A great novel is a kind of conversion experience. We come away from it changed. — Katherine Paterson
I’ve always organized my books the way we shelve them in the bookstore where I work — in categories, alphabetically by author, hardcover separately from paperback. Not everyone does that. Some people arrange their books by color, which seems crazy to me, and apparently some people turn them around so the spines face inwards, which seems even crazier. But recently I visited a friend who keeps all her favorites on one shelf, and that actually makes sense.
The books that I count as favorites are books that changed my life. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl moved me in a way no book ever had when I read it and reread it as a teenager. Most recently, Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing opened my eyes and made me look at history in a different way. It’s a great book for book clubs — profound and emotionally resonant, but fast-paced and relatively short.
I’m not the same reader when I finish a book as I was when I started . . . every book changes your life, so I like to ask: How is this book changing mine? — Will Schwalbe
Schwalbe’s Books for Living is full of suggestions for thought-provoking, “discussable” books. Another terrific resource for book clubs — and fun reading as well — is The Books That Changed My Life: Reflections by 100 Authors, Actors, Musicians, and Other Remarkable People, edited by Bethanne Patrick.
Which books have changed your life?