7 Books that Changed the Way I See the World

photo.JPGI don’t think this was really meant as a meme but I’m stealing it and using it as such. I came across this list on the Happiness Project blog, and I think its highly appropriate that I create my own list since  The Happiness Project would definitely be on it! This was actually a hard list to put together for a couple of reasons, first I have a lot of favorite books that have moved me but I’m not sure they’ve changed how I see the world. Second, any time I share a list like this I’m pretty sure readers will be appalled at my terrible taste in books (same goes for music) But here it goes! :-)

1. The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun I’ve always had a fascination with the human brain and how it works, and its a short leap from there to happiness, what makes us happy, why what we think will make us happy doesn’t when we actually get it. Plus who doesn’t want to be a little happier. I really enjoyed Gretchen Rubin’s approach to this book each month she focus on a different part of her life from family to work to money and friendship. It really changed how I look at my days and my life as a whole.

2. Harry Potter Series - I love these books. I don’t think I’ve ever been so sad to see a series end. These book are about friendship and loyalty, confronting your fears and doing what’s right when things are hard, and make the right decision when it’s not easy.  I laughed, I cried, hoped and feared right along with them, how could that not change the way I see the world?

3. Anything by Mary Roach. I realize this is cheating, but I’m ok with it :-) The first book hers I read was Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex which is a fascinating look at well, the science of sex. Mary’s combination of facts, storytelling and humor is enough to keep you interested even during the uncomfortable parts of any subject. Which she proved with Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, where she makes human cadavers interesting and engaging to the average joe. Both of these changed the way I think about every day things like seat belts and sex. I can’t wait to read Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife.

4. Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy I loved this book before it was make into a horrible movie. In 2001 I was leaving Phoenix with nothing but my dogs, what would fit in my car and the pieces of a broken relationship. I bought this book to read at night as I made my way across the country. Frances Mayes story of her time in Italy reminded me that the world was larger than my broken heart and that life and love wouldn’t end at 30 or even 40  :-)

5. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years) Loved the other side of the story!

6. Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions I know another book about the mind! But it’s a fascintating look at how we, as human beings, make decisions. Trust me it will change how you see the decisions others make and how you make your own choices.

7. Slouching Towards Bethlehem: Essays My copy of this book is a hardcover edition with notes in the margins and end paper by the friend who gave it to me. It was the first of Joan Didion’s books I read but hardly the last. I know she’s not for everyone sometimes because of her style, sometimes because of her content.

What seven books have changed the way you see the world?

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18 comments for “7 Books that Changed the Way I See the World

  1. July 29, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    I just wrote a similar post (http://andromedayelton.com/2011/07/whats-your-favorite-book-and-why/) — my favorite four books are also the books which most changed the way I see the world. (Only four, not seven — there’s such a vast gulf between these four and any others that making a seven-book list doesn’t make sense.)

    To wit: Bulfinch’s Mythology; Walter Rudin’s Principles of Mathematical Analysis; Jane Jacobs’ Death and Life of Great American Cities; and Sudhir Venkatesh’s Off the Books. I wrote out the reasons over there :).

    Honorable mention, though, to Opposable Mind, which you recommended a year or so ago and which has influenced a fair amount of my thinking since.

  2. July 29, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Well drat, now I have another post to write for my blog. But I will say #1 on the list is “The Power of One” by Bryce Courtenay.
    Looks like I’ll be stealing another of your ideas! Excellent post!

    • July 29, 2011 at 8:51 pm

      Can’t wait to see your list!

  3. suzi w.
    July 29, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Love that you are going back to your love of books. What a great list. I’m not sure I could pare it down to seven.

    • July 29, 2011 at 8:51 pm

      It was a hard list to make. In part because it wasn’t just “favorite” but specifically changed my world view. Maybe I’ll try to do favorites next and limit it to top ten. Ok who am I kidding, 20! lol

  4. July 30, 2011 at 7:50 am

    I’m with you on 1-5, and I’ll be adding 6 & 7 to my “must read list.” Five out of 7 in common is unusual. For all time favorite I have to pick “The Art of Racing in the Rain.” Funny, sad, and the hero solves his problem, no magic ending.

    • August 3, 2011 at 11:58 am

      that is pretty unusual! :-)

    • September 22, 2011 at 7:52 pm

      The question was “books that change the way I see the world” not changed my life. Just as Harry Potter changed children’s literature and Mary Roach has a new twist on non-fic, I thought Art of Racing became a best seller without the hype of a publishing house but by word of mouth of the readers. It became a best seller on merit not advertising. Readers find the good-read, there is hope for authors to find their audience.

  5. July 30, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    I’ve done my own post; couldn’t resist. http://www.liscareyslibrary.com/2011/07/these-are-few-of-my-favorite-books.html

    I loved The Art of Racing in the Rain, too, though it wasn’t a “change your life” book for me. The human story is excellent, and yes, the man solves his problem, no deus ex machina involved. And no dog owner could fail to howl with laughter at the dog’s version of how the toys got de-stuffed.

  6. August 1, 2011 at 10:34 am

    PACKING FOR MARS is my fav by Mary Roach!

    • August 3, 2011 at 12:04 pm

      I think I’ve started that one twice only to be distracted. :-)

  7. Kari
    August 1, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    Thanks! That’s another 4 books on hold for me at my local library…

    • August 3, 2011 at 12:04 pm

      my work here is done! :-)

  8. September 21, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    On Visual Bookshelf Facebook page, a similar question was asked in November 2009 prompting more than 250 answers, worth scrolling through http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=2481647302

    Some of my life-changing books are:
    Beyond Good and Evil, by F. Nietzsche http://www.amazon.ca/PAR-DEL%C3%80-BIEN-MAL-FRIEDRICH-NIETZSCHE/dp/2070324303
    Our Stolen Future, by Theo Colborn http://ourstolenfuture.org/
    Ancient Futures, by Helena Norberg-Hodge http://www.localfutures.org/isec-online-shop
    The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz http://www.miguelruiz.com/index.php
    Le Petit Prince, By Antoine de StExupery http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/70720.Le_Petit_Prince
    Zorba le Grec http://www.wheelers.co.nz/books/9780571241705-zorba-the-greek/?author=Kazantzakis%2c+Nikos&view=gallery
    Petit Guide de l’alimentation saine, by Claude Aubert (out-of-print)http://www.priceminister.com/offer/buy/613151/Pickel-Michael-Le-Petit-Guide-De-L-alimentation-Saine-Livre.html
    Permaculture principles and pathways beyond sustainability, by David Holmgren http://www.ecoshow.co.nz/Permaculture/Permaculture-Principles-and-Pathways-Beyond-Sustainability/flypage.pbv.tabs.tpl.html
    Ooopss 8! I need to stop !
    I enjoyed the exercise… Thanks for prompting it!

  9. October 10, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    Thanks for posting this! It inspired me to come up with my own list, which was a really fun trip down memory lane…

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