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The Book That Changed My Life: 71 Remarkable Writers Celebrate the Books That Matter Most to Them

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With the goal of promoting literacy (and with proceeds going to the Read to Grow Foundation), here are 65 spirited testaments to the transformative power of reading from 65 distinguished contributors, as compiled by bookseller Roxanne Coady and editor Joy Johannessen. Books change lives, and if you have any doubts on that score, you need only dip into this joyous celebrat With the goal of promoting literacy (and with proceeds going to the Read to Grow Foundation), here are 65 spirited testaments to the transformative power of reading from 65 distinguished contributors, as compiled by bookseller Roxanne Coady and editor Joy Johannessen. Books change lives, and if you have any doubts on that score, you need only dip into this joyous celebration of reading by 65 people who have distinguished themselves in various fields, from sports, to cooking, to journalism and the arts. In brief and lively essays, the contributors— wrestlers, actors, singers, monks, Nobel Prize winners, chefs, politicians, writers—tell about the single book that changed the way they see themselves and the world around them. A sampling of contributors includes: Elizabeth Berg on The Catcher in the Rye; Harold Bloom on Little, Big; Steven Brill on The Making of the President, 1960; Da Chen on The Count of Monte Cristo; Maureen Corrigan on David Copperfield; Nelson DeMille on Atlas Shrugged; Tomie dePaola on Kristin Lavransdatter; Anita Diamant on A Room of One’s Own; Linda Fairstein on The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes; Sebastian Junger on Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee; Wally Lamb on To Kill a Mockingbird; John McCain on For Whom the Bell Tolls; Lisa Scottoline on Angela’s Ashes; Susan Vreeland on To Kill a Mockingbird; and many more. . . .


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With the goal of promoting literacy (and with proceeds going to the Read to Grow Foundation), here are 65 spirited testaments to the transformative power of reading from 65 distinguished contributors, as compiled by bookseller Roxanne Coady and editor Joy Johannessen. Books change lives, and if you have any doubts on that score, you need only dip into this joyous celebrat With the goal of promoting literacy (and with proceeds going to the Read to Grow Foundation), here are 65 spirited testaments to the transformative power of reading from 65 distinguished contributors, as compiled by bookseller Roxanne Coady and editor Joy Johannessen. Books change lives, and if you have any doubts on that score, you need only dip into this joyous celebration of reading by 65 people who have distinguished themselves in various fields, from sports, to cooking, to journalism and the arts. In brief and lively essays, the contributors— wrestlers, actors, singers, monks, Nobel Prize winners, chefs, politicians, writers—tell about the single book that changed the way they see themselves and the world around them. A sampling of contributors includes: Elizabeth Berg on The Catcher in the Rye; Harold Bloom on Little, Big; Steven Brill on The Making of the President, 1960; Da Chen on The Count of Monte Cristo; Maureen Corrigan on David Copperfield; Nelson DeMille on Atlas Shrugged; Tomie dePaola on Kristin Lavransdatter; Anita Diamant on A Room of One’s Own; Linda Fairstein on The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes; Sebastian Junger on Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee; Wally Lamb on To Kill a Mockingbird; John McCain on For Whom the Bell Tolls; Lisa Scottoline on Angela’s Ashes; Susan Vreeland on To Kill a Mockingbird; and many more. . . .

30 review for The Book That Changed My Life: 71 Remarkable Writers Celebrate the Books That Matter Most to Them

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    [2.5 stars] I was seduced by the word Book in the title but unfortunately, this is a bland, uninspired collection. The essays read like dutiful assignments. A few were worth reading, thus my rounding up to a generous 3 stars.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lormac

    Great book for readers. I mean, come on, a book by authors about which books they liked? How could that go wrong? (It doesn't, in case you think I am being sarcastic.) It's tremendous fun to find one of your favorite authors in this book, see what book they chose and read why they chose it. It is like a peek inside their minds and lives. Some authors choose their book based on how it impacted their writing, and others choose a book just because they liked it! For example, one author chose a cert Great book for readers. I mean, come on, a book by authors about which books they liked? How could that go wrong? (It doesn't, in case you think I am being sarcastic.) It's tremendous fun to find one of your favorite authors in this book, see what book they chose and read why they chose it. It is like a peek inside their minds and lives. Some authors choose their book based on how it impacted their writing, and others choose a book just because they liked it! For example, one author chose a certain book because it helped her establish her understanding of narrative structure, and another author picked The Little Engine That Could because he remembers reading it in bed as a child. Plus, thanks to this book, I added quite a few new books to my "Must Read" journal. This was a great beside the bed book. Too tired to read? You will still be able to read one of the short entries and go to sleep thinking about all those books yet to read out there...

  3. 4 out of 5

    CJ Craig

    I totally love! Don't read if you don't want to become besotted with the quantity of wonderful literature there is for you to read. I'm not even overwhelmed! I'm excited! My Goodreads is blowing up! I totally love! Don't read if you don't want to become besotted with the quantity of wonderful literature there is for you to read. I'm not even overwhelmed! I'm excited! My Goodreads is blowing up!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    As I do with most books about reading, I loved this collection of essays. So, so charming. I haven't read many of the books mentioned by the writers but enjoyed their accounts of the books that matter most to them. It is so fascinating to learn how different books impact different people. In particular, I appreciate reading accounts of books that I hated and understanding beauty in the work. Some notable passages: "A good book changes you, even if it is only to add a little to the furniture of yo As I do with most books about reading, I loved this collection of essays. So, so charming. I haven't read many of the books mentioned by the writers but enjoyed their accounts of the books that matter most to them. It is so fascinating to learn how different books impact different people. In particular, I appreciate reading accounts of books that I hated and understanding beauty in the work. Some notable passages: "A good book changes you, even if it is only to add a little to the furniture of your mine. It will make you laugh and perhaps even cry; it should certainly make you think. A great book will make you dream in regions you have never dared to before, and ultimately it will spur you to create or achieve something new yourself." "reading a book became an act of intimacy. Take in a breath and don't let it out until you get to the last page." "but your journey is never over until you return from it to share with society what you have learned. Then and only then can you begin your next journey in life as the process repeats itself, as you constantly become." "I read my way through a solitary childhood. Books were the bedrock of my emotional and intellectual life, books that proscribed no limit to the imagination, books that were full of resourceful girls, princesses and goatherds and Victorian maidens, not to mention the sand fairies, the talking animals, the scheming step families, and the handsome men who had been transformed into beasts, both real and metaphorical." -------------------------------------------------- I got this book from my mom for Christmas. It is just my style. I love to read about books, reading, writing and people's habits with each. So far it is fascinating. Some of the essays are truly moving. Books provide so much for people.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

    years and years ago i was newly emerged from graduate school with an advanced degree in literature and a friend asked me to recommend books to him. i gave him a verbal list of the classics because i suspected two things hidden in his question 1) he didn't have a strong background in classics and 2) he really wanted to be ahead of the curve and know a cutting-edge title before a colleague, in short he wanted to look good. his immediate response was to sniff and say, "sounds like a high school read years and years ago i was newly emerged from graduate school with an advanced degree in literature and a friend asked me to recommend books to him. i gave him a verbal list of the classics because i suspected two things hidden in his question 1) he didn't have a strong background in classics and 2) he really wanted to be ahead of the curve and know a cutting-edge title before a colleague, in short he wanted to look good. his immediate response was to sniff and say, "sounds like a high school reading list!" obviously he was disappointed in the direction that i had pointed him. i love the classics. there are a few "new" books that are worth the time but they really have to be found out; do not assume that big sales = worth reading. public relations has a LOT to do with the success of a book (i offer "eat pray love" as a prime example.) in 71 remarkable writers celebrate the books that matter we have a book of pure pleasure that can be read on the run or fit in between the this-and-the-that of life since each contribution is 1 to 3 pages long with each response artfully crafted and worth knowing about. the range (which i found most interesting) refers to the simplest yet most startling contribution (Michael Stern on the Sears Catalogue) to possibly the most profound (Jacques Pepin on Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus) with in-between stops such as Bernie Siegel on William Saroyan's The Human Comedy and Jacquelyn Mitchard on Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. ... all on quality high school reading lists (or used to be) but just in case you haven't read them, check out this book from your local library and see why classics are indeed timeless and the cutting edge isn't what it's cracked up to be. my purpose in checking out the book in the first place was to read Harold Bloom on John Crowley's Little, Big and Lary Bloom on John Hersey's Hiroshima and i am glad that i did.

  6. 5 out of 5

    James Henderson

    While the first essay in this book is written by Dorothy Allison, whose novel, Bastard out of Carolina, I read several years ago, the book's other seventy short essays are by contemporary writers, many of whom I have not read and do not know. Nonetheless, this book is a great reference for readers. The contributors include the literatti, if not the famous (James Atlas, Nicholas Basbanes, Harold Bloom, Billy Collins, Frank McCourt, et. al.), and, at least to this reader, the less well known (Barb While the first essay in this book is written by Dorothy Allison, whose novel, Bastard out of Carolina, I read several years ago, the book's other seventy short essays are by contemporary writers, many of whom I have not read and do not know. Nonetheless, this book is a great reference for readers. The contributors include the literatti, if not the famous (James Atlas, Nicholas Basbanes, Harold Bloom, Billy Collins, Frank McCourt, et. al.), and, at least to this reader, the less well known (Barbara Leaming, Carlos Eire, Da Chen, et. al.) There are the obligatory contributions from politicians, such as Sens. McCain and Lieberman, and a few from the usual bestseller suspects, like Patricia Cornwell and Dominick Dunne. The collection has interest for anyone who loves books and enjoys finding new authors. If you are willing to explore interesting and different books you should consider reading this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I was completely excited about this book because I love reading books about what other books people really love. (How is that for a lame intro to my review?) The fact that the book reveals authors' favorite reads only made it more enticing. However, as well-read as I am (or considered myself to be) I have not heard of many of the authors in this collection, nor have I heard of many of the books they selected. Not that I expected to read 71 essays about Salinger, Rand, or Lee, but still. I was ki I was completely excited about this book because I love reading books about what other books people really love. (How is that for a lame intro to my review?) The fact that the book reveals authors' favorite reads only made it more enticing. However, as well-read as I am (or considered myself to be) I have not heard of many of the authors in this collection, nor have I heard of many of the books they selected. Not that I expected to read 71 essays about Salinger, Rand, or Lee, but still. I was kind of disappointed, and to be frank, even kind of bored.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    I found this book to be inspiring. As I read it, I found myself asking the question - just what book changed my life? My answer kept coming back to the same thing - ALL of them! I found this book to be an inspiring collection of essays by a variety of authors. Writing styles, humor, individual quirks; small opinions of each writer could be found in each essay. I do, however, have one small complaint. my list of to-read books got much longer during my reading of The Book That Changed My Life! So I found this book to be inspiring. As I read it, I found myself asking the question - just what book changed my life? My answer kept coming back to the same thing - ALL of them! I found this book to be an inspiring collection of essays by a variety of authors. Writing styles, humor, individual quirks; small opinions of each writer could be found in each essay. I do, however, have one small complaint. my list of to-read books got much longer during my reading of The Book That Changed My Life! So many books...too little time!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    Wow. Wow. The last third of the book was frickin' awesome. For so many reasons. This book taught me so much about why I read and about why I read what I read. This book itself was a race to the end - I could not put it down. But I had to occasionally so I could make real notes on which books to add to my 'To Read' bookshelf. And this book is a keeper - now I have to get a few more copies to give away to friends. Definitely going to read this one again. Thanks, RJ. Wow. Wow. The last third of the book was frickin' awesome. For so many reasons. This book taught me so much about why I read and about why I read what I read. This book itself was a race to the end - I could not put it down. But I had to occasionally so I could make real notes on which books to add to my 'To Read' bookshelf. And this book is a keeper - now I have to get a few more copies to give away to friends. Definitely going to read this one again. Thanks, RJ.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Vivian

    Can't decide on this one. Maybe it was the question itself...most of the authors just spoke of the book they liked the most, not really saying what it did or how it changed them. And since when are political figures "remarkable writers". Can't decide on this one. Maybe it was the question itself...most of the authors just spoke of the book they liked the most, not really saying what it did or how it changed them. And since when are political figures "remarkable writers".

  11. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    I don't remember how I came across this book, but I'm really glad I did. Reading is so important to me, and has been since I can remember. I truly don't think I'd survive without having reading in my life. I remember devouring every Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Trixie Belden book I could get my hands on when I was a kid. I had a "library" in my room where I "checked out" books to my sisters, complete with the little envelope in the back with the due date slip. I had an index card box where I wrot I don't remember how I came across this book, but I'm really glad I did. Reading is so important to me, and has been since I can remember. I truly don't think I'd survive without having reading in my life. I remember devouring every Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Trixie Belden book I could get my hands on when I was a kid. I had a "library" in my room where I "checked out" books to my sisters, complete with the little envelope in the back with the due date slip. I had an index card box where I wrote out a card for every book I read back then, organized alphabetically. I wish I still had that, and have begun re-reading some of my favorites from back then (The Indian in the Cupboard, Island of the Blue Dolphins, The Borrowers, Bridge to Terabithia, A Wrinkle in Time, Good-bye Pink Pig, Tuck Everlasting, Anne of Green Gables just to name a few). My interest in books spans many genres, although dystopian and historical fiction are probably my favorites. My favorite books have made me cry, made me think, and made me want to tell everyone I know that they "need to read this book!" I don't know that I could select a book that I feel "changed my life" but reading certainly has. Some of my favorite books are: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Enchanted, Gone With the Wind, Alas, Babylon, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, The Art of Racing in the Rain, Matterhorn, and Bel Canto, again, just to name a few. One of my saddest truths is knowing I will never be able to read all the books I want to in my lifetime and therefore deciding "what to read next" is always a struggle. I enjoyed this book, reading the many different reasons the authors chose the books they felt changed their lives. I have read some of the books mentioned, and have read works by some of the authors who wrote the essays. I recommend this book to anyone who considers reading as essential as breathing. Just a warning, though- your "to-read" list will likely become much longer after reading this.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    71 authors give their perspective on the book(s) most important to them. There are lots of collections like this, but what distinguishes this one is the interesting assortment of authors and their clever takes on the assignment. For example, the poet Billy Collins discusses The Yearling and Lolita; mystery writer Patricia Cornwall talks about Uncle Tom’s Cabin; Senator John McCain on For Whom the Bell Tolls, critic Harold Bloom on Little, Big, and chef Jacques Pepin on The Myth of Sisyphus. One 71 authors give their perspective on the book(s) most important to them. There are lots of collections like this, but what distinguishes this one is the interesting assortment of authors and their clever takes on the assignment. For example, the poet Billy Collins discusses The Yearling and Lolita; mystery writer Patricia Cornwall talks about Uncle Tom’s Cabin; Senator John McCain on For Whom the Bell Tolls, critic Harold Bloom on Little, Big, and chef Jacques Pepin on The Myth of Sisyphus. One essay that was a nice surprise was physician Sherwin Nuland writing on a little known book from my mother’s childhood, Ab the Cave Man. In addition, both editors throw in their own recommended reading lists. Better still, the profits go to The Read to Grow Foundation to buy books for children. “Growing up poor in China during the seventies, I would do anything for a good meal, but I would do even more for a book. ” Da Chen on The Count of Monte Cristo

  13. 5 out of 5

    JZ

    I was excited when I found this book on the shelves at my local library. Woohoo! I immediately started looking for authors that I knew, and wanted to see what had influenced them. Sometimes it's best not to know. Many of these essays read like a high school book report. Something dashed off for a commitment made in a burst of goodwill, reluctantly fulfilled by deadline. Ugh. When I found out that John McCain was included, I was done. He's not a writer. He's not even a good speaker. The stars are fo I was excited when I found this book on the shelves at my local library. Woohoo! I immediately started looking for authors that I knew, and wanted to see what had influenced them. Sometimes it's best not to know. Many of these essays read like a high school book report. Something dashed off for a commitment made in a burst of goodwill, reluctantly fulfilled by deadline. Ugh. When I found out that John McCain was included, I was done. He's not a writer. He's not even a good speaker. The stars are for the few I found interesting, but none of them were what I was looking for. Meh. Perhaps if I had been younger?

  14. 4 out of 5

    Khalia

    Veteran luminaries voiced the literature that proved pivotal for them. It felt poignant when Senator John McCain provided his offering for the book that influenced him: For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway. A tale of war and great love, Senator McCain undoubtedly saw Robert Jordan as a man to emulate, even in adulthood. I thought it was sweet that Frank McCourt appeared both as a contributor and as an inspiration for Lisa Scottoline. Maybe I am revealing too much. Carry on!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brigitte

    Just what I needed: to add even more books to my endless To Read List! A delightful book. I love hearing how books change people’s lives. They’re so powerful, so personal, that they connect us and make us feel like we’re not alone. That’s my favorite thing about books.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Georgia Herod

    A book about books. A book by authors. A book with recommendations of books read and unread. I was caught up with the reasons for the selections the authors named--and for the reasons associated with reading and story telling. Every writer did not declare that his/her life had been dramatically changed by the selection, but each asserted that the choices had affected them in some way. "Their words are a testament to the life-altering importance of literature and their reading choices inspire us t A book about books. A book by authors. A book with recommendations of books read and unread. I was caught up with the reasons for the selections the authors named--and for the reasons associated with reading and story telling. Every writer did not declare that his/her life had been dramatically changed by the selection, but each asserted that the choices had affected them in some way. "Their words are a testament to the life-altering importance of literature and their reading choices inspire us to return to old favorites and seek out new treasures." Brief chapters made for easy, quick reading. In fact, with each chapter I felt as if I'd been privy to a small discussion group. I have many new suggestions on my "to read" list. What a great way to increase literacy!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Shareen

    I think anyone that enjoys looking at this website would enjoy the essays in this book. It's always interesting to find out why a book is significant to a person, and added to this, these essays are written by people talented at writing. I'm going to have to go through this book a second time to glean a list of reading suggestions. I love these ending lines from Frank McCourt's essay on Henry VIII: "I don't know what it means and I don't care because it's Shakespeare and it's like having jewels I think anyone that enjoys looking at this website would enjoy the essays in this book. It's always interesting to find out why a book is significant to a person, and added to this, these essays are written by people talented at writing. I'm going to have to go through this book a second time to glean a list of reading suggestions. I love these ending lines from Frank McCourt's essay on Henry VIII: "I don't know what it means and I don't care because it's Shakespeare and it's like having jewels in my mouth when I say the words. If I had a whole book of Shakespeare they could keep me in the hospital for a year."

  18. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    If you like being told what to read, this is a good book for you. If you want to know the inspiration behind some of your favorite authors, ditto. And if you want to feel slightly foolish for reading mostly trash when it seems everyone else is reading deep novels or non-fiction…then this is definitely your book. lol

  19. 4 out of 5

    Susanne

    I have alot of books about "what to read". . .all are useful - but this one is really excellent. The pleasure in reading this is that 71 authors tell what book really impacted their lives - and it's terrific to find an author I value - then see what he/or she recommends and at what point in their lives was their impactful book useful to them. Really good quick little chapters. I have alot of books about "what to read". . .all are useful - but this one is really excellent. The pleasure in reading this is that 71 authors tell what book really impacted their lives - and it's terrific to find an author I value - then see what he/or she recommends and at what point in their lives was their impactful book useful to them. Really good quick little chapters.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    I LOVE Roxanne Coady and her podcast "Just the Right Book," and I devoured this book, with all its personal stories of what books have meant in the essayists' lives. Some stories were fun(ny), and some were quite touching. How magical books are! I kept adding to my TBR, and those additions were especially enjoyable, having come from the backlist. I LOVE Roxanne Coady and her podcast "Just the Right Book," and I devoured this book, with all its personal stories of what books have meant in the essayists' lives. Some stories were fun(ny), and some were quite touching. How magical books are! I kept adding to my TBR, and those additions were especially enjoyable, having come from the backlist.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Interesting book. Gave me a whole list of books I want to read. Especially liked the essay by Alexandra Stoddard about Letters to a Young Poetby Rainer Maria Rilke. Interesting book. Gave me a whole list of books I want to read. Especially liked the essay by Alexandra Stoddard about Letters to a Young Poetby Rainer Maria Rilke.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kris

    Some essays are rather dull, others are fairly interesting. All are short, so it's a quick read. Nothing very groundbreaking here. With the exception of maybe three names, I've never heard of any of these authors, or their works. Some essays are rather dull, others are fairly interesting. All are short, so it's a quick read. Nothing very groundbreaking here. With the exception of maybe three names, I've never heard of any of these authors, or their works.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Best when recounting what reading meant to the contributors who had to fight to do it- due to political repressions, family ignorance or geographical obscurity. Otherwise, it's just a collection of brief and not very compelling book reports. Best when recounting what reading meant to the contributors who had to fight to do it- due to political repressions, family ignorance or geographical obscurity. Otherwise, it's just a collection of brief and not very compelling book reports.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Avis Black

    Has far too many unremarkable and bland essays.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lin

    Good read for bibliophiles, such as myself.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Schmoyer

    Clever idea for a book! 71 authors wrote short essays on books the recommend. Gave me some great suggestions on what to read next both because of the authors and the recommendations.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Andy Hickman

    Roxanne J. Coady and Joy Johannessen, eds, “The Book That Changed My Life: 71 Remarkable Writers Celebrate the Books That Matter Most to Them,” (NY: Penguin, 2006) Interesting insight into writers' influences. “It's funny that reading and valuing words is now what anchors my life,” (pxiii). This is how Roxanne J. Coady explains how reading was her passion since she was young. And when she opened R. J. Julia Booksellers, “My dream was that the store would be a place where words mattered, where peop Roxanne J. Coady and Joy Johannessen, eds, “The Book That Changed My Life: 71 Remarkable Writers Celebrate the Books That Matter Most to Them,” (NY: Penguin, 2006) Interesting insight into writers' influences. “It's funny that reading and valuing words is now what anchors my life,” (pxiii). This is how Roxanne J. Coady explains how reading was her passion since she was young. And when she opened R. J. Julia Booksellers, “My dream was that the store would be a place where words mattered, where people would gather, where writer could meet reader, and where our staff would work hard to put the right book in the right hand. Dreams can come true. … Every day in the store we see how books change lives, in big ways and small, from the simple desire to spend a few quiet hours in a comfy chair, swept away by a story, to the profound realization that the reader is not alone in the world, that there is someone else like him or her, someone who has faced the same fears, the same confusions, the same grief, the same joys. Reading is a way to live more lives, to experience more worlds, to meet people we care about and want to know more about, to understand others and develop a compassion for what they confront and endure. It is a way to learn how to knit or build a house or solve an equation, a way to be moved to laughter and wonder and learn how to live. … in all our fascination with technology we've forgotten that a simple book can make a difference.” - Roxanne J. Coady ” (p.xiv) “In The Art of Possibility, Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander write that art 'is about rearranging us, creating surprising juxtapositions, emotional openings, startling presences, flight paths to the eternal.'” - Roxanne J. Coady ” (p.xvii) “Life is the act of becoming, that you never arrive. That you climb your mountains not for the view you have once you reach the summit but because you love the process of climbing, of becoming. ... But your journey is never over until you return from it to share with society what you have learned. Then and only then can you begin your next journey in life as the process repeats itself, as you constantly become.” - Robert Ballad, on Joseph Campbell's 'The Power of Myth' (p10-11) “... the merit of reading favorite passages aloud ...” - Nicholas Basbanes, on The Works of Shakespeare (p16) “My brother, two years older, was given the book first. … As Patrick read, I picked up hints of the tale in advance and became, perhaps, just a little intrigued. Something about a ring, things called hobbits, … but 1,086 pages? Are you kidding?” - Graeme Base, J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Lord of the Rings' (p18) “'Let's read a book.' When I was a little boy, that's what my mother used to say to me at bedtime. She read all sorts of children's books to me.” - Jeff Benedict, on 'The Little Engine That Could'. (p20) “I didn't know you could write this way! It was so open. So close to the bone. So conversational. Catcher in the Rye showed me that you could write 'to' someone you'd never met as if you were talking to someone you'd always known. … That humor and pain could exist on the page beside each other, if not inside each other.” - Elizabeth Berg, on J.D. Salinger's 'The Catcher in the Rye.' (p24-25) “Catcher in the Rye spoke to me, frank and wounded and funny, as nothing else had.” - Amy Bloom (p26) “The truth, as I came to see it, is that once you fall in love, really in love, with that first book, you'll never be able to stop.” - Claire Cook (p54). “Abuse of power. Deciding a group of people does not deserve the same rights as others. Discrimination. Violation of privacy, of civil liberties. Supremacism based on race, religion, gender, politics, sexual orientation. I could go on. Philosophically, all of it is there in Uncle Tom's Cabin, which influenced a nation and caused Harriet to be deeply hated by the South because most Southerners never quite understood that her novel wasn't a condemnation of them as individuals but of the institution of slavery. Typically, people don't easily budge from their opinions of what an author is saying (usually because they haven't read the book and never will).” - 'The Original Sin' by Patricia Cornwell, on Harriet Beecher Stowe's 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'. (p57-58). “The stream of consciousness, the intensity of Holden Caulfield's vision of the world as a haunted and haunting places, the cynicism, the truth, the sorrow, all of it blew me away. I had never had this kind of literary experience before – the gut-wrenching interactiveness of fiction. The sense that while reading someone else's creation, you, as a reader and as a person, are miraculously known and revealed.” - Alice Hoffman, on J.D. Salinger's 'The Catcher in the Rye.' (p84). “Like its progenitor, Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and its big brother, Salinger's 'The Catcher in the Rye, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird is a first-person narrative in which conscience is tested and hypocrisy is skewered.” - Wally Lamb, on Harper Lee's 'To Kill a Mockingbird.' (p96) “Books have taken me to places I never thought I would visit, introduced me to people I never thought I would meet, and transported my to times past and futures imagined I never thought I would experience.” - Senator Joe Lieberman (p104) “When I am King, they shall not have bread and shelter only, but also teachings out of books, for a full belly is little worth where the mind is starved.” quote from 'The Prince and the Pauper.' (p105) “I don't know what it means and I don't care because it's Shakespeare and it's like having jewels in my mouth when I say the words. If I had a whole book of Shakespeare they could keep me in the hospital for a year.” - Frank McCourt, on William Shakespeare's 'Henry VIII'. (p115-116) “Harper Lee's classic and timeless plea for tolerance, To Kill a Mockingbird, gives us hope that communities racked by ignorance and pretension can experience moments of grace. … The lessons here are not just for children. It's a sin to kill a bird that injures no one but sends its song out for everyone to enjoy, while it's not a sin to shoot a rabid dog to alleviate its own suffering and stop the threat it poses. It's a sin to torment the different, the reclusive, the ill equipped. It's not a sin to honor an old woman struggling to free herself from a drug so she can die 'beholden to nothing and nobody.' It's a sin to go along with a crowd unthinkingly and succumb to hysteria and bigotry. It's not a sin to stand up for justice even if you stand alone.” - Susan Vreeland, on Harper Lee's 'To Kill a Mockingbird.' (p171) I must look up: William Maxwell's 'So Long, See You Tomorrow' (p130-131) – available at Porirua. Anthony Burgess's 'A Clockwork Orange' (p142-143) – I have, no thanks. Steven Millhauser's 'Edwin Mullhouse' (p175-176). Ian McEwan's 'Atonement'. Marcus Aurelius's 'The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius'. Some other quotes: “A good book changes you, even if it is only to add a little to the furniture of your mine. It will make you laugh and perhaps even cry; it should certainly make you think. A great book will make you dream in regions you have never dared to before, and ultimately it will spur you to create or achieve something new yourself.” “... reading a book became an act of intimacy. Take in a breath and don't let it out until you get to the last page.” “I read my way through a solitary childhood. Books were the bedrock of my emotional and intellectual life, books that proscribed no limit to the imagination, books that were full of resourceful girls, princesses and goatherds and Victorian maidens, not to mention the sand fairies, the talking animals, the scheming step families, and the handsome men who had been transformed into beasts, both real and metaphorical.” - - - The Contents are: Introduction / Roxanne J. Coady -- Toni Morrison's The bluest eye / Dorothy Allison -- Robert Coover's Pricksongs & descants / Kate Atkinson -- Gwendolyn Brooks's Selected poems / James Atlas -- Joseph Campbell's The power of myth / Robert Ballard -- Jean Kerr's The snake has all the lines / Gina Barreca -- The works of Shakespeare / Nicholas A. Basbanes -- J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings / Graeme Base -- The little engine that could / Jeff Benedict -- J.D. Salinger's The catcher in the rye / Elizabeth Berg -- The most of P.G. Wodehouse / Amy Bloom -- John Crowley's Little, big / Harold Bloom -- John Hersey's Hiroshima / Lary Bloom -- Joyce Carol Oates's Expensive people and more / Chris Bohjalian -- Theodore H. White's The making of the President, 1960 / Steven Brill -- Ernest Becker's The denial of death / Benjamin Cheever on -- Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo / Da Chen -- Gertrude Stein's Ida / Harriet Scott Chessman -- Thomas Merton's The seven storey mountain / Brother Christopher -- Mary Higgins Clark's A stranger is watching / Carol Higgins Clark -- Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings's The yearling and Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita / Billy Collins -- Carolyn Keene's Nancy Drew mysteries / Claire Cook -- Caesar's Gallic wars / Caroline B. Cooney -- Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's cabin / Patricia Cornwell -- Charles Dickens's David Copperfield / Maureen Corrigan -- Ayn Rand's Atlas shrugged and more / Nelson DeMille -- Sigrid Undset's Kristin Lavransdatter / Tomie dePaola -- Virginia Woolf's A room of one's own / Anita Diamant -- Anthony Trollope's The way we live now / Dominick Dunne -- Thomas á Kempis's The imitation of Christ / Carlos Eire -- Arthur Conan Doyle's The adventures of Sherlock Holmes / Linda Fairstein -- Barbara W. Tuchman's The guns of August / Doris Kearns Goodwin -- Sebastian Junger's The perfect storm / Linda Greenlaw -- Cecil Woodham-Smith's The reason why / David Halberstam -- J.D. Salinger's The catcher in the rye / Alice Hoffman -- Dee Brown's Bury my heart at Wounded Knee / Sebastian Junger -- Geoffrey Barraclough's An introduction to contemporary history / Paul Kennedy -- Ernest Hemingway's Collected stories / Tracy Kidder -- Ernest Becker's The denial of death / Robert Kurson -- Harper Lee's To kill a mockingbird / Wally Lamb -- Ram Dass's The only dance there is and more / Anne Lamott -- Sigmund Freud's The interpretation of dreams / Barbara Leaming -- The Bible / Senator Joe Lieberman -- Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre / Margot Livesey -- Ernest Hemingway's For whom the bell tolls / Senator John McCain -- William Shakespeare's Henry VIII / Frank McCourt -- F. Scott Fitzgerald's The great Gatsby / Faith Middleton -- Betty Smith's A tree grows in Brooklyn / Jacquelyn Mitchard -- Ed McBain's 87th Precinct series / Leigh Montville -- Herman Wouk's Marjorie Morningstar and Susan Isaacs's Compromising positions / Sara Nelson -- William Lewis Nida's Ab the cave man / Sherwin B. Nuland -- Kay Thompson's Eloise / Laura Numeroff -- William Maxwell's So long, see you tomorrow / Stewart O'Nan -- Albert Camus' The myth of Sisyphus / Jacques Pépin -- G.K. Chesterton's The man who was Thursday / Anne Perry -- Robert Louis Stevenson's A child's garden of verses and more / Jack Prelutsky -- Anthony Burgess's A clockwork orange / Ian Rankin -- Albert Schweitzer's Out of my life and thought and Hugh Lofting's Doctor Dolittle series / Richard Rhodes -- Moss Hart's Act one / Frank Rich -- Maya Angelou's I know why the caged bird sings / SARK -- Frank McCourt's Angela's ashes / Lisa Scottoline -- William Saroyan's The human comedy / Bernie S. Siegel, M.D. -- Christopher Morley's Kitty Foyle and Guy Endore's Voltaire! Voltaire! / Liz Smith -- Stendhal's The red and the black / Edward Sorel -- John Barth's The end of the road / Jane Stern -- The Sears catalogue / Michael Stern -- Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters to a young poet / Alexandra Stoddard -- C.S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower series / Paco Underhill -- Harper Lee's To kill a mockingbird / Susan Vreeland -- E.B. White's Charlotte's web / Kate Walbert -- Steven Millhauser's Edwin Mullhouse / Katharine Weber -- F. Scott Fitzgerald's The great Gatsby / Jacqueline Winspear -- The books that changed their lives : a reading list of the books selected by the contributors -- Editors' note -- Roxanne's very opinionated reading list -- Joy's very opinionated reading list -- About Read to Grow.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Smith

    A fun collection of essays that gave me a lot more books I want to read - both the books that the authors talked about, and also books written by them! ----------------------------- Fav quotes and book suggestions: - A good book changes you, even if it is only to add a little to the furniture of your minds. It will make you laugh and perhaps cry; it should certainly make you think.” -Anne Perry (cover flap) - Reading is a way to live more lives, to experience more worlds to meet people we care about A fun collection of essays that gave me a lot more books I want to read - both the books that the authors talked about, and also books written by them! ----------------------------- Fav quotes and book suggestions: - A good book changes you, even if it is only to add a little to the furniture of your minds. It will make you laugh and perhaps cry; it should certainly make you think.” -Anne Perry (cover flap) - Reading is a way to live more lives, to experience more worlds to meet people we care about and want to know more about, to understand others and develop compassion for what they confront and endure. It is a way to learn how to knit or build a house or solve an equation, a way to be moved to laughter and wonder and to learn how to live. (pxiv) - CHECK OUT: Books for kids, which provides ongoing support for family literacy by collecting and distributing gently used books (currently some seventy thousand a year) to day care centers, schools, clinics, and homes. (pxvi) - Books can change lives, yes, and so can the lack of them. (pxiv) - In The Art of Possibility, Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander write that art “is about rearranging us, creating surprising juxtapositions, emotional openings, startling presences, flight paths to the eternal,” and that’s exactly what the contributors describe in their essays, each in a different and unique way. Apart from the sheer beauty of the essays, they are a dramatic reminder that everywhere, every day, someone is changed, perhaps even saved, by words and stories. (pxvii) - I would give anything—and will. This is a debt that passes to the reader—to take up the story and remake the world. (p3) - Joseph Campbell states to simple: that life is the act of becoming, that you never arrive. That you climb our mountains not for the view you have once you reach the summit but because you love the process of climbing, of becoming. (p10-Robert Ballard) - …I know I will be tested by the storms we must all experience. Some storms will test your mental preparation, but the most challenging will test the strength of your passion and your willingness to endure those storms to reach your goal. And I have learned that all storms will pass: the skies clear, and your quest is achieved. (p10-11-Robert Ballard) - My confidence to try new things and be unafraid of failure began with a simple children’s book. (p21-Jeff Benedict) - There is no greater tool for bonding with children than books. There is no greater instrument for teaching lessons for life. Now my children reach for books before they reach for the remote control. (p21-Jeff Benedict) - In my own writing that is also the place I aim for—the inner heart of the story, the voice that sounds like no one else’s yet feels personal and intimate. Fiction that doesn’t just tell a story but tells readers something about what is deep within themselves. (p85-Alice Hoffman) - I understood suddenly that faith was not sweet and Hallmark card poetic, but a deep-core, heartbreaking, cellular decision, made in the dark and the weirdness and the wound. (p100-Anne Lamott) - A good book changes you, even if it is only to add a little to the furniture of your mind. It will make you laugh and perhaps cry; it should certainly make you think. A great book will make you dream in regions you have never dared to before, and ultimately it will spur you to create or achieve something new yourself. (p137-Anne Perry) - PBS series: Women of Wisdom and Power; www.planetsark.com; Make Your Creative Dreams REAL (p150-SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy)) - I must begin by saying I do not believe any book can change your life; only you can. Two people read the same book, one is inspired while the other is bored. The issue is not the book, but the person—what lies within each of us. The author’s wisdom combined with the reader’s inspiration and desire to change can lead to a new life for the reader. (p154-Bernie S. Siegel, M.D.) - He [the author, William Saroyan] fills The Human Comedy with meaningful messages. The evil man must be forgiven and loved because something of us in him and something of him is in us. We must give of everything we have, for if we give to a thief he cannot steal from us, and then he is no longer a thief, and the more we give the more we will have to give. We must not fear all the wonderful mistakes we must and will make. No matter what the mistakes are, we must not be afraid of having made them or of making more of them. (p155- Bernie S. Siegel, M.D.) - NPR’s The Splendid Table and we Web site Roadfood.com

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cathryn Conroy

    This book should come with a warning: Reading it might cost you (a lot of) money. And I'm not talking about the list price of the book. Edited by bookshop owner Roxanne J. Coady (R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison, Connecticut) and professional book editor Joy Johannessen, the book contains 71 succinct essays by leading writers, who pen what almost read like love letters to that one book that had an incredibly profound effect on their way of thinking and so changed their life. And that is how I f This book should come with a warning: Reading it might cost you (a lot of) money. And I'm not talking about the list price of the book. Edited by bookshop owner Roxanne J. Coady (R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison, Connecticut) and professional book editor Joy Johannessen, the book contains 71 succinct essays by leading writers, who pen what almost read like love letters to that one book that had an incredibly profound effect on their way of thinking and so changed their life. And that is how I found myself buying books. A lot of books. (See the warning above.) While some of the essays are a bit esoteric and the books they rave about are somewhat obscure, most of them are a sheer delight to read. Some of the dozens of featured authors are Kate Atkinson, Amy Bloom, Elizabeth Berg, Chris Bohjalian, Anita Diamant, Doris Kearns Goodwin, David Halberstam, Alice Hoffman, Wally Lamb, Anne Lamott, Sen. John McCain, and Frank McCourt. This is a literary celebrity lineup! It's impossible to read even the first essay (written by Dorothy Allison about Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye") and not spend a lot of time pondering what is the one book—of all the ones you have ever read—that changed YOUR life? Bonus: Profits from the book benefit Grow to Read, a Connecticut nonprofit organization that distributes literacy packets and new books to families of newborns in seven urban hospitals.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    Two stars for a meh amount of enjoyment but a third for the books I added to my to-read list. I think I expected the short essays in this little paperback to be poignant and beautiful; they are written mostly by professional writers, after all. As it turns out, writers seem to have just as much trouble expressing how deeply a book as affected them as the rest of us mere readers do. There were a few reviews that made me smile - but that only occurred because they were about books that I love, too Two stars for a meh amount of enjoyment but a third for the books I added to my to-read list. I think I expected the short essays in this little paperback to be poignant and beautiful; they are written mostly by professional writers, after all. As it turns out, writers seem to have just as much trouble expressing how deeply a book as affected them as the rest of us mere readers do. There were a few reviews that made me smile - but that only occurred because they were about books that I love, too, and there's nothing so fun as hearing someone else gush about something you're obsessed with as well. One solitary line struck me with the poignancy I was expecting in every review; Anne Perry wrote of G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who was Thursday, "It makes me feel wonderfully unique, and at the same time part of all mankind." But despite all my griping about what this book was not, I did finish with at least a dozen dog-eared pages, where authors' less-than-dust-jacket-worthy descriptions were still enough to pique my interest in their favorite books. I guess if you're desperate for things to read, you could check this book out at the library (don't bother to buy it). But honestly, there's too many books and too little time already. Also, a question I wondered: how diverse was the group of authors interviewed for this book? Because after a while, I started to wonder if they were all or almost all white.

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