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Old 06-27-2008, 06:05 AM   #1
TadW
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What books have changed your life?

Technologist Kevin Kelly:

I don't mean merely great books, or memorable ones, or favorite ones. I mean books that altered your behavior, changed your mind, redirected the course of your life. Books as levers.

Let's put them down here in this thread, the books that have been levers for us, and changed our life and way of thinking.

My list:

- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

- Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

- Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

- My first C++ textbook (dunno the title, but I think it was from O'Reilly)
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Old 06-27-2008, 10:05 AM   #2
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- The Bible
- The Physician, by Noah Gordon
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Old 06-27-2008, 10:54 AM   #3
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- 1984
- Kassandra (Christa Wolf)
- The Illuminatus Trilogy (RA Wilson)
- Catch 22 (Heller)
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Old 06-27-2008, 11:37 AM   #4
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Old 06-27-2008, 11:50 AM   #5
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Old 06-27-2008, 02:29 PM   #6
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Really hard to say.

* "Lord of the Rings" - it introduced a world of fantasy and I am eternally grateful to J.R.R. Tolkien for that.

* "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" (Douglas Adams) Discworld-seroes (Terry Pratchett) - Fantasy/SciFi can be funny but still deeply philosophical

* Last of their kind (Douglas Adams) and later "Selmon in doubt" (Douglas Adams) - Life is much too short

* "In 300 Jahren vielleicht" (Tillmann Röhrig) (I dont think there is an english version, but the title translates to 'Perhaps in 300 years') - it was the first book I cried over. Story: 5 days in a little village during the Thirty Years' War in Europe. I was 12 when I read it, and it moved me deeply.
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Old 06-27-2008, 03:25 PM   #7
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Old 06-28-2008, 01:08 AM   #8
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Great question. It's the main reason I read anything at all. I'd say in rough order of influence and importance to me:

An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth, Satyagraha in South Africa, and most other writings by Mohandis K. Gandhi
Demian and Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
The Hero with a Thousand Faces and other books by Joseph Campbell
Unto This Last by John Ruskin
The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Clayborne Carson
The Ascent of Man by Jacob Bronowski
Benjamin Franklin by Carl Van Doren
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnnegut
Lying Awake by Mark Salzman
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

Sorry for listing so many. And I have so much more to read that I hope will be of equal importance to me.
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Old 06-28-2008, 09:26 AM   #9
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I would have to say that the books that changed my life were the Star trek books by James Blish. Those were the first science fiction books I read that I can recall. They were given to me in a box of books someone was getting rid of and now I do read a lot of science fiction & fantasy type books.
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Old 06-28-2008, 01:38 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tirsales View Post
"Lord of the Rings" - it introduced a world of fantasy and I am eternally grateful to J.R.R. Tolkien for that.
Ditto. I have nothing to add.
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Old 06-28-2008, 02:49 PM   #11
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All of Robert Heinlein's books together but particularly "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress", "Time Enough For Love", "Fear No Evil", "Friday", and "Starman Jones".

Also Andre Norton's "Daybreak 2250 AD", Jerry Pournelle/Larry Niven/Steven Barnes' "The Legacy of Heorot", C.J. Cherryh's "Cuckoo's Egg", and especially Jack Chalkers "Soul Rider" series.

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Old 06-28-2008, 06:08 PM   #12
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the books that changed my life are actually books i read as a child. they helped form my view of the world. i'd say the edward eager books - particularly maybe magic and the well wishers - lloyd alexander's book of 3 series and a book called why not join the giraffes by hope campbell. while there are many, many books that have influenced me, these helped define the way i look at the world even all these years later
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Old 06-28-2008, 10:35 PM   #13
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Andre Norton's "Star Man's Son" (which might have been a retitling of Daybreak 2250) ... that got me hooked on Science Fiction in a big way.

The Bible ... which after I read and studied it convinced me that I had no business calling myself a Christian and led me towards Buddhism.

Asimov's Foundation Trilogy, which changed the way I thought about how the world works.

Heinlein's Lazarous Long series of books because they made me consider the perspective of people who were of a different sexual orientation than I.

Larry Niven's series leading up to "Ringworld" which made me consider the theory of panspermia from a different point of view.

Lord of the Rings, which gave me a better lesson on the battle of good versus evil than the Bible ever could (and no one was demanding that I actually believe in the literal truth of LotR which was a big plus for me).

Jerzy Kozinski's "The Painted Bird" which made me vow to protect the rights of the disenfranchised for the rest of my days, and which might have been the trigger that sent me to law school.

I think that's most or all of them. I'll probably think of something in the middle of the night, and wake up out of a dead sleep feeling like a complete idiot for leaving it out.
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Old 06-29-2008, 06:07 AM   #14
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"Siddhartha" by Hermann Hesse: a gentle, simple story of the journey of a great and wise man. I read it when I was a teenager. It kick-started my spiritual beliefs.

"Fooled by Randomness" by Nassim Taleb and "Misbehaviour of Markets" by Benoit Mandelbrot: I read these much more recently and they changed the way I look at the world. Where I once saw significance, I now see randomness.

My belief in an Intelligent Designer has given way to a belief that everything is just happenstance.
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Old 06-29-2008, 06:53 AM   #15
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Slaughterhouse-Five. I took too many mushrooms and extrapolated a plot of my own life out in a tangentially related way to the 2/3 of the book that I had read at the point when I tripped. Anyway, I kinda became convinced that I was in an experiment or at least something analogous to a perfectly complex computer system run by aliens, basically, and those aliens being something pretty far beyond humans (and maybe even humans themselves doing kind of a generational loop which actually acts in its own name and does something with quantum faggot physics or something, right?). I also became convinced that I was god, which is something that will hit you pretty hard for a while until you give up the ghost on that bullshit (it's not a philosophically productive line of thought, nor is it science). And, so, this is mostly to blame on Kurt Vonnegut, basically.
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