Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Books that Changed My Life: 100 Remarkable People Write About Books

I am immensely interested in how books impact people. At age nine I decided I wanted to be an author because books were powerful and could change lives. Being a good person affected a few. Put your life into words and suddenly you could reach a greater audience--forever. After all, James Barrie wrote "Death will be an awfully great adventure," and over half a century later Peter Pan set an example for the eleven-year-old me on how to face every stage of life.

When I saw Bethanne Patrick's The Books That Changed My Life on NetGalley I didn't think twice about requesting it. 100 icons talk about the books that made them who they are today, a diverse selection from Susan Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend), Margaret Atwood (The Heart Goes Last), Tim Gunn of Project Runway, Gillian Flynn (The Girl on the Train), Gregory Maguire (Wicked), Al Roker, Carl Hiaasen, to Tommy Hilfiger.

The books they write about are also diverse: childhood books like Green Eggs and Ham (Gail McGovern), Grimm's Fairy Tales (Margaret Atwood), and Little House on the Prairie (Rosanne Cash) to The Sound and the Fury (Susan Orlean), David McCullough's John Adams (Beverly Johnson), and Fedrico Garcia Lorca (Juan Felipe Herrera). Alan Cheuse wrote on Ulysses by James Joyce and Peter Coyote on The Odyssey by Homer. There were books I loved, books I was familiar with, and books I had never heard of before.

It was great to know I was not alone in compulsively reading everything, even cereal packages (Fay Weldon), or that one book leads to another (Thomas Wolfe to Dostoevsky to Joyce to Proust for Peter Straub). Louis Bayard was impressed that Dickens was so powerful he could make a reader 'a kind of slave'--and loved the Classics Illustrated comics too.

I enjoyed every essay.

826National receives a portion of the book's proceeds to provide students ages 6-18 with opportunities to "explore their creativity and improve their writing skills." So along with delving into the inner lives of the famous you can support a cause, too.

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

The Books That Changed My Life
Bethanne Patrick
Regan Arts, Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: March, 2016
$24.95 hard cover
ISBN: 9781941393659