People who aren’t readers sometimes profess to not be able to understand our fascination with the written word, but for those of us who drank the Kool-Aid early (and continue to drink it often), there’s no question that a book has the power to change lives.

These 20 people recall fondly the books that separated their lives into before and after, and we’re all going to have more reading to do now!

20. Many of our first experiences with outrage.

To Kill A Mockingbird.

I remember reading this and being so angry at the trial part of the story. I just remember feeling how wrong and unfair the whole thing was. It definitely opened my eyes a bit to how things could be and were for others in the world.

19. I still tear up reading this to my kid.

The Lorax.

I really like how that story touches on the difficulty of balance. The Lorax acknowledges why the Once-ler runs his factory and such, but the Lorax’s warnings go completely unheeded.

18. When you re-read it, you know it’s good.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. For whatever reason since I have read this book in Jr high, it’s has totally changed my viewpoint on reading and education. This book is still too this day one of my favorite books to read.

17. So many lessons.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince. It’s quite short and can be read online as well. Every time I read it, I seem to derive a different lesson from it.

16. I did love this.

The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis.

15. Not all that comforting, but…

Don Quixote, it shows that the world does not change..

14. I cannot do Tolstoy.

War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy.

The characters taught me so much about life. The book is bursting with it. I recommend this book to anyone.

The best book I have ever read.

13. If it opens your mind, it’s good.

The Brothers Karamazov.

Don’t remember the exact quote, but something along the lines of “If God did not exist, man should have to invent him.”

It really challenged my nihilistic outlook on life and intense dislike for God. Not that I’m religious now, but more open minded on the morality that God imparts.

12. That sounds nice.

The Enchiridion – Epictetus.

I never understood my late father-in-law’s uncomplicated, unemotional world view until I found that book. He was so free.

11. A classic that’s worth the read.

The Great Gatsby.

It continues to teach me how hope is a two ended street. One side that pushes a person to achieve greatness, and the other impairs the human’s sense of reality. To stay between the opposition is what I strive for, despite the difficulty that follows.

To live a life of tragedy is not inherently a complete loss – it’s a choice. One must understand the risks that come with standing defiant by their vision at all costs. It may be lonely and dark to take a unique path, but in the end, it will be worth everything. The decider comes down to whether one achieves it or falls short. That’s the gamble, and I hope I’m on the better half of it.

10. She’s a wonderful writer.

I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson, beautiful in every way please read it if you can.

It basically took my heart and soul with it when i finished, and i had to read it three more times to get them back.

9. I still need to read this one.

Educated.

I have never outright bawled my eyes out from reading a book over multiple occasions.

This one made me really appreciate my parents as people, value how they raised me, and cherish that they encouraged me to think for myself and not blindly follow others rules.

8. Heartbreaking in the best possible way.

The kite runner.

It makes you value life over money and gives you a reality check of what is really important.

7. Funny and eye-opening.

Catch-22.

A comedy classic, and so relevant nowadays.

6. What if we all just…stopped fighting.

The things they carried by Tim O’Brien. . .

Our history is divided up by our wars. Every single one of us at least knows a soldier, if not have one or more within our family. It’s been that way for the history of our country if not all of humanity.

This book helps us civilians understand that there is no way we can possibly understand what a soldier has been through.

5. Not escapism, but…

Brave New World. Like 1984, but imo more accurate.

4. When it just sticks with you.

That was then, this is now. S.E Hinton.

Read it junior year in school and just really stuck with me. I went to a city high school and all these “friends” I had weren’t my friends. We used together, hung out together, had parties etc.. but they were not my friends.

My real friends were the ones who warned me about this lifestyle. I read this book and it resonated me that these people I thought I was close with would be gone in a few years and didn’t care about me, and I wouldn’t care about them either. Its far more valuable to have a few close friends than 100 “friends”.

3. The right book at the right time.

Artemis Fowl.

Honestly, it’s kind of a weird choice for me since, growing up, I was a serious reader and I’ve never really considered it one of my favorites (though to an extent I kinda mean the whole series.)

Maybe it’s just that it hit me at the right time in my life, because I there are a lot of ways of thinking that I internalized because the characters were focused and made sense to me in a way that people often didn’t.

Pretty sure I’d just be… a worse person overall if I hadn’t read it.

2. You never know how it could change you.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

I was struggling in pre Algebra at the age of 39. I really wanted to get out of the service industry and start a career in Land Surveying but I needed to understand math.

I read that math is all about patience and persistence. this is not my style of book at all but I gave it a shot. I started spending more time on my math homework, especially if I didn’t get it.

I got a B in Calculus, a degree, and increased my paycheck by double and get to be out in the woods all day for work.

1. The books we love as children…

The Giver

I remember reading that book in 6th or 7th grade and just being blown away.

I had never experienced a book like that before and it really had a huge impact on me.

I’d add I Am The Cheese along with it.

One of the things that gives me anxiety is the fact that I will never be able to read all of the books I want to.

If you were going to add a book to this list, what would it be? Mine would be A Wrinkle in Time or A Voice in the Wind!