What book changed your life.

Reasons We Read

We read for pleasure or entertainment, for spiritual or personal enlightenment, or for information or education. Books can provide a sense of self-awareness, a feeling of connection, or an escape. Our brains benefit from the exercise with increases in concentration, focus. Stories tickle our imagination and our imagination grows.

Unexpected Consequences

You don’t have to be an avid book reader to discover that a book influenced you in unexpected ways. You read for entertainment and gain new perspectives or awareness of different races, religions, cultures, and places. Fiction and nonfiction can show us we are not alone in our thoughts, emotions, or troubles. Through books, we see how other people handle obstacles and conflict. And books can help us be better, kinder, more tolerant people. 

Books that Changed the Most Lives

According to the Library of Congress, the Gutenberg Bible is the most important book in history. It certainly has historical significance as the first book printed with moveable type. Arguably, the Bible is the most read book in history, therefore the book that has influenced the most lives. But let’s look beyond the Bible.

In a survey by Ask Your Target Market (AYTM) , two books stood out. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl. Their respondents cited relevancy and emotional impact respectively as the reasons these books were so influential. AYTM noted men were more likely to cite 1984 by as their most influential book.

Books that Changed My Life

I agree To Kill a Mockingbird is a life-changing book and the story themes apply to issues we face today. I first read it in middle school. The story touched me emotionally. I could relate to Scout. It’s the first story I recall that made me aware of racial discrimination and “otherness” intolerance. I re-read the story from time to time. It touches me on a deeper and deeper level each time. Its relevancy both saddens me and increases my resolve to help spread inclusiveness and love.

What can I say about The Diary of a Young Girl? I first read this book as a young girl. It resonated deeply, personally. Her determination to live her best life despite everything influences me every day of my life.

I read 1984 in high school. I can’t say it didn’t influence me because it certainly did. It is difficult to say whether it changed or influenced me because of the frequent social references to the book.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle is a book I’ve written about on this blog. Its influence was vibrantly visual and emotionally impactful, but different from the previous two books. 

The cover of Little Women shows a young woman in a civil war era dress at the piano one of the books that changed Lynette M Burrows' life.

I feel the need to mention the book Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. It was a book that touched me so deeply that I reread it so often that my paperback copy fell apart. Etched forever into my brain and heart are the impact of war on the March family, the relationship between the sisters, and how their dreams and aspirations grew. And I have to credit Jo with inspiring me to become a writer. That changed my life in a very real way.

What Book Changed Your Life?

As a reader, I believe books change lives. It is my greatest wish that most people would be readers. Readers are my people. My tribe. I suspect you all agree that books can change lives. Do you agree with the top three most influential books in AYMT’s survey? I wonder how many of you will say the same books influenced your lives?

Please share: which book changed your life?

Comfort for Your Monday Moaning Blues

Traditionally Monday is the worst day of the week. I get it. I used to moan about Monday. Every. Single. Week. And it never got better. Monday became a thing to dread. Until I remembered some childhood lessons. There is comfort for your Monday moaning blues in these quotes. Revisiting the wisdom in some children’s books might even be a cure.

Image background is a rumpled sheet and a rumpled pink blanket. Foreground has a sign that reads "I need cake because Monday." and a yellow tray holding a blue plate of cake. Read this post Comfort for you Monday Moaning Blues

How much good inside a day? Depends how good you live ’em. How much love inside a friend? Depends how much you give ’em.

A Light In The Attic, Shel Silverstein 

Attitude is a Choice

I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I know I can.

The Little Engine That Could, Watty Piper

The story of The Little Engine That Could is about a happy little train carrying toys and food for girls and boys. But the engine breaks down on the wrong side of the mountain. Large, powerful engines pass by and none of them will help. Finally, a little blue engine comes. She’s never gone over the mountain before, but she thinks she can do it. And she does. 

Next Monday, listen to your co-workers. How many of them are vocalizing Monday moaning blues? How many times does their attitude affect the cheerful or okay people?

If you meet Mondays with dread because Mondays are “always” terrible. They will always be terrible. Find something good today about the day—and mean it. “It’s a beautiful day.” Stop before you grumble about being stuck inside. Whatever you focus on, you will carry with you the rest of the day.

Believe

Life will never be the same because there had never been anyone like you… ever in the world before.

On the Night You were Born, Nancy Tillman

Closely related to attitude, belief is something deeper. It’s part of the core of who you are. Sometimes, life wears you down and you doubt who you are. But belief is magic. Believe you can fly through Mondays and nothing will get you down.

The moment where you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever being able to do it.

Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie 

But there was one other thing that the grown-ups also knew, and it was this: that however small the chance might be of striking lucky, the chance is there. The chance had to be there. This particular bar of chocolate had as much chance as any other of having a Golden Ticket.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl

Sometimes, I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what to know. You are the one who’ll decide where to go.

Oh! The Places You’ll Go, Dr. Seuss

No More Monday Moaning Blues

If these quotes from beloved children’s books haven’t cured you, did they help you get through this Monday? If not, reach into your Mental Health First A

id Kit and use a tool to help make this and all the Mondays in your future better.

Image of a cartoon style Glinda the Good witch with big green eyes, purple and pink hat and dress, and a black broom. She offers comfort for your monday moaning.

You had the power all along, my dear.

Glinda the Good Witch, The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum

Listen to Glinda. You have the power to cure your Monday moaning blues. How’s it going?

How to Make Your Library a Subject of Bookshelf Envy

Do you dream of a home library? What’s your preference? Dark wood paneling and floor to ceiling bookcases? A more modern ladder bookshelf? Or a more decorative library? The lighting? So many pieces go into planning a library, especially when talking about a personal library. But what about the books? Here are ways to organize your books and make your library a subject of bookshelf envy.

Image of stacks in Trinity College Library in Dublin is an example of books arranged by the dewey decimal system a way to make your library a subject of bookshelf envy
Trinity College Library, Dublin

The Library Method

Traditional libraries use the Dewey Decimal System. This system organizes books by ten large general classifications. Each of those have 100 smaller subclassifications. A number represents each of those classifications. 

  • 000-099 general works
  • 100-199 philosophy and psychology
  • 200-299 religion
  • 300-399 social sciences
  • 400-499 language
  • 500–599, natural sciences and mathematics; 
  • 600–699, technology; 
  • 700–799, the arts; 
  • 800–899, literature and rhetoric
  • 900–999, history, biography, and geography. 

This system works well in large nonfiction libraries and can work well in smaller, personal libraries, too. Learn more about the Dewey Decimal System.

But you must know the number system well and or have a card catalog or app in order to find the proper book.

Alphabetical

The easiest way to organize your library is alphabetically by Author or Title. 

But what if you don’t remember either? Once again you must have a card catalog or app. Or a friend who remembers. 

Like a Designer

Books arranged on shelves by color like these is one way to Make Your Library a Subject of Bookshelf Envy

You can, if you wish, organize your library by cover colors or the size of the book. It makes for an esthetically pleasing space. And that can definitely Make Your Library a Subject of Bookshelf Envy. But good luck finding a specific title. It also broadcasts that you don’t really read those books.

Usage Method

Often the best way to organize personal books is the way you use them. Mom’s books in her favorite reading space and Dad’s in his. Cookbooks in the kitchen. Do-it-yourself books in the workshop. And baby’s books in their room.

The Stack-It-Any-Way-You Can Method

This is often a method used by creative types who read a lot of books. They have more books than shelf space. You cram books into every corner, every shelf, and every flat surface.

The Impress Your Friends Library

In this library, you’ll find the books everyone says you should read. All the thick, impossible to read books. Sometimes this library also has autographed and rare books. The most impressive titles are at eye level, facing out. Once again, it’s a library that shouts you don’t really read these books.

By Category and/or Genre

This method is akin to the Dewey Decimal System, except it doesn’t use numbers. You organize your books by categories such as fiction or nonfiction. Often within that category you organize your books by the genre or subject. All space stories here and all romances there. All history books here And all philosophy books there. This can be an excellent system unless one of these genres or subjects is very large. Then you might need to organize by subcategories, author, or title. 

Catalog Apps

The days of the old card catalog system are gone. Today you can load you library online on Goodreads goodreads.com. Or you can download an app, enter your books into the app and the app can tell you where to locate a book with that title, or author, or even subject.

Haven’t heard of catalog apps? Check out LibraryThing, libib.com, Delicious Library 3.

Read/Unread

This method organizes your library into two separate libraries. One set of shelves houses books you have already read. Another set house unread books. You know, all those books you bought because you’re going to read it someday.

Your Library A Subject of Bookshelf Envy

Of course, the best way to make your library a subject of bookshelf envy is to have read a lot of books and to have books spilling off shelves, and tables, and any flat surface. You need to organize your library so you can find the books you want, when you want them. If it’s not organized now, perhaps some of these ideas will motivate you to get started. How have you organized your library? Do you use one of these systems or do you have one of your own?

Women Empowering Women

Women empowering women is a strong and beautiful act. How does this happen? Women lift others with their voices through song, art, dance, speech, poems, stories, and mentorship and so many other ways including small acts of kindness.

Art

Feminist art emerged in the 1960s. From sculpture to paintings to drawings and performances, these artists highlight societal and political differences associated with gender identity.  Here’s a list of 15 artists to get you started.

Tammy Mike Laufer (תמרמייקלאופר) [CC BY-SA 4.0 ]

POETRY

Poetry, or words that make music in your heart, has many forms. And there are thousands of strong women poets. Below are two examples.

“Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou

“You are more than beautiful” by Rupi Kaur

SPEECH

2014 Emma Watson gave this fabulous speech at the UN launcing the HeForShe campaign.

There are many, many TED talks about women’s rights and empowerment. Here’s a list of 3,000 titles.

BOOKS

There are many nonfiction books and many fiction books that tell the story of women empowering other women or themselves. 

Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, Margarot Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale, and Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things To Me,  are a very small sample.

MUSIC

Songs of celebration to songs of protest, music has always been a means of communicating messages and feelings.  Below is a sampling across the decades.

1958 Here’s a sample “Songs of the Suffragettes” sung by Elizabeth Knight, released in 1958 by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Listen Here!

1963 Lesley Gore, “You Don’t Own Me”

1967 Aretha Franklin, “Respect ”

1978 “I Will Survive” Gloria Gaynor

1983 “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” Cyndi Lauper 

1993 “I’m Every Woman” Whitney Houston

2003 “Miss Independent” by Kelly Clarkson

2011 “Who Says” by Selena Gomez

2015 Girl in a Country Song Maddie & Tae 

Women Empowering Women

We’ve touched on just a few examples of women empowering women. Women mentor, they inspire through random acts of kindness, they start charities, and still that’s only a small taste of all the ways we empower each other. What examples of women empowering women inspire you? How do you empower other women?

Quotes in the Spirit of Christmas

My Monday Motivation and Inspiration post today is dedicated to the holiday I celebrate at this time of year. I invite those of you who celebrate other holidays to read these quotes in the spirit of Christmas and feel free to submit quotations about your preferred December holiday in the comments.

 Christmas Eve was a night of song that wrapped itself about you like a shawl. But it warmed more than your body. It warmed your heart…filled it, too, with melody that would last forever.

–Bess Streeter Aldrich, Song of Years

In the Spirit of Christmas--not a creature was stirring

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

Clement Clark Moore, The Night Before Christmas

Quotes in the Spirit of Christmas

 

It was the beginning of the greatest Christmas ever. Little food. No presents. But there was a snowman in their basement.

–Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

 

 

One can never have enough socks. Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.

–J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

In the Spirit of Christmas--matchgirl

Thousands of lights were burning on the green branches, and gaily-colored pictures, such as she had seen in the shop-windows, looked down upon her. The little maiden stretched out her hands towards them when–the match went out. The lights of the Christmas tree rose higher and higher, she saw them now as stars in heaven.

–Hans Christian Andersen, The Little Match Girl

 

And how did little Tim behave?” asked Mrs Cratchit, when she had rallied Bob on his credulity and Bob had hugged his daughter to his heart’s content.

“As good as gold,” said Bob, “and better. Somehow he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see.”

―Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

In the Spirit of Christmas

At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.”

―Chris Van Allsburg, The Polar Express

 

You don’t have to celebrate Christmas to hear the bell of joy, hope, love, and the wish for world-wide peace and understanding. I still hear the bell. Do you?

In the spirit of Christmas I wish you Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, Happy Festivus, Happy Solstice! Warmest wishes to you all!