4 BOOKS THAT CHANGED MY PERSPECTIVE ON LIFE

What books have made an impact on your life? When I asked myself this question, these are the four that immediately came to mind.

WHAT BOOKS CHANGED YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON LIFE?

I recently saw a question on Facebook that asked "Name a book that changed your perspective on life". It caught my interest and within a minute or so I came up with four books that had impacted me over the years and caused me to change my worldview. I'm sure there's dozens of others, but these four leapt to mind and I thought I'd share them here on the blog today. 

I'd be really interested to know whether you have a book (or two) that changed your perspective on life - let me know in the comments or on my Cresting the Hill Facebook page if you have the time because I'm really quite fascinated with this question....

THESE ARE THE FIRST 4 BOOKS THAT CAME TO MIND:

It's funny how certain books stay in your mind for various reasons. I have lots of favourite fiction reads, but they are more about stories that entertained me. The four books below actually changed how I looked at the world - and opened my eyes to a bigger picture in some small or large way.

MEN ARE FROM MARS, WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS 

By John Gray
Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray

This book will always come to mind for me when people talk about relationships and marriage. My husband and I are polar opposites in a lot of ways. Our saving grace is that we have the same foundational values and love each other dearly....but we often react to things differently and have different triggers in regard to what upsets or annoys us (and what we think is really funny...)

In my early married days I often wondered how we'd ended up together and why we responded to the same set of circumstances in different ways. Then I came across Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus and saw so many of our struggles addressed with simple explanations. My biggest takeaway from it was that we weren't alone in this, that it was all to do with the differences in how men and women in general process their emotions and how they react to the world. It was an absolute eye opener and I would often refer to it when he "went into his cave" or I told him "to use the poison!" (I'm sorry that these references only make sense if you've read it...)

THE GIFTS OF IMPERFECTION

By Brené Brown
The Gifts Of Imperfection by Brene Brown

This book was a more recent discovery for me. I've been an oldest child, super responsible, perfectionist all my life. If I couldn't do something perfectly then I was always disappointed in myself. I measured myself against everyone else (the good old "compare and despair") and set ridiculously high standards for myself. I think it also made me quite judgemental of others, and I was also good at blaming myself or other people when an outcome wasn't exactly what I had planned for.

Brené opened my eyes to the fact that perfection isn't something to strive for - it's a coping skill we use to avoid vulnerability and loss of control. Letting go of the need for perfection and realizing that I can't control absolutely everything was a godsend. It's freed me up to be more gentle with myself and with the failings of others. I loved her concept of living authentically and wholeheartedly - and it was the basis of my #WOTY for 2021.

Just as a little side note, this video about blame always makes me smile - and my husband quotes "Damn You Steve" to me whenever I start tossing blame around...


HAMNET

By Maggie O'Farrell
Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell

This was another recent eye opener for me.....and not in the way I expected. This book has been a huge best seller and is based around the death of Shakespeare's son Hamnet. Some blogging friends of mine had read it and were extremely generous in their praise of the book. These women are very similar to me in a lot of ways and we agree on so many aspects of life as we navigate our Midlife journeys. 

Based on their praise for the book, I immediately downloaded a copy and launched into reading it....... and HATED it with a passion! I tried skipping ahead to see if it got better and I still hated it. I gave up and deleted it off my Kindle (I remember saying that if I'd bought it as a paperback I'd have set it on fire!) 

So why choose this book as a game changer? It reminded me that we all have different tastes - even the people we think we have a lot in common with. What one person loves, may not resonate at all with another person - and that's okay. We can hold different opinions and yet still like each other, we can agree to disagree. I think if the rest of the world got onboard with that idea it would be a much nicer place - especially in these unsettling times, and when it comes to anything controversial. Let's live and let live and celebrate our different opinions.

THE BIBLE

The Bible

I left this one until last because it might be a bit divisive. For those of us who read it, the bible is life changing to the extreme. To others it's a book of wisdom or history, and for others it's completely irrelevant. Regardless, for me it's a guidebook to living life well and for seeing this time on earth as a journey to something bigger than me. It teaches me to live a less self-centred life and to be open to God being in control of the world around me.

I don't see the bible as being miraculous in itself, but I do see it as something much more than just some history thrown together with some wise words. Whenever I read it I learn more about myself, more about what living life from an eternal perspective looks like, and it helps me make sense of a world that sometimes baffles me. It doesn't always give me all the answers I want, and it isn't a magic book of fairytales and happily-ever-afters, but it always teaches me something new, it reveals a God who loves me, and it helps me to be a better person - and is still as relevant today as it was when it was written thousands of years ago (and that's pretty amazing in itself).

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

So....over to you - please don't forget to let me know before you leave, what books you'd choose as life influencers. I'm always interested to see what others find inspiring - and what impacts us at different life stages. If you don't want to leave a comment here, you can slip over to my Facebook page and add your thoughts there.


What books have made an impact on your life? When I asked myself this question, these are the four that immediately came to mind.

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What books have made an impact on your life? When I asked myself this question, these are the four that immediately came to mind.

39 comments

  1. Hi Leanne, this is an interesting way of looking at life but I don't think I can narrow it down to 4 just at the moment. I'll have to have a little think about it. I enjoyed the blame video and although I've not read the book I can see why she has had an impact on many people. I've read one or two snippets of Brene's books, she seems to be very wise and uses research well. It's good to know we're all different but similar in some ways at the same time, otherwise life would be pretty boring!

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    1. Hi Deb - I think every person on earth would have a different set of books that were meaningful to them - and that's why we're all unique. I'm just grateful to have been able to learn from some wise authors over time - and some wise bloggers too!

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  2. I'll need to think on this but I was intrigued that I've read your first two also and found both impactful, but not life changing. Not sure what is Most impactful in changing my life perspective. I do know that Julia Cameron's The Artist Way was very powerful for me - life changing. As was learning about positive psychology - but that was multiple books. Really fascinating question!

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    1. Hi Pat - I read The Artist's Way after many recommondations from fellow Midlifers. I found it interesting and encouraging for stepping into a more creative mindset, but definitely not as impactful as I'd hoped. I find it fascinating as to what resonates with one person and what has no real impact on another. It's the same with fiction books too.

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  3. Hi Leanne. I have to get a hold of this book, the Gifts of Imperfection. When you said that perfectionism is about feeling vulnerable, and not in control, it made so much sense to me. I realize my need to be perfect, is how I have always coped with my anxiety, and never feeling good enough. As you have probably guessed, The Artist's Way, had a huge impact on me, and was paramount, to my healing. Thank you so much for sharing these books. Christina Daggett

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    1. Hi Christina - I wonder if the impact of a book is related to reading it at a particular point of need in life? I've heard so many people who loved The Artist's Way and others who found nothing in it (I fall somewhere in the middle). Brene Brown's books have been really helpful to me because I needed to move out of that perfectionism mindset, so when I found an answer to why I gravitated in that direction and an alternative approach, it really changed how I thought about the whole idea of doing everything perfectly. Definitely worth a read if you struggle in that area too.

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  4. The Unschooling Handbook literally changed our family life as we turned away from public school and began homeschooling. It changed my entire belief of what learning was (and how it differs so much from "schooling")... the others I can't really recall the names off the top of my head! I know I read a book about poverty in America and how hard it is to crawl your way back out. I mean I kind of knew that from my college classes but hearing it first hand really cemented that in.

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    1. Hi Joanne - I think I'm glad I didn't read the Unschooling book or I might have inflicted my children with their mother as a teacher! :) It's interesting how it changed your approach to a hugely impactful area of your life and, as a result, your kids' lives too (and certainly for the better judging from your blog posts!)

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  5. Hi, Leanne - I greatly admire that you included books that you loved and a book that you hated on this list of top influencers. That is very wise. I think that most books that we read leave their infuence on us - even when we don't realize it at the time. My 'Hamnet' was 'Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.' Although it is a much praised book -- it just didn't work for me. Still, it did leave its influence upon me!

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    1. Hi Donna - I still smile when I think of Hamnet and the difference in how I found it and how others praised it. I'm glad you had your own "Hamnet" so you can relate to my struggle to understand how I could not enjoy something that others loved :)

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  6. Brene' Brown is one of my gurus, and I have others, but I most want to comment on your Hamnet discussion. Here in the U.S., as I'm sure everywhere, we've forgotten we can disagree and still like each other. Thank you for the reminder.

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    1. It was a great reminder that you can disagree with someone's opinion without the need to vilify them or question your own opinions. We're all different and we all have baggage, beliefs, and lots more that shape us - and we used to be better at the "live and let live" approach. Social media thrives on people being contraversial - and I just can't be bothered with the fighting and friction - let's celebrate our differences and appreciate the colour it brings to our world :) x

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  7. Leanne, I was at a low time in my mid-twenties, full of self doubt and confusion when a good friend gave me a copy of Atlas Shrugged. The book is fiction, written by a self professed Atheist, but it was exactly what I needed at the time. The strong female lead, who let nothing and no one get in the way of her success was the exact opposite of all that I had been taught about being a good person. Having been raised in a small town with church at the center of 'community', I thought my role was one of submission and obedience and my opinions were to be kept quietly to myself as I learned to be a good wife and mother. I was 'taught' lessons from the bible, but I had never really read it. Many years later I did read the bible and that was the second most impactful book I have read in my life. If you are shaking your head about now, I fully understand. Somewhere between these two very opposite messages I found my truth, the one that guides me to this day; be authentic. Once I sorted out what that meant for me, I have tried my best to live it. Of course, authenticity comes with a price, but I gladly pay the toll rather than live like a pretzel for the pleasure of others.

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    1. Wow Suzanne I really like everything you said here and it's such a reflection of some of my life's journey too. I grew up outside the church, married into a really strong Christian family 'dynasty' from a smallish town and then tried to be the "good Christian" wife, daughter-in-law, mother, friend, etc etc. Some of it resonated, but a lot of it felt like I was squashing myself into a box. It took me a many years to step back from "religion" and into "faith" instead - and that's where authenticity started to really come into the equation. I'm keen to have a look at Atlas Shrugged now so I can see the other half of your journey. Thanks for sharing your thoughts - they were so encouraging :)

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  8. Leanne, I think a lot of people confuse 'religion' and 'faith,' or more specifically, religious practices, which are highly interpretable among churches. I hope you will read Atlas Shrugged. Ayn Rand was an interesting person and very controversial in her time. She wrote most of her novels in the 1940's and was considered a champion of capitalism. Depending on what commentary you read about her, she was either brilliant and ahead of her time, or a selfish human being. I choose to believe the former, in spite of her personal flaws.

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    1. I'm definitely going to download the book Suzanne and have a read. No guarantees I'll finish it - I'm getting lazier with my book choices these days :) And you're right about religion vs faith - and I know which of them I prefer! x

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  9. Hello Leanne. I have read three of the four books you discuss--all but the one you hated. 😊 I especially found a lot for me in Brene Brown's the Gifts of Imperfection. Another book that made a big difference for me was Mindset by Carol S. Dweck. The cover mentions parenting, business, and school, but don't let that scare you off. It is really about having a growth mindset, which is important at any stage of life. In fact, I may re-read that one now as I look to grow into my retirement.

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    1. Hi Christie - The Gifts of Imperfection was such a release valve for me - finally realizing that it was okay to not be perfect at every aspect of life - phew! "Mindset" sounds interesting and I'm adding it to my download list :)

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  10. Thanks, Leanne, for sharing this.

    The Gifts of Imperfection sounds like a great book. I am going to check that out.

    One book I have liked is "Tuesdays with Morrie". It's about a series of visits the author of the book Mitch Albom makes to the home of his former sociology professor Morrie Schwartz, who suffers from a debilitating neurological disorder. The book teaches us about the value of life.

    There is audio version too. It was adapted into a stage play as well as a TV film.

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    1. Hi Pradeep - I've heard of Tuesdays with Morrie and will now look out for it - especially the film version (much easier than reading a book) but maybe I'll also look at getting the book from the library in the meantime. :)

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  11. Such an interesting question! I'd have to really think about it, because I read a lot, and parts of many books have changed my perspective on life.

    Thanks for sharing the video--I love Brene Brown!

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    1. Hi Janet - I love that video so much - I think I've watched it at least a dozen times and it still gives me a kick in the pants!

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  12. Hi Leanne this is such a great question. I’ve just drafted a post about a book that was life changing for me. The Alchemist by Paul Coelho. For the past six years I’ve read it in January each year. It a fable really but it has given me the confidence to know that I can do more than I think. I remember when men are from Mars was released causing a bit of fuss. I’ve never read it but thinking I should.

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    1. I've heard of the Alchemist Jen - but never gotten around to reading it. I'll add it to the list of books I've started from these comments (I need some inspirational reading in amongst the lightweight fiction!)

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  13. Leanne, One book that fueled my strong bend to live life my way is 'At One with The Sea' by Dame Naomi James. She was born in New Zealand and is the first woman to have sailed single-handed around the world via Cape Horn, the second woman to have ever sailed solo around the world. Thank you for sharing the four books that changed your perspective on life with #weekendcoffeeshare.

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    1. Hi Natalie - I'm always so impressed by these brave women that take on the elements and who are so dauntless. I'd be too scared to be out there by myself and I think I'd get lonely after a while - you have to be a special kind of person to do those solo voyages.

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  14. What an interesting post, Leanne. I liked reading it and your reasons for choosing the books you did. I cannot 'waste' time and energy of books I dislike. I do find it a challenge at times to be "different" to many I follow via social media because I do not have a great interest in popular fiction. I am, however, always interested in what makes people (and me) tick! So I would say the works of Brene Brown and others have been a great help to me too. Denyse #weekendcoffeeshare

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    1. Hi Denyse - I know you're a fellow Brene fan - and we also had a similar response to The Artist's Way. I like some lightweight fiction for a break in my day, but tend to steer away from new publications. I go back time and again to Nora Roberts and her ilk because I know the writing will be good and the characters are always so relatable.

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  15. This got me thinking...and I'm still not sure which books I'd say - so many have left their mark on me in different ways. As you are with Hamnet, I am with Bree Brown. I've tried, I really have, but there's something about the "voice" (as opposed to her voice) that just sets my teeth on edge - and I have no idea why. But as so many other people love her I used to think I was missing something - and then decided that it was just me.

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    1. I totally get what you're saying about Brene's "voice" Jo - I find that I can't read too much of her stuff without hearing her in my head and it can be a bit same/same after awhile. I think I found a lot of self-discovery stuff really helpful in my early to mid 50's while I was figuring stuff out, but now I've got more of a handle on what's "real" to me and find I need it less and less these days.

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  16. Hello again, Leanne. You're giving my brain a workout again this week. Four books which changed your perspective in life:
    1) The Bible. I've been either hearing it or reading it all my life, which is more than I can say for any other book and it's constantly reshaping my perspective.
    2) The Diary of Anne Frank - I wrote a diary for many years and still somewhat keep it up but largely use my blog now, but it used to be addressed to "Dear Anne".
    3) Kahlil Gibran - The Prophet.
    4) Malcolm Gladwell - "The Outliers"
    The first three are fairly well known. The Outliers looks at what makes people really successful. One of the things he mentions is that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a maestro on the violin. I had just taken up the violin when I was reading the book, and it encouraged me greatly that success wasn't purely based on talent. However, getting those 10,000 hours up proved a bit daunting. I was doing really well on the violin before lockdown but the poor thing has been seriously neglected for the last two years.
    I'd really encourage you to read "Tuesdays With Morrie". It's brilliant. I've also just remembered "Jonathon Livingston Seagull".
    My latest find is Irish author Michael Harding and I'm currently reading "A Cloud Where the Birds Rise" and listening to his podcasts. Here's a link to an interview with him on "The Artist's Well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrRYg1hvCh0 I thought you'd enjoy it.
    BTW It was finally sunny today and I was bogged down at home with my support worker here and couldn't go out. Then, we had another deluge just when I needed to pick my daughter up from work. Couldn't believe it.
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

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    1. Hi Rowena - I've been really pleased to see others offering up books that have impacted on their lives - it's given me several to add to my reading list - and now I have an interview to watch too! Thanks for the link. Glad you're getting a little sunshine here and there - it might inspire you to pull out the violin again. I imagine you're very over all the rain by now and any sunshine is worth celebrating. :)

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  17. So good Leanne. The one by Brene Brown sounds interesting. It is so true that what we might think of as so good, someone else just doesn't resonate with us. My 9 enneagram personality hates recommending books because I'm afraid you won't like it...lol.

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    1. I find that fiction books are very taste specific Kirstin - so many have been recommended to me over the years and I haven't particularly enjoyed them. My daughter is an English teacher and she says that books she read when she was younger are now less appealing because she recognizes good grammar and good editing - and a lot of novels are lacking in both areas!

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  18. Oh, have you ever read "The Kite Runner" The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini ? O-M-G!!!! Such an amazing story. It changed me. It's fiction and boy, oh boy is it powerful.

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    1. I haven't read The Kite Runner or seen the movie Melly - I've definitely heard good things about it though and will look into it - thanks for the recommendation.

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  19. Popping back to say thanks for linking up!

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  20. Hi Leanne, you hit is on the head when you wrote that we all have different tastes. For example, you know I loved Hamnet and you didn't but I'm also not a huge fan of Brene Brown (probably because people have saturated social media with her thoughts) and you are. That's the great thing about life - we are different, yet we can still be friends or partners. It would be a very small genre of books written if we all liked the same thing. Thanks for linking up at WOYBS and hope to see you next month. x

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  21. You are not my first friend to feel that way about Hamnet. I've not read it. But yes, I often find the books that my book club love, I hate & I don't think I've picked a book they've liked (if I've loved it). And then you have that weird excitement if someone loves a book you loved....

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