What Are Your Most Cherished Books?

atkins-bookshelf-booksIn Bound to Last: 30 Writers on Their Most Cherished Book, Ray Bradbury recounts the story of how his aunt, who was more like a sister to him, gave him a book that changed his life: “It was the Depression and we had no money. But we had books at hand. One afternoon [Aunt] Neva brought out a huge volume [from our attic] that weighed ten pounds. It was Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe. I had never heard of Poe and had never seen that book. She handed it to me and said. ‘Young man, read this! You’re going to love it! I’ve loved Poe all my life and now it’s up to you.’ … I plunged in and got drunk immediately. I was nine years old and never read anything like it; I fell in love completely with Edgar Allan Poe.” Many years later, Bradbury’s aunt passed away and left that book to him. Decades later, at the age of 90, Bradbury explains that he never forgot that precious gift: “[The strongest memory] is my remembrance of that wonderful Poe book that she introduced me to all those years ago… [the book] that changed my life.”

Indeed the books that we keep on our bookshelves serve as intellectual or developmental milestones along our journey in life. Sometimes if you’re lucky like Bradbury, one of those books just might be the one that changed — or can change — your life. What is your most cherished book?

Read related post: The Power of Literature
Why Read Dickens?
50 Books that Will Change Your Life

For further reading: Bound to Last: 30 Writers on Their Most Cherished Book, edited by Sean Manning, Da Capo Press (2010)

50 Books That Will Change Your Life

atkins-bookshelf-booksLists of books proliferate on the internet, some with provocative titles like “greatest books of all time” or “books that will change your life.” More often than not, the lists do not live up to their titles. Recently, book list compilers have decided that a mortal life can be changed by reading just 50 books (presumably 100 is just too much reading —  far too taxing on the eyes and the soul). Bookshelf presents a sampling of three lists titled “50 Books That Will Change Your Life” and will leave it to the discerning reader whether these books truly have the capacity to change their — or anyone’s — life. Nevertheless, just the title of the list invites the intriguing question: “what are the books that have changed your life?” Indeed, those are the ones worth keeping on your bookshelf — to remind you of life’s journey.

Real Simple magazine, not known for probing, intellectual topics (thus the “simple” in the title), dipped its toes in the water of provocative discourse by asking “famous” authors from every genre to “name the title that moved them most.” For what it’s worth, here are the top ten in their list titled “50 Great Books that Will Change Your Life”:

1. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
2. Black Tickets, by Jayne Anne Phillips
3. The Best American Short Stories
4. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, by Betty Edwards
5. The Inn at Lake Devine, by Elinor Lipman
6. CookWise, by Shirley O. Corriher
7. The Benchley Roundup, by Robert Benchley
8. The Queen’s Gambit, by Walter Tevis
9. Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War, by Annia Ciezadlo
10. The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield

The thoughtful, dedicated readers at Goodreads came up with their own list of the “50 Books that Will Change Your Life” that reads more like a list of most popular fiction. Here are the first ten books from their list:

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
2. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
3. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
4. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
6. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
7. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
8. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
9. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
10. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Finally, the list from the writing team at YouQueen.com (“Helping Women Grow in All Aspects of Life”) is the one that actually delivers the goods. Their list, titled “50 Inspirational Books that Can Change Your Life,” features books that probe the depths of the human psyche (male or female). Out of the three, it is the only list that does not over-reach in its expectations: note that the list’s title does not assert that the books “will change your life,” but only that they “can change your life.” Amen, sisters. Without further ado, here are the first ten books in their list:

1. The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma
2. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
3. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
4. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra
5. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
6. The Magician’s Way by William Whitecloud
7. Chicken Soup for the Soul by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen
8. The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav
9. No Ordinary Moments by Dan Millman
10. Still Me by Christopher Reeve

For further reading: The Books That Shaped America
The Books that Influence Us
What to Read Next

For further reading: www.realsimple.com/work-life/entertainment/great-books-00100000101474/index.html