What single book was most influential in your life?

This weekend saw the premiere of the film treatment of “Atlas Shrugged,” a book that many readers say was influential in their lives. Today’s Question: What single book was most influential in your life?

  • hiram

    Three, actually. The Foundation Trilogy

  • Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet changed how I saw God and love.

  • Andrew Schoeberl

    The Ismael trilogy by Daniel Quinn changed my entire life.

  • Chad Sheets

    On the Road – Kerouac

  • David

    … can’t choose just one, but some suggestion engine wants me to say The Revelation, since it’s the only book of the Bible I read from end to end. Herman Hesse’s Steppenwolf was formative, but then again his Siddhartha influenced me more deeply. Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged goes deep, too. Who can deny Laozi and Sunzibingfa a mention?

  • Tim

    I can’ t pick just one. The entire Bible, Henri Nouwen’s writings and Cry the Beloved Country.

  • Joel

    Rudolf Steiners’ “Occult Science: An Outline”.

    Nothing less than a complete reshaping of perspective on every level of reality. A little influential – if you can get through it!

  • Kevin

    George Orwell’s 1984. It changed how I saw human nature and convinced me of the need for a free liberal society (in a way that philosophical/political arguments had not).

  • uptownZombie

    Yay! A nice fluffy question that won’t make people respond with name calling and anger.

    My book would have to be The Lord of the Rings

  • Betsy Klatt

    To Kill a Mockingbird. Changed the way I saw the world, opened my eyes to meaning of justice and love.

  • Steve the Cynic

    I find myself mystified by people who claim to be influenced by both the Bible and Atlas Shrugged. A consistent thread through the whole Bible is that we are indeed supposed to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers; Ayn Rand’s consistent theme is that we are not.

  • Sue de Nim

    It would have to be The Cat in the Hat. It showed me that reading could be fun and opened the door to everything else I’ve read.

  • Dick

    “The Prophet” and “Of Human Bondage”. I am more than a bit surprised by the recent interest in Rand’s work. For me, the issue is less political and more about the nature of man. Or maybe that is political also.

  • Benjamin Peterson

    Howard Zinn: A People’s History of the United States of America

  • Dan Smith

    “The Cost of Discipleship” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • Rebecca

    Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”

  • Darren

    The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

    It’s helped to bring peace and perspective to my life.

  • Jake

    Easy…The Hobbit by J.R.R.Tolkien

    It showed me that books could open the minds imagination and make it hungry for more…

    Thank you Mr Tolkien for opening my imagination and minds eye to worlds unattainable anywhere else.

  • Lou

    The Cry of the People by Penny Lernoux.

  • Jim B.

    The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

  • steve

    this is a great question-i have read so many great books so it is hard to pinpoint one book

    but one book that encompasses the whole gamut of history, drama, a classic, and totally submerses the reader into the period and romantic it would have to be “jane eyre”!

  • Mary

    When my older brother started first grade, he would come home from school and teach me what he was learning in school. I was 4 at the time. I think the first book I read was Dick, Jane and Sally. I have loved reading ever since. Every book after that has been due to his influence.

  • Chad

    If I Ran the Circus by Dr. Seuss. Seuss’s genius goes well beyond his rhymes. The frame his books create for parents reading to children teaches something profound about the essence of parenting—and humanity.

  • Steve Stark

    The Art of the Deal, by Donald Trump

    It gave me motivation and insight into putting deals together and I have launched many companies since reading the book. Great insight into Mr. Trump and opens your mind to what you can do.

  • Michelle

    “Where the Red Fern Grows”. Hands down one of the most striking “growing up” stories in American literature.

  • Jamie Wellik

    I can happily say no SINGLE book has been most influential. I can cite over a dozen powerful books, biographies, political, philosophical, and religious/anti-religious treatises: I’m reading “Unbroken” right now and that ranks up there.

  • Steve from up North

    I’d say the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy…I never forget my towel.

  • Kevin VC

    “The Hobbit”

    It seemed to tell some interesting life lessons I needed to hear as a kid. And it did it in a exciting way along with this. Plus it was more complex then what one was typically reading as a kid, so it really engaged me.

  • Jody

    The Bible – An amazing book of history as well as a daily source of wisdom, inspiration & truth ~ particularly regarding mankind’s rebellious nature and God’s forever-loving pursuit of our heart’s affections. Out of His great love for us, He executed a redemptive plan ~ knowing we would need one from the foundation of the world ~ giving us His most precious gift, that of His beloved Son, Jesus, who willingly & obediently lived an exemplary life and then suffered a torturous death on our behalf to keep us out of hell . . . IF we accept this sacrifice and embrace our Creator God’s sovereign plan for our salvation. The result? A purpose-filled life now and later, eternal life in Heaven with Him. Easter!

  • Alex

    The Holy Bible

  • William Kusch

    The End of Faith by Sam Harris.

    Helped crystallize my nascent thoughts on religion, namely that the Abrahamic religions are inherently violent and unnecessary. Fantastically written, and well argued. I recommend the book to everyone I can.

  • David Mills

    I am surprised to say “Ishmael” by Daniel Quinn was the single most influential book in my life. It spurred many changes and further influences that continue to this day.

  • lauri davis

    The Four Agreements. I intigrate it’s lessons in nearly every day of my life.

  • Charlene

    Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, by Dee Brown.

    It forever changed my way of thinking. Until I read that book, I had NO idea. My eyes were opened.

  • Maya

    In fact, Atlas Shrugged. But I must distinguish, it is most influential to me not by political or social philospohy, but by the strength of its characters.

  • Alison

    She’s Not There : A Life in Two Genders by Jennifer Finney Boylan

  • Gregg

    Oddly enough, it was Frank Herbert’s Dune series. The Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear got me through two marathons as well as several more serious exeriences in my life.

  • T

    The Call of the Wild, by Jack London. This was the first chapter book I remember reading as a child. Solidifed the value of reading for me.

  • greg H

    The HitchHikers Guide to the Galaxy. Relax … the answer is 42.

  • Bruce

    The Great Gatsby. Sorry there is not room for Moby Dick, Hemmingway’s In Our Time, and Leslie Marmon Silko’s Almanac of the Dead.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Thanks to my mom’s “books are our friends”, so many books and authors that I can’t begin to choose.

  • kennedy

    In addition to several others already mentioned, The Screwtape Letters.

  • The Big Dog

    Life of Pi by Yann Martel was a great book that made me read more, A Shore Thing by Snooki might make me stop reading.

  • Peter

    Bother Karamazov – Taught me that humanity is inter-connected and our actions do effect others. In this context, religion serves an important purpose of maintaining and protecting these connections. In short, taught me to respect the existence of religion. While religion may be fairly summarized as people seeking answers to the ambiguities of the world, this function is admirable.

  • Jean Binkovitz

    Soren Kierkegaard’s “Works of Love” – big on personal responsibility and patience

  • Jeanette Rydberg

    The Diary of Anais Nin, it was 1972.

  • Tom Roark

    E. F. Schumacher’s “Small Is Beautiful” knocked the sleep from my eyes. The subtitle is “Economics as if People Mattered,” and the first five hundred fifty words or so — about capital and income — ought to be memorized by school children.

  • Jenna

    Richard Dawkins, “The God Delusion”. Opened my eyes to the reality of the natural world and the hypocrisies and toxicity of the world’s religions.

  • Spencer

    Ishmael, and all the other books by Daniel Quinn. Glad to see other people are mentioning these too. 🙂

  • Ellen

    Without question: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, by James Agee with photos by Walker Evans. Gave me my first serious view (this was MANY years ago) into the lives of those without means. Made me a political liberal.

  • m2

    Aztec, by Gary Jennings.

  • m2

    Cosmos, byt Carl Sagan.

  • m2

    Freakinidiots Unite: published buy whatever shit-wit think tank has the best “pension” plan this month. Eat well, Laffer.

  • Dianne

    “Why Christianity Must Change or Die: a Bishop Speaks to Believers in Exile” by John Shelby Spong. It affirmed some of the things I was struggling with in my church life.

  • JBlilie

    No one single book.

    The Narnia (Lewis) series jump-started my reading life

    High and Wild by Galen Rowell inspired me to climb mountains and intensify my interest in photography

    Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey for its writing and its rejection of industrial tourism and virtual “life”

    Jupiter’s Travels by Ted Simon inspired me to world travel

    The Selfsih Gene by Richard Dawkins crystallized biology for me.

    Unweaving the Rainbow by Richard Dawkins provided a lot of motivation.

  • Bear

    Bernard Goldberg’s “100 People Who Are Screwing Up America? And Why?”

  • Janet Rose

    Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why by Bart Ehrlman.

    It changed how I looked at the Bible and organized religion.

  • George W

    ‘” The Pet Goat”

  • Rachel

    “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson.

  • Pat

    A Course in Miracles,even though some say it may have been created by the CIA.

  • Richard

    The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. By Ralph Metzner

    A must for anyone over 18.

  • DNA

    Info-Psychology: Instructions on the Use of the Human Neural System * according to the manufacturers

    quite unique and clarifying

  • Christy

    Angel-Tech: A Modern Shaman’s Guide to Reality Selection, by Antero Alli.

    A real life choose-your-own-adventure.

  • John

    The Emperor Wears No Clothes, by Jack Herer.

    Quite revealing of 70+ years of disinformation.

  • The Power of Now by Eckert Tolle. It lead to other readings about the Eastern traditions of leading life in the present.

  • Eliot

    The 4 book series – The Sea of Fertility by Yukio Mishima

    I read it in high school, and it is a multi layered look at life, love, and relationships

  • Tony

    Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis.

  • Noah

    Besides the Bible, I would say Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis.

  • Mary Wallace

    The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk — an amazing and amazingly accurate portrayal of the future with the corporate/religious right pitted against an absolutely perfect utopia.

  • Whitney

    Ishmael by Daniel Quinn

  • Ray

    The End of Nature by Bill McKibben changed my life; reading that book is what caused me to pursue a degree in environmental sciences.

  • “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert Pirsig. This book opened up my mind to the importance of careful thinking and asking the right questions.

  • barb millard

    Jane Eyre. read it when I was about 12 and many times later. A strong woman who lived by her convictions

  • Jacqueline

    Charles Darwin’s Descent of Man. It changed how I see all life on the earth and my place in the scheme of things.

  • jessie

    – Pillar of Sand: Can the Irrigation Miracle Last? by Sandra Postel (sadly we still value plastic more than water).

    – Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach (when we lose someone before their time)

    – Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” (the first book I heard read on Chapter a Day, a wonderful 30 min public radio program I wish MPR would carry instead of so much Canadian programming.)