Here are six books that changed my view of the world. These are not in any particular order of influence. Each one worked its magic in my life in different ways. They are the reasons I love books.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The story sums up my early years. I came to realize that the legacies I received were not the legacies I expected. The plot is a polished gem.
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
The book made me look at life from a different perspective and jump-started my spiritual journey.
The Lord of the Rings by J. R. Tolkein
My life growing up was in constant flux, and this book was a solitary piece of stability. I found one of the rare single volume editions in London. It travelled in my suitcase wherever I went. The story is timeless. I always wanted an elven ring. I still do.
The Tao Te Ching by Lao-Tzu (Stephen Mitchell translation)
I keep a copy of this book with me now wherever I go. It is a surprising source of calm and wisdom. Karen Armstrong pointed out that it’s a treatise for rulers similar to Machiavelli’s The Prince. Nonetheless, I find it a useful personal volume for insight and reflection.
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
I was so surprised by the ending. I read the novel in my senior year of high school. I came away wanting to be able to write and craft a story like that. It took me years and years to work up the necessary courage to start on such a project. Eye of the Moon was the result. Growing up, I was always falling in and out of love. Any sensation that heady and powerful can be just as perilous as it is sublime.
Emma by Jane Austen
It was required reading for A levels in the UK in 1971. Austen was a social genius and a master of the happy ending. I wanted to write dialogue like she did. She was the first author who I felt was able to describe social pressure, the bane of my early existence, without saying it out loud.