“Looking for recommendations: what’s the most life-changing book you’ve ever read?”
I asked this question of readers on the Elephant Journal Facebook page last week. I was amazed by the response.
Turns out, there’s still nothing like a good book to get people talking.
One reader commented, “I don’t have a book recommendation just yet, but what a great question! I’m wondering if you could compile a list of all these great recommendations? Either way, I really appreciate this post!”
So, here it is, for you, Lisa Jackson, and all the dear readers who keep our mission-driven, word-loving Elephant heart beating.
If inspired to read any, be sure to get your copy from an indie book dealer or friend’s bookshelf or charity store. Second-hand is better than new. Amazon sucks, for so many reasons.
Then snuggle up, dive in, and bask in the beautiful power of well-written words.
10 of the Most Life-Changing Books Ever, according to Elephant Readers.
See the full list of recommendations, here. And add your own, there or in the comments on this blog.
1. Beloved ~ Toni Morrison
“The book made me even more aware of how much I respect the right to decide for your own body and mind and have both respected…it hurt in a way I didn’t think it could hurt me as someone who has never/will never experience racism…beautiful and haunting.” ~ Dajana Kragulj
2. To Kill a Mockingbird ~ Harper Lee
“I read this when I was 14…It was written so beautifully .. and yet it also made me feel so angry at the unfairness of the judicial system. It really opened my eyes.. I will never forget the line ‘you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them.’” ~ Jessica H Stephens
3. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance ~ Robert M. Pirsig
“The book has a phenomenal discussion of the definition of ‘quality’ that left me breathless. It especially applies to my work as an educator but is also a reminder to slow down and do things the right way the first time.” ~ Amy Bowden
“So it’s not really about motorcycles?” ~ Patti Johnson
“…does get into some actual motorcycle maintenance but only for reference and analogies. This book is about a long cross-country motorcycle ride among many things.” ~ Nick Mazzarollo
4. Many Lives, Many Masters ~ Brian Weiss
“…changed my perception of death and loss. Saw him speak years back. Amazing!” ~ Lisa Janowski
5. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks ~ Rebecca Skloot
“…blew my mind! I had to put it down and walk away at one point as I couldn’t comprehend what I was reading!” ~ Rachel Ashworth
6. Cry, the Beloved Country ~ Alan Paton
” I was a very young teenager and had no knowledge about apartheid – it was a real eye-opener!” ~ Brenda Roullier
7. The Power of Now ~ Eckhart Tolle.
“It helped me learn to ground myself. I use things I learned from it every day to help with my anxiety.” ~ Erin Marie Freadhoff
8. The Five People You Meet in Heaven ~ Mitch Albom
“Helped me realize how what you do in the world ripples out and touches others in ways you can’t fathom.” ~ Gigi Ochs
9. Things I Would Like to Do With You ~ Waylon H. Lewis
“That book literally changed my whole life. I read it as I was separating from my emotionally abusive husband. It came to me in a time when I wasn’t sure if there were actually any good men out there. It showed me there were. I did some work and stopped settling for anything but people who loved me fully and unconditionally. Now I’m married to my true life partner. A man who challenges me, but never demeans me. A man who wakes up every day and chooses to go on this journey with the real me…and I choose him back.” ~ Maralisa Dictor
10. A Fine Balance ~ Rohinton Mistry
“Such a heartbreakingly raw portrait of the best and the worst of humanity. One of my personal top five for sure. I’ve read it three times!” ~ Khara, ed.
Book Nerds’ Bonus: 11 Unforgettable Quotes on the Transcendent Power of Words.
>> “Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly—they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.” ~ Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
>> “I wanted to crawl in between those black lines of print, the way you crawl through a fence, and go to sleep under that beautiful big green fig-tree.” ~
>> “She had always wanted words, she loved them; grew up on them. Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape.” ~ Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient
>> “I like good strong words that mean something…” ~ Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
>> “How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.” ~
>> “I had found my religion: nothing seemed more important to me than a book. I saw the library as a temple.” ~
>> “I was raised among books, making invisible friends in pages that seemed cast from dust and whose smell I carry on my hands to this day.” ~
>> “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.” ~
>> “So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.” ~ Roald Dahl, Matilda
>> “Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.” ~
>> “What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.” ~ Carl Sagan, Cosmos