There are always books in our life which have influenced us. They may or may not be relevant to our current lives, but they played important roles during a significant time of our life and it’s not easy to forget their influence. So, when I saw my dearest friend Nandini do a post about the Books that changed her life, I was encouraged to do a similar post. I don’t know if the below books really changed me as a person, but they have defined me in someway or the other.
The Indian epics Mahabharata, Ramayana and Bhagavatam will always be at the top of any important book list for me. I received my first versions of these epics written in Telugu at the tender age of seven and that’s how my reading journey began. I was so mesmerized by these stories and encouraged by my parents to ask detailed questions about them, that they became a very important part of my life. In later years, I have always gone back to these stories for either nostalgia, reading pleasure and even guidance when I really needed it.
I read my first Sherlock Holmes story in a school textbook when I was in 5th grade and there was no looking back. I was amazed by this literary detective and tried to find all his books with whatever little I could afford. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes was the first book I was able to buy and I just couldn’t put it down. Later came The Hound of Baskervilles and other stories too, and I never stopped feeling in awe of him. That continues to this day and I’m very happy to listen to Stephen Fry narrates these adventures. These books have also defined the kind of TV shows I enjoy and detectives always make my favorite heroes.
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As my parents couldn’t really buy me a lot of books, they were very happy when I picked up something important (in their opinion) like this autobiography of the Mahatma. I was a depressed teenager entertaining thoughts about self-harm when I picked up this book, and it just changed my life. I can’t even say I was completely able to absorb the significance of the lessons from his life, but this book still inadvertantly made me realize the importance of living my life in the best way I can and not lose heart. And I really needed it at the time. I never went back to reading it again, but I will never forget that it saved my life.
I was very late to the Harry Potter party and only started reading it after the release of Order of the Phoenix, but it was a magical journey that is unforgettable. It also made me a lot of friends who are still in my life after more than a decade, so it’s extra special. This series also introduced me to magic and fantasy and teenage heroes, ultimately influencing so many of my reading choices in the later years.
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Now, Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead are two books I read during college and I don’t think I understood the philosophy underlying the stories during the time. But they helped me navigate some very tough times I was going through, and that’s why I had to mention them in this list. They also made me want to learn more about other important philosophers later in my life, so I have to give that credit to Ayn Rand. However, I did try to read them again recently and I can surely say it was not a pleasant experience. And I can also confidently say that I don’t agree with her Objectivist philosphy.
I don’t remember what made me pick up this book but I was completely mesmerized and this paved the way for my interest in the genre. Now anytime there is a new book by Reilly or James Rollins or Steve Berry, I pick them up immediately without even reading the premise because I know I will get an interesting historical mystery and lots of action. I never realized my love for history until I discovered these books and I’m very happy for that.
As someone who grew up reading the Mahabharata and thinking it’s the greatest book ever, I don’t think I ever tried to analyse it. I just took it as gospel and believed that everything that happened in the story was correct. But all of that changed when I read The Palace of Illusions. Reading the epic from the POV of a woman completely changed my perspective, and I started realizing how the same events can mean significantly different things when we try to see how it affects the female character. I always loved Lord Krishna and Arjuna (I still do) but this book really made me admire Draupadi, because the trauma she undergoes throughout is too much but she displays such strength and resilence, it’s just wow.
I picked up The Wrath and the Dawn on a whim, mainly because my favorite booktuber loved it and I wanted to see what it was about. I had actually gotten bored of reading romances a few years before, so it was after a long time that I was picking up a romance heavy novel. And I was completely blown away. It made me realize that I could still enjoy romance novels, I just had to pick up better ones. And this was also probably my first foray into diverse books and I’m so grateful because diverse romances or fastasies are some of my favorite to read these days.
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I don’t think I have ever been so invested in a book series and it’s characters before Throne of Glass. I mean I adored Harry Potter, but this series became an obsession. I can never forget the sleepless nights, the copious amounts of tears and the massive book hangovers this series gave me. I just felt like these characters were a part of my life and I reveled in their happiness and felt devastated when something bad happened to them. It’s probably the first time I actually lived the phrase “escaping reality and getting lost in a fantasy world” and that’s why it will always have a special place in my heart. And it also cemented my love for novels with female characters who are both strong and vulnerable and are ready to take on the world.
Have you read and loved any of these books? What are some of the most significant books in your life and how have they affected you? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below…