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.
"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."
"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."
"It changed my perspective on how to think about money and wealth."
"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."
"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."
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."
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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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. "
Now it's your turn. Tell us what book(s) changed your life and why. Spread the book love!