What Five Books Changed Your Life? Open Thread!

A bunch of celebrities picked books that most changed their lives, so we thought we would do the same. AND YOU SHOULD TOO! Just for funsies.

This isn’t the same as your favorite books or books you once enjoyed or recommended, this is about books that had you not read them, you would not be the person you are today. For example, although AM Homes, Raymond Carver, Lorrie Moore, Beverly Cleary and Joan Didion are some of my favorite writers, none of their books changed my life per se, I just thought they were all pretty fucking awesome. Get it, ok let’s go.

Famous people’s favorite books:

Claire Danes, aka Angela Chase

Deception by Philip Roth
Light Years by James Salter
Hills Like White Elephants (from The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: The Finca Vigia Edition) by Ernest Hemingway
A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood
Anagrams by Lorrie Moore
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel by Haruki Murakami

Diane Keaton

Women Photographers edited by Constance Sullivan
Untitled by Diane Arbus
Keith Carter Photographs: Twenty-Five Years by Keith Carter
Photographs from Storyville, the Red-Light District of New Orleans by E.J. Bellocq
Dreamland: America at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century by Michael Lesy

Anderson Cooper:

A Death in the Family by James Agee
The Quiet American by Graham Greene
Dry: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs
Families: A memoir and a Celebration by Wyatt Cooper
It Seemed Important at the Time: A Romance Memoir by Gloria Vanderbilt
The Journey is the Destination: The Journals of Dan Eldon edited by Kathy Eldon

Books that changed our lives:

Autostraddle CEO Riese:

New and Selected Poems 1974-1994, Stephen Dunn,
Bad Behavior: Stories by Mary Gaitskill
Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools
by Jonathan Kozol
Schoolgirls: Young Women, Self Esteem, and the Confidence Gap by Peggy Orenstein
The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Executive Editor Laneia:

Favorite Nursery Rhymes from Mother Goose
On the Beach by Nevil Shute
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary
Spiritual Midwifery
by Ina May Gaskin
Bastard out of Carolina
by Dorothy Allison

Managing Editor Sarah:

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone
The Indispensable Calvin And Hobbes
by Bill Watterson
East of Eden
by John Steinbeck
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez


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178 Comments

  1. Sarah

    Me Talk Pretty One Day – David Sedaris (I give this book as a gift to everyone!)
    The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton
    The Harry Potter series – J.K. Rowling
    On the Road – Jack Kerouac
    Physical Geology and the Environment – Plummer et al.

  2. 1. The Candy Bombers- Andrei Cherney
    2. The Forever War- Dexter Filkins
    3. Walden- Henry David Thoreau
    4. Hardball- Chris Matthews
    5. Life of Pi- Yann Martel

    1. One of the best books I’ve read on World War II, although it’s not the typical WW II story. It gives great detail to the politics of post-war berlin, but also the human factors of giving enough supplies offering hope, even when it was from chocolate bars falling from parachutes from planes to help the children of the soldiers they fought against in the war.

    2. The best and most personal recollection of the Iraq war from a journalist that was in the war himself. From running in the streets dodging snipers to coming home and meeting the parents of the soldiers that died along side him, it’s the best book on the war that i’ve read.

    3.Walden is a book that’s about transcendentalism but it also mocks the notion of it as well.

    4. Hardball is like a crash course into politics while also being humorous about it. You learn all the ins-and-outs of the game of politics while learning about the players, their past moves, and what will win the game, even though the game never ends.

    5. Life of Pi- Yann Martel (because i’m still a teenager still)(still in highschool, couldn’t think of more that weren’t school related). Even me, no imagination other than thining of the worst case scenario liked this book… but i was listeing to artie shaw the whole time so it may have just been the music.

    Added Bonus: 11,002 Things to be miserable about: the satirical not-so-happy book- Lia Romeo, Nick Romeo. This book makes you think both of how f’ed up the world is but for some reason also makes you think of how all the crap you’re going through doesn’t even compare to things that could happen. One of the funniest books ever.

  3. Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys
    Complete Plays – Sarah Kane
    Harry Potter and the (any/all of them) – J.K. Rowling
    Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer
    Eve Green – Susan Fletcher
    Orlando – Virginia Woolf

  4. I kinda love how many times Harry Potter is on this list. it is so very awesome.
    it’s on mine too.

    a rough draft:
    the harry potter series by my queen JK Rowling
    perks of being a wallflower by stephen chbosky I’m ambivalent about the movie. it’ll never be as good but it is being written/directed by the author and features emma watson so I have my hopes up
    good omens by terry pratchett and Neil gaiman who belong in the “authors that changed my life list”
    I’m not sure which Salinger book to add. see I first read Catcher and loved it but I dont love it as much as Franny or Nine stories or carpenters but I only read those cause I first read Catcher.
    so can I just say Salinger changed my life?
    and final I’m going to go with Paper Towns by John Green, also an Author Who Changed My Life and introduced me to leaves of grass which should be on this list.

    I am of course leaving many out such as annie on my mind, bermudez triangle, the tunnel, and everything by agatha christie which instilled on me a love of the UK and detective stories.

  5. I’ve read and loved so many books, and together they’ve had a collective impact on me, so it’s hard to narrow it down to five…

    Ender’s Game — Orson Scott Card (he’s a homophobic bigot but that book turned me onto sci-fi)
    The Lioness series — Tamora Pierce (kickass young woman/tomboy)
    Immortal Poems of the English Language — anthology (got me hooked on poetry)
    Savage Inequalities — Jonathan Kozol (everyone in the US should read this)
    Gender Trouble — Judith Butler (wrapping my head around this book fundamentally changed the way I think about identity, gender, power, language, and practically everything)

    Also, these two currently changing my life: The Places that Scare You by Pema Chodron and Nina Here nor There by Nick Krieger

  6. HOW DID I MISS THIS WHEN IT WENT UP?!

    The Babysitters Club – By Ann M. Martin and a crack team of ghostwriters (HATERS TO THE LEFT DAMMIT!)
    Watership Down — Richard Adams
    Blue Monday — By Chynna Clugston
    Take the Cannoli — By Sarah Vowell
    Strangers in Paradise — By Terry Moore

  7. Fun Home – Alison Bechdel
    The Casual Vacancy – JK Rowling
    Harry Potter – obvs
    Just about anything by Tamora Pierce
    Zami – Audre Lorde

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