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?

2 comments

  1. Writing my own. Investing twenty-one years so far into a mainstream trilogy where I can do anything I want, everything I’ve learned about characters and plots and themes and language – that has been the biggie. The first volume is finished. I’ve re-read it many times. The second is almost finished.

    So many other books influenced me, but even though I have favorites, I can’t say any of them changed my life. Not like writing, and actually finishing the first book. That makes you someone different altogether.

    1. What an answer, Alicia! I love that it it true and an answer I totally did not expect. Congratulations on such a tremendous accomplishment.

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