Sorry to post twice today, but here goes.
A book so powerful that it changed your life? A book so important to you that you cannot bear if others you love do not like it? A book that says everything about a topic that resonates with you more than any other issue?
For Nathan McCall, the book was Native Son. McCall, in prison for armed robbery and working in the library, found in the book, for the first time, a young man just as angry as he was. The book turned McCall’s life around, so that he earned early parole and went to school, earned a journalism degree, and worked for several papers, including The Washington Post.
For me, the book was Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, certainly a book to reread and adore for a lifetime. But in my case it represented the audio tape that would change my life from indifferent to addicted reader. In a hospital room with both my eyes patched, back in 1968, I heard the squeak of a cart coming toward me. A far-seeing nurse brought me a talking book machine with the Austen book and other classics beside it. And I’ve never looked back. Books at first helped me escape the fruitless worry of the retinal hemorrhaging. Books provided characters under such duress who, nevertheless, coped with their circumstances. Nonfiction and fiction books gave me the informational progress less possible without sight. Books stretched me and changed me and improved me and gave me a mental life. They have given me joy.
But a book that is so important to you that you cannot bear if others you love do not like it? A book that says everything about a topic that resonates with you more than any other issue?
For me, that’s a challenge.
I remember finishing War and Peace and reading that one person wished he/she had his/her life to live over again in order to read
War and Peace for the first time again. The reader felt that strongly about the novel.
I’m thinking of extraordinary books, but not coming up with the one that’s all important, all-encompassing. I would love to hear from others of you with books that have made such an enormous difference.