I read 'Siddhartha' five months ago, and I still think about it almost every day. I felt my whole perspective on life shift after finishing it, and now I can't imagine my life without having read it. Which book has done this for you?

  1. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse can be downloaded for free from Project Gutenberg if anyone is interested in checking it out.

  2. Crime and Punishment, let's say I saw myself as Raskolnikov at the time. Ruined my world view. It was a great thing in the end. It's my all time favourite book.

  3. Hijacking this to say brothers karamazov, also by dostoyevsky. Crime and punishment is also very good but is very focused, brothers karamazov feels more comprehensive (and of course is much longer)

  4. Christ I'm reading this right now and it's just not my thing. Every so often of course Dostoevsky has a very witty or insightful phrase but the characters are all just batshit irrational (except the police) and thus far (halfway through) it's just so boring to me with a couple scenes being the obvious exceptions.

  5. Siddhartha and Demian both have some similar themes I feel, a I think the way Hesse is able to move through an entire lifetime in <200 pages is incredible

  6. I came here to write this. I read Demian very young (12 or 14} and also shifted me, suddenly I was a lot more questioning about all that was taught to me.

  7. I got into Robert Anton Wilson when I was in college over twenty years ago…it was a wonderful time in my life.

  8. Me too! Though more like 30 years ago. I liken Illuminatus to being stoned and Schroedinger's Cat to being on acid

  9. Myths to Live By, Joseph Campbell. Explains life, our drives, and what has shaped our world as it is now. Everything from love, schizophrenia, to the the desire to go to the moon.

  10. Campbell's 4-book series is endlessly fascinating, but Myths to Live By nicely synthesizes a fair amount of it.

  11. I’ve heard quite a bit of praise for this book, but try as I may, I can never seem to read my way through the first couple of chapters without losing interest.

  12. I'm just finishing Steppenwolf, and he is constantly referring to Goethe. That passage you quote from him neatly hits on the crux of Steppenwolf - I didn't realize how tightly they were connected.

  13. Which translation (if you read it in translation) do you like for Part 2? I recently read the Kaufmann translation of Part 1 and really liked it, though unfortunately Kaufmann's Part 2 is very heavily abridged. I absolutely want to read the whole Part 2 sometime and am deciding which translation to get.

  14. Loved that one. I read it as a teen, was a bit difficult to keep track, so I made tiny notes to help. I need to read it again now I am an adult...

  15. The opening line always feels like someone’s very gently tearing open parts of my soul in the most beautiful way. It just feels pregnant with possibilities of nostalgia, love, home, conflict, misery, fear, fate, destiny and regret. It’s not even my favourite line from the book.

  16. My spanish teacher--one of the many great instructors I've been privileged to have--gave us a single paragraph from that book as a translation exercise. I fell in love with it in those few sentences that I couldn't actually read. She gave me a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera as a graduation present.

  17. God, I hated One Hundred Years of Solitude. Probably the worst book I've read this year. But this just shows how varied opinions can be lol

  18. You cannot imagine how much it means to me that you created this thread, I’m going to get Siddharta as soon as I am done with my current reading.

  19. Michael Sugrue has a great lecture on Meditations on youtube. Well worth an hour of your time.

  20. Nice suggestion. I read Siddartha and Meditations many years ago while camping for a couple of months behind an old barn. I met up with some people to restore an old cabin in the middle of nowhere. This conversation is sparking lots of fluffy memories. What a great summer that was <3

  21. Great book to read when you're an aspiring 19-year-old trying to find a philosophy in life. Ever since I read this book, I've lived by its tenets every day.

  22. Siddharta had a similar effect on me, for about one spring to be exact, then it became a gentle memory for which I'm quite grateful as those kind of experiences are rarely duplicated (this is no advice, it's just one book I chose not to re-read).

  23. I would suggest that you and OP both check our more Hesse if you haven’t already. I’m a bjg fan of “Demian” but “Steppenwolf” and “The Glass Bead Game” are also great.

  24. I learned to read in English (my 2nd language, sorta) thanks to that book. I was 6 or so, I remembers nothing now. Time to revisit I think

  25. Oh I absolutely love that book , and I read the book after giving up of becoming a plane pilot so it hit me twice as much

  26. That is a book that I cherish, and see rarely mentioned. I have read it until it is falling apart, and now I’m starting reading it with my daughter. It really made me start questioning the things I do “with the best of intentions”.

  27. This one is mine too!! I'm so, so happy to see it mentioned. When I first read it as a teenager I closed the book and then lay there thinking for hours afterwards.

  28. Same! I had gone to a small Christian school up until 8th grade, then went to a different high school. I started meeting and becoming friends with students from different backgrounds and beliefs. I had already started to question the discrimination against women in the Christian faith. Then we read this book freshman year and it seemed to bring all these aspects together for me. Because religion had been ingrained my whole life it still took a good many years before I could finally identify myself as an atheist. I credit this book with being a catalyst in me removing the veil I had over my eyes.

  29. I honestly found it a little underwhelming when I first read it, but The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is one I haven't been able to get out of my head- just that knowledge that every person you encounter has a story and seeks genuine human connection, that everyone has a deep desire to be understood.

  30. Curios incident of a dog in the night.. i learnt i was autistic from reading this book. I drew so many parallels between the behaviour of the protagonist and myself i started the journey to get a diagnosis..

  31. This is an excellent book, I was still thinking about the world from the main character’s perspective for a few days after. Even now, years later, I still notice three of the same coloured cars in a row.

  32. The Unbearable Lightness of Being was life altering. Even the title itself! Our existence is what we’ve been given but once we die, that meaning starts to fade no matter our accomplishments or intent. Just as the characters’ choices matter little despite the chaos they cause or weight the characters bare from their repercussions. Everyone should at least try reading it, after all what harm could it do?

  33. I’m in the middle of this book right now. I didn’t really know what it was about when I started it but I can’t help but think it was the exact right book for this time in my life.

  34. For me it has been "Man search for meaning". This one book changed everything for me, it has helped me to look at people and things in a more compassionate way. It has also forced me to find that one purpose in life, because a human being is nothing without a purpose. A truly life changing book, makes you more humble and grateful thinking what have people gone through in their lives.

  35. The last quote is from Friedrich Nietzsche's "Twilight of the Idols, or, How to Philosophize with a Hammer", 1889, quoted by Viktor E. Frankl in "Man's Search For Meaning".

  36. As someone who battled with crippling depression for most of my life, this book is definitely one of the more pivotal books I've read as well. I feel like it helped me look forward to life beyond the next day or week. to life beyond the next day or week.

  37. This is the first book that I thought of as well. It’s difficult to describe but every time I set that book down after having read for a while I was reflective.

  38. It's been a very long time since I read this book. I just remember there's a part about the dangers of self pity that I really needed to hear as a young man.

  39. Beloved broke me the first time I read it. I could not read anything for like a month afterward. I reread it last year and just adored all of the beautiful, empathetic prose.

  40. When I was 19 I read The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. There were passages that settled into my heart and forever changed the way I thought.

  41. I second this. I read this book on a plane and somehow - forgive me being poetic - I felt like my mind stayed up there in the lofty clouds even after I'd landed. I still get a feeling of being high up surveying the world as it is and had been for hundreds of years when I read his verses.

  42. My favorite chapter of my favorite book. My fiancée and I bonded over the book early in our relationship

  43. Did you find that the things that give you joy are the same that give you sorrow in your everyday life?

  44. "For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning. Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, so shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth."

  45. Haven't read the Prophet, but this hits home. I was disabled for 10 years and was unexpectedly given a reprieve. I cry at the simplest of pleasures now. Being able to urinate, or defecate, or walk, or breathe is such a privilege! I wish there was a way I could teach others how to revel in gratitude for their health, but I have only seen it come from experience. I've put this on my reading list.

  46. I read Hans Roslings book "Factfulness" and his autobiography "How I Learned to Understand the World". It's hard to say which one affected me most since I read them after each other and they complement each other well but they really made me think differently about the world. I think maybe his autobiography made the bigger impact when I think about it. I work in healthcare and it was really inspiring to read about when he worked in Mozambique, and his thoughts on prevention. Also how he talked about the world changing for the better thanks to innovation, regardless of politics.

  47. The Prophet by Khalil Gibran. It helped shape my value system as a teenager. His other books were also impactful. Second is Uncoupling by Diana Vaughan at a time when I was facing a possible third divorce and wondering how the hell this could have happened to me. The book helped me come to terms with myself and my relationships.

  48. Siddhartha is my most favourite book, so pleased that it found you too! Kamila said "One cannot receive pleasure without giving it" and that stayed with me my whole life.

  49. I love to hear when others discover "Siddhartha". I've read it many times and get something different out of it each time.

  50. I really can't say that ONE book changed my life, but many got me thinking real hard: 'Stranger in a strange land' - Robert H. Heinlein. Some serious philosophy wrapped up in page turning Sci Fi.

  51. Yes! I instantly had tears in my eyes. I still have my 1st copy from 1973 or 76 or something like that

  52. Very good and eye opening read. The subjects of these books were something I had never thought of before reading them. I would also recommend his book After Dachau which is an allegory to his theme about lost history. It hammers home the idea of how information about the world can be lost and people continue as if the present is the normal state of things.

  53. When he points out that man is at war with the world, and that the stories we tell ourselves of how things came too be always paint a self portrait of Man the Conqueror. Completely perspective changing.

  54. I scrolled for a while for this one. I need to re-read it. it was an extremely influential book for me. literally altered my world view.

  55. Harper Lee's classic, To Kill a Mockingbird. I did not realize I was from a racist family until I read the book and saw the movie. It changed my life forever. By the time I was forty I changed my father's outlook on race forever. He no longer used racist epithets after that. He voted for Obama twice before he went to his grave at 90 years old.

  56. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi & The Killing Jar by Nicola Monaghan both changed my perspective drastically. Read them while I was in high-school

  57. I have a few... Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance kicked it off for me years ago. Recently it's been, A Handmade Life. As a shop teacher it's really speaking to me about trying to promote a simpler life to my students.

  58. Ubik, by Philip K Dick. Have read five books and a few short stories he wrote and they really stuck with me. Been more than a year and I randomly think every now and then "what is ubik ? What happened with them ? And what about the coin ?"

  59. I’ve been reading PKD for thirty something years, so I can’t remember which of his books did it for me. However, I do love Ubik.

  60. Dune. I read it years ago, but the whole narrative of Paul learning to ride a sand worm really changed my life; I went from being extremely goal oriented and always looking for the next thing, to appreciating the process of learning and transformation.

  61. Damn. I'm glad to read Dune made such a big impact. It's my favorite book. But didn't have a spiritual impact on me. David Lynch's Dune did start my love for sci-fi.

  62. I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

  63. 'The Giver' in 3rd grade blew my mind, and then reading it again every few years. As an adult 'Moneyball' changed how I value everything in my life.

  64. The Power of Now-Eckhart Tolle and anything by Alan Watts, some writings transcend the definition of "books"

  65. Found that book through True Detective. Great series and great, though as you said incredibly pessimistic book. I don't see things in quite the same way as Ligotti, but I found myself agreeing with him more often than I would have expected.

  66. I read this a few years ago after practicing meditation and it just struck me as being the most profound and truthful spiritual book ever written. It truly is India's gift to the world and is totally non judgemental and for everyone

  67. All the Kings Men. Robert Pen Warren. Read it as a young teen, and it completely shaped and developed my interest in politics and the human condition.

  68. That quote you posted explained an odd interaction I had with a coworker. I told him where something was and he still could not find it so went with him to get it. Right where I said in a labeled box. He was looking for a different looking box apparently. I told him "I noticed you spend a lot of time looking for things and it prevents you from seeing what is there."

  69. I’ve had Meditations by Marcus Aurelius on my shelf for years but have never gotten around to opening it. This thread has moved me to pick it up.

  70. If you haven’t read Steppenwolf, also by Herman Hesse, give it a try. I found it as enlightening as Siddhartha.

  71. The Little Prince, The Things They Carried, Let The Right One In (in terms of being blown away by the quality of the writing, not so much the message), Blood Meridian (same thing, but also for its representation or certain archetypes), How To Escape From Prison (especially impactful since I know the guy who wrote it), Flow, 1984, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Power of One.

  72. The Selfish Gene. Dawkins explains evolution and shows you how it is necessary that somewhere along the evolutionary line there were two siblings, and one went on to be the decendant of all things human and the other the decendant of all things aardvark. ... very slowly and very distantly but it is necessary.

  73. Sapiens. When the author Yuval Harari writes in the beginning of the book, how the human ability to imagine things unlike any other animal, formed everything that we see around us, from religion to the stock market to corporations etc. All I see now is all this is just our imagination, evolutionarily this doesn’t matter. Evolution doesn’t care if you made money or if you win an award. I am paraphrasing of course. This blew my mind.

  74. zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance. great lessons, great straightforward prose, gave me a yearning for the road and quality in my actions.

  75. Atlas Shrugged. Terrible book, I finished it out of nothing but spite. It probably turned me into a liberal. Also made me want to play Railroad Tycoon games.

  76. I think of it like this -- everyone should be required to read that book, as an inoculation against its horrible ideals. The same way that we all get vaccinated against polio, measles, etc.

  77. 1984 was definitely an epiphany for me that we can't control a lot of what goes on in our lives and that stories don't always have a happy ending.

  78. Sapiens and Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari. The man is just ridiculously smart, brain the size of a planet. Life changing for sure.

  79. "Global Brain" by Howard Bloom. It's a non-fiction book that argues that survival of the fittest group is a better explanation than survival of the fittest individual. It explores the universal principles of groups, by examining groups of bacteria, bees, motorcycle gangs, and rock groups (among many others). It's the most eye-opening book I've ever read.

  80. People trash self help all the time but Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David Burns changed my life entirely.

  81. Frank Herbert’s Dune. I was 15-16 the first time I’ve read it. Over 20 years ago, part-timed at the library and accidentally stumbled upon it in the archive.

  82. "For every true statement there is an opposite one that is also true; that language and the confines of time lead people to adhere to one fixed belief that does not account for the fullness of the truth. Because nature works in a self-sustaining cycle, every entity carries in it the potential for its opposite and so the world must always be considered complete."

  83. There are two that turned my life around. The first - The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer The second - The Power of Now by Ekhart Tolle

  84. This might get buried, but when I was 16 I was working in a bookstore in a really challenging time in my life and a man in a very expensive suit walked up to me and said "Namaste" in a way that made me understand he meant it (I'm of Indian descent, so it was odd, but I could tell his intention was genuine).

  85. Great post. I took a few moments to pull out all of the books (I think) listed here as of a few months ago:

  86. The Dao de Jing taught me about wu wei and flow states, adaptability and resilience, flexibility of thought and much more

  87. You’re a fan of Russian literature I see, I want to dive into it but should I begin with brothers karmazov? Or crime and punishment?

  88. Yes! I think about this book often. I may need to read it again. I even loved the movie...this is where I learned of the Upanishads, which, upon reading, brought even more meaning to the story for me. Thanks for mentioning this book!

  89. Nice recommendations from all around. I've never read Hesse yet even though my childhood friend's favorite book was Steppenwolfe during his adolescent years.

  90. Siddhartha taught me that every second which passes we are born anew. That our lives are in a constant state of becoming and all choices and options are available at all times if you just see past the veil of your conditioning.

  91. I usually go with spy & mystery or sci-fi but the book that resonates with me at this time in my life is Shogun by Clavell.

  92. I know I'm late to the party, but what about "The Demon-Haunted World" by Carl Sagan? Or "A Brief History of Time" by Stephen Hawking?

  93. The Last Lecture. I adopted a lot of the philosophies and teachings from this book and it has genuinely turned my life around for the better. Absolutely loved reading it.

  94. This is probably a stupid one but Introduction to Rhetorical Theory. I hated that book with a passion. But it definitely changed my life.

  95. The Little Prince. Supposed to be a childrens book but one of the most beautiful and meaningful books I've ever read , can't wait to read it to my kids when they get a bit older.

  96. Siddharta was my first Hesse Book I read, when I was 16. Loved it just as much as you did. Steppenwolf and Demian are also very eye opening, as is his poem „in the mist“.

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