What books have had the most profound effect on your life?

in reality, all of this has been a total load of old bollocks
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PresMuffley
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What books have had the most profound effect on your life?

Postby PresMuffley » 02 Mar 2017, 15:37

A big question, I apologize.

1984 by George Orwell. Read it first in high school, and although I wasn't yet able to fully comprehend his worldview, I knew this novel was more significant than anything I had read up till then. I come back to it every few years and it feels more prophetic each time. The line "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever" will always stick with me, and depending on the day of the week, I find it equally depressing or inspiring.

Voyage au bout de la nuit (Journey to the End of the Night) by Louis-Ferdinand Céline. Read this in my early twenties which was a rather dark period for me. His ability to honestly face the disgusting condition of humanity while also finding the beauty that always surrounds, and to never forget to laugh about it in the end was a much-needed revelation to me.

A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn. Confirmed much of what I had long-suspected about the rubbish we are taught as children regarding the U.S. and made me realize that without a bottom up, grassroots approach, nothing positive is ever accomplished in the world.

Living My Life by Emma Goldman. Without question the best autobiography I've ever read. And what material she had to work with! One of the bravest people I've ever encountered. I consider her a hero.
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Re: What books have had the most profound effect on your life?

Postby Rayge » 02 Mar 2017, 16:37

'Profound effect' is difficult for me to justify.
As a writer myself, the books that affected me most are to do with style, as a person, gut-busting drollery.
In the first category,
Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (easily my favourite, and most influential book)
Visions of Cody by Jack Kerouac
Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
Moby Dick
Erections Ejaculations and General Tales of Ordinary Madness (I think that's what it's called) by Bukowski
Straddling the two:
The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brian
Uproarious:
A Touch of Daniel by Peter Tinniswood (and others in the series)
the Molesworth books by Willans and Searle
The Fan Man by William Kotzwinkle (probably my favourite author overall, and the only one I like still living)
Revenge of the Lawn (short story) by Richard Brautigan

Moving away from the literary, virtually any collection of Calvin and Hobbes comics.

And into non-fiction
Frisbee by the Masters by Charles Tips
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The Great Defector
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Re: What books have had the most profound effect on your life?

Postby The Great Defector » 02 Mar 2017, 16:40

Bible, genuinely. I disagreed with so much of it growing up and having to read and listen to its teachings. It just made me not want to follow it blindly and make up my own mind, which carried on to other subjects.
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Re: What books have had the most profound effect on your life?

Postby toomanyhatz » 02 Mar 2017, 18:23

Not to start another religious argument - there's no such thing as a religious "discussion" on BCB - but I find the concept of "disagreeing" with the Bible to be an odd one. No one would "disagree" with the Bhagavad-Gita, for example. They treat it as a series of stories from which you can glean a variety of conclusions - not all of which are "you must live THIS way or you're bound for hell." But maybe it's mostly Americans - and only in recent history - that go straight to the authoritarian elements and ignore the rest.

Anyway, to answer the question - The Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare are on mine, simply because any study of language or literature needs to acknowledge that so much of the basis of modern English is rooted in those two (King James version of the Bible, of course). Interesting that centuries later it still forms so much of common vernacular. The only thing that really compares is movie dialog.

I'd also say James Joyce has been profound in the way he treats language as something to play with. He and my dad - who was the king of corny puns - taught me that language is MEANT for play. There are times when it's to be used a certain way, but those rules are made to be broken. Often hilariously.
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Re: What books have had the most profound effect on your life?

Postby The Great Defector » 02 Mar 2017, 18:30

toomanyhatz wrote:Not to start another religious argument - there's no such thing as a religious "discussion" on BCB - but I find the concept of "disagreeing" with the Bible to be an odd one. No one would "disagree" with the Bhagavad-Gita, for example. They treat it as a series of stories from which you can glean a variety of conclusions - not all of which are "you must live THIS way or you're bound for hell." But maybe it's mostly Americans - and only in recent history - that go straight to the authoritarian elements and ignore the rest.



Trying to be raised a catholic in Ireland, you very much got the "you must live this way.......". The church and Ireland couldn't be separated up to maybe a decade ago. In other countries you might have an argument, but not in Ireland when I was growing up.
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Re: What books have had the most profound effect on your life?

Postby Bride Of Sea Of Tunes » 02 Mar 2017, 18:39

The Bible

Moby-Dick (Herman Melville)

The Confidence-Man (Herman Melville)

Pierre, or: The Ambiguïties (Herman Melville)

The Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne)

Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)

War & Peace (Lev Tolstoy)

Roughing It (Mark Twain)

Earthly Powers (Anthony Burgess)

Justice (Friedrich Dürrenmatt)

Conjectures and Refutations (Karl R. Popper)

The Gay Science (Friedrich Nietzsche)

Treatise of Human Nature (David Hume)

The Enquiries (David Hume)

Three Dialogues (Bishop George Berkeley)

The Theban Plays (Sophocles)

Iliad/Odyssey (Homer)

Politeia/Gorgias/Symposion/Eutyphro/Thaetetus (Plato)

Tractatus/Philosophical Inquiries (Wittgenstein)

Double Indemnity (James M. Cain)

Mme Bovary (Gustave Flaubert)

The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (Julian Jaynes)

The Night Is Large (Martin Gardner)

The Lake Wobegon Books (Garrison Keillor)

Bonfire of the Vanities (Tom Wolfe - eminently readable, much of its time, and quite naïve, in view of what happened after the type of capitalism Wolfe describes; I recall he himself argued in Rolling Stone that the book wasn't really meant to be pessimistic, and commented that American workers now (eh, 1980 or so) could enjoy quite a lot of fruits in terms of material pleasures - IIRC)

Parents Worry (Gerard Reve, one of the best Dutch novelists - the original title is: 'Bezorgde Ouders')

(sorry of all of this comes across as blowing my own horn - these are books that I hugely enjoyed, that shaped my life, and all of these I would happily read again if I can find the time)

(tbc, needless to say)
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Re: What books have had the most profound effect on your life?

Postby toomanyhatz » 02 Mar 2017, 18:44

The Great Defector wrote:
toomanyhatz wrote:Not to start another religious argument - there's no such thing as a religious "discussion" on BCB - but I find the concept of "disagreeing" with the Bible to be an odd one. No one would "disagree" with the Bhagavad-Gita, for example. They treat it as a series of stories from which you can glean a variety of conclusions - not all of which are "you must live THIS way or you're bound for hell." But maybe it's mostly Americans - and only in recent history - that go straight to the authoritarian elements and ignore the rest.



Trying to be raised a catholic in Ireland, you very much got the "you must live this way.......". The church and Ireland couldn't be separated up to maybe a decade ago. In other countries you might have an argument, but not in Ireland when I was growing up.


Well, yes - there are definitely authoritarian regimes. And the Bible's not the only religious text used this way. I'm just saying that interpretive reading is inherent in the text, and at least by mine, authoritarianism isn't. But those are enforced interpretations. I find it disturbing (and a little embarrassing) that Americans are generally NOT conscripted into a specific interpretation but choose it willingly. And we were FOUNDED, in part (mostly by religious people!) based on our separation from the Church of England.
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Re: What books have had the most profound effect on your life?

Postby The Great Defector » 02 Mar 2017, 18:47

toomanyhatz wrote:
The Great Defector wrote:
toomanyhatz wrote:Not to start another religious argument - there's no such thing as a religious "discussion" on BCB - but I find the concept of "disagreeing" with the Bible to be an odd one. No one would "disagree" with the Bhagavad-Gita, for example. They treat it as a series of stories from which you can glean a variety of conclusions - not all of which are "you must live THIS way or you're bound for hell." But maybe it's mostly Americans - and only in recent history - that go straight to the authoritarian elements and ignore the rest.



Trying to be raised a catholic in Ireland, you very much got the "you must live this way.......". The church and Ireland couldn't be separated up to maybe a decade ago. In other countries you might have an argument, but not in Ireland when I was growing up.


Well, yes - there are definitely authoritarian regimes. And the Bible's not the only religious text used this way. I'm just saying that interpretive reading is inherent in the text, and at least by mine, authoritarianism isn't. But those are enforced interpretations. I find it disturbing (and a little embarrassing) that Americans are generally NOT conscripted into a specific interpretation but choose it willingly. And we were FOUNDED, in part (mostly by religious people!) based on our separation from the Church of England.


Authoritarian forced interpretations = Church, who controlled schools, hospitals and had a say in making our countries laws. Basically their interpretations were fact, end of.
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Re: What books have had the most profound effect on your life?

Postby pcqgod » 02 Mar 2017, 20:23

These have influenced me in various ways: opened my mind to new philosophies or concepts, influenced my own writing, introduced me to a lot of music and helped shape my tastes, made friends through mutual fandom, etc:

"Slaughterhouse 5" by Kurt Vonnegut
"The Martian Chronicles" by Ray Bradbury
"Childhood's End" by Arthur Clarke
"The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien
"Psychotic Reaction and Carburetor Dung" by Lester Bangs
"The Uncanny X-Men" by Chris Claremont/John Byrne (circa 1977 -- 81)
"The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck
"Et Tu, Babe" by Mark Leyner
"The Holy Bible" by various human beings
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Re: What books have had the most profound effect on your life?

Postby Toby » 02 Mar 2017, 21:10

The Iliad and the 1992 Viz Annual

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Re: What books have had the most profound effect on your life?

Postby zoomboogity » 02 Mar 2017, 21:16

Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut. A lot of his fans really dislike it, but there is a good message underneath it. The world will be okay, even if it takes a million years to get there.
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Re: What books have had the most profound effect on your life?

Postby KATANGA MY FRIEND! » 02 Mar 2017, 22:06

The Third Policeman
The Ginger Man
The Catcher in the Rye
On The Road
The Road

The Kenneth Williams Diaries
The Alan Clark Diaries

The Best Short Stories of Ring Lardner


loads of rock reference books and biogs - that Lewisohn Beatles book was incredible

all of Bukowski's novels
most of James Kelman's novels and short stories

Halliwell's Film Guide

and the MAD paperbacks and the William books when I was younger.
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Re: What books have had the most profound effect on your life?

Postby Belle Lettre » 02 Mar 2017, 22:17

13 Problems For Miss Marple.

It's what my mum gave me when I said I didn't want to read any more children's books.
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Re: What books have had the most profound effect on your life?

Postby toomanyhatz » 02 Mar 2017, 22:45

The Great Defector wrote:Bible, genuinely. I disagreed with so much of it growing up and having to read and listen to its teachings. It just made me not want to follow it blindly and make up my own mind, which carried on to other subjects.


Don't mean to harp on this, and I probably am just picking on your language usage (not that I'd be the first to do that by a longshot :D ), but I wonder if what you really mean here is that you disagreed with how the Bible was interpreted? If you just disagreed with the book itself, you'd have no reason to ever pick it up again. So did re-reading it with "making up your own mind" as the goal make it more, if you will, agreeable?
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Re: What books have had the most profound effect on your life?

Postby toomanyhatz » 02 Mar 2017, 22:50

Oh, and I forgot to mention that a few of Alan Watts's books, as well as Joseph Campbell's, had a profound influence on how I read the Bible, as both discussed it seriously, and in mythological and psychological terms, but without any notion of enforced adherence.
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Re: What books have had the most profound effect on your life?

Postby sloopjohnc » 02 Mar 2017, 23:05

Bride Of Sea Of Tunes wrote:The Bible

Moby-Dick (Herman Melville)

The Confidence-Man (Herman Melville)

Pierre, or: The Ambiguïties (Herman Melville)

The Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne)

Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)

War & Peace (Lev Tolstoy)

Roughing It (Mark Twain)

Earthly Powers (Anthony Burgess)

Justice (Friedrich Dürrenmatt)

Conjectures and Refutations (Karl R. Popper)

The Gay Science (Friedrich Nietzsche)

Treatise of Human Nature (David Hume)

The Enquiries (David Hume)

Three Dialogues (Bishop George Berkeley)

The Theban Plays (Sophocles)

Iliad/Odyssey (Homer)

Politeia/Gorgias/Symposion/Eutyphro/Thaetetus (Plato)

Tractatus/Philosophical Inquiries (Wittgenstein)

Double Indemnity (James M. Cain)

Mme Bovary (Gustave Flaubert)

The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (Julian Jaynes)

The Night Is Large (Martin Gardner)

The Lake Wobegon Books (Garrison Keillor)

Bonfire of the Vanities (Tom Wolfe - eminently readable, much of its time, and quite naïve, in view of what happened after the type of capitalism Wolfe describes; I recall he himself argued in Rolling Stone that the book wasn't really meant to be pessimistic, and commented that American workers now (eh, 1980 or so) could enjoy quite a lot of fruits in terms of material pleasures - IIRC)

Parents Worry (Gerard Reve, one of the best Dutch novelists - the original title is: 'Bezorgde Ouders')

(sorry of all of this comes across as blowing my own horn - these are books that I hugely enjoyed, that shaped my life, and all of these I would happily read again if I can find the time)

(tbc, needless to say)


Nine of those would appear on my list on any given day.
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Re: What books have had the most profound effect on your life?

Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 02 Mar 2017, 23:42

How to Talk Dirty and Influence People by Lenny Bruce was the book that brought my adult mind online.
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Re: What books have had the most profound effect on your life?

Postby PresMuffley » 03 Mar 2017, 02:02

Sorry I cursed you out, man. Let's be friends.
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Re: What books have had the most profound effect on your life?

Postby Jimbo » 03 Mar 2017, 07:55

Candy - Terry Southern
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Re: What books have had the most profound effect on your life?

Postby fange » 03 Mar 2017, 08:26

Off the top of my head...


The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac
Weaveworld by Clive Barker
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Little Big Man by Thomas Berger
The Norton Anthology of Poetry
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
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