Doing Discussions: Books That Have Changed Your Life

August 11, 2020 Uncategorized 13

Like a lot of my discussion posts, this one is as much as question for you as a topic I think I have some expertise on. (Unlike most of my discussion posts, I’ve pulled my topic from a helpful list of suggestions from Briana at Pages Unbound – thank you!). As a lifelong reader and lover of books, I always feel I should have an answer when people ask about books that have changed my life. I can think of a few, but the list is short. What’s more true for me is that books, collectively, have changed my life. I’d love to hear in the comments if you feel like your life has been significantly changed by either specific books or reading in general. First, here a few ways reading has changed my life.

Love of Learning

Books, collectively, have definitely inspired my love of learning. When I was homeschooled, my mom let me do a lot of defining the topics we studied. She’s also always made the library accessible to me and something I learned early is “when in doubt, go to the library”. For nearly any problem I have in my life, I’ll turn to books. I’ve also read nonfiction to learn about things that interest me since at least middle school and maybe earlier.

Career Choice

I’m honestly not certain I’d have gotten into genomics if it weren’t for Matt Ridley’s Genome. (Unfortunately, it seems like he’s something a climate change denier these days, so perhaps take his books with a grain of salt). There are certainly other things that influenced me – a K*Nex genome kit, a genetics class at the local university – but I think this book came first.

Education on Social Issues

There must have been a first book I read that got me thinking about issues like race, poverty, and injustice. I can’t point to just one though. Instead, I’ve slowly accumulated knowledge and awareness through reading a lot of connected books on these topics. I’ve learned about other types of topics from reading too, often less deliberately, but in a similarly gradual way. This is partly because I don’t tend to retain new information well the first time I encounter it. The advice to read connected books and build up a framework connecting the things you know is a suggestion that really works for me.


Obviously, I wouldn’t be a part of the great, bookish blogging community without my love of reading. Especially during the wild times that have been 2020, having reading and blogging to entertain me indoors and keep me connected to others has been truly wonderful.


I feel like I should have more than this for you, but those are the main ways I can think of that reading has shaped my life. Maybe some of your stories will spark some other memories for me as well. So, please let me know in the comments below – How has reading specific books or reading generally changed your life?

13 Responses to “Doing Discussions: Books That Have Changed Your Life”

  1. Jenny @ Reading the End

    Oh man, yes, all of these things for sure. It’s also just shaped my imagination so much and in so many ways. And then like, I don’t know exactly how to say this, but it’s given me this thing that will always be there? Like no matter what else happens, I will always love reading and find it to be an escape and a refuge, and that’s super important to me, especially in times like these.

    • DoingDewey

      That’s really lovely and true for me too, Jenny. Being a reader is part of identity and it’s a thing I do to find answers, tangible solutions, and simple comfort. It’s wonderful to always know that’s an option 😀

  2. Lory @ Emerald City Book Review

    Well reading in general has definitely shaped my life. I did a post once about certain books that had shaped me. But that’s a little different to my mind from books that have “changed my life,” i.e. taken it in a new direction, or inspired me to start a certain career or whatnot. Like you I think I’d have a hard time coming up with individual titles. It’s also fascinating to me to look back at books I’ve reread multiple times and see how my experience of them changes. So has my life changed the book? It can go both ways!
    Lory @ Emerald City Book Review recently posted…Get ready for Robertson Davies Reading WeekendMy Profile

    • DoingDewey

      That’s a really interesting re-framing of the question. While it’s unusual for single books, even self help books with specific advice, to significantly change my life or my behavior. However, I have to imagine some of my reading choices have influence me and how I think. With that slightly different perspective, perhaps I could come up with more books to answer this question.

      “So has my life changed the book?” – I love this alternate question too! I don’t do much re-reading and I’d like to do this more to see what changes about how I experience books as I bring different ideas of my own to the experience.

  3. Lisa @ Reading, Writing, and Random Musings

    So, I wouldn’t even consider it a 5 star read overall, but reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed was a game changer for me. It helped me to see that I could take on huge challenges and alter the course of my life for the better. Whenever I start to feel like I am in a rut that’s not good, I reflect back on that book.

  4. Danielle Hammelef

    The first book that comes to mind always for me, is the first book in which I saw myself inside for the first time–Queens of Geek. Before reading this book, I didn’t understand anxiety attacks, but this character made me understand/see clearly how they feel and what happens physically because of them. It was one of those ah-ha moments for me. Another book that I can’t forget and need to buy my own copy, is Long Way Down. The last line haunts me in a good way because it keeps racial issues, economic disparities, and personal responsibilties for my actions/reactions at the front of my mind.

    • DoingDewey

      I feel like I should be able to remember books like this, because surely there’s been some specific nonfiction that was revelatory to me on race and mental health as well. I’m impressed you can recall these specific books and the details of what they taught you! I’ll be checking them both out.

  5. Jenna @ Falling Letters

    Hi Katie, I’m catching up on blog hopping after a couple months off. I think books have influenced me in all the same ways you’ve noted here – especially with my career choice (children’s librarian :P). One title I think of as having a notable impact on my life is Hitching Rides with Buddha, which planted the first seed of moving to Japan to teach English.
    Jenna @ Falling Letters recently posted…“I Can’t Believe I Haven’t Read That Yet” #13 (Help Me Choose!)My Profile

    • DoingDewey

      Hi Jenna! Welcome back 🙂 For some reason, when you describe having your career and choice to move influenced by books, that sounds like a big deal to me. But the way I became interested in genetics, in part based on a book, feels like a smaller thing to me, because I’m more aware of all the other parts of my life that also played a role in my decisions. Perhaps I should give books a little more credit in my life too!

      • Jenna @ Falling Letters

        Yes! I find once you start digging in into it, it becomes impossible to imagine what your life would be like if you hadn’t encountered certain books. Maybe some things would still have turned out the same, but I owe so much of who I am to the books that have influenced me on the way.
        Jenna @ Falling Letters recently posted…Would You Rather: Book EditionMy Profile

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