What’s Your Life-Changing Book?

Salvadore Dali

It was Sigmund Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams that set Salvadore Dali on his life-changing path when he read it in 1925 while attending art school. I learned this from one of the instructional plaques in the Salvadore Dali Museum in Clearwater, Florida.

Atomicus photo of Dali in studio by Philippe Halsman

Dali described Freud’s book as “one of the capital discoveries of my life, and I was seized with the real vice of self-interpretation: not only of my dreams but of everything that happened to me …” Four years later, Miro introduced him to the art form of surrealism.

Over the years I’ve thought about what book I might name as having been life-changing for me. It’s a question that readers love to ask each other. When I started drafting this particular blog posting, I decided to name The Peter Principle (Peter and Hull, first published in 1969).

It provided an all-important cautionary note about how, in a bureaucracy, people can rise to their level of incompetence and then stay there because no one wants to fire them (thus being incompetent and ruining things for other people the rest of their working life). Ouch! I do think I have spent my working life trying very hard not to reach my personal level of incompetence. (It may help to switch careers as I have…)

Yesterday I finished a book that I’ll tell you about in a posting later this week that I know I’ll call life-changing as well. In the meantime, dear blog-reader… care to name your life-changing book(s)?

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6 Responses to What’s Your Life-Changing Book?

  1. Well, it would have to be that amazing memoir “The Cleveland Rutters.” A more noble family the world has never known. Certainly changed my life. I am developing carpal tunnel syndrome from the onslaught of admirers seeking autographs . . .

    • Yes, it’s hard to pick one scene out of that book that wasn’t life-changing in some way for one or more participants. Thanks for the thumbs-up, Nance! But seriously, feel free to name another… :-)

  2. Gary Marple says:

    The first book that completely reoriented my thinking and reshaped my adult personal values was “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee” by Dee Brown and the second was “Escape From Evil,” by Ernest Becker.

  3. Liz West says:

    One recent book that fits that category is The Scalpel and The Soul, by Allan Hamilton. He is a Harvard-educated neurosurgeon who came to the conclusion that Western medicine should further explore the role of hope, spirituality, superstition, and alternative thinking into their practices. The book is thoughtful, engaging, and at times wrenching, but Hamilton is a wonderful narrator who shares his own medical mistakes and errors in thinking as he describes some marvelous and awful situations that he has encountered. The guy is all over You Tube right now and worth a listen and a read.

    • Thanks for the Comment, Liz. I hadn’t heard of this book or author (which doesn’t mean a thing, of course, except to highlight my limited engagement with the subject). Will check it out!

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