I saw this as a discussion post on reddit, and it really piqued my interest. I thought it would make an interesting blog post, although I’d much rather hear about books that changed YOUR lives, to be honest. So I’ll make y’all a deal. I’ll give you 5 books that changed my life if you’ll tell me about one of yours in the comments. Sound good? Great.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
I’ve been an avid reader literally my entire life. I can’t remember a time when my nose wasn’t lodged in a book at every possible moment. I started reading Goosebumps when I was five years old. Books have always been a huge part of who I am. But when my fifth grade teacher started reading us the first book in the Harry Potter series, a whole new world opened up for me. It was the first book I’d read that was over 150 pages. Honestly, it was probably the first book I’d read at my reading level in YEARS. Prior to Harry I’d basically been reading the same couple of books over and over and over again because I didn’t know how to find new books I would love. Harry Potter launched me into higher reading level books and a whole new set of options that I loved to explore.
Aside from that, it launched a love affair with Harry Potter. Before fandoms were a thing the Harry Potter fandom was forming, and I was in it. To this day it remains one of my all-time favorite series, and I never hesitate to share it or talk about it with random strangers. I can’t wait to read this book with my boys, especially my beautiful illustrated editions. ❤
The Lord of the Rings
The Hobbit was required reading in my sixth grade English class. Needless to say, I loved it. My dad, surprisingly nerdy for a jock, knew the next step was The Lord of the Rings, and he went out and bought the first volume for me. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t make it through the first time. Maybe some 11 year-olds are ready for The Lord of the Rings, but I was NOT one of them! But a year later I picked it up again, finished it, and was obsessed. Luckily for me, this was just in time for the movies, which I am also obsessed with.
The Lord of the Rings changed my life in a few ways. Like Harry Potter, it remains one of my favorite books of all time, and loving it and the characters has really shaped who I am as a person. It also created my love of fantasy. I wish I read more fantasy novels, because it’s probably my favorite genre. Elves, dwarves, magic, swordplay, dragons, everything about it. Finally, Tolkien taught me that I was ready to enjoy “grown-up” books. Gone were the days when I looked for my books exclusively in the kids section. (This was before the Young Adult section was REALLY a thing, it was just nestled into the side of the kids section then.)
Finally, The Lord of the Rings (in combination with Ender’s Game later on) became a real bonding experience for me and my dad. Before then he wasn’t much of a reader. These days he devours sci-fi, and anytime one of us reads a really good one we share it with each other. We love talking books now. How funny, that out of all the people in my family I would most enjoy talking books with, that it would be my dad. If you knew him, you’d be as surprised as I am.
Pride and Prejudice
The required reading at my high school was pretty intense. In tenth grade we read Les Miserables. Whew, what a beast! I didn’t enjoy most of those books (though I loved Les Mis!), so I thought that classic literature was too hard or too boring or too something.
Then, round about tenth or eleventh grade, I picked up Pride and Prejudice. I was hooked. While I’m not sure I completely “got it” the first time I read it, I enjoyed it a lot and started picking up other classic novels. Soon enough I spent the vast majority of my time reading books written before 1900 and loving them. So we can all thank Jane Austen for my undying love of the classics. Thanks Jane!
Love in the Time of Cholera
College marching band. I don’t even know what to say about it, save that I did NOT fit in. I don’t understand why doing simple things like taking an 8-to-5 step are so difficult for the best of the best, especially considering how many of them march drum corps. Like, I get it, you want to have fun and be lazy, BUT IT ISN’T HARD AND YOU’VE BEEN DOING IT FOR 5+ YEARS NOW, AND CAN WE PLEASE GET OUR ACT TOGETHER?!?! *end rant*
So, yeah, during my first week of college marching band I quickly discovered that I didn’t fit in. Something about being the only person in your section NOT invited to lunch clues you in. But nevermind, I had a book to read, and now the music building was empty so I could have some peace and quiet. Which I needed, because Love in the Time of Cholera is not exactly an easy read.
Enter Kyle. He sees me reading. He thinks to himself, hey, she looks smart. And she’s cute. (I don’t know what he was thinking, I was most certainly NOT cute…) Maybe I should go talk to her.
The rest, as they say, is history. We’ve now been married almost 7 years and have 2 beautiful children. Just think, if I had gone to lunch with the rest of those losers, we might never have gotten together. Or, if I had been like all the other girls and had my nose buried in Twilight. And you know what? I think Gabriel Garcia Marquez would rather like this story.
The Leader in Me
I read this book as a way to earn professional development hours at school a few years ago, and it ended up changing everything. First of all, it introduced me to the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which has since changed how I view and live life. I am happier and more effective than I’ve ever been before. Also, being proactive is a game-changer when it comes to teaching difficult kids. Second of all, it changed my career. At the time I was given this book I was teaching band. It was a crap job, but I was trying to pay my dues until I could get a better one. But this book came around, I got so excited about it, and everything it stood for, and implementing it at my school. I couldn’t wait to start using it in my beginner band curriculum the next year! Then some stuff went down. I found myself looking for a new job. But I didn’t want to leave my school and leave the Leader in Me. So I talked to my principal, took an exam, and got myself certified to be a classroom teacher. I now teach fourth grade math and science. Life’s been crazy different, I can tell you that.
I’m still super passionate about The Leader in Me, and I think that if I can stay at Leader in Me schools, when I’m finally burnt out on teaching I might like to work for the Franklin-Covey people. I would love to see this program implemented effectively at more schools.
Alright kids, I’ve kept up my end of the bargain, now it’s time for you to keep up yours. What’s a book that’s changed YOUR life?