10 powerful books

One my blogging friends (Joss at Crowing Crone) invited her readers to participate in book sharing exercise: specifically, to list 10 books that have stayed with us in some way. As I jotted down a few titles that came immediately to mind, I thought I might as well put the list on my own blog so that others could read (and share), too.  Now, I’m not sure that I’ll come up with 10 titles, but here are some texts that have truly impacted my life:

1) One Child by Torey Hayden

I read this book when I was eleven years old at the recommendation of my best friend. I was appalled by the brutality described, but amazed at the incredible resiliency and love shared between “strangers”.  My eyes were opened: to pain, yes, but also to the fierce compassion humans can share with one another.   I grew up a little bit in reading this text.

2) Alcoholics Anonymous by Bill W

The principles in this book (along with the community that helped me understand the semi-antiquated language, as well as practice the principles embedded in the text) literally saved my life.  I’m forever grateful to this author, his words, and the millions of humans who share these insights “for fun and for free”.

3) The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I first read this text in French as a sophomore in high school; and I absolutely adore the profound wisdom embedded within a “child’s” book.  I also love the language itself; hearing French words always soothes my soul.

4) How Computers Work by Ron White

My first foray into computer science was in 2006, as part of the required curriculum for my Master’s degree.  The instructor of the “Computers 101” class was patient and personable, and this sole text that she used made the internal workings of computers accessible and understandable.  I still apply the knowledge gained from that class and this text in my life – even seven years later.

5) Peace Is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh

I read this entire book on a three-hour plane ride (from Minnesota to Florida) – and when the wheels of the air craft landed on the runway, I felt truly peaceful.  The simple-yet-beautiful writing appealed to my mind – and the concepts struck a strong chord with my soul.  This text was a significant one on my path towards exploring Buddhism.

6) My Stroke Of Insight by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor

I first heard about Dr. Taylor via the TED Talk she gave in 2008.  I was immediately intrigued by the opportunity to read about a first-hand account about the experience of a stroke from the POV of a neuroscientist – and was fascinated by both the science and the emotion that Dr. Taylor’s book delivers.  Her experience also affirmed for me that inner peace really is possible, and got me to seriously consider opening to ways in which I might try to cultivate that sensation in my own life (minus the stroke part).

7) Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

“If you are a dreamer, come in…”  I encountered this book when I was 9 years old, and it was the first text that made poetry accessible to me.  In addition to the welcoming tone of the book, I also adored the lyrical sounds of many of the poems, as well as the fantastic illustrations (which look so easy and carefree, yet are deceptively complex – just like the writing).  A professional is anyone who can make something difficult seem very easy, and Shel is a master poet and storyteller in this regard.

8) Cesar’s Way by Cesar Millan

When my husband and I decided to adopt our two pups, I knew I needed to learn the basics of how to effectively interact with a dog.  My family had animals throughout my youth (dogs, cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, fish…), but none of our animals were really ‘trained’ – so while I knew how to love a dog, I didn’t know how to appropriately communicate with it.  In preparation for the big adoption I had been watching old episodes of “Dog Whisperer“, and the logic behind the methods used on the show made sense to me.  So on a plane ride from Florida to Minnesota in the winter of 2011, I read all 298 pages of Cesar’s Way – and I can honestly say that I saved myself (and our pups) a lot of confusion and headaches as a result of following the advice in the text, and that I have the best relationship with animals that I have ever had.  I owe Cesar Millan many, many thanks; his text truly allowed me to see how amazing a relationship with animals can be.

9) A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

One of my blogging friends turned me on to the Appalachian Trail – and Bryson’s book hooked me even deeper into the topic.  Now, please note that I’m not an “outdoor” kind of gal, I don’t enjoy camping, and I think walking the entire AT would be a miserable experience – yet, for some reason, I am fascinated by this trail.  (As in, I ordered the official 2012 trail guide because I just needed to learn more about the details of the journey.)  I can’t explain my completely illogical fascination with the Appalachian Trail – I just know that for some reason, it holds a very powerful allure for me. Thanks for nothing, Bill Bryson.  😉

10) The Spoken Word Revolution by Mark Smith (and others)

I won this book at a local poetry slam (I came in second place), but it was the accompanying CD that knocked me out.  Hearing poetry professionals perform their poetic works was completely new to me – and this experience turned me on to podcasting, which has since filled my brain with info on so many topics I otherwise never would have the slightest clue about.  I’m a firm believer that knowledge is power – so I deeply appreciate how this text provided a vehicle to help me attain a helluva lot more ‘power’ in my life.


Well, look at that – I was able to come up with 10 books after all!  I’m sure the second I publish this post, a flood of other titles will wash over me, and I’ll think, “Now why didn’t I mention that book on the blog?”  Alas, this is the list I have right now, so this is the one I’m sticking with.  (For the time being, anyway.)  🙂

If you want to share your top 10 (or 8, or 11, or 15, or however many) books, please feel free to do so.  Comment, write your own blog entry, send me an email – I’m always open to learning about other goodies to read.  🙂



About Stef

A "serious" gal who is trying to remember to lighten up and smile.
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10 Responses to 10 powerful books

  1. Carla says:

    Aww – we will convert you to wanting to thru hike yet, Stef! Well, probably not. Nevertheless, thanks for the shout out! I have let go of the blogs I began back in 2011 when we connected (and I have been tragically remiss in keeping up with my blogging friends from back then), but I am still writing, mostly here: http://livingwildandprecious.com/blog/ Hope you are doing fantastically, Stef!


    • Stef says:

      Carla, you are most welcome! I honestly doubt you know how significantly you have impacted my life – truly. I’m glad to hear you are still writing (even if you have moved on to other topics/forums/focuses), and am very glad to learn that you are still doing well. Keep on keepin’ on, lady! 🙂


  2. Ruth says:

    Little Prince quote about it is only with the heart that one can see rightly. what is essential is invisible to the eye is my all time favorite (approximate, sorry)
    Great post


    • Stef says:

      Your quote is spot on. (“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”) This exact section is quoted in One Child (the first book I listed) – and so it comes full circle! How truly beautiful.


  3. Christine says:

    Stef, are you on Goodreads? It is a book lover’s paradise!

    BTW, #9 is one of my all-time favorites, too!


    • Stef says:

      I am intentionally NOT on Goodreads – because if I joined, I would probably let go of/ignore all other activities in my life. (And I kinda need to keep my job, you know.) 😉

      I’d love to see your list of 10 – perhaps you could take a photograph of them all together, and post it to your blog? Or you could make a whole series out of it, giving each title it’s moment to shine… However it’s done, I’d love to see it! 🙂


  4. This is a great list. Some of which I know and have read, some of which are totally new to me. So I will check them out, well except for Ron White’s book. Books saved my life, in so many ways, the power of the written word, of the sharing of stories is limitless. Thank you for taking the time to do this and to share some of the impact each book has had on you. And here’s my favourite Shel Sivlerstein poem:
    Listen to Mustn’ts, child, listen to the Don’ts.
    Listen to the Shouldn’ts, the Impossibles, the Won’ts.
    Listen to the Never Haves, then listen close to me.
    Anything can happen, child, Anything can be.


    • Stef says:

      I adore that poem by Shel Silverstein. He has so many good ones, but that one is a true gem.

      If you do check out some of the new-to-you books, I’d love to hear what you think about them!


  5. erinshelby says:

    The Little Prince is a very special book.
    If you like children’s books with a lesson for adults, have you read Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss?


    • Stef says:

      I have read “Oh the Places You’ll Go” – that is another great book. As is “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. It’s amazing the quality of children’s literature that can be found; I love that people of all ages can enjoy genuinely good books if they choose. 🙂


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