Books that changed your world

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Books that changed your world

Postby Jan Van Quirm » Sat Jan 29, 2011 1:56 am

Variation on a theme perhaps, but I'm not going to talk about JRRT - well not yet :P Same thing with Pterry but we write about him everywhere so perhaps if we talk about his work in this thread it'll about THE one (or the few) Terry book(s) that you love above all the rest because it has soem special meaning or has endeared itself to you in some way or other.

I know I'm not alone on here in loving books and the more you read, the more 'taste' you acquire, but, looking back on your reading 'career', there's generally at least one book - or several as the Discworld World Cup bears out, :lol: that become firm favourites and that you might read again and again over a lifetime. And then there are the books that set your mind alight, make you cry or touch you so profoundly in some respects that they can literally change your life, your whole world perspective. :D

I can bang on about Middle Earth elsewhere right now, but two other sci-fi/fantasy authors blew me away a few years before I discovered Pterry, both written by women and both dealing in prehistory amongst other things. So thread starters perks, because I know 2 other people on here enjoy Julian May (yes she's a lady! :wink: ) and her 2 masterpiece tetralogies (which form one huge serial set in the far future and on Earth 6 millions years ago) The Saga of the Exiles (Pliocene Exiles in the US) with The Galactic Milieu Trilogy with Intervention as a prequel to that and as both prequel/sequel to the Exiles too. It's a brilliant cycle of books with truly excellent writing and vision that unites humans and 4 other races of aliens in a benevolent confederation headed by a prescient, metapsychical elite in Unity, with time travel for misfits of the 'perfect' future society to go back to the Pliocene where xenophobia takes on a new meaning as humans haven't evolved yet.... Very, very interesting multi-layered storylining that also takes speculation on the origins of Planet Earth Western European mythologies :twisted:

The other series is still being written by Jean Auel, Earth's Children. That started very strongly indeed and the first 2 books The Clan of the Cave Bear and The Valley of Horses were amazing reading because of the masterly research on the palaeolithic era of human history about a young female homo sapiens/cro magnon who has been orphaned and gets adopted into a neanderthal (homo neanderthalis) community. I'm not so fond of the later books in the series (the 6th and last one is due out sometime this year) as the orphan heroine, Ayla has turned into bloody wonder woman and is good at every sodding thing, :roll: but the first 2 books are compulsive reading because at least one of the main characters, Creb the shaman neanderthal, actually existed! :shock:

The Foreword and Acknowledgements of Auel's series are fascinating in themselves and the detailed academic archaeological and scientic research she undertakes for each book is staggering. Creb, the real person lived in a part of Turkey near Istanbul between 25-30,000 years ago - the limbs of his skeleton bore signs of several disabilities from birth defects, injury and/or arthritis and he had had his skull damaged around one of his eyes. The amazing thing about him was that his remains were the oldest of the other people found in the same cave - over 35 yrs old, which was an advanced age for a neanderthal and with his physical deformities would have needed the help of an effective and caring community to survive so long in newly post-glacial Asia Minor just in environmental terms - quite a different view of the grunting speechless cavemen image we were taught about in school... :D

So - those are 2 authors who socked it to me in one way or another. Who 'did it' for you? :D
"Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.” George Bernard Shaw
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Postby BaldFriede » Sat Jan 29, 2011 2:06 am

The "Alice" books by Lewis Carroll. Especially when I found out that Carroll shares birthday with me. It is not without reason that one of our kids is named "Alice".
And, first of all, a little book named "Der kleine Elefant" ("The Little Elephant"). It was only a few pages with lots of pictures; definitely a children's book. I knew it by heart, and I taught myself reading from it.
I entered school with a delay of a few weeks because I had broken a leg the day before my first schoolday, and it was in the hospital where I got that book "Der kleine Elefant". So I first learned to read print.
In school we had little cards with all the letters on it, printed letters on one side, handwritten ones on the other. We were taught handwriting first, but I always turned the cards to the printed letters. When my teacher asked me why I said because else I could not read them. He did not believe me at first and had me read something in print, which I did without problems.
The teacher then told my parents to buy books which were in handwriting for me; fortunately there were some around. My parents bought two of them. I forgot the title of one of them, but the other was called "Der kleine Bill" ("Little Bill").
And here you can see the book "Der kleine Elefant":
Image
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Postby Beyond Birthday » Sat Jan 29, 2011 3:26 am

There were these two books by someone. Unfortunately I've since found out that the author's views are beyond repugnant and I don't wish to support this person in any way (It was like finding out that Harry Potter was written by a dog kicker).

Instead I'll say that I enjoy Pratchett because he writes the type of things that most high schoolers might think "Wouldn't it be cool if...?"

There is also EVA, something that is beyond preachy and still manages to be great.

Harry Potter was just barely getting a movie adaptation when I started it and it was one of those things with me like with most kids in America.

This is starting to make me feel nostalgic.

There was also Artemis Fowl, Which Witch?, and Honus and Me, three of my favorites during grade school and ones that nobody else ever heard of.

There was also My Life Without God, a book about the woman who banned prayer in school. While I think that was a good thing the actual character of the person who had it banned was also repugnant.

Not including Pratchett (since I only started reading his stuff recently) I'd say that these are the books that held my attention and shaped my taste the most. I also read Science Fiction.

Oh, right, and Watchmen. Can't forget that. If I need to explain why I like Watchmen then you're missing out.
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Postby BaldFriede » Sat Jan 29, 2011 4:51 am

Another book I have to mention is "Der Golem" ("The Golem") by Gustav Meyrink; it made a Meyrink fan out of me, and I read all his other books too. His best are the already mentioned book, "Walpurgisnacht" and "Der Engel vom Westlichen Fenster" ("The Angel of the West Window"). Meyrink is a master of the gothic novel, sometimes with satirical elements woven into the stories too, like Poe. Maybe he even is a reincarnation of Poe; at least they share birthday (Jan 19th), and Meyrink also translated Poe into German.
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Postby Antiq » Sat Jan 29, 2011 11:48 am

Changed my world? Apart from the obvious, of course....um Tolkien, Chesterton, masses of Enid Blyton probably had quite an effect on my childhood :lol:
A book called Illusion and Reality: The Meaning of Anxiety, but David Smail which I read many years ago and had a profound influence.

Nothing world-changing recently except for Sir Terry.
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Postby Sjoerd3000 » Sat Jan 29, 2011 12:01 pm

Not really changed my world but I read The Masters of Rome series by Colleen McCullough when I was quite young, and it made me love history even more :wink:

Now I find them a bit to idolising, her Caesar in particular is almost perfect :roll:
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Postby deldaisy » Sat Jan 29, 2011 1:37 pm

Beyond: Well of COURSE Nightwatch. Though I can stare at the cover for hours. And yes I have dropped authors for different personal reasons. My father always taught me "Consider the source" and it applies in SO many areas of life. A book reads completely differently when you find out the author had a VERY serious moral flaw. You begin to see where it creeps in.

BaldFriede: I always loved words. I saw the picture books as seperate works.. the art / the words but not together. My little one who has a neuological processing disorder has always only loved the words. Even when I read to her as a baby she would trace the words with her finger.

The book that won't go away....

Independant People by Halldor Laxness. Nobel Prize for Literature in 1955.

I brought it only because of the prize. I SLOGGED through it (and I never read books that make me SLOG even "classics") but something kept me reading.. it was torture. I hated it. Page after boring page of men talking about the diseases of sheep and nothing else. I still hated it 100 pages in... it was slow, boring, pedantic, horrible... then something shifted in my brain and I was there. On an Icelandic croft pre World War 2, although it could have been 600 years before,with a handful of worm infested mangy sheep in waist deep snow in the most god forsaken landscape imaginable, following the grinding daily misery of a heartless, cruel man, Bjartur who's only aim in life is to keep this handful of sheep alive at the expense of the lives of his suffering family. As long as the sheep lived, they could die.

Laxness is famous for making you see the soul and virtues, if only a glimmer, of a souless person.

Into this book about sheep (and thats what it is :wink: ) is thrown a mix of fear for the local ancient gods and mythology that even though Bjartur refuses to acknowlege, weighs heavily in his life. And its a love story... a cruel, twisted, story of love that is so wrong, and so full of hate and retribution.

When I finished the book I immediately started it again.. and realised the pages and pages of the men talking about sheep diseases had another four, five layers to them. Everytime I read it I see more and more and more. It stays on my bedside table. Has done for years.

Its not a feelgood book. Its a hard book to recommend. I don't agree whatsoever with Bjartur's views or how he treats people or himself. I don't understand how the people around him stay (apart from necessity) or bear thier existence. But this book is in every cell of my being. It lives with me. I wish it didn't sometimes... it didn't so much as "change" my life as become part of it.

Edit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_People
and also reading Hans Laxness' biographical notes certainy proves his writing.
Last edited by deldaisy on Sat Jan 29, 2011 2:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby BaldJean » Sat Jan 29, 2011 1:53 pm

Allow me to disagree. Do you expect books to be written by saints? Who of us is without a moral flaw? You may reply that you only mean severe moral flaws. There are a lot of authors around who used to support the Nazis, and you would probably count those authors among those with "moral flaws". But this is a kind of automatism I don't agree with. Many< people were supporters of the Nazis without being in agreement with what the Nazis eventually did. Now if an author calls fire and brimstone upon the Jews: That could be considered a moral flaw. But many authors supported the Nazis just because they wanted a strong Germany again, and Hitler offered that. It is by far not all black and white. Authors without moral flaws don't exist.
Last edited by BaldJean on Sat Jan 29, 2011 3:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby deldaisy » Sat Jan 29, 2011 1:59 pm

I can see your point.... but I actually rate pedophiles below Nazi's.
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Postby Tonyblack » Sat Jan 29, 2011 2:10 pm

For me it's a book called 'The Whole Story' by the first woman to walk around the world, Ffyona Campbell. I normally never read autobiographies and hadn't really heard of this woman, but a friend bought me the book as she knew I liked walking.

To start off with I really didn't like the person who wrote the book - especially when she wrote about her early walking efforts. But as I read it I grew to have a deep admiration for her and her insights gained from her walks.

She's famous (or infamous) for 'cheating' on the first leg of her walk from New York to Los Angeles and accepting a 1000 mile lift after she got seriously ill. She didn't talk about it at the time (for reasons that make sense when you read the book), but went back and did the whole walk again on her own - with no support team. She bought a baby buggy to carry her gear in and adopted a dog for companionship. She was stopped several times by welfare officials who thought she had a baby in the buggy. :roll:

It's the honesty in the book that really got to me. And the observations. For example, on her African trip from South Africa to the Mediterranean coast she experienced a lot of hostility - mostly from areas where Western tourists had visited. In areas where this wasn't the case, she was treated with great friendship and curiosity.

I'm actually on my third copy of this book as it's one that I've loaned out and never got back. :roll:
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Postby deldaisy » Sat Jan 29, 2011 2:23 pm

I saw a long interview with a woman that was walking around the world... wondering if this is the same one... did she break up with her husband during an African trek?
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Postby MongoGutman » Sat Jan 29, 2011 2:50 pm

Conan the Conqueror by R.E. Howard.

Well, didn't really change my life but did my reading habits. My heros went from having slap up meals with lashings of ginger beer as their reward to scantily clad strumpets with lashings of a different kind...
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Postby BaldJean » Sat Jan 29, 2011 3:23 pm

Suppose you read a book and thoroughly enjoy it. Some time later you learn that the author was a pedophile. Do you really go "I don't like this book" now? I seriously doubt it. You may be disappointed about the author, but your judgement of the book should not change at all.
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Postby Beyond Birthday » Sat Jan 29, 2011 5:22 pm

I should probably have made this more clear: The person who won't be mentioned is a great writer and, for the most part, his repugnant views on certain things don't creep into his work.

I know that you should judge a book seperate from the author but, at the same time, supporting this person in any way would count as something that I would regret later. I fully admit that this is petty and I have nothing against this person as an author or even as a human being. He just has an agenda that bothers me too much to recommend to other people.

I guess this is hypocritical but, in this case, I'm willing to be hypocritical.
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Postby poohcarrot » Sat Jan 29, 2011 5:41 pm

Who is it? :?
"Disliking Carrot would be like kicking a puppy."
"You kicked a puppy," Lobsang said accusingly.
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