The Books That Changed Our Lives

BooksCompiled by Elizabeth Pollard

In my search for a spring book list,  I turned to some of my most trusted friends for the books that changed their lives. Better hit the library!

The Hungry Caterpillar cured my eating disorder. Joke. Quite cliche but the poem Howl by Ginsberg. It brought forth stronger than ever before the idea that the human consequences of creative and intellectual exploration could not be romanticised; which I had believed when I was younger. The art does not offer the artist protection from fallibility, or make the cracks it leaves any easier. Reading Howl the pedestal was kicked. I finally understood the extraordinary people I admired carried on living through the grey spaces between the end of the novel and the start of the next adventure.

Simply Shantaram – at 17 was the first book I ever read front to back! I’ve never not been reading a book since.

I’ll say probably To Kill A Mockingbird, I need to re-read it but I just remember the descriptions so to the point and simple and how cool as a person the father was. All about work and justice and a sense of family and right character no matter what your circumstances or colour. It just felt very ethical in every way. Loved the name Atticus ever since.

If not, cause it is a bit of a cliche. I will say definitely 100 Years Of Solitude. Just fell in love with how García Márquez writes. Obviously in Spanish, he is so smooth and gentle with his writing. Very neat and simple sentences. Also love the fact that he follows the same family for such a long period of time. This was the first adult book I felt in love with and made me feel I could read anything.

The third is by Ursula Hegi, called Stones From The River. It’s about this amazing and loving girl and how tough growing is. She realised she’s just always gonna be different and embraces it though life, work, bad family, cruel kids, deception, sex and even love with a “normal” man (she is a dwarf). Can’t fully explain why but it really got me and caught me by surprise. Just loved her spirit and kind of wanted to be like her. Bit of an ordinary heroine for me at the time, if that makes sense. Particularly remember a moment when she tries and hangs from door frames to grow more. Just loved it.

The Picture Of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde, because it seemed that with the turning of every page he had written down another undeniable truth about human nature. It was a real discovery for me.

Under Plum Lake, by Lionel Davidson, my mum used to read it to me and Ellie [sister] when we were little. Truly made me fall in love with fairy tales and the idea of hidden worlds that I still look for today.

Information Is Beautiful. Because it made me see data as something exciting.

Under The Skin, the book changed my life by making me realise that we as humans give ourselves so much power, it helped in my thought process to become vegetarian and think of the world more conscientiously.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac and Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer because I’ve always aspired to be that disconnected.

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