What’s a book that absolutely changed your life? For me, it’s a toss-up between Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs and L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics. Either one you read, you’re going to start looking at the world differently.
I often struggle to find the next life-changing, mind-melting novel. Mostly, it’s not the fault of the writer. It’s because I can’t concentrate. Because I keep trying to read on the subway. The subway is whatever the opposite of a library is. There’s a guy masturbating, there are parents ignoring their screaming children, and a bunch of adults trying to look smarter by holding, but not reading (thanks to phones), books. I guess that’s basically a library.
Thankfully, the Reddit forum r/AskReddit lets people share all kinds of book-related advice, news, and extremely informed recommendations for your next read. Someone wanted an answer to the question: “What’s a book everyone should read at least once in their lives?”
If you’re wondering “what should I read next?” these people have you covered. Unless, of course, you don’t want your life to change. Mine, for instance, is pretty nice. I have a job I like, a beautiful wife, a cute dog. I am truly blessed, and all I have to do is repeat that affirmation 10-20 times in the mirror every morning to believe it. LOL. I’m fine, but also, help.
Let’s see what these readers say is a “must-read”! I’ve included the Better Book Titles where possible!
Here are the books people swear you should have to read at least once in your life:
1. Viktor Frankl’s ‘Man’s Search For Meaning‘
“When I was 17, I was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward for the first time. My boss, from a fast food joint called Harvey’s (it’s Canadian, great food, 20 years later I still run into her outside of the restaurant!) got my call saying I’d need a couple weeks off, and I trusted her enough to tell her where I was.
Half hour later she shows up with 2 books, that being 1 of them. I read it that night. I still have it. It is a great book, it really helped. I read it a few times over my 3 week stay, and I had brought a lot of books and we had a library. It was just good, and inspiring.” –_cactus_fucker_
2. Dostoevesky, ‘The Brothers Karamazov‘
“If the only thing that book did was make you marvel at how people centuries and oceans removed from you in time and place, could experience the exact same emotions about life as you did, it would be worth the read. There’s so much more to it, but Dostoevesky had such a knack for digging deep into universal human experience. And it’s just a hell of a good story too.” –Reneeisme
3. ‘The Phantom Tollbooth‘
“I love ‘Point of View’ where they are in mid-air and as they grow older their feet touch the ground. That means their point of view never changed as they get older. Unlike silly Milo who as he grows “up” his point of view is constantly changing.
In the last few years I’ve used that snippet with people that seem to grow down, instead of growing up as they get older. I’ve had a few that actually get the point.” –kiltedturtle
4. ‘All Quiet on the Western Front‘
“I had almost forgotten what a spectacular book this was. Dug out some quotes…
But now, for the first time, I see you are a man like me. I thought of your hand-grenades, of your bayonet, of your rifle; now I see your wife and your face and our fellowship. Forgive me, comrade. We always see it too late. Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils like us, that your mothers are just as anxious as ours, and that we have the same fear of death, and the same dying and the same agony–Forgive me, comrade; how could you be my enemy?” –pleaseignorestephani
5. Elie Wiesel, ‘Night‘
“We had a significant amount of Holocaust literature included in our curriculum, from 3rd grade with Terrible Things by Eve Bunting, 5th grade Night with Elie Wiesel, 6th grade Waiting for Anya. I’m grateful to have had these stories of courage and injustice imprinted on me from a young age by these authors and educators.” –wlj19
6. ‘The Westing Game‘
“A Librarian here, such a terrific book. I have gotten so many kids to read it by hooking them with the fact that the reader can play the game and has all of the clues. And good luck as it is fiendishly clever.”
7. Alexandre Dumas, ‘The Count of Monte Cristo‘
“It disappoints me it and Dumas are almost never covered in American classrooms either. This is the kind of thing you could get the kids to read and find interesting, especially once you tell them this. I read it in my senior year of high school and definitely was One of the most exciting books I couldn’t put down despite its length.” –Heavenwasfull
8. ‘The Giver‘
“It made my 9-10 year old mind really think about what was important in society. It was the first time the idea of “good” things having a negative consequence was presented to me. I think what makes it work is that we are learning how this whole society really works along side a character who has lived in it his whole life.
As the facade of the utopian society begins to fall away to show devastating consequences of the “perfect life and society” the reader not only feels their shock but the main character’s shock. This was a book I read in school 4 times- once in 5th grade and once in 10th for English and then in both high school and college sociology classes. This book written for 9-13 year olds made for great discussions.” –hisamsmith
9. Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace‘
“I love that book. There are no villains. Just people with good and bad in them – like all of us.” –beyondwhatis
10. Steinbeck’s ‘The Grapes Of Wrath‘
“‘How can you frighten a man whose hunger is not only in his own cramped stomach but in the wretched bellies of his children? You can’t scare him – he has known a fear beyond every other.’
This quote still gives me shivers whenever I read it. It should be required reading for anywhere that workers rights are being eroded (so, everywhere really).” –RustyNumbat
11. ‘Flowers For Algernon‘
“Just came here to say that I also have phenylketonuria, the same disability that Charlie Gordon has in the book, which is one of the many reasons why it is one of my favorite reads. It is incredible how far medicine has come in just a few decades. When the book was written in the 60’s, Charlie’s prognosis was pretty typical for the time. Over the years, treatments, medication, and understanding of the condition have allowed me, and many others, to lead a completely normal life (albeit with some tweaks).
I was lucky to be born at a pretty good time (1995) which was precisely when treatment of phenylketonuria was perfected. As a result my brain didn’t suffer any developmental damage like Charlie’s did in the book, to a pretty incredible extent – I just finished a master’s degree and am applying to law school. It’s pretty wild to think that even if I were born ~10 years earlier, I would very likely not be in the same place I’m in today. What was considered science fiction just 60 years ago is now reality for the few thousand people born with phenylketonuria every year!” –limthekid
12. ‘Watership Down‘
“Easily in my top five favorite books of all time. The chracters are so rich and the various layers of commentary on mankind while keeping true to the nature of rabbits is just so far beyond any other anthropomorphic work I’ve ever read.” –lerkinrouns
13. Camus, ‘The Stranger‘
“This was the book that got me into literature at school, I now have an MA in it and really think it’s down to how Camus made me realise the potential for conveying ideas within books.” –ThisElliot
“I have my mom’s childhood copy from the 60s. I read it as an adult and it’s still my go-to when I’m feeling cynical. It’s a reminder that things can be simple and joyful. I have a tattoo of a bumblebee from the book and it still reminds me to step out of my jadedness sometimes. Children’s literature is really beautiful to me because it allows for a world where imagination is enough.” –honeyimsorry
15. Tolstoy’s ‘The Death of Ivan Ilyich‘
“It took me almost two weeks to fully recover, and it triggered a profound reevaluation of my life, priorities, and relationships. I still think about Ivan and his death, frequently.
No person should live out their lives without reading this. One of the most powerful, raw pieces of literature ever written.” –i_suck_at_boxing
16. Daniel Kahneman, ‘Thinking Fast and Slow‘
“I genuinely think everyone needs to read it. It’s extremely valuable to spot your own biases that you perform on a daily basis. I think there will be so much less anger and hate in the world if everyone reads this book.” –
17. Bill Bryson ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything‘
“I love his books. Fascinating, informative, interesting, and genuinely funny.” –MustNeedDogs
18. S.E. Hinton, ‘The Outsiders‘
“I was stupid in my youth and I wound up in jail my senior year of high school. One of my teachers came to see me and gave me a copy of that book, I still have it. Mr. Simpson was a God damn saint.” –daddy_J_Pow
19. Murakami’s ‘The Wind Up Bird Chronicle‘
“It really changed the way I view time as an adult. It’s OK to sit at the bottom of a well for days just to figure shit out. It’s amazing the things your brain will allow you to re-experience when you aren’t jaded from repetitious grown-up life.”
20. Flaubert’s ‘Madame Bovary‘
“When you read the novel you often feel that this is it, this is when it starts, this is when she becomes a true protagonist, but nothing ever takes off, she’s just a mediocre women full of hopes and dreams, and her life doesn’t amount to anything. This book is about a woman who thinks that life will be like the novel she loves to read, but the reality will be entirely different, and she’ll constantly go from hope to disappointment. It’s an anti-novel.
That book really spoke to me, it didn’t depress me, but it made me accept that I may think that I’m destined for greatness but that the reality will be very different.” –beebabeeba
21. Harper Lee ‘To Kill a Mockingbird‘
“Made me realize how important it is to be a good person and make good decisions.” –Randomblabla222
22. Milan Kundera, ‘The Unbearable Lightness Of Being‘
“One of the most interesting and thought-provoking books I’ve ever read, and made me think about relationships, society, and the self in ways I never had before.” –_haystacks_
23. Herman Hesse, ‘Siddhartha‘
“Shaped my view of philosophy, spirituality, the meaning of life, etc. My catholic high school had me read it going into freshman year. It was unlike anything I’d been exposed to up to that point.” –Chemical_Noise_3847
h/t Reddit: r/AskReddit
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