Books that Changed My Life

Reading is a huge part of my life.  I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t reading books.  So for today’s post, I decided to reminisce about the books that had the biggest influence on me in my formative years.  And, since I’m convinced that my formative years never ended, I’ve included a sampling of post-college books that have had a big impact.

Elementary school (ages 7-14)
Life Long Ago: The Story of Fossils, by Carroll Fenton
The Marvels of Animal Behavior, by National Geographic Staff
Mutiny on the Bounty; Men Against the Sea; Pitcairn’s Island, by Nordhoff & Hall
Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
The Voyage of the Beagle, by Charles Darwin
The Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin
The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
Dominic Savio: Teenage Saint, by Peter Lappin
American Heroes of the 20th Century, by Harold Faber
Chariots of the Gods, by Erich von Daniken
The Gulag Archipelago, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
20,000 Leagues Beneath the Sea, by Jules Verne
The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov
The Past Through Tomorrow, by Robert Heinlein
Armies of the Night, by Norman Mailer
A Time to Die: The Attica Prison Revolt, by Tom Wicker
The Source, by James Michener
The Drifters, by James Michener
The Closing Circle: Nature, Man & Technology, by Barry Commoner

High School (ages 14-18):
Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert Pirsig
The First Circle, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Magister Ludi, by Herman Hesse
Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse
Steppenwolf, by Herman Hesse
As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
Light in August, by William Faulkner
The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett
Selected Poems, by T.S. Eliot
The World According to Garp, by John Irving
Anarchism, by George Woodcock
Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre, edited by Walter Kaufmann
Nausea, by Jean-Paul Sartre
The Four Gospels
Crime and Punishment
, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Fathers and Sons, by Ivan Turgenev
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
The Mentor Book of Major American Poets

College (ages 18-22):
Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
V., by Thomas Pynchon
Gravity’s Rainbow, by Thomas Pynchon
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, by Tom Wolfe
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, by Hunter S. Thompson
On the Road, by Jack Kerouac
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, by Tom Robbins
A Treatise of Human Nature, by David Hume
A Theory of Justice, by John Rawls
Beyond Good and Evil, by Friedrich Nietzsche
Complete Poems, by E.E. Cummings
The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins
On Human Nature, by E.O. Wilson
The Myth of the Eternal Return, by Mircea Eliade
Diet for a Small Planet, by Frances Moore Lappe
The Tassajara Bread Book, by Edward Espe Brown
The Women’s Room, by Marilyn French
The Feminist Papers, edited by Alice Rossi

Post-College (ages 22- _):
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, by Dave Eggers
Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace
A Field Guide to Eastern Birds, by Roger Tory Peterson
A Sierra Club Naturalist’s Guide to Southern New England, by Neil Jorgensen
The Family Crucible: The Intense Experience of Family Therapy, by Augustus Y. Napier and Carl Whitaker
Three Novels: Molloy, Molone Dies, The Unnameable, by Samuel Beckett
Henry IV, Part 1, by William Shakespeare
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott
Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, by Laurence Sterne
Lord Jim, by Joseph Conrad
The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan
The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron
A People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn
Where I’m Calling From, by Raymond Carver
Natural Landscaping: Designing with Native Plant Communities, by John Diekelmann
A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking
Life: A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth, by Richard Fortey
The Best American Short Stories (series)
And the Band Played On, by Randy Shilts
We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families, by Philip Gourevitch
Ulysses, by James Joyce
Midnight’s Children, by Salman Rushdie
The Tin Drum, by Günter Grass
Middlemarch, by George Eliot
The Anti-Federalist Papers
, by Tim Riley
A Short History of the Movies, by Gerald Mast
The Rough Guide to Classical Music, by Joe Staines

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