Cheshire Cat's Grin

Books that Changed my Life

Mother Goose book cover illustration by Gyo Fujikawa.

Mother Goose book cover illustration by Gyo Fujikawa.

Books are my friends. I read voraciously. I have many books I’ve brought with me from place to place since childhood, because I love them so much I can’t let them go.

I no longer have copies of all of these, but as I look back over my life, the books listed here were the most influential I’ve ever read.

Age 3: Mother Goose, beautifully illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa (think 1960′s pre-anime children).  My mom read this to me over and over, instilling a love of books, reading, rhyme, beauty, and a certain degree of nonsense.

Age 5: Two Dr. Seuss classics, Hop on Pop and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, were the first books I read on my own. More fun with nonsense.

Age 5: How Babies Are Made turned me into the sex-pert who introduced the word “vagina” to my cousins, to the dismay of my aunts, uncles, and grandparents.

Age 8: The Bible was at the center of my religious education.

"Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but 

remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."

Age 10: To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, spoke to my sensibilities as a young girl growing up in the south. It was my first literary introduction to the not-so-innocent legacies of slavery and racism.

Age 12Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume, reassured me I was not alone in my adolescent gawkiness.

Age 16: My best friend’s mom gave me a copy of Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs, introducing me at once to astrology and the metaphysical applicability of Alice in Wonderland. This greatly elevated Lewis Carroll’s works in their influence on me.

JoyceAge 18: James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man showed me I was not alone in my artistic sensitivity.

Age 25: Benjamin Hoff’s The Tao of Pooh was the first spiritual thought I had read since the Bible. Its accessibility reopened me to spiritual exploration.

Age 28: Conversations with God, by Neale Donald Walsh, helped me begin to reconcile my Baptist upbringing with my emerging spirtuality.

Age 33: Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. A spiritual path for the creative person was a revolutionary idea with long-reaching implications for my life even today.

Age 34: Even more revolutionary, Po Bronson’s What Should I Do with My Life? revealed I was not alone in seeking more meaning in my everyday life.

Po Spine

Age 35: Sacred Contracts and other works by Caroline Myss, Ph. D. helped me piece together the Jungian elements that explain the metaphysics of astrology and the psychic arts, and gave me a helpful introduction to chakras as well as the Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism.

Age42: A Framework for Understanding Poverty, by Ruby K. Payne, Ph. D. opened my eyes to the conflicting cultures of our class system and introduced strategies for overcoming the cultural barriers of poverty in our education system.







One thought on “Books that Changed my Life

  1. Chris Sumner

    I have a few of the same books on my list. Life changing book I read way too young was Forever by Judy Blume. I brought it to camp with me in 5th grade and I read it over and over again. Every boyfriend I had at those tender years was my attempt at recreating those literary moments. And then in my early teens I read Endless Love – don’t know the author, but they made a movie of the book, so there was a pattern developing. I’m a hopeless romantic but of the tragic kind I guess! I soon discovered John Irving and Garp, and then a few more of his books. Garp WAS life changing for me. Here was a writer who was surrounded by strangeness and I so could relate. Don’t we all love a good story? If it relates to you in your current situation then Hell yeah it can be a life changing book. Right?

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