Which books/reading matter shaped who you are?

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Raccoon

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This isn't a "favorites" thread... This is for which books had a profound influence on you, which changed your outlook, your opinions, your knowledge... even your writing style...

For instance, Fantasy (& other) role-playing manuals influenced me heavily but I would not "favorite" them...
Calvin & Hobbes is among my very favorite comics but it didn't really influence me... I was too old when I read it...

Anyway I'll start:

My paranoid-book collection:

All of Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos } things lurking in shadows out to get you
Franz Kafka }
Subliminal Seduction & Media Sexploitation > things out in the open out to get you
The Hidden Persuaders >
Brave New World & all those other dystopias...
 
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Mmm, good topic...

Well first up, a book I have stood by for a long time now: Fahrenheit 451. I could talk for ages on this novel, but I'll try to keep this as brief as possible, although I don't see it happening that way.

I feel this novel accumulates and summaries essentially my attitude toward society. That cold and distant feeling it presents Montag (main character) as is just something I haven't felt reading a novel before. The novel takes you on a personal journey, one that develops and constructs the bounds (or lack thereof) of the society (dystopian) in which he lives. I feel the hedonistic, apathetic, sheep of this society (it's citizen's, in other words) are driven to such extremes of own personal satisfaction that the true meaning of "living as a community" is destroyed. This reflects greatly how I feel about our own world, the way in which fear is instilled into our lives by what is presented to us by higher authorities, or those with control over the masses (the media). And how that adversely affects us as a community.

The struggle and transformation of Montag as he breaks free of his dulled down, dim-witted surroundings reminisces of a personal quest to find a comfortable level of individualism in my own life, something which has only recently struck me as something I was missing. Again, this book, reflects what I feel is becoming of society. Life without pain, only pleasure, is a life I do not wish to endure, as it would mean sacrificing the one thing we truly ever own to the clutches of others: ourselves.


I'll probably post up a few more novels when I get the time to do so...
 

avery

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I'll probably post up a few more novels when I get the time to do so...
but lukie... ALL your posts are novels. :p

i don't know what books have shaped who i am as a person, but the book that's shaped who i am as a writer more than any other book is Murphy by samuel beckett. i honestly believe that's pretty much the greatest novel ever written.
 

Roland

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1984.
Farenheight 451.
Animal Farm.
Brave New World.
A Clockwork Orange.

That's about it. I don't need to complicate.
 

BromeTeks

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Harry Potter series
Carrie+Firestarter
The Ark+The Xenocide Mission
Starship Troopers
 

ayanna

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I'm not sure why I'm posting this...but anyway....

I don't feel that who I am has been in any way affected by the books I've read (and trust me I've read a LOT of books over the years).

I think what has shaped me the most as a human being can be boiled down to simply the following:
  • my parents (my upbringing)
  • my siblings (family/upbringing)
  • my relationships (friends/lovers/workmates)
  • my religion (both past and present)
  • significant events in my life (births, marriages, deaths, graduation, university, moving)
  • and last but not least...the less significant but no less 'shaping' events in my life (someone giving up a seat on a bus for me, a young man holding a door for me at the mall, etc etc etc)

All of these have shaped who I am, and none of them were contained in a book. That's not to say that some books (or even movies) haven't influenced me in some way. I'm sure that my avid devouring of all things Asimov has influenced me in some small part in believing that there is other intelligent life out there...somewhere. I know that Stephen King has influenced my belief in the supernatural (although personal events went a long way toward doing that, too). Of course I could go on and on, about every author I've ever read and how they've influenced me, but I do not believe that any one book, or combination of books, has had the effect of shaping me as a person as the items I've listed above.
 

Vaultin

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I feel that even more than the dysfunctional household I live in, books and the characters in them have been the biggest influence on my life to date, as that's where I retreated to.

In rough order of when I read them, starting at first grade:

Tom Swift books (quite a few/random ones)
Harry Potter
Lots of Scifi, Asimov, Dick, random
The Hobbit
His Dark Materials trilogy
Riddley Walker
LOTR
The man in the high castle
Of Mice and Men
Stephen King (started with Salem's lot, got addicted, have read everything he's ever written)
Dark Tower (Stephen King again, I know, but huge influence)
Native Son


More recently, the Grapes of Wrath influenced me. No idea why I put it off so long.

EDIT: 1984 and Brave New World are up there too
 
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Vladimir

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Ahh, His Dark Materials... I read the French version, since unfortunately, most French books around here suck. I should start reading original English books, translations aren't very good most of the time...
 

Aki

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Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. Her books inspired me to try writing. Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials and Diane Duane's Wizard series forced me to look at life a different way. The Twilight series and Atwater-Rhodes' Kiesha'ra series were an emotional balm to me in a time I needed it, even if I didn't know it then. And Harry Potter, symbolizing my childhood.
 
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Harry Potter (read from 4th to last summer)
No More Dead Dogs (read in... 5th grade XD)
The Bible (read two years ago, was appalled)
How To Disappear Completely and Never Come Back (or "never return", can't remember which... read 6th grade)
The Bartimaeus Trilogy (read from 8th to last year)

All of those books XD

I still read them, even if they're way below my reading level.

no_One
 

kite

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currently reading fahrenheit 451 and that's looking to be a mind bender. a good majority of the Lynn V. Andrews books have changed my views and ways of behaving in life. the power of one back in high school was a book i was forced to read and was the begining of me getting nose deep into books again so that changed me as well.
 

Dawes

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I have to agree with Ayanna -- very little that I've read modeled the way that I think or live. I've read books that appeal and support my own beliefs (1984, Candide, etc.), and that help me search for further justification of my thoughts, but many of my personal thoughts, faiths, and manners have been derived from books themselves.

I would consider The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists to be one of the few books that actually modified my mindset. I know you're probably thinking, "Rance, what can a memoir about pickup artists do to make you a better person?" But there are so many lessons for life, social control, and charisma that are in it that are not just effective for talking to the opposite sex, but are also applicable to business relationships, friendships, and real-world discussions. There is an important lesson to be learned at the end of the book and a moral twist that helps define its positive message. It's not just a book about picking up chicks -- on the contrary, it's very much a book about respecting your fellow human beings. It illustrates the importance of confidence, belief in self, and believe in individual importance. It's not some sleazeball book about trying to have sex -- it's actually one of the most intelligent, intellectual, poignant, and enjoyable books I've ever read.

But other than that, it's my friends, family, heritage, and experiences that have shaped how I think and feel.
 
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Vaultin

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^^^Reading candide now, voltaire has quite a twisted sense of humor. I love it.
 

satyrical

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Okay:

The Hardy Boys. I read the whole series when I was a kid and I loved them. I could get through a book in just a few days. Made me want to be a detective SOOOOO badly.

His Dark Materials. Blew me away. Had my heart racing. Made me rethink the world I live in. Incredible series.

The Bible. For God so loved the world...
 

starshine

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I read, a lot. I average about a book every 2-3 days.

There are many that I absolutely love, such as Harry Potter, but that hasn't had any effect on my life.

There are a couple that have.

1) StarGirl: The book is about a girl who dresses in old clothes and costumes, picks her own name, and is extremely eccentric. I read it when I was in Grade 8, and I'd have to say after that is when I truly started being who I was. It really did inspire me, as odd as that sounds.

2) Anything by V.C. Andrews: She is my favorite author, of all time. Her books haven't exactly affected the way I -live- but the way I conduct myself. I pick up a lot of vocabulary from her books, as well as some mannerisms.
 

Yawgmoth

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I <3 reading. So the purpose of this is to post books that have profoundly influenced our lives? Mmmk, let's see how good of a list I can conjure up...

  • The Great Gatsby
  • Nemesis
  • Handbook of Epictetus
  • The Trial and Death of Socrates
  • The Giver
  • Freakonomics
  • The Anarchist Cookbook
  • I am America, and so can you!
  • America: the Book
  • Diogenes Laertius II (Books VI-X)
  • World War Z
  • The Zombie Survival Guide

Maybe I'll post more later...that's just what I've read so far in 2008 that's influenced me...
 

Raccoon

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The Anarchist's Cookbook? Remember, when they say, this recipe should not be tried, or if you are not a really really good labtech with a really really good lab FOLLOW THAT ADVICE!!

What, no one listed The Kama Sutra? anything by Deepak Chopra? Fortran For Dummies? anything by Aleister Crowley?
 
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