Nell Iris

Books that changed my life

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I saw a blogpost on Goodreads awhile back about life-changing books. The people at Goodreads had asked users about what books’d had a huge impact on their lives. Lots of people answered, and in the blog post Goodreads told us about the top 28 titles. I can honestly say I’ve only read two of the books on that list (“Eat, pray, love” and “Siddharta“), and neither qualifies as life changing for me.

But it got me thinking. Which books I would my list of life-changing books?

Pippi Långstrum by Astrid Lindgren

(that’s Pippi Longstocking for you non-Swedes)

I daresay there’s not a single Swedish girl that hasn’t been influenced by Pippi in some way or other since the 1940s when the book first was released. Pippi is quirky, independent and fiercely loyal to her friends. She’s also the strongest girl in the world, but even though she can literally lift her own horse I think the strength is more metaphorical than physical. She makes up her own rules to live by, and more often than not they’re not according to society’s standards. She has the strength and courage to stand her ground, and not conform or give in when various authority figures are trying to make her.

She believes she can do anything — my favorite quote is “I have never tried that before, so I think I should definitely be able to do that”. When do we lose that belief? We all should take a leaf out of Pippi’s book and believe in ourselves more. When my daughter was little I bought her all the Pippi books I could find, and read them aloud to her. I don’t think a girl can have a better role model to be honest.

And Astrid Lindgren is sort of our national treasure. When she died at 94, the King and Queen of Sweden attended her funeral. Astrid not only wrote many of the best children’s books I’ve ever read, but she also advocated children’s rights. She’s the mother of so many interesting and beloved characters, and she made me believe it was okay to be different.

This is why Astrid Lindgren and Pippi Långstrump is number one on my list.

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Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery

I loved Anne Shirley —with an E— fiercely when I was a kid. I loved her romantic spirit and imagination, and even the words she used. Just taste expressions like bosom friend or kindred spirit — they are words I want to use in my everyday vocabulary.

I loved her loyalty, her quick temper and most of all I loved that she was smart. She was one of the best in her class and that was totally fine, encouraged even.

She influenced me profoundly, and I identified with her, in the sense that I too was a romantic who didn’t much appreciate the mundane things in life. Like her I wanted great adventures and even greater love.

But at the same time: one of the things I loved most is that she found what she was looking for at her beloved Green Gables in the end. And I loved her relationship with Matthew and Marilla, and how she slowly melted the ice around Marilla’s heart. Can you imagine how lonely Matthew and Marilla would have been if Anne hadn’t shown up in their lives?

I cry big, sad tears every time I read the book and Matthew dies. It’s like I’m holding out hope that maybe this time—this time he won’t die. It still hasn’t happened, but you never know…

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Pride and prejudice by Jane Austen.

A friend introduced me to Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy in my teen years, and I will be forever grateful to her for that. It was love at first read.

Elizabeth is such a great character and I love to follow along on her journey from someone who is quick to judge, to someone more thoughtful and open to alternatives. I love that she’s witty and intelligent, and that she’s determined not to marry for any other reason than love. It was probably foolish considering the times, and what opportunities a young woman like her had, but it makes for great reading.

And Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy…well, what’s there to say about him other than…*swoon*?

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And I just realized something: a third book where the protagonist is a strong, fiercely loyal and intelligent woman – I think I sense a theme 🙂 

Nowhere Ranch by Heidi Cullinan

This is the odd duck out, compared to the others on my list. It’s the first MM Romance book I read (I had read a MMF before, but no “pure” MM) and to say it has changed my life is an understatement. If it wasn’t for this book I wouldn’t have found this genre I love so much.

Who knows if I’d ever gotten around to giving writing a try if it wasn’t for MM Romance?

This book is still to this day one of my favorites. I love the juxtaposition between the extreme kinkiness and the soft romance Cullinan writes so well. I love the characters, I love broken heroes like Roe, and to follow them along on their journey to a better life.

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Well, that was my list of books that changed my life and influenced me as a person in one way or another. What books would be on your list?

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4 thoughts on “Books that changed my life

  1. I remember reading Pippi Longstocking when I was young, but had long forgotten what they were about. Sounds like something I should put in my home library for the grandkids, though!

    You’ve got two of my favorites on here. Anne of Green Gables (I read the entire series) and Pride and Prejudice.

    Since *you* recommend it, and we clearly see eye to eye when it comes to reading, I’ll have to move Nowhere Ranch to the top of my TBR. I just checked, and I did buy it a while back. Just haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. 🙂

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    • I read all the Anne-books too. I remember I loved Anne and Gil’s first house by the sea so much. I wanted to live there. And isn’t that a great testimony to a writer: to manage to create something so magical someone wants it to be real?

      I definitely think you should stock the home library with Pippi. I can also recommend “Ronia the Robber’s Daughter” (also by Astrid Lindgren) for another strong female lead. She was my next favorite 🙂

      And I hope you enjoy Nowhere Ranch 🙂

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  2. I read Pippie a few years ago.

    I think the book that changed my life the most would be “In search of Lost Time” by Marcel Proust

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    • Really? That’s awesome! Personally, I did not like it. And well, to be fair I only read the first part. But I was bored and couldn’t understand what all the fuss is about.

      But I have kind of a love-hate relationship with the classics: I’ve read a lot of them (studied literature in college) and a lot is really great and I totally get why they became classics. Then there are books like Ulysses by James Joyce and Nana by Emile Zola that I disliked so much they turned me off reading for quite a long time. For real. Proust isn’t quite that bad for me, though… 🙂

      But this fascinates me to no end: how someone reads something and finds it life altering, and how someone else shrugs and says Nah, gimme Harry Potter instead. And I always wonder what it is that makes us experience works of literature (or movies, music or any form of art) so differently. What in my background, experiences, and preferences makes me hate something that so many people love and appreciate?

      Sorry for rambling on, but like I said: it fascinates me. Thank you for sharing, Amy! 🙂

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