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Life changers

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by dubyu tee eff, Dec 7, 2010.

  1. dubyu tee eff

    dubyu tee eff
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    Thinks he has a chance with Christina Hendricks...

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    I thought this would make a good thread to sort of counter-act the negative effects of the fucking month long drunk thread we have been challenged with. This made some rounds on the nerdy blogs of the internet some time back and I thought it might make a good thread.

    Focus: What are 5 books that changed you/your outlook on life the most? Don't just provide a list, explain each one; how and why did you change because of it.

    I'm always on the hunt for new interesting reading material and I've got winter break coming up so I'll have some time on my hands. I'll provide my list if the thread gets bumped.
     
  2. DrFrylock

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    I cannot wait for the pseudointelligentsia to weigh in on this topic and tell us how their life was changed by Neil Strauss' The Game.

    Having 5 books that changed your life means that you've had major changes in your life 5 times. I'm pretty boring, so I probably don't have 5.

    Adult Children: The Secrets of Dysfunctional Families, Friel and Friel: Absolutely, positively the number one "change my life" book I have ever read. It's got a terrible title, but it's basically a layman's introduction to Family Systems Theory. If you read this book and really understand it, it's a $10 way to avoid $10,000 in therapy. If you have conflict or problems in your family and it's negatively affecting your life, this book can help. It won't fix your family's problems necessarily, but it can at least help you reorient your own relationships so those relationships are healthy.

    A Devil's Chaplain, Dawkins: Found this when I was having a crisis of faith and it convinced me that I wasn't missing something.
     
  3. Frank

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    Ok, don't laugh, but when I was seventeen I read Fitness Is Religion: Keep the Faith. The book is shitty, but for some reason it inspired me to totally change my diet and exercise, I ended up losing over 70 pounds in less than a year. I honestly can't explain why, I was probably ready to make the change anyway and that was just the trigger, but everytime I think about how I got into running and lifting I have to attribute it to that book.

    When I was in college I was a nutrition major (don't laugh asshole, I was one of maybe 3 guys in a major flooded with hot chicks) and stumbled upon The Man Who Loved Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdos and the Search for Mathematical Truth. It's a biography about one of the best mathematicians ever. But he was a curious man, he never had any romantic interests or many possessions, he didn't even have a place to live, he just roamed the world with a briefcase and stayed with friends. He also donated most of his money to charity. I decided then to switch majors from nutrition to math. Though over time I lost the intellectual curiosity I had then, this was an awesome move since the most successful nutrition major I know is now a bartender.
     
  4. rei

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    The Game changed my life, it pointed out to me how sad people who had been praising it for giving them "mad skillz" for months before I read it were fucking idiots.

    I feel embarassed saying this but, The DaVinci Code
    Despite the fact almost all the 'facts' in it are bullshit, it really did get me into a more skeptical mindset and really did change the level in which I trust things. Apparently I was a very impressionable 14 year old. No matter how pathetic this is, it got me to stop going to bible camp so that's probably worth it in and of itself.
     
  5. JGold

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    1. My Teacher Is an Alien (Bruce Coville). Because it got me interested in reading. It's the first book I can remember reading for pleasure, and I've had a book in my hand ever since. I've always been a voracious reader, from Goosebumps to Animorphs to The Lord of the Rings to War and Peace, but My Teacher Is an Alien started it all.

    2. Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy). It got me interested in the American West. Several other factors (which I've discussed on this board, even recently) played in a part in my decision to leave North Carolina for New Mexico, but it's because of this book that I got excited about the move.

    3. The Freedom of the Hills (The Mountaineers Press). It's the bible of rock climbing and mountaineering. I don't doubt that reading this book cover to cover has saved my life at least once.

    4. Jesus' Son (Denis Johnson). The only book (well, short story collection) to ever make me cry. Call me a pussy all you want. It's some powerful shit. Most of the time, when I'm writing, I'm trying to mimic Denis Johnson. Along with Hemingway's entire body of work, I'd say this little collection has had the biggest impact on my development as a writer.

    5. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell (Tucker Max). I'll admit it. The book itself was hilarious, but it changed my life because it led me to the TMMB/RMMB. That place was a veritable well of knowledge for a college kid trying to find his way in the world. Say what you want about Tucker, he usually offered some great advice and perspective. And now TiB is following suit. So thank y'all.
     
  6. audreymonroe

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    The Completed Works of e.e cummings: I found a really worn copy of this in my house when I was in my early teens and going through a really rough period. There was one line in one poem that did indeed change my life: "Being unDead is not the same as BeingAlive." After reading that, I started the process of turning my life around and getting myself back on the right track because I realized I had just been "undead" for a while and I didn't want to keep living my life that way. Also, on a less dramatic note, as a writer he influenced my style by experimenting with not always following convention.

    Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safron Foer: I don't really know how this "changed my life" exactly, but it's my favorite book. It's always emotionally cathartic. Also, it was his books (combined with a few other things) that I became more interested in/felt more connected to my Jewish heritage and culture. (I have a long way to go to consider myself fully Jewish, but it's better than just ignoring it.)

    If You Have to Cry, Go Outside by Kelly Cutrone: This is always embarrassing to admit, but is especially so on this board. Assuming that no one knows who she is, Kelly Cutrone is the CEO of People's Revolution, a fashion PR company. I really admire her and consider her a role model because she's a great businesswoman and has this amazing no-bullshit attitude, while at the same time being this total Earth-mother hippie lady. She's just generally cool, and this is her memoir that also serves as a guide for women in their careers, particularly when they're just starting out. Well, I'm a woman just starting out on my career, and I read this last summer and it was perfect timing. It was like getting all the advice I had missed out from getting from a mother for all aspects of life, and it gave me a lot of confidence and reassurance and ideas. So, for the like 3 other girls here, you should check it out.
     
  7. Harry Coolahan

    Harry Coolahan
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    Here are my top 3:

    Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
    I know that probably seems cliche, given how much Ryan Holiday talked about it on the old forum—and in fact it was Ryan's blog that compelled me to read it a few years ago. I was halfway through my first semester of college and on my way to failing all my classes, the university was threatening to kick me out due to poor grades, and I was having panic attacks every night that kept me up until 5 a.m.

    For about two months, I studied 10-12 hours a day in an effort to improve my grades, and read this book to keep my head straight. Aurelius' perspective was invaluable for staying focused, managing stress, and prioritizing. Basically, it taught me that suffering is not something to fear, rather that is a product of the mind and not of the environment.

    It was timely to read while overcoming a difficult point in my life, but it's been invaluable for maintaining unwavering focus in the last 4 years toward pursuing my long-term goals.

    33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene
    Again, seems cliche to post on the former TMMB, but this was another book I read right before starting college. Much like Meditations, what I got out of this was the value of approaching one's problems dispassionately, of deconstructing a situation in order to recognize how the all the pieces come together. As it turns out, I barely understood this book the first time I read it, but it was the first book that introduced me to the idea of strategy. And again, I read it while going through a lot of problems at home, so the most valuable lesson I got out of this book was the idea of rising above the fray, observing your position beyond your immediate surroundings, and assessing your situation like a chessboard.

    The Unthinkable by Amanda Ripley
    This book was recommended to me by a SWAT medic, his exact words were "read this book, it will save your life one day." It deals with all the elements of disaster response (psychological responses, group reactions, etc.) and has made me infinitely more prepared for emergencies. Not in that bullshit sense of "make sure you have canned food under your bed," but in the sense of "here is how to avoid tunnel vision and maintain clear thought when you are encountering a life-or-death situation." I've already put it to good use in emergency medicine situations, and I would recommend it to anyone. (Ironically, I finished the last chapter of this book when I was in the ER as a patient.)
     
  8. gtg2k

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    The Red Pony by John Steinbeck: My 7th grade literature class read the edited version of this book, and when I found out it was edited, I picked up the full version. I then picked asked for some more Steinbeck books for Christmas, and received a set with The Pastures of Heaven, To A God Unknown, Tortilla Flat, Of Mice and Men, and what has to be my favorite Steinbeck work, In Dubious Battle, which Steinbeck often said inspired him to write The Grapes of Wrath. This took my appetite for reading from pretty good to insatiable, and led me to seek the company of others that actually enjoyed reading. It has also helped me find an area of commonality with my dad, and that is truly a life changer.

    Elmer Gantry by Sinclair Lewis: About a year after I got into Steinbeck, I saw a copy of this book for sale at my library for 25 cents. I'd heard it referred to as being a shocking, scandalous book, so I bought it. It reinforced to me that people are not always what they seem to be, and that there are people that succeed doing the "right" things for the wrong reasons, while others fail doing the "wrong" things for the right reasons.

    Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain: I had been in the restaurant business for about 2 years when I read this book. It inspired me to really get to know food and wine, as opposed to just doing a job, and has caused me to stay in the restaurant business for more than a decade. Some days I love it, some days I regret it, but it has led me to pursue my dream job, so overall, it's a good thing.

    The Whisper of The River by Ferrol Sams: When I was initiated into my fraternity, my big brother gave me a copy, and this book, even though a work of fiction, has helped me answer questions about courage, faith, and friendship. It's a semi-autobiographical work of fiction, and to me, a laugh out loud one minute, try not to cry the next, type of read. Also led me to his other works.
     
  9. Fracas

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    Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. Along with Catch-22, this was one of the first "cool" books I read, at age 13. Considerably blackened my sense of humor.

    The Adjusted American by Snell and Gail Putney. Introduced me to the phenomenon of psychological projection and the idea of humans as basically stimulus/response mechanisms. Impacted my personal worldview more than I probably realize.

    The Wisdom of Anxiety by Alan Watts. My first meaningful experience with "applied Zen." It's more of a pamphlet, really, so it's not hard to re-read it whenever I'm faced with a serious existential crisis that the Putneys' cynicism doesn't address.

    The Comic Toolbox by Jon Vorhaus. The most useful book there is on humor writing, my hobby and occasional vocation. I revisit it every six months, at least.

    With any luck, I'll add one more in the next 50-odd years.
     
  10. Viking33

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    The 50th Law by Robert Greene and 50 Cent: The universe is neutral. It doesn't care about you. Experiences and happenings are neutral and there is no "positive" or "negative". It's what you make of it. Probably the biggest "stiffen your upper lip, grow a pair of balls and deal with shit" book I've read.

    I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max Say what you want about him as a person, as a filmmaker, as a writer, whatever. It gave me a "fuck it, why not" mentality that I didn't have before and my college experience has been completely different than it would have been. Also the introduction to the RMMB and then to the TiB were invaluable for getting out of my senior year of high school and into college.

    A Fighter's Heart by Sam Sheridan An in depth look at the mentality and mindset of muay thai and MMA fighters, mixed martial artists and others involved in combat sports. Why do we do it? Why do we love beating someone's face in? Why do some people give in and cower when others step forward and say "Give me more". It's a great read and for any contact sport athlete or anyone looking to get a better understanding of the human mind in regard to violence.

    It's In the Blood: My Life by Lawrence Dallaglio As a rugby player and a student of the game, this book is amazing. For those not familiar with rugby it may be a bit hard to keep up with in terms of banter, terminology and strategy but even that aside, the blunt and forward way in which he writes the book is great to read. I read it again before every rugby season to keep things in perspective and to draw from his mindset as a player.
     
  11. scootah

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    The Velvet Rage: Alan Downs - The reality of what it is to be young and gay in the western first world, communicated with incredible clarity and insight. Anyone who knows anyone gay, or who has any kind of deviation away from traditional heterosexuality/masculinity in their own character should read it.

    The Ethical Slut: Dossie Easton - I'll just quote a few lines from the introduction and if you've read any of my posts - I think it's incredibly obvious why this book impacted me.

    Fight Club: Chuck Pahlaniuk What the Ethical Slut is to my sexuality, Fight club is to my depression. The ideas in the book, and to some extent the movie have defined how I manage my sense of self since the first time I read it.

     
  12. thevoice

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    1. Clapton

    One of the most 'authentic' rock auto-biographies that I've ever read. He's lived an amazing life full of ups and downs, and reading his book provided me with a different perspective on sobriety. I am by no means sober, but I'll admit that after reading his book, I contemplated it or about two minutes.

    2. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell

    Similar to others who have included this one. This book helped me become more street-smart and more self-aware. Before reading IHTSBIH I was the 'nice guy' to everybody. Tucker's book helped me get a better idea of how the real world worked, and I have been better off ever since. It also led me here.

    3. The Bad Guys Won.

    A story of the 1986 New York Mets. Any baseball fan should read this book.

    4. The Bullpen Gospels

    Perhaps the most fresh, authentic look at life in Major League Baseball. I did not want this book to end. I've re-read it twice.
     
  13. Solaris

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    1: The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressel.
    This book is about a group of poor painter and decorators in Victorian England and the attempts of a revolutionary socialist to convince them that the system they were living under was the cause of their problems. However they themselves rejected his idea's, thinking it natural and right that they should be forced to live in such miserable conditions. The Socialist calls them philanthropists becuase they give away their labour so freely and willingly asking so little in return. The book made me the socialist I am today.

    2: The Game by Neil Strauss. Fuck you guys. When you're a kid not getting any this book was a god-send. I quickly realised however that all the 'routine' shit was pretty gay and found RSD (founded by Tyler Durden in the book) which was all about self-growth rather than tricks and routines. I ended up meeting so many other 'PUAs' (I cringe at the word now though), I went to seminars, saw some of the 'superstars'. For two years it was a huge part of my life. Since then I've outgrown it, it's no longer a big deal going out and talking to girls that I would ever need terminology and tactics for. But every now and then I'll still meet someone from the internet to go out with, usually they're pretty cool and we have some adventures.

    3.On the Road by Jack Kerouac. I'm sure you're all familiar with this, but it showed me a glimpse into a lifestyle I found myself really attracted too. After reading it I went to Greece and lived and worked there on my own for half the year. It's an amazing book and really changed how I feel about life and travelling. Introduced me to Jazz too.

    4. What's Left by Nick Cohen. Before I read this book I was a big fan of people like Micheal Moore and other lefties. I used to go on anti-war demonstrations and all that. The book completely changed my mind, I'm still a socialist but feel differently now about the Iraq war thing, now I support what the US did. However what I really got out of it was I lost my belief in the moral superiority of the left. The left can be very wrong and very stupid.

    5. War and an Irish Town by Eamonn Mcann. This book was the first that got me interested in Irish history. My father had grown up during the troubles in Belfast but I didn't know much about it. I just bought into the idea that the IRA were a bunch of evil people who liked blowing up children. After reading that book I became very sympathetic to groups like the IRA and Irish republicanism in general.
     
  14. Degenerate

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    Chater or mods should probably setup an Amazon affiliate account for all these book nods.

    I plan on ordering at least 2 to 3 from this list.


    Just a thought, delete as necessary.
     
  15. CougarChamp

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    Books that have affected my life the most have more so affected the way I think and view the world.

    I read Tortilla Flat, by John Steinbeck, when I was on a cross country trip with some friends in late high school or early college. For some reason it kind of jumpstarted my switch from thinking about life in more of a linear way to thinking about it as a bunch of shit bouncing off each other, making no sense, and that I didn't have to do A and B to get to C. I read Into The Wild, by Jon Krakauer around the same time and it had a similar message to me.

    A People's History of the United States, by Howard Zinn, spurred a more critical version of my college self.

    The Stranger by Albert Camus was my first exposure to existentialism and, in high school, it was a heavy book to read. I remember Meursault swimming in the sea vividly and thinking that that imagery was a great metaphor for what I thought the message of the book was.

    Lastly, these books didn't have a profound effect on my world view, but caused me to appreciate literature much more, which is now a great part of my life. Garden of Eden and The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway.
     
  16. silway

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    Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein - It's hard to say whether any book actually changed my life, but the questions raised in the book about government and force and voting and all sorts of other things were really intriguing and have probably shaped my thinking ever since in one way or another.

    Bunnicula/The BFG/etc - Childhood reading of fantasy books grew into a love of sci-fi/fantasy that has shaped huge huge parts of my life. I LARP because of it, met my wife because of it, fascinated by law and government (and am a lawyer) because of it, and so on.
     
  17. The Village Idiot

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    Hard to narrow it down to five, but here goes.

    James Joyce, Dubliners. Although everything else by JJ is almost unreadable, this was a masterpiece. It taught me that a short story could change the world.

    James Clavell, Shogun. Just a flat out, unbelievable story that takes you for a joy ride and leaves you for dead. When I got done reading this book, I thought 'ok, now I understand what fiction's all about.' And it made me want to write fiction.

    Stephen King, The Stand. Best book he ever did, and the breadth of it is amazing. What an incredible imagination.

    Christopher Moore, Lamb. The fact that this guy could do a comedy novel about Christ, yet keep him morally intact, is amazing. I seriously considered that there might be a God after reading this book, and that Jesus and Biff could be my best friends.

    George RR Martin, Game of Thrones. Because the whole series is that badass.
     
  18. Nitwit

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    Either Audrey Rose by Frank De Felitta, or Christine by Stephen King.

    Not having anything to read, I snuck into my sisters closet and came out with one of these. My first introduction to "adult literature". They had sex and everything. After that, I was in her closet all the time. You should have seen the look on my teachers face when I turned in my reading list for that grade period.

    Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.

    I first read this book about twelve years ago. That time, it really reinforced my thoughts on self responsibility, accountability, idividuality, and utter contempt for the entitlement people. To see it actually happening in real life now is, well, sorta' surreal.

    Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig.

    I've read this book twice and still don't really understand it, but I find myself thinking about what he discusses in his book often, so I guess I'm different for it. Quality. Quality of things, quality of thoughts, quality of people.

    As a Man Thinketh by James Allen.

    This one sits on the back of my toilet and I like to peruse it while I'm crunched up, grunting and vulnerable. More of an essay than a book but my copy is a small book so I'm counting it. (Hey, there's hope for everyone, right?)
     
  19. Nettdata

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    Starman Jones, by Robert A. Heinlein. I was around 10 or so when I read this, and it was the very first science fiction book I've ever read. It was an epiphany, and I just couldn't believe that such things existed. From that day onward I became addicted to science fiction, and read it as much as I could.

    God Is My Co-pilot, by Robert Lee Scott, Jr. He was a Brigadier General in the US Air Force, and the book told of his flying exploits during the second World War when he flew with the Flying Tigers. I was about 12 or 13 at the time that I read it, and both my parents were pilots, and I'd spent a shit-load of time in the air up until this point. This book solidified my desire to become a pilot in the air force.

    High Flight, by John Gillespie Magee, Jr. While not a book, the poem touched me more profoundly than my uncle that we don't talk about any more. It further endeared me to flying, and the wondrously solitary experience that it is. To me, flying is more of a religious experience than anything else. The very first time I soloed in a glider I remember just giggling like a school girl and reciting this poem aloud to myself. Still one of the best days of my life.


    The Carpetbaggers, by Harold Robbins. I read this when I was about 10 years old. It was my first foray into "adult" material, and included swearing, descriptive sex, and the realities of politics and business. It was a seedy glimpse at things that I'd never heard of or thought possible, and it made me want to seek out more of the same.

    da Vinci's Notebooks and Journals, by Leonardo da Vinci. It boggles the mind what the man was capable of doing, never mind what he did do. The first time I read through his notebooks I was in awe of what I found. That inspired me to become an engineer.
     
  20. LatinGroove

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    I consider da Vinci to be one of the most influential people in my life. With that said, I have to ask, how is it that you came upon being able to look through his notebooks? What a true life experience if I do say.