i love love love to read. if i were going to define myself as "something", the one "something" that really resonates with me is reader.
the only time i remember getting in trouble in school was in first grade. we were supposed to be doing math problems out of a workbook. i was holding the workbook up in front of my face because i had a book hidden behind the workbook and was reading instead. unfortunately, the teacher came up behind me.
in middle school, i would bike to the library with my sisters every week and bring home a backpack full of books. the librarians let us ignore the limit and check out however many books we wanted so that we didn't have to visit every day.
i often wonder what i would be like if i didn't read. at the same time, i cannot imagine a life without reading at all.
i could never answer the question, "what's your favorite book?" i don't have one favorite, but i do have a short list of books that are my favorites because they have changed me in some way.
atlas shrugged (ayn rand). if you ever wonder where i got atlas' name, he is partly named after this book. i think my sister amy recommended it to me. i brought it along when i visited my grandparents one easter and could not put it down. do you know what i remember most? when i left the airport parking lot, i really wanted to pretend that i lost my parking ticket; it was cheaper to pay the "lost ticket maximum" than to pay the actual parking fee. i couldn't do it. it didn't align with who i wanted to be after reading the book. sometimes i find it rather strange that i love it so because i suspect i do not align with ayn rand either politically or spiritually, but the thing i took from the book was a desire to do the best i can with what i have - in order to be worthy of what i've been given and to express my appreciation and gratitude for all of it.
don't shoot the dog (karen pryor). atlas' breeder gave me this book as a gift on his first birthday. it's about positive reinforcement. when i finished, i had a vision for who/how i wanted to be/behave with atlas. everything i have done with him - or tried to do - or berated myself for falling short at - came from the principles in this book. everything i read (and continue to read) about dogs in my quest to be the best dog person i can be came from my vision of who i wanted to be after reading this book.
the prophet (kahlil gibran). i can't even remember why i bought this book in the first place, but i took it with me on a trip to seattle to visit a friend. i read it on the flight there and i spent most of the flight going, "oh! yes! oh! oh!" and underlining things and sniffling a little. i wrote in it - something i had never done to a book before and haven't really done since. there were parts of it where it felt like he reached in and grabbed bits of my soul - ideals that i tried to live by without being able to explain them - and poured them out onto the page in words. it made me think. it made me gasp. it was full of beauty. i think that if i absolutely had to pick one favorite book, this would probably be it.
the inmates are running the asylum (alan cooper). i've written about this book before, but essentially, it helped me find and articulate my passion for the user experience. (incidentally, i read this one on on a trip to england - on the train from london to swindon, to be exact - so it seems i might have a pattern of falling in love with the books i read while traveling.)
nickel and dimed (barbara ehrenreich). to be fair, this book is not exactly a longstanding favorite. it was a good quick read. i probably wouldn't read it again. there are other books that i prefer and return to, like savage inequalities (jonathan kozol) and the working poor: invisible in america (david shipler). i include it because it is the first book i read that helped me recognize and question my assumptions -assumptions i didn't even know i was making - and begin to investigate what i really believed and what i wanted to stand for and hold as important, instead of taking other people's assumptions and beliefs as my own without thinking about them. it also got me reading everything i could find about poverty and class and education, which was a fascinating (if sad) reading journey.
the untethered soul (michael singer). actually, if i had to pick one favorite, it might be a toss-up between this and the prophet. i don't really know how to talk about this book, except to say that every time i read it, i feel like i get a little glimpse of heaven.
so there you have it, a short list of books that have changed me. of course there are more, but these are the ones that come to mind in this moment.
i had an epiphany the other day that got me thinking about my favorite books and prompted this post. i just read switch by chip & dan heath. at one point, they talked about inspiring change via the identity model, where you get people to ask, "who am i? what would someone like me do in this situation?" i realized that that's what all of these books did for me. they made me ask myself that question; when i found the answer, it changed me.
now i'm so curious, do you have a book or books that have changed you?