Every so often, a book comes along that has the power to change the trajectory of our entire lives. Where we were lost, the book helps us find our way. When we thought things were hopeless, within a story we found hope. We became inspired when we thought we had no more inspiration to stumble upon. Maybe you’re thinking that that’s a bit dramatic. And it might be…if you’ve never had a book that changed your life. I’ve been lucky enough to read not one, but three books that have changed my life.
“Books that changed my life” might be a heavy title to bestow upon these novels, so maybe “books that made me examine my outlook” or “books that opened my eyes to a different perspective” might be a more accurate moniker than “books that changed my life”. The books that changed my life in the way you may be thinking (like Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret), worked their magic in the earlier part of my life.
As an adult, I’ve found there aren’t too many books that have the ability to blow me away in their storytelling. Or with their message. There are very few books that I recall details of a mere days after I have closed their covers, let alone years later. So if you’re looking for a novel to really take you in its grip and shake things up, check out my list of 3 Books That Changed My Life.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State —and she would do it alone.
Okay so maybe this one is a little cliche. Wild was…er, wildly popular a few years ago with the “trying to find themselves thirty-something-year-olds”. Although I did not jump on the bandwagon at the time, when the book was mentioned on the Gilmore Girls reboot, I went and checked it out. (I may have a little obsession with Gilmore Girls...I started reading the Marie Kondo book because of a Gilmore Girls reference.)
Here was my review when I read this book 2 years ago:
Really gob-smacked by the impact this book had on me. Raw and full of emotion and sometimes scattered, but nevertheless engaging. In the end, I was on the edge of my seat following Cheryl’s journey, half wishing I was brave enough to take the same journey, but knowing I never need to because she went before me. Excellent. Can’t wait to see the movie now.
I did see the movie not too long after, and as much as I did like it (and I LOVE Reese Witherspoon), I would definitely classify myself as “Wild: The Book” rather than “Wild: The Movie”. (You have to see the Gilmore Girls reboot to get that one…)
Anyway. I know I would never be brave enough to go out in the wild like Cheryl did, but the book still inspired me to go ahead and take a leap of faith with some really difficult choices I was wrestling with at the time. So while it didn’t necessarily change my life, it definitely made me a little less fearful of trying something that terrified me.
GET IT HERE
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Georgie is an on the go mom of two with a hubby who is a stay-at-home dad. She has a job writing TV sitcoms and her and her best friend (Seth) of 20+ years have the opportunity to break out with their own show that they’ve been writing for all those years.
The only catch? She’s got to abandon her family at Christmas to make it happen. Her disgruntled husband and two kids pack up and go on their scheduled trip to Omaha, leaving Georgie alone with her writing, Seth, her regrets, and a landline phone that just happens to have magical powers.
Yeah, yeah, I know…sounds totally hokey. I found myself rolling my eyes at the idea. But it wasn’t hokey. Instead, it was eye opening and sweet. This book was surprisingly deep for “Chick-lit”—the characters well fleshed out and amusing.
After reading this book I found myself wishing I could talk to my husband when we were first dating again, too.
Sometimes we need to go back to that awkward time in the beginning just to remember what it was that drew you to that person and it makes you look at them in a whole new light.
Because of this book, I started insisting that Hubby and I go on “dates” a few times a month. (Actually, it’s more like weekly now that the kids don’t want to hang around and be seen with us.) I really think it’s strengthened our relationship. I often find myself looking at him on one of these “Dates” and feeling like we’re 18 all over again.
*FYI Landline,the movie is NOT based on this book at all. Don’t make the mistake I did and watch it expecting the same plot (although the movie wasn’t too bad…)
GET IT HERE
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
It took me awhile to get through this book, not because I didn’t enjoy the story or it wasn’t well written. Quite the opposite. It took me almost a week to get through this book because it was so important to me.
My grandmother, who passed away more than a decade and a half ago was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. Her life was mercifully cut short by Ovarian cancer when she was 65.
If you don’t understand why I said “mercifully”, you need to read this book.
It details the life of an intelligent 50-year-old woman, shocked to discover she has Early Onset Alzheimer’s. Throughout the novel, her progress (or downward spiral) is chronicled through her eyes and it is painful to experience.
After watching my grandmother go through this horrifying condition for several years before her death, I suspected that Alzheimer’s might quite possibly be the worst fate for any human to endure. You’re trapped in an aging, but otherwise healthy body (for most). Yet, as time goes on, you become like a child, not remembering, not comprehending, not being able to take care of yourself.
And the people around you can’t seem to save you, no matter how much they want to. They watch you slip away, helplessly. They witness their loved one who once held them and loved them, become someone they don’t even know anymore.
It was beyond painful to watch.
But I’m sure it was even more painful to my grandmother. Because eventually, she didn’t understand who we were, why we were in her life or how much we loved her.
In the end, all we have are memories and for Alzheimer’s patients, those are stolen from them, little by little, until they’re nothing but a body with an incapacitated mind.
They say death is a great equalizer—I think Alzheimer’s is even more so. It doesn’t matter if you’re a brilliant physicist or a cupcake baker. With Alzheimer’s, you’re not immune to the fact it’s going to steal your mind and your life.
This is a fabulous novel that I highly recommend to everyone who could possibly be going through something like this. It was also an amazing movie with Julianne Moore. It’s nearly impossible to grasp the magnitude of how unbelievably cruel this disease is, but this novel certainly hits as close to the mark as possible.
I had only seen Alzheimer’s from the point of view of a family member. This book puts it in the perspective of someone who is experiencing it. It really made me understand that I cannot take the little things in life for granted and I need to savor every moment, good or bad.