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Thread: Personally Influential Reads

  1. #1
    Junior Nasty Woman Array Wind Up Rex's Avatar
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    Jun 2009
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    Default Personally Influential Reads

    At the risk of overgeneralizing, the posters here are a pretty thoughtful and interesting bunch. I'd like to know what were the books that most influenced your way of thinking and looking at the world. I'd also be interested in the books that made you think differently about a subject with whom you were already familiar.

    I'm pretty ecumenical about text source so feel free to share fiction, nonfiction, textbooks, scholarly articles, or particularly profound Snapple caps. In addition, please share the nature of the impact the work had on your outlook.

    Alright, now talk nerdy to me.

  2. #2
    Per Ardua Array Metamorphosis's Avatar
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    May 2007


    Ishmael - Daniel Quinn
    On Human Nature - E.O. Wilson
    Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert Heinlein (and to a lesser extent some others like Starship Troopers and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress)
    Man's Search for Meaning - Victor Frankl
    Gates of Fire and The Afghan Campaign - Steven Pressfield
    A Briefer History of Time - Stephen Hawking (although, not so much this book as learning about the ideas in it)

    I'm sure there's more but they're not coming to me right now.

    The top four helped develop my view of human nature and Heinlein's books, in particular, helped me develop my understanding of morality and ethics. The last one should be obvious. Pressfield's books have a unique, realistic view of warfare along with Starship Troopers that's refreshing.
    "You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit."

    Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office
    than to serve and obey them. - David Hume

  3. #3
    Senior Member Array jimrckhnd's Avatar
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    Jul 2011


    “Meditations on First Philosophy – Descartes” is without doubt the most important and influencial book I ever read.

    Other books outside my profession - “The Carnivore's Dilemma”, "War Paths", "And the Band Played On", "The Hearts of Men" are three other books that have been important to me.
    Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups

  4. #5
    Mr. Blue Array entropie's Avatar
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    Apr 2008
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    the three most important books in my life:

    And besides that:

    Johari / Nohari

    "How dreadful!" cried Lord Henry. "I can stand brute force, but brute reason is quite unbearable. There is something unfair about its use. It is hitting below the intellect."
    ~ Oscar Wilde - The picture of Dorian Gray

  5. #6
    Away with the fairies Array Southern Kross's Avatar
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    Dec 2008
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    There aren't many books that have a dramatic effect on me; most just shift me in smaller, less discernible ways (which doesn't make them any less worthy in my eyes). There are a few that have truly shattered me and/or influenced my way of thinking; however there is one real standout:

    A Tale of Love and Darkness - Amos Oz

    This book had a huge effect on me. I feel like it covers every aspect of life. It's very INFP-ish: rich in meaning, complexity, mood, atmosphere, earnestness, human observation, darkness, and great humour (it LITERALLY made me laugh and cry); all of this seething beneath the surface in a collection of fascinating true stories. So few books can convey profound emotional truth as this one does.

    Other influencial books:

    Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking - Malcolm Gladwell (intuition, instinct, and prejudice)
    A Short History of Nearly Everything - Bill Bryson (everything! Love of learning)
    Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (appreciation of truly great literature and inspiration to read more)
    The Diary of Anne Frank - Anne Frank (life and human nature)
    Lord of the Flies - William Golding (human nature)
    The Things They Carried - Tim O'Brien (effects of war, emotional truth, different approaches to writing)
    The Case for Israel - Alan Dershowitz (rethinking personal views)
    I'm Not Crazy, I'm Just Not You - Roger R. Pearman (my first intro to MBTI)

    I'm probably forgetting some...
    INFP 4w5 so/sp

    I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas;
    they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.

    - Emily Bronte

  6. #7
    No Array Thalassa's Avatar
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    The Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller (expanded my ideas of what is possible, inspired me to travel to get experience to write)

    The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty (I'm serious, as a teenager this made me question how much of religious beliefs can be explained away by psychiatry)

    The Tao of Meow by Waldo Japussy

    The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

    The Te of Piglet by Benjamin Hoff

    (all three of the above books put ancient Taoist philosophy in an accessible and applicable context)

    Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (a beautiful haunting book about human psychology, sociology, and it's darkly funny, romantic, and dramatic, it just has a little bit of everything)

    The Stranger by Albert Camus (a very important book in terms of questioning ethics and taking different perspectives and angles into consideration when ethically judging a person or situation)

    Vurt and Pollen by Jeff Noon (the post-industrial post-modern condition, layers of reality and also helping me to apply mythology to reality)

    Confessions of an Ugly Step-Sister by Geoffrey Maguire (mythology in a somewhat realistic historical context)

    Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekov (inspired my sense of the absurd in high school, of finding the ridiculousness and keeping perspective on every day life)

    No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre (again, in high school, helped me keep perspective on the absurd and on every day life and people; looking at the world from a different angle)

    mulitple biographies and works of fiction by the Fitzgeralds (just love them and thinking about things and looking at the world through their eyes)

    The Fran Lebowitz Reader by Fran Lebowitz (in my early 20's read this hilarious lesbian feminist's essays and found them enlightening)

    Angry Women (a compilation by various female artists and feminists, read around the same time, sparked interest in feminist history and 60's/70's art)

    Agatha Christie mysteries (the lady was just awesome with her combination of character studies, compelling mysteries, prolific writing, and story telling)
    "Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul." - Edward Abbey

    SEE-Fi /Gamma

  7. #8
    Junior Nasty Woman Array Wind Up Rex's Avatar
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    Well, shucks. I'm sure the thread'll be properly absorbed when its time comes.

  8. #9
    Senior Member Array Jaguar's Avatar
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    When all else fails, claim it's rigged.

  9. #10


    The following were creative, intellectual, and "spiritual" influences because they inspired ideas and questions and they stuck with me:

    Anthem by Ayn Rand (not only is my most beloved story, it is ironic in light of how much I dislike much of her other work)

    The Holy Bible
    Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy.
    Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
    Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen
    The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
    The Histories of Herodotus
    Moby Dick by Herman Melville
    Please Understand Me II by David Keirsey (the book that started it all, but my later typology selections proved more informative and accurate as is the case with most of us)
    Chinese Takeout by Arthur Nersesian
    The Feast of All Saints by Anne Rice
    Memnoch the Devil by Anne Rice
    Blindness by Jose Saramago
    Wieland: or, The Transformation: An American Tale by Charles Brockden Brown
    Sylvia Plath's Ariel
    The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

    Being an avid reader and an aspiring writer, my book list is enormous, but these are all books that I can honestly say left lasting impressions on my interior landscape.
    "There is no god; there is only us. Savage and fragile."

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