Is it possible that a book can change your life? This collection of essays by renowned writers and public figures explains just how reading a particular book can be a life-changing experience. Some of the essays are funny, some moving, but all of them celebrate the power of the written word, from Charlotte's Web to Nabokov's Lolita to The Bible.
I found myself nodding in agreement at Claire Cook's essay on the Nancy Drew Mysteries. I too found comfort as a child reading about the adventures of the teenage sleuth. Da Chen writes a moving essay on reading forbidden literature in Communist China. Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was a revelation for SARK, who felt that finally, someone understood her pain. Frank McCourt cherishes his introduction to Shakespeare in a touching essay about his time spent in a hospital recovering from typhoid.
The Book That Changed My Life stirs up a sense of nostalgia, when the writer shares a book that you have read yourself. Some of the books that changed these writers' lives are ones you might expect: To Kill a Mockingbird is mentioned more than once, as is The Great Gatsby, and The Catcher in the Rye. The Bible, surprisingly enough, appears only once (in an essay written by Senator Joe Lieberman).
This book is also full of surprises. After all, who would expect that a Sears catalogue can change your life? Michael Stern explains how it can. Chef Jacques Pépin writes about cooking and Camus, an odd pairing that makes sense, once you read his essay.
Each writer presents insights on their meaningful book that makes you want to rush right out and get a copy to read yourself. And indeed, the editors of the book, Coady and Johannessen, include even more titles in the back for recommended reading (and strongly suggest that you also read the works written by the book's contributors).
Reading this book made me reflect on books that changed my life, and renewed my motivation for writing. It was also a pleasure to read essays from some of my favorite authors, and be introduced to other authors as well. This book is recommended to every bibliophile who wants to be reacquainted with old favorites, and find some new ones.