The 5 Books That Changed My Life

For anyone who reads as much as I do there are books that change their life. These are mine in the order of reading.

Piglet Kotona ja Kilpailuissa
This book may or may not be originially written in Swedish by Nan Inger. It was published in 1988 and I could only find the Finnish version and none of the Finnish versions I could find online had the original title in their information. But I’m digressing. This was the first book that made me understand how wonderful books are. I read it over and over again. I have no idea what happened in it or if the book was actually good, but it was the book that got me reading. And when I say reading I mean devouring books. I would drag stacks of books home and read whenever I had a moment. The library was located on the campus of my primary school so I went there at least once a week, often once a day. And this is the book that started it all.

The Lord of the Rings
Like a lot of people, for me The Lord of the Rings was the first fantasy book that I read that wasn’t meant for children. And, as you can probably imagine, it was good. What I found in Frodo was the same perseverance that I admired about my mother, in Sam the same loyalty I wanted to show my friends and in Eowyn the same bad-assery I wanted to grow up to be. This book taught me that I would never be too old to read fairy-tales.

Strangers in Paradise: I Dream of You

Katchoo by Terry Moore
Katchoo by Terry Moore
I’ve been reading comics for as long as I’ve been able to read. My father gave me stacks of Lucky Luke and Asterix, my aunt (who I stayed with always during school holidays) had mountains of Donald Duck books and my cousin had a subscription to some Marvel and/or DC magazine (maybe both). And so I read. Summers and Christmases were always comics reading time and the times in between were for books. I just happened upon Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise as a teenager while browsing the English language section of the local library. I didn’t even know that they had comics available in English, much less the stuff I found; Tank Girl, Bone, and Strangers in Paradise. I Dream of You (the 2nd book in the series, cover image on the left) caught my eye because the cover image was so sparse and yet so beautiful. I thought it was book about graphic art and since I really loved the cover image, I opened the book to see more and I was hooked. Terry Moore was the first comic writer and artist I read who didn’t treat his women like decorations or victims. For a bullied teenage girl almost ready to resign to that role, it was mind-blowing to see women actually treated as human beings, their emotions considered valid and valuable by the people around them. Every comic book artist ever should read Terry Moore’s How to Draw Women. This was the book that made me believe that I could do anything that I set my mind to.

Night Watch
I found Terry Pratchett through friends in High-School. After High-School I got kind of lost. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, I had absolutely no clue. I worked on a graveyard doing gardening for one year, then I went to study maritime captaining for a year and then I workd in a warehouse for another year before applying to study Software Engineering. While I studied I didn’t really read fiction because I was trying to graduate as quickly as I could possibly manage because I couldn’t really afford studying. So by the time I was through with homework I was so tired I usually just walked the dog or watched a movie or two and fell asleep. So, for many years I basically stopped reading. Then when I got my first job as a developer I suddenly had all this time on my hands. And not only that but money. To spend! For the first time in my life. So I went to the place I liked to haunt; Akateeminen Kirjakauppa – 4 stories of bookish goodness. Because I had loved fantasy and science-fiction when I had last read, I headed that way and came upon the shelf full of Terry Pratchett and remembered how much I used to love Mort, Guards! Guards! and Witches Abroad. Then I saw the black back of Night Watch among all the colourful volumes and decided to buy it. I can’t tell you how much I identified with Sam Vimes somehow finding himself in this rich new world after being poor for so long. It had such a strong message and such visceral description that when I finished it (around 3 AM) I pretty much started it over again. The next day I went back to Akateeminen and bough another book. This book brought me back to fiction.

Elemental: Destiny’s Embers
Confession; I’ve never read this book. I’ve had no other contact with this book other than read this review and some internet discussion about it. The reason it has had such an influence on my life is simply the fact that I’m actually very shy and introverted. Being a writer at the time was almost like being able to capture a unicorn; unattainable and unreal. Then my husband brought that to my attention. And so help me, I thought “I can do better”. This book made me brave enough to call myself a writer out loud.

What were the books that changed you life?

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