The 3 books that had the greatest impact on you

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Re: The 3 books that had the greatest impact on you

Postby Le Baron » Fri Nov 19, 2021 5:42 pm

sfuqua wrote:Rereading it recently reminded me of how unoriginal I am. :D

A situation with which I'm all too familiar. :)
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Re: The 3 books that had the greatest impact on you

Postby Ug_Caveman » Fri Nov 19, 2021 6:06 pm

1. The Dictionary
2. Dictionary 2: Return of the Killer Dictionary
3. Baldrick's Magnificent Octopus


I'd say:
An Introduction to Galaxies and Cosmology by Jones and Lambourne as it made it very clear to me what field of study I'd one day like to go in to, The Code Book by Simon Singh which is simply the most fascinating blend of science, mathematics and history one could possibly hope to read, and Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowtiz - it was probably the first book I ever read of my own real volition and since then I never stopped reading (and have routinely reread every book in the series.)

Special mention would also go to The Fall of Reach - a prequel to the video game Halo - I never thought a book based on a video game could be so good.
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Re: The 3 books that had the greatest impact on you

Postby Chung » Fri Nov 19, 2021 6:09 pm

BeaP wrote:I often have the feeling that the way a question is formulated or a topic is presented decides the fate of a thread. I'm obviously collecting recommendations, but if I ask for them directly, I think I get totally different answers. So those of you who dare (because it tells a lot about your personality) please share with us the 3 books that had the greatest impact on you. My 3 books are:
1. John Steinbeck: East Of Eden (read at the age of 16, in Hungarian)
2. Ottlik Géza: Iskola a határon / School at the Frontier (read twice, at the age of 17 and 30, in the original Hungarian)
3. Ian McEwan: Atonement (read at the age of 25, in English)


1. Sisa, Stephen. The Spirit of Hungary.
2. Davies, Norman. Heart of Europe: The Past in Poland's Present.
3. Dürrenmatt, Friedrich. Der Besuch der alten Dame. (yes, in the original)

I've read a lot more non-fiction than fiction, and even within fiction, I fare better with short stories and plays instead of longer forms of prose or poetry.

Sisa's book is a well-written account of Hungarian history and felt a bit as if I had been reading a storybook or series of newspaper articles rather than an academic work. However, it has a clearly pro-Hungarian stance that took some time for me to shake off as I got older and befriended people from the Carpathian Basin whose ancestors didn't necessarily benefit that much from Hungarian rule. Through Sisa's book I first learned about the Hunyadi and Zrínyi families, the Ottoman era, and then Rákóczi, Thököly, Széchenyi, Kossuth and Wesselényi. A little like with Davies' work on Polish history which I read later on, Sisa's book overall enhanced my understanding of central and eastern European history as well as complemented what I was learning when I was a beginning learner of Hungarian.

I've also read Davies' two-volume work on Polish history, "God's Playground" and while I enjoyed it for bulking up my understanding of Polish history, I read the shorter "Heart of Europe" first. You know what they say about first impressions, and this book was a good way to work up to the greater detail in "God's Playground" while also complementing somewhat my studies of the Polish language.
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Re: The 3 books that had the greatest impact on you

Postby Iversen » Fri Nov 19, 2021 8:03 pm

1) "Børnenes nye Leksikon"
a Danish dictionary for children which my mother fetched for me from the library when I had the flu at around 8 or 9 years of age. I discovered that the page with extinct animals had brought together animals from totally different time periods, and from then on I knew that I could compete with the grown-ups.

2) "Italiensk Kursus paa 100 Timer" by Kurt and Aase Kirchheiner. I played music as a child and wanted to know what the Italian words meant, and then I started to learn Italian from this book. The same people also had written a textbook for Spanish, and then I also decided to learn Spanish. Since then I know that homestudy of languages isn't impossible.

3) "Manden der troede hans kone var en hat" by Oliver Sacks (in English: "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" - see painting below) - the first time I felt that psychology wasn't a total waste of time, but could be entertaining. I read it in a Danish translation because that was the only one the library had, but since then I have read a book about his broken arm in English (boring) and another, Musicophilia, in Romanian - and it was definitely not boring.

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Re: The 3 books that had the greatest impact on you

Postby Arizakai » Sat Nov 20, 2021 8:57 am

Fiction:
1) The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien
2) War and Peace by Tolstoy
3) A Confederacy of Dunces by Toole

Non-fiction:
1) Initiation Into Hermetics
2) The Practice of Magical Evocation
3) The Key to the True Kabbalah
All three by Franz Bardon.
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Re: The 3 books that had the greatest impact on you

Postby Beosweyne » Sat Nov 20, 2021 9:28 am

I would pick 3 works of fiction that were the most influential in different decades of my life: in my teens, it was The Drawing of the Dark by Tim Powers; in my 20s, Indaba, My Children by Credo Mutwa; in my 40s, Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. I don't recall reading a single novel in my 30s!
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Re: The 3 books that had the greatest impact on you

Postby jammon39 » Wed Nov 24, 2021 8:47 pm

Today my answer is:

1. The New Testament
2. Watership Down by Richard Adams
3. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

A lot of great books are excluded because I read them in the last five years and time will tell what impact they had.
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Re: The 3 books that had the greatest impact on you

Postby jeff_lindqvist » Wed Nov 24, 2021 9:42 pm

Interesting question! There are books which I tended to re-read every year (it felt so, anyway).

In the 1990s:
Wing Chun Gung Fu Vol 1-6 (by Randy Williams)
Härskarringen (Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien)
Klassisk musik (Classical Music: The 50 Greatest Composers and Their 1,000 Greatest Works - by Phil G. Goulding)

In the 2000s:
Till jordens medelpunkt (Voyage au centre de la Terre - by Jules Verne)
The Power of Internal Martial Arts: Combat Secrets of Ba Gua, Tai Chi, and Hsing-I (by Bruce Frantzis)
Can't think of a third one...

In the 2010s:
The Da Vinci Code (By Dan Brown)
Of Dice and Men (by David M. Ewalt)
22/11/1963 (by Stephen King - I've only read this once, though)
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Re: The 3 books that had the greatest impact on you

Postby Ogrim » Thu Nov 25, 2021 6:28 pm

In my first answer I mentioned three novels, but as I see people also mention non-fiction books I will add three of them as well:

1. Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan. This was the book that opened my eyes to the vastness of the Universe - and the fragility of the Earth we are living on.

2. Les identités meurtrières by Amin Maalouf. This essay really made me reject all kind of black-or.white thinking and absolutist ideologies.

3. Also sprach Zarathustra by Nietzsche. I read it first in Norwegian translation and I have since read it in German twice. Although I admit that I don't always understand Nietzsche, and when I understand him I don't necessarily agree with him, I find this work really captivating.
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