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  1. #1

    What book if any has had an impact on your life?

    For me it is the book Anthem by Ayn Rand.

    During my Junior year in High School, I discovered stacks of books in my English teacher's closet. Papers backs most of which seemed well worn. I ask my teacher what were the books and if they would be part of our curriculum sometime in that school year. He told no they would not be read by the class they were a fiction authored decades before. I found it odd he had several stacks of a book he would not use and ask why. He said he did used to use them for his junior class but could no longer. Me being inquisitive, I persisted with another question even though the bell for the last class had sounded and the day was over. Could no longer? "Yes no longer." At this point I ask to take one home for reading. He pointed and nodded. I grabbed the book on the top and hurried out the door, waving the book as my good bye.

    An impact is not a suitable word for my experience that evening at home. Profound fits the bill precisely. I started reading the book on my walk home which totaled about 25 minutes. Small town, I was not far away like others at the opposite end of the borough for taking a bus. The Autumn leaves were mostly turned and many had fallen on to the sidewalks from the previous nights chill.
    It was at this point a pivotal moment began unknown to me. A book with no cover and notes throughout the pages as I leafed through them quickly. Understanding dawned on me that this was the teacher's book. Did he know? What were the chances for me to have chosen his book? Or... did he place it there intentionally? Hard to say to be honest. I found it a weird book where people didn't have usual names for any language I could recognize. Names like Equality 7-2521, I found eerily strange and became distracted at this proposition. I stuck the book in my jacket pocket and finished my walk home.

    Later after dinner, I couldn't get the name in the book out of my mind and resumed reading. To move along quickly. I stayed up late through the night and finished the book. Fell asleep with the book at my side whilst I slept. Early the next morning, I sat for breakfast and this reality (Anthem) invaded my mind and stayed with me all through the morning. The idea of a place where individuality was non existent. A world where no one had an opportunity to express creativity and indeed punished for doing, so struck me in a way words can't define. The notion the word "I" is not part of the vocabulary seemed to me to be heretical. Last period, I entered my English class and there sat my teacher rather disinterested in the shuffle ensuing by students to find their places. I had taken my seat and as often looked at my desk top when the class started and our teacher began the days lesson. Five minutes, ten minutes passed I don't know it could have been an epoch in time, this is when I stood and waited for the teachers attention. His look discernible, understood by others in the class began to look about and finally found his gaze. There I was standing with a moment of hesitation and lack of surety, held up the book and shouted I! Knowing no classmate understood, I sat down and in that moment my teacher showed a slight grin. Ever so slight no one else may have noticed it. The class and the day ended, I placed the book in now open closet back where I had found it. He ask if I enjoyed the book as he looked upon the papers on his desk oh so seemingly uninterested in any answer. I responded very much so. I exited out the door with my newly discovered profundity.

    Days passed. More days passed and this book would not leave my mind. It began slowly like the incoming tide until you understand the rising water will drown you if you do not retreat to safe ground. It was there looking at the surface of my world from below, I went to my guidance counselor and inquired about the book Anthem. He looked at me and changed his expression several times then finally said "are you trying to be smart or intelligent?" I replied "Both". He explained in some adult speak about how the book was no longer taught because of School funding. He ask me if there was anything else. I was taking up his time, if not, I was to exit claiming he was a busy man.

    Days,months,years pass, I had forgotten about this book but never the experience. I look at today and see the world of Anthem become ever more present ever more invasive.

    The most relevant and important letter in the English alphabet is the letter "I".


    [IV. Presentation]

    I know it's most unusual
    To come before you so
    But I've found an ancient miracle
    I thought that you should know
    Listen to my music
    And hear what it can do
    There's something here as strong as life
    I know that it will reach you
    Last edited by sapienze; Jul 16 2018 at 12:58 PM.
    Università degli Studi di Roma "La Sapienza" Sapienza University of Rome

    Graduate PhD con lode Scienze della Politica

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    My Coop
    I applaud people that can get into English Literature, I never could. I think after attempting to read the 'Scarlet Letter' and failing miserably because I despised breaking down a book into symbolism or analyzing it's basic story of man vs. man, man vs. nature, etc. Not to mention 'The fall of the house of usher' which was even worse! Ugh. Even the Odyssey was more interesting! Do people even read these classics anymore like Beowulf?

    I have to say Orwell's '1984' did have an impact - I of course read it before 1984 and thought at the time Orwell must have a very negative view on humanity. To me it was an exaggeration of things that mankind was capable of but would hopefully never come to pass. I have come to believe Orwell was only off by 30 years or so!

    I've got to go, Big Brother is calling
    "Never argue with a fool, it's difficult to tell the difference"

  3. #3
    The Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark is the first to come to mind. At the time I read it, I was a nerdy kid who was prone to getting picked on, and I thought it gave me a defensive insight for understanding why people gang up on other people. Over time, that insight grew into a fascination with why and how people who, being capable of objective reasoning, consistently fall into irrational behavior. It might very well be the "seed" that got me into political science and later into neuroscience. It still fuels my interest in social behavior, and, more importantly, it helped me develop the social perception I needed to navigate the occasional weirdness of dealing with other people.

    I re-read the book recently, and much to my surprise I realized that the book wasn't quite saying what I thought it said. What's more, I found that I actually disagree with one of the book's central ideas. However, I'd still recommend it - it may not be on the mark (in my opinion), but it challenges the way we tend to think of ourselves and shows how quickly we can go wrong.

  4. #4
    My reading has always been sporadic. Most books are discoveries to me without suggestive referrals by others. My reading is varied and often has huge holes in the commonly read books of a classic nature. For years I was more likely to read well known tales to children than seek out Sir Roderick for my own contemplation.

    The history of my newly found profundity did have virtue and vice. I guess it is part of the territory of owning one's self and the consequences of knowledge. I could not unknown Anthem. It was tattooed to my identity, even if I was to deny it to myself. About six weeks after the moments I described, I went to a School Board meeting. I showed up unannounced and walked in and interupted their meeting merely by entering the area. I stood patiently,while their discussions were ongoing. It was some moments later on, one of them ask if I could be helped. I walked forward with my new paper back of Anthem and placed on their table. Turned to them so they could see the title on the cover. All this time there are parents and others I assumed had an interest of some degree. It wasn't usual for me to bother with such things or occasions. I thought about girls and friends and having fun. Somehow Anthem was different. I stood only a few feet away from who I guessed was the Superintendent or someone of a similar stature and spoke clearly to this person who had my attention. I said, I want others in my class to read this book. I'm told we can't and want to know why. A few moments passed and a could hear a man in the room. I suppose he was a father of a student ask, what is the book? In a few moments I had caused a distraction that wasn't part of the plan. Ahem lol

    I never received an answer and was escorted to the front entrance. I lost my book and was a bit annoyed because I had bought it only days before. I took my money from my car bank to buy the book. Several days later I began to hear of whispers of my name in the conversations held close by kids whose parents were at the same meeting. Whispers and then a girl ask me in the seat in front of me. She turned and ask what was the book about. In the end, our Junior class did read the book and at a cost that stirred things I had no idea about. A black list of books and suggested reading for students. Who as a 14 year old kid would have guessed our society was doing very similar things I read in this book Anthem. Albeit, I understand today much more and to a higher degree than all those years ago, but the idea of suppressing thought and knowledge for some unknown, non quantifiable, seems even more wrong in my life as an adult.

    My guidance counselor did speak with me my senior year. He said "Both?" I replied "and more it seems". We talked about college and I said I wasn't interested in a system that didn't encourage creativity and critical thinking. I later reconsidered and took entrance exams.

    When I reflect those moments, I realized the parallels but honestly they weren't the inspiration nor were they the proposition. They just were.


    "I see the hand of man arise
    With hungry mind and open eyes"

    Perhaps our greatest triumph and loss, nonetheless it will prevail.
    All ode to the original title of Anthem.
    Università degli Studi di Roma "La Sapienza" Sapienza University of Rome

    Graduate PhD con lode Scienze della Politica

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    I have read, many, many, MANY books; I have somewhere in the region of 2,000 stuffed into my house. A few of them have had major impacts on me, but the one I will single out right now is "Wild Swans", by Jung Chang. I ended up having to buy three extra copies, as I kept lending the book out, and people kept failing to return it.

    Perhaps it meant more to me than others as I married a Chinese woman, and the events in the book profoundly affected her family; it helped me understand why her family dont talk about her grandparents (they either starved or were beaten to death during the "Cultural Revolution").

    How anyone living in China survived the 20th century without going insane is a miracle.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Escaping Mizzery, one tart at a time.
    Well, for me, it was actually a set of books. The DMG, PH, and MM of 1st edition AD&D.

    I also grew up in a small town and was not one of the kids related to half the school, so you can imagine how much fun that was. A new kid shows up one day, and being a fellow outcast we became friends. He introduced me to the first love of my life. Finally had a way to escape that small town sliver of hell until I was old enough to escape for real.

    As for book books - the Horseclans series of books combined fantasy magic in a far post-apocalyptic setting. The characters have stayed with me for many decades. (My main's warhorse is even named Mahvros.)

    Brandy: Cupcakes of Doom.
    Landro: Trueheart Companions.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Hopscotch, by Julio Cortazar.

    The most beautiful book i've ever read.
    Thorgull lvl 105 Champion - Malendar lvl 115 Warden - Estelldion lvl 101 LoreMaster - Ballduin lvl 36 Runekeeper - Nharduil lvl 17 Minstrel All on Evernight

    Malenborn - Warden & Athanandor - Hunter on Crickhollow (Casual Wanderers)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Gallifrey. I need a Jelly Baby.
    Three different occasions for me.

    First were the late 70s editions of the Monster Manual, Dungeon Master's Guide, and the Player's Handbook by Gary Gygax. They allowed a loser nerd kid like me in rural Louisiana to become a hero and do great deeds and save a princess. I cannot possibly understate how Gygax transformed my life. He saved me.

    The second occasion was the StarFleet Battles game in the early 80s. I include this because the game was almost all books of rules. Lots and lots, and I mean LOTS of rules. For a dumb kid like me, memorizing books of rules was unheard of. And I carry that mental discipline I got from StarFleet Battles to this day.

    And the third occasion was my favorite novel of all time, The Lost Legion by Warner Munn. It's about a Roman Legion on the search for a lost legion that somehow made it's way to China. It's full of love, drama, duty, loyalty and action.

    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming "WOW, what a ride!"
    Continuing the never ending battle to keep Lobelia Sackville-Baggins in check

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Impact on your life? Hmm. Maybe Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz (Jeremiah Curtain translation).
    But FastPablo, what about the H.O.U.S.?

    Hobbits of unusual size? I don't believe they exist.



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