On life-changing books

Listen, I like George Takei as much as the next leftist, Queer-adjacent nerd, but normally I don’t link to his click-baity site because it’s largely facile garbage disguised as political comment. Of course, this rather harsh judgment doesn’t mean I don’t read it myself–I do. And gleefully so. And now and then you come across something interesting and relevant to our shared interests, like a list of books people say changed their lives. I happened to find this article today at the same time I found Jane Fonda talking about books that shaped her through major transitions in her life (careful of the word “transition”, Jane…. JK is out there, waiting to pounce), so I thought I’d make a post out of it. I have many books in my TBR pile that are possibly life-changing for me or someone else, but I never seem to get around to them, so I am left feeling guilty when I see them, even though I shouldn’t. I’m not going to excerpt these articles below, because the prose is like pablum, but I will give you a partial list, in a rough chronological order up til recently (it’s hard to tell if books I’ve read in the last five years or so have shaped anything but my potbelly), of books that shaped me:

  • Stuart Little, E.B. White
  • Motorcycle Mouse, Beverly Cleary
  • The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
  • Encyclopedia Brown. Donald J. Sobol
  • The X-Men (issues 94 to 200)
  • Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card (hateful man)
  • Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Patterson
  • Dune, Frank Herbert
  • Steel Beach, John Varley
  • The Lord of the Flies, William Golding
  • King Lear, Willie Shakes
  • Neuromancer, William Gibson
  • Beautiful Losers, Leonard Cohen
  • There’s a Trick with a Knife That I’m Learning to Do, Michael Ondaatje
  • Breakfast for Barbarians, Gwendolyn MacEwan
  • The Spice-box of Earth, Leonard Cohen
  • Crow, Ted Hughes
  • Fall On Your Knees, Anne Marie MacDonald
  • View With a Grain of Sand, Wislawa Szymborska
  • Disgrace, JM Coetzee
  • Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Inventory, Dionne Brand
  • Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell
  • etc etc.

Feel free to add your own below.

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