First of all, let me address the title. I was going to call it books that changed my life, because some of the chosen books did, in some way, do just that. But what they all have in common is that they changed the way I think or moved me. And as creatures of habit, changing the way we think isn’t all that easy to do.
I’ve also included the exact covers of the edition I read. Because, well, I’m a geek like that.
1. Is belief in God good, bad or irrelevant?
The only book of true non-fiction to make this list, this book is a series of email exchanges between a professor and a punk rocker on the subject of God, life and everything in between. I read it while I was doing my A Levels. I was utterly engrossed and in the very purest form of the phrase, it did change my life. Buy it and devour it.
2. Invisible Monsters
A Chuck Palahniuk classic, this one really resonates. It’s so dark, yet really does delve into the issues that affect us on an everyday basis. And most of all it goes a long way to understand the human psyche. I talk about it a little more in this post here.
3. Life on the refrigerator door
I read this in a few hours and wept. The story of a mother dying from cancer and her daughter, as communicated through notes on the fridge. It taught me life is so short. Embrace it. But most of all, be kind.
4. The perks of being a wallflower
I’ve written a whole post on this one too. It really is a modern masterpiece in my eyes. It is the closest I can ever imagine a book getting to communicating the ‘ache’ some of us experience in our teenage years. Just perfect.
5. If on a winter’s night a traveller
It’s unashamedly pretentious, and at times verging on unreadable, but also a book that ignited my interest in metafiction. It made me question literature, artifice and the position of the author. And that’s something I carried with me through university and beyond.
7. Slaughterhouse Five
And the other half. Something that really did make me wonder how any writer has ever attempted to portray the enormity of the war. Simply perfect, and another work of metafiction I will never tire of.
9. Nineteen eighty-four
10. King Lear
Okay, so not a novel, but a work of literature nonetheless. I studied this at A-Level alongside Death of a Salesman and one of the things that struck me was its fantastic ability to stay relevant, for me arguably more so than Miller’s play. It features incredible tropes about sight and blindess, as well as madness, and really taught me how to get to the root of a piece of literature. It was a pleasure revisiting it while studying for my degree.
Which works have changed the way you think?