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The Book That Changed My Life: 71 Remarkable Writers Celebrate the Books… (2006)

by Roxanne J. Coady (Editor), Joy Johannessen (Editor)

Other authors: Dorothy Allison (Contributor), Kate Atkinson (Contributor), James Atlas (Contributor), Robert Ballard (Contributor), Gina Barreca (Contributor)66 more, Nicholas A. Basbanes (Contributor), Graeme Base (Contributor), Jeff Benedict (Contributor), Elizabeth Berg (Contributor), Amy Bloom (Contributor), Harold Bloom (Contributor), Lary Bloom (Contributor), Chris Bohjalian (Contributor), Steven Brill (Contributor), Benjamin Cheever (Contributor), Da Chen (Contributor), Harriet Scott Chessman (Contributor), Brother Christopher (Contributor), Carol Higgins Clark (Contributor), Billy Collins (Contributor), Claire Cook (Contributor), Caroline B. Cooney (Contributor), Patricia Cornwell (Contributor), Maureen Corrigan (Contributor), Nelson DeMille (Contributor), Tomie dePaola (Contributor), Anita Diamant (Contributor), Dominick Dunne (Contributor), Carlos Eire (Contributor), Linda Fairstein (Contributor), Doris Kearns Goodwin (Contributor), Linda Greenlaw (Contributor), David Halberstam (Contributor), Alice Hoffman (Contributor), Sebastian Junger (Contributor), Paul M. Kennedy (Contributor), Tracy Kidder (Contributor), Robert Kurson (Contributor), Wally Lamb (Contributor), Anne Lamott (Contributor), Barbara Leaming (Contributor), Joe Lieberman (Contributor), Margot Livesey (Contributor), John McCain (Contributor), Frank McCourt (Contributor), Faith Middleton (Contributor), Jacquelyn Mitchard (Contributor), Leigh Montville (Contributor), Sara Nelson (Contributor), Sherwin B. Nuland (Contributor), Laura Numeroff (Contributor), Stewart O'Nan (Contributor), Jacques Pepin (Contributor), Anne Perry (Contributor), Jack Prelutzky (Contributor), Ian Rankin (Contributor), Richard Rhodes (Contributor), Frank Rich (Contributor), Sark (Contributor), Lisa Scottoline (Contributor), Bernie S. Siegel (Contributor), Liz Smith (Contributor), Edward Sorel (Contributor), Jane Stern (Contributor), Michael Stern (Contributor), Alexandra Stoddard (Contributor), Paco Underhill (Contributor), Susan Vreeland (Contributor), Kate Walbert (Contributor), Katharine Weber (Contributor), Jacqueline Winspear (Contributor)

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3491456,088 (3.53)19
Sixty-five concise and lively essays by some of today's most successful writers identify the books that proved pivotal to the shaping of their careers, in a volume that includes Harold Bloom on "Little, Big," Nelson DeMille on "Atlas Shrugged," and Sebastian Junger on "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee."… (more)

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» See also 19 mentions

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Every book has an influence on the reader, some profound, some not so meaningful, and some even repugnant, but every book ever read leaves the reader changed. In this collection of the books which most affected 71 authors, you find books of fiction, of history, of poetry of non-fiction and books that influenced these authors even when they were young. From The Little Engine that Could to Charlotte's Web to the Collected Works of Shakespeare to The Catcher in the Rye to To Kill a Mocking Bird, all of these books left indelible imprints of authors who themselves offered their souls in the books they have created.
One of the best ways to answer yourself when asking, "What should I read next?" is to have the recommendations of others and nowhere will better recommendations be found than in the recommendations of the people who craft books themselves.
This was a wonderful read and gave me a roadmap to many volumes I must now add to my own experience. ( )
  Paul-the-well-read | Apr 18, 2020 |
This book was an interesting one. I had supposed that a lot of the writers would have chosen the same book but that actually happened very infrequently. Off the top of my head, the ones that were recommended the most for being Life-changing were Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Some people flocked to Shakespeare and his writings, while others chose books that I had never heard of before. Either way, the collection was interesting and the end of the book has a suggested reading list. These are both definitely positive points to add. As for the negatives, I suppose the small number of people that responded was a bit disappointing. You may say that 65 is a pretty large number, but with how fast the book goes by, the editor probably could have gone up to 80 or 100. I also don't really know how this is organized. However, that seems to be the case for most of these books that I have read. ( )
  Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
“You could read the same text repeatedly over time, and that something fresh and new would declare itself with each reading - was a revelation to me.”

“I finally got it: a book could do more than help you pass an exam, it could lift you up and sweep you away.”

“I don’t want to reread any of them now, for fear of finding they have aged as gracelessly as I have.”
  bookworm12 | Mar 21, 2018 |
Harold Bloom says he's read ' Little , Big ' dozens of times. ( )
  Baku-X | Jan 10, 2017 |
Marvelous idea and I want the sequel! Finally, I found a book primarily about *reading* instead of about collecting/ hoarding books.

Each essay is entirely different, so I'd be willing to bet that at least a few of them will resonant with every end reader. All are short, most are even under two pages. Now, to be perfectly honest, there were a few too many Literary ones for me, but then many of the writers that contributed are writers of thrillers, journalists, sports writers, etc.

Few books got mentioned by more than one essayist, too, which is interesting. Some essays talked about favorite childhood books, some about manuals for living, some about the latest work that they've been recommending to everyone. Some couldn't limit themselves to touting just one book. Some admit that what work matters to them might not to anybody else.

It's a good source for recommendations, not just for the books that mattered to the essayists, but also for the books written by the essayists. I've got some to add from both sources.

It's also a good prompt for us, reminding us to think about books we've read that have had a major impact on our life or at least on our reading.

I'm going to be opening a discussion about books that matter to us in the marvelous GR Group http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/1225-you-ll-love-this-one-a-book-club-more - come join us!

Btw, every copy of this book we buy will buy a book for a family in the Read to Grow program. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Coady, Roxanne J.Editorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Johannessen, JoyEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Allison, DorothyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Atkinson, KateContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Atlas, JamesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ballard, RobertContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barreca, GinaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Basbanes, Nicholas A.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Base, GraemeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Benedict, JeffContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Berg, ElizabethContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bloom, AmyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bloom, HaroldContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bloom, LaryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bohjalian, ChrisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brill, StevenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cheever, BenjaminContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chen, DaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chessman, Harriet ScottContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Christopher, BrotherContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Clark, Carol HigginsContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Collins, BillyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cook, ClaireContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cooney, Caroline B.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cornwell, PatriciaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Corrigan, MaureenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
DeMille, NelsonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
dePaola, TomieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Diamant, AnitaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dunne, DominickContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Eire, CarlosContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fairstein, LindaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Goodwin, Doris KearnsContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Greenlaw, LindaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Halberstam, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hoffman, AliceContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Junger, SebastianContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kennedy, Paul M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kidder, TracyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kurson, RobertContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lamb, WallyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lamott, AnneContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Leaming, BarbaraContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lieberman, JoeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Livesey, MargotContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McCain, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McCourt, FrankContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Middleton, FaithContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mitchard, JacquelynContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Montville, LeighContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Nelson, SaraContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Nuland, Sherwin B.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Numeroff, LauraContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
O'Nan, StewartContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pepin, JacquesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Perry, AnneContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Prelutzky, JackContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rankin, IanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rhodes, RichardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rich, FrankContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
SarkContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Scottoline, LisaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Siegel, Bernie S.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Smith, LizContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sorel, EdwardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stern, JaneContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stern, MichaelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stoddard, AlexandraContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Underhill, PacoContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Vreeland, SusanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Walbert, KateContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Weber, KatharineContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Winspear, JacquelineContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Wikipedia in English


Sixty-five concise and lively essays by some of today's most successful writers identify the books that proved pivotal to the shaping of their careers, in a volume that includes Harold Bloom on "Little, Big," Nelson DeMille on "Atlas Shrugged," and Sebastian Junger on "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee."

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Book description
  • Introduction / Roxanne J. Coady
  • Dorothy Allison on Toni Morrisons’s The Bluest Eye
  • Kate Atkinson on Robert Coover’s Pricksongs and Descants
  • James Atlas on Gwendolyn Brooks’s Selected Poems
  • Robert Ballard on Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth
  • Gina Barreca on Jean Kerr’s The Snake Has All the Lines
  • Nicholas A. Basbanes on the Works of Shakespeare
  • Graeme Base on J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings
  • Jeff Benedict on The Little Engine That Could
  • Elizabeth Berg on J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye
  • Amy Bloom on The Most of P. G. Wodehouse
  • Harold Bloom on John Crowley’s Little, Big
  • Lary Bloom on John Hersey’s Hiroshima
  • Chris Bohjalian on Joyce Carol Oates’s Expensive People and More
  • Steven Brill on Theodore H. White’s The Making of the President, 1960
  • Benjamin Cheever on Ernest Becker’s The Denial of Death
  • Da Chen on Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo
  • Harriet Scott Chessman on Gertrude Stein’s Ida
  • Brother Christopher on Thomas Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain
  • Carol Higgins Clark on Mary Higgins Clark’s A Stranger Is Watching
  • Billy Collins on Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' The Yearling and Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita
  • Claire Cook on Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew Mysteries
  • Caroline B. Cooney on Caesar’s Gallic Wars
  • Patricia Cornwell on Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin
  • Maureen Corrigan on Charles Dickens' David Copperfield
  • Nelson DeMille on Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and More
  • Tomie dePaola on Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter
  • Anita Diamant on Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own
  • Dominick Dunne on Anthony Trollope’s The Way We Live Now
  • Carlos Eire on Thomas à Kempis’s The Imitation of Christ
  • Linda Fairstein on Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin on Barbara W. Tuchman’s The Guns of August
  • Linda Greenlaw on Sebastian Junger’s The Perfect Storm
  • David Halberstam on Cecil Woodham-Smith’s The Reason Why
  • Alice Hoffman on J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye
  • Sebastian Junger on Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
  • Paul Kennedy on Geoffrey Barraclough’s An Introduction to Contemporary History
  • Tracy Kidder on Ernest Hemingway’s Collected Stories
  • Robert Kurson on Ernest Becker’s The Denial of Death
  • Wally Lamb on Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Anne Lamott on Ram Dass’s The Only Dance There Is and More
  • Barbara Leaming on Sigmund Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams
  • Senator Joe Lieberman on The Bible
  • Margot Livesey on Charlotte Brontës Jane Eyre
  • Senator John McCain on Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls
  • Frank McCourt on Shakespeare’s Henry VIII
  • Faith Middleton on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby
  • Jacquelyn Mitchard on Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  • Leigh Montville on Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct Series
  • Sara Nelson on Herman Wouk’s Marjorie Morningstar and Susan Isaacs' Compromising Positions
  • Sherwin B. Nuland on William Lewis Nida’s Ab the Cave Man
  • Laura Numeroff on Kay Thompson’s Eloise
  • Stewart O'Nan on William Maxwell’s So Long, See You Tomorrow
  • Jacques Pépin on Albert Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus
  • Anne Perry on G. K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday
  • Jack Prelutsky on Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses and More
  • Ian Rankin on Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange
  • Richard Rhodes on Albert Schweitzer’s Out of My Life and Thought and Hugh Lofting’s Doctor Dolittle Series
  • Frank Rich on Moss Hart’s Act One
  • SARK on Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
  • Lisa Scottoline on Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes
  • Bernie S. Siegel on William Saroyan’s The Human Comedy
  • Liz Smith on Christopher Morley’s Kitty Foyle and Guy Endore’s Voltaire! Voltaire!
  • Edward Sorel on Stendhal’s The Red and the Black
  • Jane Stern on John Barth’s The End of the Road
  • Michael Stern on the Sears Catalogue
  • Alexandra Stoddard on Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet
  • Paco Underhill on C. S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower Series
  • Susan Vreeland on Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Kate Walbert on E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web
  • Katharine Weber on Steven Millhauser’s Edwin Mullhouse
  • Jacqueline Winspear on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby
  • The Books That Changed Their Lives : A Reading List of the Books Selected by the Contributors
  • Roxanne’s Very Opinionated Reading List
  • Joy’s Very Opinionated Reading List
  • Acknowledgments
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