Skip to main content

Has a Book Ever Changed Your Life? #amreading #amwriting

By 12/05/2014July 3rd, 2017books, reading
Classic bookI was reading this post “Books that I wish had changed my life“, and I began to wonder about books that may or may not have changed mine. (Look up this guy’s list in the link, I’ve read a few of them, and I like his choices.) My problem is that I read too many books cramped together during my school holidays, and then again too many hidden behind texts during the school year.                                                                  My first adult-sized (read unabridged) book was Robinson Crusoe, and I still look back on the summer I read it with fondness, because it took me away from my routine to this island, where one man’s determination alone would keep him alive. Sometimes I wonder how much I would like it if I read it again. I daren’t take the chance.
At twelve or thirteen,  I found A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations and Les Misérables, which means my inner landscape was a bitterly conflicted mishmash of Russia, France and England, lost childhoods, revolutions and love.

I remember again the summer when I whipped through all of Chekhov I could find in my father’s collection: his short stories, plays, novels. Those I want to read again, I’ve already re-read a whole lot of his short stories. I loved being in his Russia, and also loved Tolstoy’s Russia: Childhood Boyhood and Youth, and Anna Karenina, though I understood precious little of the latter. I was possibly fourteen.

favorite book

But the book that truly brought  me to myself was Old Man and the Sea.

Hemingway kind of summarized for me what it was to be alive, to fight, to never give up, and though I was a teenaged girl, I found a lot in common with this old fisherman landing the skeleton of this great Marlin back on to his home shore, fighting sharks all the way.

It made me want to be a better person, a better reader. Not a writer, yet, but that came to me when I read the book again and again over the years, every time life threw me a curve ball. It is such a slim whopper of a book, it prostrates you with its power, and makes you understand what it is, this elusive thing we call the ‘human spirit’.

Has any book moved you so much as to change your life? What books have you been reading lately? Care to recommend a book to me and other readers?

Please join Daily (w)rite on its Facebook Page in case you’d like to be heard by this community. If you liked this post, you can have biweekly posts delivered to your inbox: click the SUBSCRIBE VIA EMAIL button. (Feel free to share this post if you like it. You’ll find icons to re-blog it via WordPress and Blogger to the left of this post.)




Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  • I only read The Old Man and the Sea recently… last year to be precise.
    It’s a tiny gem.
    There are loads of books that have impacted on my world view…
    Some of these are: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho; The Book Thief by Markus Zusak; The Pearl by John Steinbeck; The Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Luis Zafon; Long Walk To Freedom by Nelson Mandela; Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account by Miklos Nyiszli; Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman; Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury… to name a few.

  • Rohin Kallat says:

    The book that made me change the way I see and live in the world is Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn. A chance reading from my time in school, a book I still go back to from time to time, is The Stranger by Albert Camus. I find that this translation captures the effect of his writing style, compared to the translation most commonly read, “The Outsider”.

  • Ajay Sharda says:

    I used to read a lot during my school / college days but later the book reading went on the back seat. Couple of years back I read "Alchemist" on the strong recommendation of a friend. It somehow rekindled the book reading in me and have read many since then. This apart I can recommend "The Monk who Sold his Ferrari" , Aapka Bunti (in Hindi by Manu Bhandari)… they may not change you or have an impact on changing your life but they definitely trigger your though process.

  • B says:

    I am yet to read a book that good .. but as others have said i have read some books whicheven after years .. so they obviously left a mark ..


  • There are toomany the number would be very difficult to fathom. In school the most memorable I read was Pride and Prejudice. I never chose to reread any of the classics besides that one and then there was The Count of Monte Cristo. Both so good!!

  • In recent times I've re-read 'Robinson Crusoe', 'Kidnapped' and 'Treasure Island'. I first read all of them when I was a teenager, but enjoyed them again.
    A book I read in recent years may not have changed my life, but reinforced my belief was, 'Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee', by Dee Brown. The story of how the native Americans were cheated right up until modern times by the Europeans, and then the new 'Americans'.

  • I think every book we read changes our lives in some way, just like every person we meet does. Life is dynamic and we are influenced by so many things. There's no telling how we'll let these things affect us, but if we strive to keep moving in a positive direction, it will never hurt to find out.

  • I cant say that a book has changed my life, but yes there have been some books that have left a mark on me. I have started loving their writing style.

  • The ones that come to mind immediately are Fahrenheit 451, Slaughterhouse-Five, Les Miserables, Animal Farm, The Alchemist, Childhood's End, Never Let Me Go, Something Wicked This Way Comes… and I'm sure there are plenty of others. Thanks for this post. It's always an interesting thing to think about.

  • Jan Morrison says:

    Every book has changed my life. From Anne of Green Gables to Spiritual Materialism and everything before and after. Why read if you don't want your life changed? So nice to be off fb and spending time back in the blog world – slower, like reading. I love it!

  • I finished reading " A Tale of Two Cities " , " Great Expectations " , " Les Miserables " , " Robinson Crusoe " " Uncle Tom's Cabin " and many others by the age of 14/15… I was 16 when I started reading Tagore's works ( original in Bengali ) and was stunned to see that he was aware of my every single emotion..every thought…

  • Too many books I've read have touched me in powerful ways, but I'm going to beading one soon (A Mother's Day gift) called Heaven Is For Real, by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent, as well as many books by bloggers I met through the Challenge. I can't wait to get started. 🙂

  • Every book I read has an influence, and thus I usually choose them carefully. I remember one that really struck me was Maniac Magee. It really struck home on the biases between cultures and skin color. Eye opening, but in a good way. David Copperfield and Les Miserables were huge for me as well. I didn't really enjoy The Old Man and the Sea because I was forced into deep analysis on it through an honors class. I probably would have enjoyed it immensely if I'd just read it on my own.

  • I don't know that there is any book that has had a deep effect on me – I tend to read very superficially, but am trying to change that. I have been affected, and rather deeply, by small things said to me by various people, none more than a couple of things mentioned in my M entry for the A-Z. Added to that, whilst researching recently, I came across information about the horrendous problems faced by albinos in Tanzania (just google "albino tanzania" – it really is horrible).
    Anyway – just popping in from the road trip, to say Hi.

  • A good post!
    very recently I read a book – Not without my daughter. When it was suggested to me I quirked saying nope – no mommy-child stuff for me please! But after the context was explained, this book was one of my best reads ever. It talks about determination and willingness of a mother to do what is best for her daughter and her as a unit. An amazing real life incident of grit and belief.

  • Lord of the Flies and I Am David. Both highly recommended. 🙂

  • Pankaj says:

    Thanks for sharing. It definitely evokes me to reflect on the books I have read and how they have affected me. I hope to write about it.

  • The book that influenced my thoughts most during my childhood was Les Miserables. We had enacted a play 'The Bishop and the Convict' based on the book while in primary school and that had led me to a malayalam translation of it. I had read and re-read it over the years.
    During my teenage it was Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice. I loved them.

  • R Vyas says:

    I don't know about changing my life, but yes, The fountainhead by Ayn Rand made a strong impression on me. It's lead character Howard Roark made me see life differently..:)

    • Pankaj says:

      Hey. i completely agree. This book had strong impact on me. The individualism and philosophy of Ayn Rand. I found this book very interestingly.

  • chaitanyavs says:

    Ahh, the magical journey of books! Books have always been that catalyst that awoke me to a new phase of life. Dune was one such book, and lately, it's been Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the shore.

  • I remember taking AP English and reading classics really opened my eyes.

    Before that, Stephen King and V.C. Andrews caused my reading addiction.

  • Tessa Conte says:

    OMG the choosing of one book for any category is SOOO difficult, isn't it? For a book that really made me love reading, I'll have to go with Karl May's Winnetou, which my father read to me when I was little. It was the first one where, as I sat on his lap, I could really read along.

  • Pam Margolis says:

    i had quite a strange upbringing. I had to read Les Mis in French. I'm scarred for life. Cant say that I enjoyed it. My go to book of all time is Pride and Prejudice. Who doesnt love feminism in the 19th century? (18th?)

  • Al Diaz says:

    I've read so many books I've forgotten a lot of them, which is a pity. But the one I'll never forget is the Black Corsair. It made me want to write and actually start writing. Those of Alexandre Dumas too.

  • I read a lot growing up and Great Expectations was a book that made an impression on me. There was also Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights, which I often read. Little Women, almost all of Dame Agatha Christie's books too, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. These made me travel to places and enticed me even more to write.

  • cleemckenzie says:

    The Old Man and the Sea remains a powerful story. I've always wished I could write half that well. I can't point to one book that changed my life, but I have several that have influenced me. Great Expectations still haunts me, especially Ms. Haversham. Treasure Island, anything by Margaret Atwood, but Poinsonwood Bible really sticks with me. Handmaid's Tale, A Separate Peace and recently The Kite Runner. I guess you'd say I'm eclectic in my taste. I just love a good story well told that grabs me and keeps me reading.

  • I can't think of any books that changed my life when I was younger. My parents encouraged reading and school offered incentives, so each book was important. About ten years ago, Twilight had quite the impact on me. I had fallen out of reading and it got me back into it and that eventually led to me writing.

  • Terry Brooks' Shannara trilogy introduced me to a world of fantasy and sparked my desire to write. Of course the book that really changed my life was the Bible.

    • D Biswas says:

      I think I read a fair number of Terry Brooks, including the Shannara trilogy at one point in my life– post marriage when I was jobless for a while! fantasy felt like the only kind of escape then :).

  • I don't even know what answer I would have to that question but yours are good choices! I read a lot as a kid, but I don't think anything literary and impressive changed my life…a lot of little books that wouldn't sound so good if I said them out loud!

    • D Biswas says:

      The books I mentioned are only some of my influences– I think if I started writing about all the books I've loved, it would take much more than a blog post. Suffice to say I'm grateful to whoever invented books, because without them, I wouldn't have made it out of my childhood or youth.