The Books Change Lives Jar, 2017 edition

ALA graphic Our Right to Read Banned Books WeekOnce again, the Books Change Lives/Books Save Lives jar was the star of our Banned Books Week display table. We asked a simple question – “What book changed your life?” and you answered! Some people wrote a title, or a title and author, but some wrote additional comments, which are included here as well.

Note: A number in parentheses after a book indicates that it was mentioned more than once.


  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote: “As tragic as the story is, this book showed me the enormous power of words.”
  • Another Country by James Baldwin
  • To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (2)
  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (2)
  • The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  • 1984 by George Orwell (2): “I wouldn’t be as equipped for the Trump administration.”
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy: “the emotional life was so strong!”
  • Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • The Bible (2)
  • Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

Children’s and Teen

  • How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
  • Drama by Raina Telgemeier (3)
  • The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
  • Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan and The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine: “because they are meaningful and have great and developed themes.”
  • George by Alex Gino
  • The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan: “changed my life because it was the first of many wonderful books by Rick Riordan.”
  • Unwind by Neal Shusterman
  • My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
  • Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (2)
  • Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling: “all of them!” (whole series) (3)
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
  • The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
  • The Circuit: stories from the life of a migrant child by Francisco Jimenez
  • It’s Only Stanley by Jon Agee
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  • Mountain Dog by Margarita Engle
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney (2)
  • One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
  • Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Dreadnought by April Daniels
  • Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
  • Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang
  • The Only Game by Mike Lupica
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • American Girl (series)
  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
  • Heidi by Johanna Spyri
  • Chris Van Dusen
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green: “Well, it didn’t change my life but I really enjoyed it.”
  • Bone by Jeff Smith
  • Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  • Almost Home by Joan Bauer
  • Fancy Nancy series by Jane O’Connor

Adult nonfiction (including memoir/biography, how-to, religion/spirituality)

  • Waiting for Birdy by Catherine Newman: “made me feel like I wasn’t the only mom with worries like mine.”
  • Black Boy Richard Wright
  • The Book of Mormon (2)
  • Introducing HTML and CSS
  • Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell
  • Trauma and Recovery by Judith Lewis Herman
  • Richard Feynman
  • Be Here Now by Ram Dass
  • Rules for Radicals: a practical primer for realistic radicals by Saul D. Alinsky
  • Free-Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy
  • The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren
  • Gang Leader for a Day by Sudhir Venkatesh
  • I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
  • Freedom at Midnight by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre
  • Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
  • Jazz (not sure if this means the novel by Toni Morrison, I Am Jazz, or a nonfiction book on the topic)
  • Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby
  • The Book of Secrets and How to Know God by Deepak Chopra: “He helped open my eyes to living a spiritual life and that everything is connected <3″
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley

Adult fiction and poetry

  • A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
  • White Oleander by Janet Fitch
  • The Object of My Affection by Stephen McCauley
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • Poetry as Survival by Gregory Orr

Other responses to the question “What book changed your life?”

As you can see from the comments, books have changed people’s lives in many ways: by showing the power of the written word, by helping readers realize they’re not alone, by enabling people to learn a new set of skills, by stretching the imagination, by offering empathy.

These books are all over the map: from picture books to adult novels and nonfiction, poetry to how-to, teen novels to classics (and some classic teen novels). The diversity of the list just goes to show the importance of having a wide range of reading materials available to readers of all ages; you never know what book will change your life.

See the 2016 Books Change Lives jar


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1 Response to The Books Change Lives Jar, 2017 edition

  1. Pingback: On Display – Jenny Arch

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