What We Read: 3 Books That Changed My Life


You are what you read. In that spirit, AOL Jobs will feature books recommended by our staff and contributors each day for the next week or so. As the year winds down, consider one of these reads to savor in your down time or give to a reader in your life.

Harold and the Purple Crayon
By Crockett Johnson

A bunch of books I read as a tiny guy have stuck with me: Curious George, Dr. Seuss, Giving Tree, and on and on. But there was a wonderful simplicity to Harold and his crayon that hold a special place in my heart. He was rebellious (drawing on the wall, for god's sake!), like characters who appealed to me later-the Great Brain, Holden Caulfield, etc.-so that provided a little thrill. But I think what really affected me was his ability to create whatever he wanted with such a basic tool. (Spoiler alert: It's your imagination.) Years after, I discovered Johnson's excellent comic strip Barnaby, great for all ages.

The Pine Barrens
By John McPhee

I love wandering, I love finding stories, and I love New Jersey-McPhee perfectly captured them all. I'd read a cool book called The Meadowlands by Robert Sullivan, and the cover compared it to The Pine Barrens. OK, I'll read that too! McPhee quickly became a favorite author; I love his ability to take seemingly dry topics and uncover fascinating tales within. He's had a strong impact on my nonfiction writing-and also inspired a road trip to the Captain Emilio Carranza Memorial Ceremony!

High Fidelity
By Nick Hornby

I was heartbroken yet again, and my friend Nancy gave me this totally charming and hilarious novel. I don't think I'd ever related to a character quite so much. Women are endlessly mysterious and music is very, very important-and that's about all there is to life. Wow, there are others out there just like me? The collecting, the sorting, the list-making (uh, mostly of the records, not the women)-it all rang painfully true. But despite the cynicism and the endless self-analysis, there was always a glimmer of hope for something more.

More of What We Read

What are some of your favorite reads? Share in the comments below.

Nick Hornby on His Relationship with Music
Nick Hornby on His Relationship with Music
Originally published