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scarletpeaches
05-19-2007, 07:14 PM
Stealing the idea from JoNightshade in the novels forum...:D

Thread title says it all.

For me, it's Marcus Aurelius's Meditations. It reads like a self-help book from thousands of years ago only not so...well, wanky! It taught me not to get so het up over things I couldn't change. A fine lesson in acceptance.

So, what about you?

benbradley
05-19-2007, 09:30 PM
I already cheated and mentioned "The Adventures of a Parapsychologist" in the other thread. Offhand I can't think of another single title that had a big influence, but of course it won't hit most people the way it did me, much of it had to do with where I was at the time I read it.

But in general, popular and technical books on science and technology have made a strong impression on me, showing how we have a remarkable and exponentiially increasing amount of knowledge and control of the physical universe.

And what I might call metascience books, about the philosophy of science and what it all might mean, for examples, Kurzweil's recent books. One book that straddles the line between fact and fiction is "The Mind's I," a collection of short stories selected and commented on by Daniel Dennett and Douglas Hofstadter. I found it mind expanding.

MelodyO
05-19-2007, 09:52 PM
Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. It made me feel for the first time that maybe I really could write a book, and that I was small part of a greater whole. It resonated so loudly that you probably could have tuned a piano with me while I read it. Ah, discovering the joys of writing a shitty first draft, getting it done bird by bird, living as if I were dying, and (of course) how it's perfectly reasonable to hate the people who get rich and famous writing well and easily. Hee!

kristie911
05-19-2007, 11:20 PM
I read very little non-fiction but Harvey Penick's Little Red Book made me golf better. Does that count? :)

akiwiguy
05-20-2007, 04:09 AM
Boy, this is an extremely interesting topic. In the case of novels, I wonder if I am usually affected subcosciously; that I'm moved in such a way that I wouldn't even recognize that I have in same way been "changed".

I do know that back at school the works of Wilfred Owen (poetry though of course) changed (or deepened) my attitudes to war forever. My childhood was in the post-war mood, and we all played with toy guns and I guess thought it was all quite exciting. Owen's poetry was perhaps the first thing that made me really think about the reality of war. To this day Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori would be one of the few Latin phrases that I could immediateoy recite. Really powerful imagery.

scarletpeaches
05-20-2007, 04:12 AM
Oh wow, what a post...Owen is one of my favourite poets, too.

And just to add to my earlier post - Think and Grow Rich...I was inspired to read it by a snooker player I admire, Peter Ebdon, and it's great for helping you maintain a positive mental attitude.

MonaLeigh
05-20-2007, 04:31 AM
I was recently in the hospital unexpectedly. When I came home I couldn't go back to work right away and read a few books that changed the way I think. One was The Secret and another was Change Your Life in 30 Days (I think that's the title). I already knew the premise of The Secret, and I liked the book. Ever since I was sick, I've stopped myself from having negative thoughts (or gossiping, etc.) and I feel much happier everyday. It is true if you think happy thoughts you do feel better.

Beyondian
05-24-2007, 07:42 AM
I recently read Vidocq's Memoirs. Not only did the book inspire a whole new novel idea, but it jump-started a passion for history which I had forgotten I had. The book is so humerous and lively (sometimes darn unbelievable, too) that I've become completely fascinated with France in the 17th and 18th centuries. I'm researching Argot, and Canler, and the Judicial system, and the countryside, and the culture. It's glorious.
And it was all started by reading about Vidocq.
Not to mention it taught me a little lesson about prevailing against insurmountable odds. Hey, if a convict can become the Head of the Surete, what's to stop me from fulfilling my goals?

PrettySpecialGal
05-24-2007, 08:30 AM
The Woman's guide to ADD.

Now I know there are others out there like me-- like finding the "just-right" greeting card-- there's comfort in knowing someone else has gone through it, too, and I'm not a freak. Well, I'm still a freak, but there are other freaks, too, so I'm not a lonely freak.

licity-lieu
05-25-2007, 10:09 AM
Hmm..good idea. Here's my little list:

No Logo--naomi Klein. Fuelled my fire
The Beauty Myth-- Naomi Wolf. She taught me to 'get over myself'
The Wisdom of no escape and the path of loving kindness--Pema Choron
I read this when life gets way to hectic. It calms me right down.
A Brief History of Time--Stephen Hawking Still not sure why? Just blows my mind
The Tibetan Book Of Living & Dying--Sogyal Rinpoche A beautiful text and helps bring life into perspective.

Jabs
05-25-2007, 09:47 PM
101 Sexual Positions

licity-lieu
05-26-2007, 01:16 AM
101 Sexual Positions

:roll:

...oops

scarletpeaches
05-26-2007, 01:20 AM
He got stuck on no.69.

licity-lieu
05-26-2007, 01:47 AM
He got stuck on no.69.

:roll: X 2 ....what a screw-up!

PrettySpecialGal
05-29-2007, 06:19 PM
101 Sexual Positions


yeah, that one, too.

;)

Death Wizard
06-01-2007, 08:12 AM
He got stuck on no.69.

You can say that while wearing red lipstick? (Ha!)

Death Wizard
06-01-2007, 08:14 AM
On a more serious note, my favorite work of nonfiction recently was The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.

triceretops
06-01-2007, 08:44 AM
I look up and see my friend. :hi: Jim.

Now, Seabisquit (sp?) An American Legend

The Moon's a Balloon--David Niven

Bring on the Empty Horses--David Niven

The Onion Field--Joseph Wambaugh.

(Almost forgot Helter Skelter--a tremendous impact)
Tri

Kida Adelyne
06-01-2007, 10:30 PM
Nothing that's conciously changed my life, but One Child, by Torey Hayden definitely made an impact on me.

sunna
06-01-2007, 10:39 PM
Wheels of Life, by Anodea Judith.

Death Wizard
06-01-2007, 11:41 PM
I look up and see my friend. :hi: Jim.

Now, Seabisquit (sp?) An American Legend

The Moon's a Balloon--David Niven

Bring on the Empty Horses--David Niven

The Onion Field--Joseph Wambaugh.

(Almost forgot Helter Skelter--a tremendous impact)
Tri

I agree, Tri. Helter Skelter was a mind-blower.

nandu
06-05-2007, 05:52 PM
The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell.

The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettelheim.

They didn't change my life, but made me look at life afresh.

Arisa81
07-06-2007, 06:18 AM
I just finished reading Letting Go Of Your Bananas (how to become more successful by getting rid of everything rotten in your life) By Dr. Daniel T. Drubin.
It was good. I enjoy books that give you straight tips on how to improve things, and this one does at the end of every chapter (or "key" in this case).

rugcat
07-06-2007, 06:34 AM
The Immense Journey (http://www.amazon.com/Immense-Journey-Imaginative-Naturalist-Mysteries/dp/0394701577/ref=pd_bbs_2/002-1100690-1682420?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1183688527&sr=1-2), Loren Eisley.

I read this as a teenager and it opened me up to the magic of nature and science, and at the same time, the power of words to make ideas come alive. A visionary book.

Second, Under The Sea Wind (http://www.amazon.com/Sea-Wind-Penguin-Classics-Rachel-Carson/dp/0143104969/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/002-1100690-1682420?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1183689037&sr=1-1), Rachel Carson--another poet of the natural world.

It bemuses me that the most influential books for me both were nonfiction nature and philosophy, yet I ended up writing thrillers and fantasy.

yesandno
07-06-2007, 06:50 AM
I don't think it changed my life, but I'm really fond of The Blank Slate, by Steven Pinker.

Mom'sWrite
07-06-2007, 07:37 AM
Top three:
Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell

Chaos by James Gleick

Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom

BlueTexas
07-06-2007, 08:16 AM
Add another vote for Hero by Campbell.

Penguin Queen
07-06-2007, 02:22 PM
Ooh, great thread! I love nonfiction.
I think the one that had the most impact was
Alone of All Her Sex, (http://www.marinawarner.com/alone.html) The Myth and Cult of the Virgin Mary -- Marina Warner
I love how Warner digs back thorugh layers of myth to show how myths are made, and why. And that the reasons behind them are usually human and political, not religious or supernatural.

Also Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own.

And The Creation of Patriarchy (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Creation-Patriarchy-Women-History/dp/0195051858/ref=pd_bowtega_1/202-7695200-0765449?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1183717201&sr=1-1) and The Creation of Feminist Consciousness (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Creation-Feminist-Consciousness-Eighteen-seventy-History/dp/0195090608/ref=sr_1_2/202-7695200-0765449?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1183717251&sr=1-2), Gerda Lerner.


The Beauty Myth-- Naomi Wolf.


Yes. And that.

Me, a feminist? Whatever gives you that idea? :D

ChunkyC
07-07-2007, 02:15 AM
Wow, great thread.

I think I'd have to say A Passion for Narrative (http://www.amazon.ca/Passion-Narrative-Writing-Fiction-Revised/dp/0771041985/ref=sr_1_3/701-6902731-0037924?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1183759899&sr=1-3) by Jack Hodgins would be the one. It was the first book on writing I bought when I decided to give writing fiction a shot. If it had been uninspiring, I might not have put my butt in the chair and written my first novel. And then I might not have decided to look for writing related websites and run across this incredible place. I also never would have gone to one of his readings and had him sign it for me.

In fact, everything in my life that is writing related with the exception of my column has come as a direct result of being inspired to write by that book. So yeah, it changed my life and for the better, big time. Thanks, Jack.

Crème de la Gem
07-07-2007, 04:01 AM
I'm pretty new to reading. About five years ago I read the first English book I actually enjoyed—Catcher in the Rye. Before that, I was reading text books and throughly disgusted with reading, and didn't know I could read in English and actually enjoy it! It was a turning point.

And then, I read a non-fiction book maybe two years ago that really inspired me to start writing: Diary of Anais Nin!

And I've been reading everyday since then, and finally this year I started to write stories with a real aspiration. Now, reading and writing is all I do—besides cooking <3

blacbird
07-07-2007, 07:15 AM
The Immense Journey, Loren Eiseley.

Eiseley was a paleontologist who wrote extraordinarily literate essays on science and life, and damn decent poetry as well. I first encountered him in a high-school English book that included one of his essays from The Immense Journey as an example of how to write a damn good essay. That was probably the best thing, certainly the most memorable thing, I ever read in high school.

caw

Don Allen
07-07-2007, 07:34 AM
Alex Haley's Roots, and Truman Capote's -In Cold Blood.
As a teenager I read both these books and they changed my perspective on life. Roots vividly brought forth the horrors that Africans were subjected that quite frankly up to that time had never really been published mainstream. In Cold Blood- what can I say? I guess it opened my eyes to the absolutly hideous things some people are willing to do for practically nothing.

ATP
07-07-2007, 05:28 PM
One I do remember well and read a long time ago was a very good, comprehensive biography on Martin Luther King Jnr.But, I don't know if it was a book that did 'it' for me, or changed my life.

ChaosTitan
07-08-2007, 04:06 AM
"Band of Brothers" by Stephen Ambrose. I read it after seeing the miniseries, and I highly recommend it. The book is beautifully written, and it gives you a much more in-depth look at the men of Easy Company during WWII.

"Confessions of a Kamikaze Cowboy" by Dirk Benedict. Part memoir and part self-help book, it's a funny and fascanating account of the actor's early life and his career up through the A-Team. It details his battle with prostate cancer and curing it through microbiotics, his rise and fall in fame, and his outlook on life.

benbradley
07-08-2007, 04:36 AM
Top three:
...
Chaos by James Gleick
That's an interesting choice. Why was this so influential for you?

I read Chaos when it came out, and in the middle of reading it wrote the code to do the Mandelbrot set in Microsoft Basic on my Macintosh, and it drew the Mandelbrot set on the screen in beautiful black-and-white in only three days(!).


Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom
That's one I recently started on, but have been reading other stuff. I ought to get back to it, I enjoyed his (fiction) "The Five People You Meet In Heaven."

BlueTexas
07-08-2007, 04:51 AM
Alex Haley's Roots, and Truman Capote's -In Cold Blood.
As a teenager I read both these books and they changed my perspective on life. Roots vividly brought forth the horrors that Africans were subjected that quite frankly up to that time had never really been published mainstream. In Cold Blood- what can I say? I guess it opened my eyes to the absolutly hideous things some people are willing to do for practically nothing.

In Cold Blood was pretty powerful. And people can be pretty horrible. What I loved about ICB was the weird tenderness Capote showed to the murderers. I didn't start another book for three days after I finished it, and that's saying something.

Mom'sWrite
07-08-2007, 05:17 AM
That's an interesting choice. Why was this so influential for you?

I read Chaos when it came out, and in the middle of reading it wrote the code to do the Mandelbrot set in Microsoft Basic on my Macintosh, and it drew the Mandelbrot set on the screen in beautiful black-and-white in only three days(!).




Chaos really took my head and shook it like a dusty rag. I would read a page, set the book down and say, "Holy SHIT." Then I'd read the page again.

In writing, we attempt to describe the indescribable. We've only poor and inadequate words to do so. Chaos is science's fabulous foray into the same thing. It describes randomness and possibility using mathematics. Holy SHIT. (I may be the only person who is stunned into bad language by that. It's true, I'm hopeless. Save me.)

With the Mandelbrot set on your computer, you would have had me at "hello." :)

Ralyks
07-16-2007, 03:32 AM
In Cold Blood was the fastest non-fiction page turner I have ever read, but it had no affect on my life.

The most moving autobiography I ever read was Elie Wiesel's Night.

Mere Christianity is the only nonfiction book I could say came even close to "changing my life," in so much as it gave me an extra push down the path toward Christianity. However, I would have likely gone down that path without it…

There are many nonfiction books by which I was deeply moved, including The Seven Storey Mountain, Death on a Friday Afternoon, the Tao Te Ching, and the poetry of Rumi.

There were a few relationship books that, although they did not change my life, helped me to understand my husband better and perhaps slightly improved our marriage (but it was already good to begin with): His Needs, Her Needs; The Five Love Languages; and Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.

There are several books that altered, at least in some part, my perspective or opinions on certain issues: Intellectuals(Paul Johnson); Infidel (Ayaan Hirsi Ali); The Virtue of Selfishness (Ayn Rand); A History of Christianity (Johnson); The Jesus Sutras (Palmer); Where the Right Went Wrong (Buchanan).

Simon Woodhouse
07-22-2007, 07:46 AM
Never Again: A History of the Holocaust by Martin Gilbert.

The book didn't change my life as such, but it made me realise that no work of fiction could ever be as horrific as the Holocaust.

robeiae
07-22-2007, 05:49 PM
I don't think it changed my life, but I'm really fond of The Blank Slate, by Steven Pinker.
I've really enjoyed this book--definitely a thought provoker.

robeiae
07-22-2007, 05:54 PM
As to one that changed my life, or at least had a big impact:

Walden by Thoreau--it made me realize how full of crap people can be when they're trying to be profound. I know, I know--I'm a cynic.

Of course, this led me to many other books in search of different views, so I can't really complain about it.

benbradley
07-22-2007, 06:34 PM
Chaos really took my head and shook it like a dusty rag. I would read a page, set the book down and say, "Holy SHIT." Then I'd read the page again.

In writing, we attempt to describe the indescribable. We've only poor and inadequate words to do so. Chaos is science's fabulous foray into the same thing. It describes randomness and possibility using mathematics. Holy SHIT. (I may be the only person who is stunned into bad language by that. It's true, I'm hopeless. Save me.)

With the Mandelbrot set on your computer, you would have had me at "hello." :)
Remembering now, I recall that it was a popular book, and was the first intro to the mathematical concept of chaos (as opposed to the "common" definition of the word - there are subtle but significant differences in many "technical" terms and their use in ordinary language) for many or most readers. I had read of similar things such as Feigenbaum numbers earlier in Scientific American (it's a fairly simple iterated function that draws a line, then it splits into two lines, then four, eight, sixteen lines and keeps going until at one point it becomes an infinite number of lines, completely filling in an area), so I had already had a taste of the sense of wonder and "randomness" that simple mathematical functions could produce. Here's an article with a diagram:
http://mathworld.wolfram.com/FeigenbaumConstant.html

You might also enjoy "The Fractal Geometry of Nature." It's more technical, but I recall that it has more pics (and even better and prettier ones) than I recall in Chaos:
http://www.amazon.com/Fractal-Geometry-Nature-Benoit-Mandelbrot/dp/0716711869

robeiae
07-22-2007, 06:47 PM
Remembering now, I recall that it was a popular book, and was the first intro to the mathematical concept of chaos (as opposed to the "common" definition of the word - there are subtle but significant differences in many "technical" terms and their use in ordinary language) for many or most readers. I had read of similar things such as Feigenbaum numbers earlier in Scientific American (it's a fairly simple iterated function that draws a line, then it splits into two lines, then four, eight, sixteen lines and keeps going until at one point it becomes an infinite number of lines, completely filling in an area), so I had already had a taste of the sense of wonder and "randomness" that simple mathematical functions could produce. Here's an article with a diagram:
http://mathworld.wolfram.com/FeigenbaumConstant.html

You might also enjoy "The Fractal Geometry of Nature." It's more technical, but I recall that it has more pics (and even better and prettier ones) than I recall in Chaos:
http://www.amazon.com/Fractal-Geometry-Nature-Benoit-Mandelbrot/dp/0716711869
If you enjoy having your head played with, I recommend Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (http://www.amazon.com/Godel-Escher-Bach-Eternal-Golden/dp/0465026567).

Mom'sWrite
07-22-2007, 09:12 PM
I had read of similar things such as Feigenbaum numbers earlier in Scientific American (it's a fairly simple iterated function that draws a line, then it splits into two lines, then four, eight, sixteen lines and keeps going until at one point it becomes an infinite number of lines, completely filling in an area), so I had already had a taste of the sense of wonder and "randomness" that simple mathematical functions could produce. Here's an article with a diagram:
http://mathworld.wolfram.com/FeigenbaumConstant.html

You might also enjoy "The Fractal Geometry of Nature." It's more technical, but I recall that it has more pics (and even better and prettier ones) than I recall in Chaos:
http://www.amazon.com/Fractal-Geometry-Nature-Benoit-Mandelbrot/dp/0716711869

That's bloody gorgeous.

Thanks for the recommendation. I'll definitely look it up.

Mom'sWrite
07-22-2007, 09:14 PM
If you enjoy having your head played with, I recommend Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (http://www.amazon.com/Godel-Escher-Bach-Eternal-Golden/dp/0465026567).


I'm putting this one on my list too. Can't wait to get my brain cells twitching madly.

rwam
07-23-2007, 03:11 AM
"The Jesus I Never Knew" by Philip Yancey. Jesus from a social-liberal perspective.....not the one the moral majority likes to paint for us.

Sai
07-23-2007, 05:20 AM
'I know why the Caged Bird Sings' by Maya Angelou. I read it in high school, and it definitely changed how I looked a people, in that you never know what people have gone through just by looking at them (or to use an actual quote from her "We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty"). The book is a brutal, but beautifully written. It amazes me that even after suffering racism and rape, how hopeful the book leaves you.

'The Elements of Style'- I shudder to think of how cluttered and confusing my writing would be if I didn't sleep with Strunk and White under my pillow every night.

'The Zombie Survival Guide'-Without, I'd have been eaten long ago. That's pretty life chaning.

JoNightshade
07-23-2007, 10:34 PM
I've just added quite a few books to my reading list because of this thread.

I think the only nonfiction work that has truly changed my life in a significant way is the Bible, for obvious and perhaps not so obvious reasons.

But as for other merely inspiring things, I'd have to go with Boswell's Life of Johnson. This was the first non-fiction book I ever read an really, REALLY enjoyed. Boswell's obvious affection and love for this strange, brilliant, and eminently flawed human being just blew me away. This guy didn't gloss over anything-- he showed Dr. Johnson as he truly was, and made you love him anyway. I strive to emulate this honest, transparent style. It inspired me to go in search of other great biographies, but so far nothing I've found has been able to top this.

That said, my second-favorite biography is Ron Chernow's bio of Alexander Hamilton. I think it should have been titled "The Vindication of Hamilton" because it finally brings justice to this long-maligned hero of American history! I have always loved Hamilton, and it was great to finally see a biography that does him justice. And I also learned that at one point New York was almost renamed Hamiltoniana. Which is what I am going to call it from now on. ;)

lostintheweb
07-28-2007, 03:33 AM
As to one that changed my life, or at least had a big impact:

Walden by Thoreau--it made me realize how full of crap people can be when they're trying to be profound. I know, I know--I'm a cynic.

Of course, this led me to many other books in search of different views, so I can't really complain about it.

I read a few years back that Walden Pond is, or at least was then, one of the most polluted bodies of water in the State of Massachusetts. So it goes.

My choice for the non-fiction that "changed" my life--to the extent that it has the most impact--has to be Kant's Prolegomena to the Critique of Pure Reason. If nothing else, it has made me an effective attorney and I would recommend it to any person making the mistake of wanting to go into the legal field. Of course, having read this book makes listening to political debate much easier to stomach. See Rob, you are not the only cynic on this board...

Southern_girl29
08-01-2007, 08:18 AM
I don't read a lot of non-fiction, but I have to second Tuesdays with Morrie. It was a wonderful book, and I even got my husband, who is dyslexic and doesn't read very much, to read it. He loved it, too.

I also loved Angela's Ashes and The Diary of Anne Frank.

Scrawler
08-05-2007, 06:33 AM
Great thread. I'm going to look for a few of the books others have mentioned. Mine are:

Body: The Mood Cure by Julia Ross
Mind: One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer
Spirit: The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? by Rick Warren

Snowberry
08-05-2007, 03:49 PM
Wow, this is a great thread!

Mine are, for writing, Natalie Goldberg's "Wild Mind", and for just blowing me away, Amelia Kinkade's "Straight From the Horse's Mouth."

Oh, and for scaring the pants off me, Jared Diamond's "Collapse".

Moonfish
08-05-2007, 08:03 PM
Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down The Bones really opened up my writing, how I portray and see myself, and how I spend my life.