Life Changing Books ~ have you ever read one? This is the question – can a book change your life? I’ve given this a lot of thought lately. I’ve seen the pins on Pinterest, “5 Books that will Change Your Life” (or however many). But can they? Can a book really change you? Or challenge your perspective on something? Question what you know and inspire you to change? Those are the questions that haunt me, my friends!
Well, it turns out that there is actually scientific research that shows reading a good book can have positive effects on the brain. But, does that mean life changing?? At Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., a study was done showing that brain functions improved after reading an engaging story. And, the changes lasted up to five days! In the study, the participants all read several different sections of a particular book and then had fMRI images of their brains taken while at rest (not engaged in reading). And the results showed “heightened connectivity in the left temporal cortex – an area of the brain which is associated with receptivity for language“. In other words, their brains were still engaged and responding to the story!
Another study had participants read a Jane Austen novel. They had participants read casually at times and more focused at times. What scientists discovered was that the participants, when reading deeper and more focused, had brain activity in several different regions of the brain. Different as in – not normally associated with reading! They were actually engaging the brain in areas that are normally associated with movement and touch. This means that the reader was responding to the book as if they were actually in the story. How cool! I know I’ve read books before and felt like I could see what the author was describing or smell, or hear, or feel. So, books can actually change you cognitively – literary neuroscience! Who knew?!
Lessons from Books
So, as it turns out, books can change your brain, but does that equal life-changing books?? Dr. Cantarella, a former Ivy League College Dean, has commented that books took her out of her environment and introduced her to different worlds and different people. They taught her language. How to read and write the way the published authors do. They taught her about different cultures and places around the world. They were life-changing books ~ they changed her life!
Reading opens you up to whole new worlds, cultures, interests, languages, characters…it would be hard to walk away from reading and not be affected!
In a poll on Debate.com, the question was “Can Books Change Your Life?” Simple and to the point. You could either choose yes or no – 100% of respondents said yes. 100 %! Wow!! So, obviously, books can inspire people to change their lives!
My Life Changing Books
In thinking back over my life, I came up with several books that made an impact on my life. Here are a few of the books that I feel have in some way changed, challenged, or inspired me:
The Holy Bible
I suppose this is probably one of the most life-changing books ever! The Bible has been around for millennia and the story never changes. It challenges us to Love. You’d think that would be easy, but I find myself challenged by this daily. I appreciate the challenge and try to embrace. Some days are definitely more successful than others!
Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker
This book both challenged and inspired me. I enjoyed Hatmaker’s humor throughout the book, but I appreciated the desire she had for simplicity and the extent to which she challenged herself. It helped me look at several things differently. Her wardrobe chapter had a big effect on how I now travel. When my family and I went to Europe last summer, we each took only a backpack with everything we needed. If it didn’t fit into our backpacks, it didn’t come with us! It was liberating! And challenging! Challenging in the planning stage, but once we were on the road I loved it! In the end, we each decided we could actually have taken about one less outfit each.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
This book made me believe in magic! And, it showed me that heroes can be flawed. That villains are not necessarily all bad. And, that love is always the answer!
Okay, so this isn’t actually a “book”, but I still find it to be an agent of change, challenge, and inspiration! A couple of years ago, we (as a family) all got passports. Mine was a renewal, but for everyone else, it was their first. As a family, filling our passport has become one of the best adventures of our lives! If used, a passport can most certainly be a life changing book!
Recommendations From Friends
I put the question out to some friends to see what their thoughts were on this topic. Here are a few of their recommendations of books that changed or impacted their lives. A couple of things struck me about this list. First, everyone had a different book. So, different books inspire different people! Second, the books range from older elementary to adult, fiction to non-fiction. Again, something for everybody. I love that! Enjoy the list and let me know what book(s) inspire you!
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Life Changing Books in Your Life?
So as you can see, a book can definitely change your life! Both on a neurological level and on a more personal, practical or maybe psychological level. So, how about you? Have you found any books that have inspired you or challenged you? Any you would consider life changing books? Let me know what you think! What books do you have to add to this list??
Leave a comment on what your favorite book is!
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Becki is the author and founder of A Book Lover’s Adventures. She has a degree in elementary education, has worked and volunteered in libraries for years, and spent several years in the travel industry. All of this has led to a love of books and travel. Becki loves to share her love by finding literary escapes to share!