Open thread: the books that changed you

Following on from my Fiction Uncovered article about  how I’ve changed as a reader in recent years, I thought I would open the subject to you. Please leave a comment and tell me about a book that changed the way you read. Is there a book that put you on to a different kind of (non-)fiction? One that you returned to after abandoning and that suddenly ‘clicked’? Something else? Let me know!


  1. So many books have changed me. One of the first big changes was reading The Stranger Beside Me. It changed me psychologically, as a person, in several ways. For one thing, I realized that people can be very evil while appearing very nice. It also made me a fan of true crime.

  2. ‘The Road’ – I tried to get into this one many times, and finally, decided to give it a final go… on a long flight. I couldn’t stop reading – read it cover to cover in two sittings. How did it change me as a reader – not sure, to be honest – to have more faith perhaps, more open to the experience the writer makes for me? To appreciate real skill. Something like what happened whn I read Austerlitz, which turned me into a writer. Maybe to be a better writer, I had to learn to read better? Maybe The Road continued the process.

  3. I joined a book club around 10 years ago. Before that I read quite a bit, but mainly focussed on popular fiction. I read “Middlesex” by Jeffrey Eugenides as a book club book and this opened up the door to literary fiction for me. I now read a lot of literary fiction, sprinkled with a little popular fiction and non-fiction. I can’t thank my book club enough for expanding my reading horizons – we are still going strong.

  4. When I was around fifteen I read Doris Lessing’s Briefing for a Descent into Hell – that really opened my eyes top the possibilities of literature which I really didn’t know anything about at the time. A couple of years ago I spent a year reading ‘experimental’ novels and, although they weren’t all for me, that opened my eyes a second time.

  5. Years ago, I used to read classics and fantasy and very little else. It was almost exclusively a diet of Hardy and Pratchett – and I was getting bored. Then I joined one of those back-of-the-Sunday-supplement book clubs. You remember the ones – you bought six books for about 25p each and committed to buying another 3 over the rest of the year.
    One of the books I chose was The God of Small Things. And it was a revelation to me. I hadn’t realised (rather stupidly) that there were loads of contemporary novelists out there, writing quality stuff that I would enjoy, about subjects that interested me.
    So that one book started me on a reading journey of what I now know is called literary fiction.

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