10 Books That Changed Me

10 Books That Changed Me

I usually keep it somewhat about food and life here but I’ve always looked at SouthernPlate as “What’s on my plate?”, which leaves the door wide open. I’ve also found that so many of us share the same interests in this world and I love getting to hear back and learn from you so today I’m sharing my answers to a really intriguing question I was asked in hopes of getting to hear your answers as well. I have a feeling a lot of good books will be discovered with this post!

My friend, Charlotte Miller, owner of Swiss Pantry in Belvedere Tennessee (where they just so happen to make the best doughnuts you’ve ever tasted in your life on Doughnut Saturday twice a month) asked me to name ten books that have influenced me in my life. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed coming up with my list as I mentally revisited each one I wrote about.

Before I share them, I want to share a warning first: this post contains opinions because I have a lot of them and sometimes I allow myself to express a few. If you don’t agree, it doesn’t mean I am a bad person or that you are, it just means we are different people, and that is a good thing because I am plum out of room in my head for more folks to move in. Back in the old days, when people of varying and different opinions got together it was called “interesting conversation”. You may know it by today’s more common concept of “How dare you disagree with me because I am unable to function as long as there exists any opinion in this world different from my own.”  I realize this warning doesn’t apply to 99.999% of you reading this so allow me to take a moment and thank you for your level headedness in a world gone mad.

Now back to books…here is my list 🙂

1. The Holy Bible – I became a voracious Bible reader around middle school and this one book has really helped direct my life, even during those times when I actively tried to ignore it. I generally use the NIV version because that is what my kid’s use. When they are trying to memorize a verse it really trips them up when I say it in a different translation. My favorite translation is NLT and from time to time I venture over to “The Message” just to see if there is any meat left on the bones of a passage that I might not have picked off. I use a Life Application Study Bible with thumb index and large print for my daily reading (have you seen the size of most Bible fonts! Large print is a must for me). It has a lot of notes, expansions, and studies in it that I find helpful. I need all the help I can get 🙂

2. Letters To A Young Poet – This book is right up there as a close second to the Bible, it affected me so. It is amazing how many of the letters I have memorized by reading them over the years. Life wisdom from a man who has walked the roads, to one just starting out. It is beautiful, moving, and completely changed me. I’ve been reading it once a year, cover to cover, for over twenty years now.

3. Jane Eyre – While some of my classmates in high school were bemoaning having to read this book, I was engrossed and realizing that the classics were classics because they were so good! This opened the door for me to an entire world of literature I’ve enjoyed all of my life. As an aside: I’ve yet to read Wuthering Heights, but I’ve got to save some books for later in life, right?

4. The Hunchback of Notre Dame – I’ll never, ever, ever forget the last sentence of this book. You have to read the whole book to feel it’s effect.

 5. A Treasury of The Familiar – This was a book meant for reference that came in a set my parents bought along with some encyclopedias. However, it contained great literary passages, sonnets from Shakespeare, poems by Thomas Hood, Walt Whitman, even folk song lyrics. I read that book until the binding came apart. There are little notes written in the margins and some of the poems even have numbers beside the lines from where I counted as I stitched the passages into fabric. Most of the poems in my head were memorized from that book.  In case you can’t tell, a great many of my teenage years were spent in my room reading morose poetry. I highly recommend it 🙂

I feel like one
Who treads alone
Some banquet-hall deserted,
Whose lights are fled,
Whose garland’s dead,
And all but he departed…

6. All Ramona Quimby books 🙂 I began reading them as soon as I could make out what words were and those books caught me up in the joy of seeing a reflection of myself and finding understanding in a fictional character.

7. Hard Backed Nancy Drew – If I were ever on a deserted island, I think I’d read every blessed one again. My favorites are the old yellow hardback ones, written in a time where it wasn’t considered an affront to women to wear skirts, be ladylike, and let men open the door for you. Nancy did all of this and was still considered sharp, intelligent, and a master of her craft.

8. One Second After – First of all, this book is very well written. Secondly, you know that comfy little place we like to have in our heads that tells us nothing really bad could ever happen to us? This book is reality calling us back to earth. It is a must for anyone who is capable of facing the precarious truth of our current situation. It is a must avoid for anyone who can’t face that for whatever reason. Move along, nothing to see here 🙂

9. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane – My daughter kept going on and on about how wonderful this book was, insisting that I read it. I’m gonna be honest, I placated her with smiles and nods and assurances that I would. Finally, over the summer, I sat down and read it. The next time Katy Rose tells me I need to read a book, I’m going to stop the world and do it right then. It was absolutely wonderful. My heart overflowed.

10. My tenth book is always changing, whatever book has affected me the most lately. In the past, that tenth book has been a toss up between two from author Andy Andrews: The Noticer is an excellent book that I feel everyone should read. If you allow it, it WILL change your life.

How Do You Kill 11 Million People? is another Andy Andrews book that you can read in less than an hour but once you’re done, you need to set aside another hour to sit there and shake your head while digesting the truth of it all. A definite eye opener that perhaps could have saved millions if folks had read it decades ago and could possibly save us in the future if people take it to heart.

Yet another wonderful book is Dream More by Dolly Parton. So much of the wisdom contained in this book has been taught and used by us our entire lives, but it is wonderful to have the affirmation and additional wisdom she shares. I recommend the hardback version and that you read it with a highlighter :).

Be sure and check out my dear friend Jen’s books over at her website, Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, by clicking here. Her list really inspired me!

Now I want to know about you! What ten books have changed your life, moved you, or influenced you in some way? We would all love to hear about them in the comments below!

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  1. Oh my, what wonderful choices in the posts listed before mine! The Holy Bible is number one always, but there is a recent book that is a true story that I received for my birthday in August that needs to be read whether you’re an Alabama fan or not. “A Season To Remember” by former Tide long snapper Carson Tinker. It tells his story and those of many others that took place after the devastating tornado of April 27, 2011. It shows remarkable courage that rose out of unremarkable people in the aftermath of incredible devastation and loss. It tugged my heart strings and gave me hope. And for all you Auburn people that came and cared and helped…….thank you from the bottom of our hearts!! I will never forget it!

  2. I don’t know how I missed that you posted this two weeks ago!

    I’ve narrowed it down to 10 that came right up. I do have a couple that you and I have in common. 🙂

    1. The Holy Bible – yes, that has to be the most life changing book I’ve ever read. I use an NIV most often, but read other translations on my YouVersion app as well. I do prefer a thumb-index and lots of notes. (The Quest Bible is great for notes, and I found that you can have the store send one off to add a thumb-index in to any bible) I also like room to put my own notes.

    2. Nancy Drew mysteries – This is the 2nd one that we have in common. I loved the old hardback ones too. I read every one that I could get my hands on. I though Nancy was just the classiest young lady ever, and so smart.

    3. Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank – This was probably the only book assigned to us as “required” reading in school that I ever actually enjoyed, and it left a lasting impact on me.

    4. Beauty by Robin McKinley – A re-telling of Beauty and the Beast. I checked this one out from our school library multiple times. It was so rich in description that I felt like I was in that world and I didn’t want to leave it. One of my top favorites ever.

    5. Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells – This one was passed around in our family. Everyone kept saying I “had” to read it. I longed for the life-long friendship that these women had. I was fascinated, and horrified at the same time. And I also learned that we see our childhood through different eyes when we are grown. We idealize things that happen.

    6. The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom – She is SUCH a woman of faith! This book impacted me so much, that this is the one I wanted everyone else to read.

    7. Yada Yada Prayer Group by Neta Jackson – This was actually a whole series of Christian fiction books. Neta is a wonderful writer. She wove these 12 women together and all their stories. They were so real. I was greatly affected by their prayer life and it changed MY prayer life for the better having read them. In addition to that, I am totally engulfed in the world she created and wished the series could have gone on and on.

    8. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – This one was haunting.

    9. Roget’s Thesaurus – Yes, I know that sounds weird. But my 7th grade English Teacher introduced me to this book. And it did change my life. Every time I sat down to write anything (and I liked to write a LOT as a teen. Tried to start numerous novels.) I used this book. It transformed my writing skills.

    10. Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume – Of course I read everything by Judy Blume (and Beverly Clearly and Lois Lowry) but this one was the quintessential coming of age book for girls in the 80’s. What girl WASN’T transformed by this book during that time?

    Ok – that’s my top 10 list. But I tell you what, I think I have found a treasure trove of new books to discover in this “project”. There are lists on goodreads.com that go on forever that people recommend as books that changed their lives. I’m starting a new list of stuff to read right now! 🙂

  3. I can’t wait to read some of these that changed your life. Here are my life changers. The Bible of course is the best life changer for anyone if you allow it to work in your heart. Stormie OMartin’s The Power of a Praying Wife was a huge life changer for me after I first got married. In high school I read To Kill A Mockingbird and Pride and Prejudice was extremely moved. Also, in high school The Scarlet Letter blew me away with the story of grace and forgiveness. A few years back I read So You Don’t Want to go to Church Anymore by Wayne Jacobsen and The Shack by William Paul Young. Both books helped me heal during a really tough time. My childhood favorites are Mary Poppins, The Secret Garden, and A Child’s Garden of Verses.

  4. When I was in college, I read Kahlil Gibran’s THE PROPHET. I was blown away.
    I read it at least once a decade since. Now, in my seventies, I see how life-changing that one book has been for me. Each time I re-read it, I see something I missed earlier. It’s not that there’s more in the book than there was before. There’s more in me than there was before.

  5. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers and The Mark of the Lion trilogy also by Rivers. The best books, outside of the Bible, that I have ever read. You simply must read them if you have not!

  6. What a wonderful post! Readers know the joys of these books.

    Recommend Jan Karon’s wonderful Mitford series. You journey to a town full of characters you’ll not forget… And they are Southern Appalachain so you’ll adore them all!

    Now, enjoy this day The Lord has made!

      1. I’m taking care of my 93 year old mother and in a new town with not many acquaintances yet. I can’t explain how wonderful it it to go to Jan Karon’s Mitford every night before falling asleep. I’ve read them over and over again– also wonderful to listen to on tape being read by John Mcdonough.
        What a gift she’s given us.

  7. What a great post! Thank you for the opportunity to think about this:)

    Ten books that changed me
    Bible Stories(Childrens’s version)
    All Bobbsy Twin Books
    White Gloves and Party Manners
    The Little Princess
    White Squaw
    The Thread That Runs So True
    To Teach To Love
    A Wrinkle in Time
    Hooked on Books
    Nancy Atwell-Reading Writing Workshop
    To Kill a Mockingbird
    Big Stone Gap
    Fair and Tender Ladies
    Anne of Green Gables
    Current Authors who speak to me(lots of Souhern ladies)
    Deborah Smith,Adriani Trigiani,
    Dorthea Benton Frank,Lee Smith
    Anne Rivers Siddons, Rachel Hauk.

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