A different kind of life-changing read

Books that surprise us with specific and practical applications we never saw coming but wholeheartedly welcome

six colorful books without dust jackets on a white countertop

I love a book that changes my life, a book that makes a practical difference in how I spend my days or use my time or approach my relationships. I seek out books that matter—and that continue to make a difference long after I read them.

But what does it mean for a book to be life-changing? The obvious takeaways come to mind first, especially if I picked up a book for the purpose of gaining knowledge: I read The Art of Gathering so I could learn to run better meetings. I read Walkable City because I wanted to better understand the underpinnings of the spaces I move through. I read Tranquility by Tuesday (it’s so good and coming this October!) because I wanted to bring more peace AND fun to my weekly calendar.

When I write books, I often have these grand life-changing implications in mind. I hope Don’t Overthink It helps readers make easier decisions and bring more joy into their lives—and can you guess which chapter readers email me about most often? It’s not the framework for streamlining decisions or the actionable practices to interrupt overthinking. It’s one small and specific story I told about buying flowers in Chapter 13.

I welcome the more obvious life-changing reads, but I’m especially delighted by books—especially novels—that upgrade my habits or introduce a wonderfully simple something into my life in ways I never saw coming but wholeheartedly welcome.

Let’s start with the more obvious: at the dawn of summer Will and I recorded a What Should I Read Next podcast episode with Mel and Dave from Strong Sense of Place (yes, our Scotland buddies), and we all shared books that, in our minds, carried a strong sense of summer. Mel recommended Joyland by Stephen King, Will came with The Eight Mountains, I talked about Atonement. And Dave brought the last book I expected him to show up with: the 1987 classic Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book.

Will was immediately inspired to purchase a copy, and then brought out the garage sale-acquired ice cream maker (we have an older version of this Cuisinart ice cream maker) and got to work. It changed our lives: it took a sweet treat we know we love and transformed it into an enjoyable experiment, a family activity. Something we make instead of something we only consume. Instead of just asking if they could have more (which they totally did, ha!) my kids evaluated every component of our finished delicious product and made notes about what they’d like to do differently next time. And then we tried it again.

(Don’t miss this video reel of Will making his first batch of ice cream in YEARS!)

This summer I read The Hotel Nantucket, Elin Hilderbrand’s latest beach read. The titular hotel’s Gilded Age glory days are long gone: it’s a real dump (and in a fun plot twist—haunted!) when London billionaire Xavier Darling buys it sight unseen. The new owner hires local restaurateur Lizbet Keaton to make his hotel the best property on the island, if not the whole Eastern seaboard. And that means The Hotel Nantucket has to wow Shelly Carpenter, the influencer who’s become a national obsession for her blog Hotel Confidential.

The influential critic regularly reviews hotels for her eighteen million followers and awards each property anywhere from one to five keys. The staff is energized by this audacious goal, because no hotel has ever earned five keys from Shelly Carpenter.

To earn the coveted fifth key, they have to do everything right: Shelly Carpenter once docked a hotel a star because while there she encountered a pen that had run dry. In the book, Lizbet muses that at least she doesn’t have to worry about that: “The Hotel Nantucket pens are Uni-Ball Jetstream—the best—and they write smooth and dark. She’s proud of their pen game.”

Dear Reader, what do you think I did after reading that passage? You guessed it. I ran right out and bought myself some Uni-Ball Jetstream pens. I thought I knew every Uni-Ball pen out there and was shocked to discover I was wrong—but was happy to make the overdue acquaintance of this one, thanks to a novel, of all things.

There’s a Louise Erdrich novel I think about all the time. It’s not my favorite of her works—that distinction would currently go to The Sentence; I’m a sucker for a book about books—but it’s hands-down the one I think about the most.

The book is Future Home of the Living God and its dystopian plot centers on civilization’s collapse in the wake of a biological meltdown. I found the literary story utterly absorbing … but when it comes to mind, that’s not what I’m thinking about. Weirdly, my biggest practical takeaway was about cleaning my house.

In the book, the main character is in grave danger because she is pregnant. Because of the funky things happening with evolution in this dystopian setting, pregnant women are seized for research if they’re found by the authorities. In one scene, the terrified young woman is desperate to calm herself—for her own sake and the sake of her unborn child—and so she begins cleaning her kitchen from left to right, like her meticulous mother did when she was young, seeking comfort in the rhythm and the room’s steadily increasing order.

We have a big family and cook every day, so my kitchen is often a wreck. Before reading this book, my usual approach was to tackle the worst area first. But I began following this character’s example of starting on the left, working my way clockwise, and I loved it. When I start on the left—which in my kitchen is a tiny counter by the sink—it’s quick and easy to make one small area sparkle. The results are so encouraging I want to keep going.

I doubt this is the message Erdrich really wanted to hammer home to her readers, but I’m continually grateful for the takeaway.

What books have made a practical difference in your life? Which have continued to make a difference long after you read them? We’d love to hear about YOUR life-changing reads in comments—and the more specific and unexpected the change, the better!


Leave A Comment
  1. Molly says:

    Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver.

    Changed my entire outlook on the food industry, and my food buying habits.

    • Debra Gordon says:

      Loved this one too! Although it’s actually Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (I feel like the Miracle part is important!😊)

    • Fiona Craig says:

      I agree. That was a great book. I read it years ago and haven’t forgotten it. It really changed some of my food habits.

  2. Allison says:

    The Hotel Nantucket also has playlists and when I looked on Spotify, I found them. The breakup playlist is pretty good to listen to while working out.

  3. Julie says:

    When my children were little, I read Elizabeth Berg’s The Pull of the Moon, one of several books I read at that time about mothers who leave- Anne Tyler also wrote one- there are actually several- who knew this was a genre? 😳 but very cathartic to read about while in the heavy momming years, and the mother in this book has a tradition ( before she leaves😊) of a weekly letter-writing night which the kids in the book complain about- but I loved that idea and adopted during our summer months. Every Tuesday we would sit around the kitchen table. I had a big basket of postcards and stationary and pretty stamps. Each child had to write one relative and one friend but they could write as many additional letters as they wanted. By the end of the summer, each of the grandparents had gotten several letters and my kids had gotten snail mail back. It was a really lovely tradition that would never have occurred to me were it not for this book. Forever grateful to Elizabeth Berg. ❤️

    • Pat says:

      Julie, “Ladder of Years” was among my favorite books when all my children were young and my husband wasn’t as helpful as wished he would be! I always wondered if that was odd.
      Thank you for your the reassurance! Now, almost 30 years later, your comments really made me smile!

      • Julie says:

        I had a very happy marriage but parenting young kids is so all encompassing. My husband used to say: Are you reading another one of those books where the mom leaves? 😊

      • Elise says:

        My mom introduced me to Anne Tyler when I was a teenager. “Ladder of Years” was her personal favorite. As her daughter, I always wondered if that meant something…

      • Lee says:

        Yes, I still remember the main character hunkered down in her rented room, reading library books at night. It sounded so appealing, but unthinkable.

    • Suzy says:

      I have not read The Pull of the Moon, but that was truly a wonderful takeaway! I had a friend who did something similar. She was a mother of 3 girls and she would host Letter Writing Parties. She would have (or bring) tons of pretty stationery and cards, plus stamps and address books, and everybody who came would write snail mail thank you letters, or Get Well cards, or letters of encouragement or appreciation to family or friends in our congregation. It was really uplifting, and good practice for all the young ones to write!

      • Julie says:

        Love that! I feel as though that would be a fun thing to do as adults. I remember having get togethers with a group of friends at the holidays to wrap presents together. So much more fun to do with friends.

    • Violet says:

      I love this! My toddler can’t writing yet but I’m saving the idea and will start accumulating my stationary. Always great to have a reason to accumulate stationary 🙂

  4. I love these little nuggets you’ve taken from your reading. Often it’s a description (like Cathy’s tiny teeth in East of Eden) or a line that’s not central to the plot but nevertheless sticks that are the things I remember from books (like Gene in A Separate Peace when he got interested in a subject in school and wanted to go deeper but had to abandon it because his class was plowing ahead) — evidence yet again that reading is such an immersive experience.

  5. Maren Levad says:

    I just finished Morgan Harper Nichols’s Peace is a Practice, and she notes to find wonder in the world she reads picture books, specifically Brambly Hedge. I hadn’t read it in years, so I bought it and my teenage daughter and I have been reading a story and revealing in the pictures each night!

  6. Jamie Langley says:

    I absolutely loved The Sentence. When asked about a favorite book, I quickly reply that The Sentence is the best book I’ve read this year.

  7. Dawn P. says:

    The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig, was definitely one of these books for me. It was brilliant, imaginative, mind opening, and filled with some much needed truth during these uncertain times. The quote I still remind myself of on a regular basis is:
    “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

  8. Jan Roberts says:

    I read Leo Buscaglia’s Living, Loving, and Learning my senior year of high school, and it changed my way of looking at others. I don’t know if it would affect me as profoundly in my 50s as it did at 17, but it’s full of heartwarming, empathetic stories and examples of how the world could be. (I just found out you can read it online here: https://archive.org/details/livinglovinglear00busc)

  9. Heather says:

    One line in a book that changed how I see the world? “It was the first week of September, still hot and summery but with the longer light gleaming nostalgically off the locusts and maples the way it never does in July.” from Celine by Peter Heller. That line made me pay attention to the light in ways I hadn’t until then.

  10. Ellen says:

    I learned everything I needed to know about Jay Gatsby when Old Owl Eyes pointed out to Nick that none of the books on Gatsby’s shelves had been read. Don’t you know to look for details.

  11. Annika says:

    I just read Wrong Place, Wrong Time in which a mom travels back in time to prevent a crime and find out if it was because she wasn’t a good mom to her boy (spoiler alert: it wasn’t her fault). But while she is traveling back she appreciates the small family moments in different ways and sees the meaning in the everyday mundane things. It made me think and appreciate the smaller things while in the midst of mothering two little humans. 🙂

  12. Cady says:

    Sunbathing in the Rain by Gwyneth Lewis, a cheerful book about depression that gave me words for something previously undefinable; Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte, which reminded me of the importance of fun and the idiocy of trying to fit a multi-tasker’s life into a linear thinker’s diary; the South Australian Country Women’s Association Calendar of Cakes, when I cooked a new cake a week through the sh*tshow that was 2020; and The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennet and Ex Libra’s by Anne Fadiman, which both – very differently – reminded me of the joy of small books and the subversive nature of reading.

  13. Lois Homma says:

    Jean Kresser Craig, who owned an ad agency in Los Angeles wrote in her book how she gets around the lack of storage space in her small beach house: she only has one set of sheets for each bed – they get washed and put right back on.

    • Cheryl says:

      I read The Hidden Persuaders, by Vance Packard, when I was in high school, recommended by a mentor. At that young, impressionable age, it truly opened my eyes and I’ve been thankful for the awareness I gained. Have thought of it often and even more especially now that I’m somewhat into Minimalism (age 70 now!)

      • Susan V says:

        Brooke, SAME FOR ME!! the Bible first, The Hiding Place second! The Hiding Place has SO many awesome sentences, but for me, it was the one where Corrie is afraid of dying when she’s a child. Her dad asks when they get the tickets for their train trip and tells her that they get them just in time. Those aren’t the exact words, but when my oldest daughter (who is now 43, married with 4 kids, and the oldest just started high school!) was about a year from leaving for college, I sat in her piano teacher’s family room while my daughter was playing a program for a judge in the living room. The piano teacher was there too. I started crying, and I said to the teacher, “What on earth am I going to do without her??!” and she reminded me of that passage in The Hiding Place. Fortunately, I did survive her going off to college, where she met her wonderful husband. Now they live less than 30 minutes from us and we see them often!! 🙂

  14. Elaine says:

    I credit the children’s book, “The Little Matchgirl” (which I checked out from the library again and again as a child) and the autobiographies of Dr. Tom Dooley, which I read in junior high, as the motivations for becoming a social worker. Later in life, I’ve been profoundly changed by “Telling Secrets” by Frederich Buechner, “An Altar in the World” by Barbara Brown Taylor and “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown.

  15. Wendy L says:

    I read “Life as we knew it,” with my daughter when she was in jr high. It’s a a YA book about the moon being hit closer to the earth and the chaos that ensues. My takeaway was a small detail, but in the decade since reading this book I always keep my gas tank in my car at least half full.

    • Rea says:

      That’s a very midwestern thing to do…don’t let the tank get too empty, especially in the winter! What I remember from that particular book was the importance of having some cash because when the electrical systems crashed and people were storming the stores for supplies they had to have cash. Now I keep a ‘just in case the moon gets knocked out of orbit’ small stash.

    • Maureen Lyons says:

      My community had a couple natural disasters just two years apart and that was my takeaway—never let your gas tank get so low that you can’t drive to someplace safer when the gas stations are closed or have 2 hour long lines!

  16. Julia says:

    Love this post! It totally gets to the heart of the reading life. Sometimes it’s the little things that have a huge impact beyond the joy of reading, beyond the big themes and messages. Seriously, just love it!!!! ❤️

  17. SHU says:

    Hahahahah as a die hard Jetstream lover I was SO excited by that passage in the book (which I loved). Didn’t realize it would actually convert new Jetstream users!

      • Cameron says:

        The first example that sprang to mind was from The Brave Learner, by Julie Bogart. Generally helpful in lots of ways but I’m always grateful to have read that your house is just going to be messy when you have young kids. Gave me permission to enjoy my kid and rest more.

  18. Sara Jones says:

    Both Complications and Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. I reference these books all the time as I think through medicine and mortality!

    Also, there’s a little scene in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn where Francis gets to dump her coffee down the sink each morning, because it is hers to do with as she wants. I have thought of this more than once when offering my kids, and myself, small indulgences.

  19. Jennifer says:

    I started using Ticonderoga pencils because of Bradbury’s mention of them in my favorite novel “Dandelion Wine.” I also think of that book every time I buy a new pair of running shoes. “Antelopes. Gazelles.”

  20. Aubrey says:

    Ayesha At Last, with the constant mentions of women making chai tea from scratch, convinced me to make chai at home the “proper” way with all the spices, not from a concentrate. Now I’m a serious chai snob but I have no regrets, haha!

  21. Julie says:

    Oooo I LOVE thinking about this!! Three come to mind. In “The Giver” when Jonas is scolded for saying he’s starving because that is an inaccurate use of language. I just love how in 5th grade it made me think about how words hold such power and that it’s important to find just the right one. In “East of Eden” when they talk about timshel (thou mayest) as a translation issue. Again, words are so powerful and one difference in translation can change your entire theology. Junior in high school me looooved the idea that it was okay to question unquestionable things like this. And finally, “Mutant Message Down Under.” So many of the stories from that memoir stand out, but the one that comes to mind most easily, and has shaped me most, is when she is nearing the end of walkabout and given precious souvenirs, only to have them swept away in a flash flood. The lesson she still needed to learn was that she continued to attach too much meaning to things and this was The One’s way of correcting this in her…practice losing something and practice detachment from physical objects. This book was the catalyst for my minimalist phase 🙂 It also helps me recenter when some object I love gets ruined: I needed to lose this item because I was too attached to it, giving it too much power.

    • Adrienne H. says:

      Julie – I immediately thought of East of Eden and the translation of timshel! It amazed me that the Chinese men in the book undertook studying Hebrew for years (I hope I’m remembering those details correctly) before they felt qualified to tackle interpreting that word. That was so inspiring to me.

  22. molly says:

    I love this!! I discover so many new songs after they’re mentioned in books I read:) I’ll immediately click over to Amazon Music & give the song a listen, adding to one of my playlists if it’s some that moves me!

  23. Leslie says:

    This distinction would go to my childhood reading/re readings of Cheaper by the Dozen… the dad’s streamlining of their household habits–down to how they used soap in the bath–stuck in my head for years.

  24. Bob says:

    “Chasing Francis” by Ian Morgan Cron in which I learned about the concept “spirituality of place” and the sacred significance of the places I’ve lived and the homes I’ve lived in (and of course the places I visit). I’ve never looked at them the same since reading this masterful book.

  25. Jennie says:

    As a Brit, I have only ever driven stick as very few cars here are automatic. Then one day I had to drive my mum’s car in an emergency which IS an automatic and my only frame of reference was reading Judy Blue novels 30 years earlier! It was enough though I had a sore neck from driving it like a Dodgem car! Also, learning to make Matzo brei from tender at the bone by Ruth Reichl. Most comforting breakfast ever!

  26. Paula Richmond says:

    I just put The Sentence on hold. Thanks for the recommendation. Two books that opened my eyes to mental health and the justice system are Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker and Just Mercy by Brian Stevenson. The first is about a family struggling with schizophrenia and the second centers around a man unjustly placed on death row. Both books profoundly impacted me.

  27. Christen says:

    I was only able to quit my joy-sucking job because of the guidance in Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover.

    The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry made me realize how much ferlibg behind negatively affected my relationship with my children.

    Prayer in the Night helped me establish a more liturgical style to my life and my spiritual practice.

    I will probably think of more later.

  28. Wendy Barker says:

    Whenever this topic comes up I mention a book that is a combination memoir and a guide to grassland bird species that are being hard hit by habitat loss. Grass, Sky, Song by Trevor Herriot opened my eyes to the wonder of birdwatching and caring for their habitat. One of the recommendations in the book that I incorporated is buying grass-fed beef from a local rancher since pastures that beef cattle graze are excellent habitat for grassland songbirds.

  29. Kathie Havemann says:

    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (about a poor southern woman whose cancer cells are still being used in many scientific fields) and Radium Girls by Kate Moore (about young women in the 1920s who worked with “safe” radium to paint watch dials, only to suffer untold death and injuries) are non-fiction books that still radiate and which I will never forget.

    • Pepi says:

      These two books make me think about the things we “think we know” now. What are we doing/using right now that will be looked back upon in 30 years and seen as devastating?

  30. Adrienne H. says:

    Way back in 2008 I received, as a gift, a devotional book by Beth Moore, ‘Whispers of Hope’. In it, Moore detailed use of the acronym PRAISE to structure daily prayers around Praise, Repentance, Acknowledgment, Intercession, Supplication for Self, and Equipping. I’ve used this six-part prayer structure ever since, and it has helped me to pray clearly, specifically, and intentionally.

  31. Carolyn Haun says:

    Love this post and love that books profoundly change us as well as lead us to little joys in life. I also must go find that pen. 😃

    Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain changed my life. Growing up, there was little understanding of or research on introverts. Kids like me were labeled as “shy”, “not capable of leading”, “socially akward” and much worse. None of which was true, of course. This book helped me understand the gifts of being an introvert and I was able to stop trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. I hope younger people discover this book to help them understand themselves and are able to embrace being an introvert much sooner than I made the discovery for myself. I could have really used this book in 4th grade.😃

    I’ll be reading what people post throughout the day. Really interesting.

    • Fiona Craig says:

      Yes, the Quiet book really gave me a new perspective. It gave me permission to embrace my introvert self instead of always trying to pretend I was an extrovert.

  32. Anna says:

    “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk” works on interactions with more than just children. The takeaway that really stuck is that if you want someone to know you’re listening, mirror/repeat their words back to them. You don’t even have to start fixing, just repeat or paraphrase. Calms adults and toddlers alike.

  33. Allison says:

    The book Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxes is utterly amazing! But one thing he said about this 20th-century saint is that Bonhoeffer (who was highly educated) always felt that people who spoke with lots of cliches revealed an inability to speak well. His belief was if a person had a good education and large vocabulary, they would not need cliches to express themselves.
    Even with a college education, I have tended to use cliches in my speech, but ever since I read that book, I am more aware of it and it is something I want to change.

  34. Pat says:

    The father in “Cheaper by the Dozen” was an efficiency expert and talked about ways to save time and energy a lot in the book. It’s funny that it stuck with me, but I think about his methods often when I am doing chores. He influenced me to cut out unnecessary steps and use less time to do the job.

    • Lee Ann says:

      Same with me. I also loved the dedication; I don’t remember it exactly but it went along the lines of “for our father, who raised only twelve children, and for our mother, who raised twelve only children.”

  35. Debby says:

    Another vote for the Sentence. Loved the lists and the story line. Also read “Properties of Thirst” it’s and epic saga. Loved it so much, I can’t stop recommending.

  36. Carol Gallman says:

    I am sure I will read and reread this article and the comments several times–so many good things to think about. Please read the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books if you haven’t–read them to your kids, grandkids or yourself! I read these books as a child and have read them to my elementary students and to my daughter. I often think about Mrs. Piggle Wiggle’s hilarious cures. I love and reread books by Philip Yancey, especially What’s So Amazing about Grace. I consider Yancey the American version of C.S. Lewis. One more: Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned about Life by Rabbi Harold Kushner. I’ve reread and shared this book often and always find hope and understanding when I do.

  37. Vanessa says:

    The book was over 20 years old when I eventually read it, but Douglas Coupland’s Generation X was a game-changer for me. It changed how I felt about my job/career, my ambition, and what I wanted out of life. My husband and I both read it around the same time and it gave us a mutual language for talking about these things together.

  38. Sarah says:

    Love all the suggestions in the comments!
    Life Changing:
    *Definitely the Bible
    Habit Changing:
    *Jordan Raynor: “Redeeming Your Time”
    *Kendra Adachi: “The Lazy Genius Way”…practical and funny!
    *Emily P. Freeman: “The Next Right Thing”
    *Eleanor Roosevelt: “You Learn By Living”

  39. Vanessa says:

    My first thought is of one of my favorite mystery series, Lady Emily Mysteries by Tasha Alexandra. The spunky sleuth, Lady Emily, bucks tradition and decides to drink port after dinner which is a “male only” drink. My husband and I were reading and enjoying these and finally he said, we’ve got to try port, went out and found some and we tried it. Now we still enjoy it and it’s all thanks to Lady Emily!

    Another two books brought to mind are Ecclesiastes and Sense and Sensibility as both have very astute observations on human nature that are still very relevant today! I happened to be reading both of them yesterday and appreciated both author’s perception of the world and human character around them.

  40. Amy Littrell says:

    Emily P. Freeman’s book A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You were Made to Live had a huge impact on my life. She talks about us (people) being God’s art, his “poiema,” and that living our lives in the truth of His love is art. As image bearers of God, “you are art and you make art.” I think this was published around 2013 or 14 when I was struggling with raising children and discovering God’s purpose for my life, and this beautiful book reminded me of who I am in Christ.

  41. Kate says:

    I love Jane Goodall’s writing and especially her book Reason for Hope. My favorite quote from this book has helped me enormously in hard times: “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.”

  42. Vanessa H. says:

    Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times
    by Katherine May. Marked page 241 on St. Bridgid Day [Feb 1] and think of this quote often: “Brigide is all promise and life, bursting with readiness to bring about change. She is well rested after her long winter retreat.”

    Also, Dinner with Edward: A Story of an Unexpected Friendship by Isabel Vincent. So memorable and a sweet reminder of how to care for our elders, and the friends that become family as we age: “There is a communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine drunk.” These comments are riveting!

  43. Meg says:

    Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven sort of changed my life. Because it’s post-apocalyptic but near-future, it was so easy to envision the reality of the book. (I read it before the actual pandemic started–it’s even easier to envision now.) When the main character talks about stuff she misses, like oranges, because they can’t get them in the part of the country where she is, or air conditioning, because there’s no electrical grid anymore, it made me almost nostalgic for now, if that makes sense. In one part of the book there is a small museum-type display of things from before their pandemic, and there’s an iPhone in it. I began to imagine what it would be like if small, normal things were not available to me anymore. I still do it from time to time. What if I could do this or get my hands on that. It makes you appreciate so many things.

    • Meg says:

      oooo one more–Beyond the Sky and the Earth. It’s a memoir by a woman who took a teaching job in Bhutan, in a tiny mountain village. It’s been at least ten or fifteen years since I read it but the part I remember is that she puts her trash outside and it disappears. There is no trash service and she doesn’t know what to do with her trash, so she sets it outside her little dwelling for the timebeing. It disappears, and she can’t figure out where it goes. Then she learns that the villagers took it and reused almost everything she threw away. They are poor, but more than that, they are not used to modern conveniences and shops where you can just buy what you need, so they reuse things and make them serve whatever function they need. I think about that whenever I throw something away.

  44. Liese says:

    The thing I learned from reading ‘Deep work’ is to reflect and make a priority tasks list for the next day at the end of each work day. It’s always helpful the next morning.
    I also love how much I learned about art and places to visit from the books I’ve read. Reading about a beautiful place makes you want to visit it.
    Books don’t always give good advice 😉: I was a big Astrid Lindgren fan as a kid and tried to relive the adventures I was reading about. My parents were not amused when they found 8 year old me with an umbrella on the roof of a three story house (in the book Madicken climbed on the roof of a single story shed).

  45. Erika says:

    The Little Way of Ruthie Leming is a lovely book, but in the final portion, the author (Ruthie’s brother) discusses how their relationship had been fractured and damaged from a very early age by him doing completely normal older-brother teasing. He described it as damaging her trust in him. Even when they were much older, she found it difficult to fully trust him because of the way their relationship had always been. This opened my eyes to how even small, unintentional things can change other people’s relationship to you, and I adopted a humbler attitude that led to reconciling with my sister, whose friendship I am so grateful to have found again. I’m sure there are others, but as I just needed to lean on her in a big way the other day and was able to do it, it’s on my mind.

  46. Marion says:

    After reading “Mary Queen Of Scots” by Antonia Fraser I have completely read and looked into all kinds of histories. Histories of all countries and lifestyles have brought much more knowledge to me.

  47. Suzy says:

    Small thing, but in “My Life in France” Julia Child taught me how to correctly scramble an egg! I never scramble one now without thinking of Julia. When I took the book back to the library, the librarian said, “I liked the part about how to scramble an egg! I was doing it all wrong!” We laughed about how both of us took that away from the book.

  48. Lisa Corneilson says:

    I have been buying uniball jet stream, black pens by the box, for years. It is indeed the best pen. It has a 0.7 – fine line that writes so smoothly.

  49. Fiona Craig says:

    Gretchen Rubin’s book The Four Tendencies really changed my life. Learning about my own tendency helped a lot, but learning about Rebels really helped me understand some other people.

  50. Fiona Craig says:

    Home Cooking and More Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin. I read these in my 20’s when I was learning how to feed myself and I learned so many great lessons about food. Still two of my favourite books.

  51. Allyson says:

    I first read The Secret Garden as an adult and was struck by the notion that nature is healing. I will always have a garden as long as I am able.

  52. Sheri Nuñez says:

    I learned to make white rice that almost always comes out well not from a recipe book, but from an older YA or middle grade novel called, if I remember right, Fifth Chinese Daughter.

  53. Leslie Basham says:

    I love this! Lately, I read The Search by Nora Roberts, where the protagonist is a serious dog trainer. This was a side benefit to a good book because I have a puppy that could use all the help she (and I for that matter) can get. Specifically, don’t back up when they jump on you, but go forward instead because this gets them off balance. Then reward and say-“off. Helpful and fun to read. P.S. Bought the pens. (-:

    • Anne Bogel says:

      So interesting—I’ve had The Search on my shelf for a few years but didn’t know about the dog training angle. Daisy is pretty well-behaved these days but there have certainly been points in my life where I could have used all the help available!

  54. Suzanne C says:

    Two that stick out to me are The Lazy Genius Way, by Kendra Adachi. My favorite Lazy Genius Principle is #1 Decide Once. Already-made decisions save so much bandwidth in my already over-taxed brain; it has been lifesaving for me. Especially during the pandemic, when all other forms of our daily routine were blown to bits.
    The other book is To Kill a Mockingbird. It made a younger me think deeply about how people form their ideals, what we’re willing to sacrifice to live up to or defend those ideals, and how those ideals change as we grow older and experience new things.

  55. B Mount says:

    While listening to One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid I realize I must have a French butter keeper with ready-to-spread butter available at all times!

  56. Kathryn says:

    What Katy Did by Sarah Chauncey Woolsey (pen name Susanne Coolidge). It kickstarted my summer reading every year from grades 3 to 10. Every year, I would notice something new, as if the book, the main character Katy, and all her siblings were growing with me. The book was a gift from my grandmother, and I last read it the summer after college when she died. Lo and behold, I found my grandmother in a character I’d never thought much about before. I need to return to this book again soon.

  57. Kate says:

    I must report that I bought the Ben and Jerry ice cream book and an ice cream maker after Dave recommended it on your show. I don’t really even like ice cream but it has brought great joy to our family. We just returned from Italy and I made Italian lemon sorbet this week. Yum!

    • Ann Bonanno says:

      I bought the Ben & Jerry Book also and made rich coffee heathbar crunch ice cream and it was thoroughly enjoyed by my family .

  58. Marilyn says:

    This is not a genre of books that I normally read, but what a great topic & the comments are so thought provoking. Any type of book has the possibility of giving us something to tuck away & learn from, reconsider a perspective or just give us a wake up call. Mostly recently A Gentleman in Moscow, The Splendid and the Vile, & in the early 1970s it was the The Mystic Path to Cosmic Power, (yep, still have that). Will start making a note of my “take-aways” in my book journal. Thanks!
    PS – Cheaper by the Dozen & its sequel are treasures.

  59. Violet says:

    I love this topic, thank you for writing about it! The life-changing book that immediately comes to mind is Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas, 3rd book in her Ravenels romance series. The main character has tinnitus and she uses a technique to stop the ringing, and it actually works! I use it all the time now when tinnitus starts up and it has completely changed my life for the better.

    To make ringing in your ears go away: Cup one hand over the ear that is ringing, covering it completely (but still cupping, not flat). With your other hand tap vigorously on the base of your skull, a little above where it meets your neck. This has always worked for me, even if I have to repeat it a few times.

  60. Mefista says:

    Joyful from Ingrid Fetell Lee was a wonderful read that litterally broight color to my life 🙂 I fill my home with more plants, lights, color, fun… wonderful!

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