Monday, September 21, 2009

Top Ten Books That Influenced Me The Most

This "Top Ten Books That Influenced Me The Most" meme is active on a private message board I belong to. I thought it would be fun to make it public here.
  1. The (Christian) Bible. I was raised in a Catholic family, and my father was very active in the church. I attended Sunday school for at least five years and went to church every Sunday for even more years than that. How can that experience not influence someone?
  2. Tom Swift Jr. Adventure Series. I read about the first 20 of this series of books when I was a pre-teen, and I would draft models of space ships and build them from cardboard. (I had a stash of cardboard tubes and cereal boxes.) When people ask why I became an engineer, I cite this as the main reason. Actually, no one asks engineers why they become engineers. But if someone were to ask me, I'd have a great answer for them.
  3. The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings. I seem to recall spending one whole summer learning to translate English texts into Middle Earth runes. I identified mostly with Strider, and could be found skulking around the halls of our junior high school wearing muddy hiking boots. I wanted to buy a cloak, but everything I shopped for looked too fashionable. I never did get into Star Wars, so perhaps I can be excused for this obsession.
  4. What Color is Your Parachute? I had no desire to commit to any kind of career when I was close to completing high school. I put off going to college by instead enrolling in a nine-month technical school for certification as an electronic technician. This was 1981, when electronics was booming and demand for technicians was high. So with the help of this amazing book, I learned a lot about myself and the type of things and people I like to work with. I don't think I could've survived without this book.
  5. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. My first exposure to H2G2 was through the six episode BBC mini-series, which I saw on public television. I also caught audio "glimpses" of the radio show on NPR. But my real immersion into the Guide was through the H2G2 "trilogy." The main themes of irreverence, fascination (and frustration) with technology, and the eff'ed-up nature of the Universe appealed to me. I admit that during the peak of my misfit days, I hoped I could hop aboard a passing spaceship and leave Earth for good.
  6. Creative Visualization. An artist was trapped inside my analytical body. I needed to find a way to express my creativity and shape my life. So when I was browsing the self-help aisle of the bookstore one day, this book leaped out at me. I felt perfectly comfortable with the idea that I could think my way into a new way of life. My life choices have been as much intuitive as they have been reasoned.
  7. How to Meditate. I describe here the circumstances that lead me to discover this book. I actually did meditate regularly for several months, and it helped focus my undiagnosed ADD mind enough to be able to start engineering school and do well in it.
  8. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. I read this during the time that Nova's "The Brain" series aired on TV making "left-brain, right-brain" household terms. Even though I took two full years of art in high school, I never really was taught to draw or to properly see, which is pre-requisite to drawing. This book taught me to actually see things are they are rather than just look at something briefly and label it. This post describes the book's influence on me in detail.
  9. The Tibetan Book of the Dead. This was a difficult book to get through, but I managed to read it all. Today I can remember only very little, just that there is text that's read to the deceased in order to guide him into choosing the correct path to rebirth.
  10. Eat Right For Your Type. I took time to read about nutrition and health ever since I was a teenager. As a young adult, I was subscribed to an alternative medicine newsletter called Alternatives, as well as the Berkley Wellness Letter. And I bought the Nutrition Almanac(twice), which included content on nutrients that were known to help with certain medical conditions. Certainly, all these information sources contributed to my state of health. But Eat Right For Your Type is the latest book that not only improved my health, it made me think of food as medicine, not sustenance.

What ten books influenced you the most?


Silly Girl said...

Here are my ten books. I hope it's not too long.
1. Nancy Drew series—These books made me questions things. I truly believe they are what led me to journalism.
2. Winter Girls--Laurie Halse Anderson—This book illustrates how it feels to be anorexic. A lot of things in this book that the main character felt is how I feel sometimes but am afraid to say out loud.
3. The Real James Dean—John Gilmore—I found this book when I was in high school. And because of it, I became a lifelong fan of James Dean.
4. Joy of Cooking—Before journalism and anorexia took over my life. I wanted to be a chef. I wanted to prepare every recipe in this book for my grandmother. I didn’t prepare them all but the ones I did were worth it.
5. Carrie—Stephen King—As someone who didn’t fit in with my family or others, this book spoke to me. Stephen King is one messed up writer.
6. Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide by Kay Redfield Jamison—This book has kept me from going over the edge many many times.
7. Green Eggs and Ham—Dr. Seuss—This is my son’s favorite book. He loves for me to read it. Everytime I see it, it reminds that I am helping to create a lifelong reader.
8. The Bible—My grandmother was a deacon in my church growing up. When she got sick, I read the Bible to her because it gave her much comfort.
9. Community Journalism: the Personal Approach—Jock Lauterer—This book inspires me to be a better journalist. All reporters should read this book. I actually have met him several times and he lives what writes. Without the community, there is no newspaper.
10. Meditations--Marcus Aurelius—One of my roommates in college has a bookwith some of his writings in it. This quote has always stood out: Whatever happens to you has been waiting to happen since the beginning of time. The twining strands of fate wove both of them together: your own existence and the things that happen to you. I always think of this quote.

Square Peg Guy said...

Wow! Thanks so much for responding! I read one Nancy Drew book (and two Hardy Boy books). Nancy was cool.

Joy of Cooking is great. If I want to know anything related to cooking I turn to that.

Laughing about Green Eggs and Ham. I remember my brother reading that to me. The one I read to my daughter a lot was about the Fox in a Box. She enjoyed watching me get tongue-tied.

Thank you for the meditation quote. It certainly changes one's perspective on things!

I was thinking of including a book directly related to my profession, as you did. Perhaps I would've if this list required 12 items.

Thanks again for responding! Why not post it on your own blog!

Rummuser said...

Sorry that I took so long. I am such a voracious reader that I had to revise the list several times before I narrowed it all down to these ten.

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. This was the very first major novel that I read and I had to plod through it. In my growing years, Ivanhoe was the role model that I aspired for. Unfortunately, I never did find the kind of adventures that he did.
Light of Asia, by Mathew Arnold. I suspect that my tryst with spiritualism started with this.
Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse. A follow up on the Light of Asia.
The Ramayana, by C. Rajagopalachari.
The Mahabharatha, also by C. Rajagopalachari.
How to win friends and influence people, by Norman Vincent Peale. This was a book that all salesmen were expected to read and almost all Sales Supervisors would insist that they do. I eventually found the advise to be very artificial and superficial and went my own way.
Atlas shrugged by Ayn Rand. The book that transformed me from a bleeding heart socialist to a capitalist.
Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance, by Robert M Pirsig. I continue to go back to this classic often.
Man’s search for meaning, by Vikto Frankl. Another book that I keep going back to again and again
The Bhgawat Geetha. A book that I am never too far away from and which nourishes me.