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What Is the Book That Changed Your Life? Levo Staffers Answer the Ultimate Book-Nerd Question

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We all have one. That book with the dog-eared pages and bruised covers that mark the moment when our thinking shifted and a whole new world of possibilities opened up. Maybe you read it 2 weeks ago, or 25 years ago—but something happened by the time you finished it, and nothing would ever be the same. It's that book, the one that changed your life.

For me, it began with this sentence: "Her name was Connie." I read the first line of Joyce Carol Oates' anthologized short story, Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been, my junior year of high school. At the time, I hated school and books and reading. I had just received a C on a paper about Edith Wharton and I equated most class-assigned literature with the very real threat of a bad grade. But then, there was Oates' haunting and surreal story about a teenage girl pursued by an older man. It was rhythmic, disturbing, slanted and unlike anything I'd ever laid my eyes on. It compelled to read all of Oates' very prolific body of work, but it also made me want to write my own stories—which I did, and continue to do, two decades later. In retrospect, it was a career-defining moment, but at the time, it felt like a window had opened in the cramped car of my teenage life and I was leaning my head out it, flapping in the breeze.

What I'm getting at is that you can learn a lot about a person based on their answer to the ultimate book-nerd question: What's the book that changed your life? So, I asked some of my friends and colleagues in the Levo community just that and here's what they told me.

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

"I read this when I was 11 and I pushed me into poetry and writing. I found out about digging through my grandmother's book collection. It was a first edition print."

—Mary Pryor, Levo's Social and Audience Director

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

"This book is so stunningly and beautifully written, but it also helped me get in touch with my emotions during an incredibly difficult time. Cheryl Strayed writes in such an inspiring way that makes you want to get up and go after your dreams even in the midst of heartbreak."

—Sammy Nickalls, Levo Featured Writer

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

"It changed my perspective on how to think about money and wealth."

—David Butler, Levo's Director of Software Engineering

Ed Emberley's Drawing Book: Make a World

"Emberley taught me at a very young age that anyone can draw... it's as simple as putting together circles and triangles and letters, and his book gives a great assortment of step by step examples, from dragons to houses to cars to cats. Whether you're looking for a new creative outlet for yourself or your child, or you're looking to improve your own sketching skills as a project manager or designer, this book is a great way to start."

—Bernadette Sheridan, Levo's Design Director

 Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen and Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

"Both books changed my life not so much for the stories, but in the way they were written. I loved the smart analysis of societal norms and feeling like you weren't alone if you questioned everything around you during my very formative years."

—Meredith Lepore, Levo's Editorial Director

Naked by David Sedaris

"The way he used otherwise inappropriate humor to shed light on the darkest parts of his past was earth-shattering for me. It made me believe that I had stories worth writing and sharing, too; and that I could do something beautiful with my pain."

—Chelsea Levinson, Levo Featured Writer

What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey.

"The book is organized by themes including joy, resilience, gratitude, and more while each page is uplifting, humble and inspiring. Her outlook on all aspects of life (careers, relationships, self-love) is motivating and positive."

—Allie Board, Levo's Operations Assistant  

You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay

"I read it in college and it was the first book to help me understand that I was truly the most powerful change agent in my own journey."

—Tiffany Dufu, Levo Chief Leadership Officer

Getting Things Done by David Allen

"This is the ultimate productivity book. Allen teaches the reader how to move from "stressful cloud of things that need to get done constantly hovering in my mind" to "out of my mind, no longer need to think about it" and gives you your life back."

The Last Safe Investment by Bryan Franklin and Michael Ellsberg

"This book changed the entire way that I think about spending, wealth, and my own learning and development. Franklin and Ellsberg make the case that we are thinking about spending in entirely the wrong way and that there is an alternative model to spending now that increases true wealth forever. Hint: the components of true wealth may surprise you."

Habit Changers by M.J. Ryan

"This is the inspiration I keep on my bedside table. Ryan compiles 81 mantras based on her extensive experience executive coaching some of the world's greatest leaders and turns them into individual lessons that can be digested one by one each day or (guilty) in inspiration binges when needed. It's an easy read, and one that you will find yourself going back to time and time again as life reveals itself to you. "

—Caroline Ghosn, Levo's Co-Founder and CEO

Now it's your turn. Tell us what book(s) changed your life and why. Spread the book love!

Topics:

Levo Reads #Books #Best Books #Life Changing Moments
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I think the book that most impacted my life (so far) would have to be The big Leap by Gay Hendricks. It made me so aware of the power of our mind and the things we give power.

Love this, Dia!

Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit re-shifted the way I think about journies and exploring. It also introduced me to Solnit's work and a number of her other books including Men Explain Things to Me, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, and The Faraway Nearby.

So good! I love her work.

The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel. This book was recommended to me as simply a form of entertainment, to pass the time. It ended up being so much more. The story is about a child (Ayla), one of the "Others" who has been lost from her own people, but found and raised by the Clan of the Cave Bear. Jean Auel has truly done some remarkable research about the dawn of civilization and the possibilities of Cro-Magnon & Neanderthal man living at the same time. The reason why the story resonated with me (at 21 when I first read the book) is because Ayla is so different from those who raise her. She is considered ugly/different with her odd ways: she laughs, she cries and she has the ability to speak. Her skin is fair and she has white hair. Throughout this book, and subsequent books in this series, Ayla struggles to be true to herself with her natural curiosity about the world and her higher intelligence; traits not found in members of the Clan. Identifying with the individuality and independence of this character was refreshing during the 1980's when women were still battling a higher degree of discrimination, at so many levels, than they are now.

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri shifted my perspective on things we see as "accidents" and "mistakes" in our lives. Reading how a family's journey through life, dealing with what seemed to be accident after accident, mistake after mistake, helped me realize that these are the moments that end up defining us. How we deal with setbacks and obstacles set us up for the next chapter. We may see an experience or chapter of our lives as messy or unrelated but it is actually part of a collective story we all have called life. The book also taught me the beauty of the journey and how often that is missed if we're only focusing on an end goal.


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