## Rattle my worldview - Has a book ever changed your life?

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drunken
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### Re: I need a book to rattle my worldview

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Gödel, Escher, Bach (this is long and difficult but 100% worth it)
Catch 22

I would also like to ad this one that I am surprised is not present (perhaps it is too obvious and everyone has read it).

A Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
***This post is my own opinion and no claim is being made that it is in any way scientific nor intended to be construed as such by any reader***

Koboldskind
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### Re: I need a book to rattle my worldview

RedNifre wrote:"The Selfish Gene" by Richard Dawkins. is just one book that totally shattered my world view. The book is so intense and powerful, I literaly gasped at some parts of it. At some parts I put the book down, got out of my chair, walked around and stared at the wall for a few minutes to let it sink in. It is really the most mind-expanding book I ever read. It totally turned my brain inside out.

..snip..[/color]

I can not agree enough with this one. Even if you are certain that live on earth was created in an evolutionary process (something i assume about everyone reading xkcd), this book will make you realize you never really thought about it in detail. And in doing so, it will make you see the world in a very different light.

After that one, i suggest "The Meme Machine" by Susan Blackmore. She takes Dawkin's ideas and applies them to culture and the way we think. To be quite exact, Dawkins himself came up with the basic idea, but Blackmore takes it and fleshes it out in unexpected ways and forms a theory of culture that you may or may not agree with, but that will certainly give you lots to think about.

Ended
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### Re: I need a book to rattle my worldview

the_stabbage wrote:I would recommend the novel "Hunger", by Knut Hamsun. It's about a writer wandering through a city on the edge of starvation. Apparently it was based on 10 years of the author's live on the edge of starvation in deep poverty. It's fascinating for the mindset of its character, almost like he's happy being close to death.

I was also going to recommend this. I'm not sure that it will rattle your worldview, as such, but it's certainly one of the most profoundly disturbing novels I have read. (It's also worth reading as a classic of world literature).
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the_stabbage
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### Re: I need a book to rattle my worldview

Ended wrote:I was also going to recommend this. I'm not sure that it will rattle your worldview, as such, but it's certainly one of the most profoundly disturbing novels I have read. (It's also worth reading as a classic of world literature).

I'd say disturbing is a good way to describe the tone of the novel.. there aren't really any scenes of torture or bloodshed, but just the way the protagonist leads his life in complete emptiness really made me feel weird. Especially because I know a few people who live like that.

pullhard3r
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### Re: I need a book to rattle my worldview

Stranger in a Strange Land by Heinlein.

Antaeus
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### Re: I need a book to rattle my worldview

Guns, germs and steel, by Jared Diamond.

Diamond tries to answer the question why people on different continents and from different cultures show such dramatic differences in their scientific and social development. He makes a very convincing case for his central thesis that differences in development are largely a result of differing environmental factors, synthesising data from such diverse fields as biogeography, evolutionary biology, linguistics and archaeology.

Dori
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### Re: I need a book to rattle my worldview

V for Vendetta by David Lloyd and Alan Moore

ascendingPig
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### Re: I need a book to rattle my worldview

Another vote for GEB.

Also, I read Ender's Game at the age of nine and it changed me forever. I felt like an author had finally written about about kids without treating the reader like a child. It was so amazing, this feeling that a prepubescent girl like me was actually a real person, and actually meant something, and had the ability to achieve something awesome. That's why I always recommend Orson Scott Card to elementary schoolers who seem intelligent and like to read.
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Wildcard
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### Re: I need a book to rattle my worldview

ascendingPig wrote:Also, I read Ender's Game at the age of nine and it changed me forever. I felt like an author had finally written about about kids without treating the reader like a child. It was so amazing, this feeling that a prepubescent girl like me was actually a real person, and actually meant something, and had the ability to achieve something awesome. That's why I always recommend Orson Scott Card to elementary schoolers who seem intelligent and like to read.

Yes. Ender's Game, but I don't know that it would have the same effect if you first read it at an older age. Read it anyways, though.

1984 and Animal Farm, both by Eric Arthur Blair, had profound effects on my worldview. I find that Animal Farm gives a perfect illustration of the gradient scale from freedom to tyranny, which should have more attention put on it in our society.

I'm not done reading Dianetics yet, but even just the part I've read so far is beyond anything else I've read about the human mind and/or behavior. If you want to know why people do the things they do, read it. Definite shifts in perspective, and in a good way.
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ducknerd
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### Re: I need a book to rattle my worldview

Perhaps a little cheesy, and unusually religious for this audience, but Hugh Prather's "Notes On Love and Courage" is extremely personal and very, very powerful. As an atheist, it still affected me profoundly.

Rollo May's "Love and Will" is also excellent for changing one's worldview and is particularly powerful during existential crises (which is when I found it).

Allow me to second (or rather fourth) Fight Club, especially if you're approaching the whole "worldview-rocking" thing ironically, as it's a hard-hitting book about people trying to get hit hard metaphorically (and literally, I suppose ).

Illuminatus!, though? I read the first book of the trilogy and was amused for sure but by no means changed. I just read it as a really entertaining summary of 60s counterculture with a million hidden jokes (e.g. the yellow submarine and the KCUF) and a rehash of the whole paranoia vs. nihilism/Discordianism thing that happened in the early 70s. Please tell me if I missed something.
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Mother Nature's Son
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### Re: I need a book to rattle my worldview

Everyone likes Terry Pratchett for the humor found in his discworld books, but it seems that they often overlook the sterling sociopolitical commentaries hidden in plain sight. I love this series too, but I think his best work may be The Bromeliad Trilogy, which is both side-splittingly funny and slightly terrifying. Along a similar vein, The Science of Discworld books are probably the most entertaining, comprehensive and enlightening scientific texts I have ever read. They cover physics, biology, earth sciences, astronomy, history, and the nature of science itself, and that's just in the first few chapters. Reading any one of those three books you will learn more than in all four years of highschool science class, and you will probably learn that some of what they did teach you was wrong.

Sergei Lukyanenko's Watch books give an interesting perspective of the classic good/evil dichotomy, as well as being beautifully written and highly entertaining.

Read The Fountainhead, too. It's a sterling example of what's wrong with the world.
Cave et audi.

i_ll_winn
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### Re: I need a book to rattle my worldview

ducknerd wrote:
Illuminatus!, though? I read the first book of the trilogy and was amused for sure but by no means changed. I just read it as a really entertaining summary of 60s counterculture with a million hidden jokes (e.g. the yellow submarine and the KCUF) and a rehash of the whole paranoia vs. nihilism/Discordianism thing that happened in the early 70s. Please tell me if I missed something.

Read it, and then think about what it is really saying. Seriously, it paints a uplifting picture of death and destruction. Not only that, but it gives you a window into the warped minds of thousands of people, because the secret behind the book is that it was based off of the ramblings of multiple "crazy" people.
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icenine
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### Re: I need a book to rattle my worldview

Ender's Game and the Shadow series by Orson Scott Card: I tend to think of Ender's Game as a book for younger readers and the Shadow series as books that can last till you're older. Personal experience only, though.

Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut didn't change my view so much as reinforce my beliefs. Again, a personal thing.

Just In Case by Meg Rosoff was an interesting read which jolted me a little, but I felt like it was missing something.

poxic
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### Re: I need a book to rattle my worldview

Antaeus wrote:Guns, germs and steel, by Jared Diamond.

A whole lot of ^THIS.

GEB was wonderful, but you have to check out Hofstadter's latest: I Am a Strange Loop. It brings the notion of consciousness right into the open. It was tough reading, but once I was through it, I felt that I grokked what consciousness is. (It also pretty much convinced me that there is no "hereafter" -- does a computer keep processing "somewhere else" after you pull the plug?)
In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.
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Hendecatope
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### Re: I need a book to rattle my worldview

The Picture of Dorian Gray, conveniently - legally - available for free. The characters in this book are engaging from the first chapter on and seem to say something relevant to themselves and you every other page. (Where a page is the amount of words you can fit on an ipod touch screen ) The idea is simple though, what if a picture soaked up your sins?

Noa
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### Has a book ever changed your life?

My Greek history professor casually mentioned in class the other day that reading the novel The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky changed his life. I began to consider if anything I've ever read affected me so profoundly as to earn the status of "life-altering".

I eventually reached the conclusion that the graphic novel Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi more than meets this standard. I actually was required to read this for a cultural perspectives in literature class and I'm so glad I did. It is a memoir of the life of the author growing up in Iran in the 70's and 80's. I remember reading it and realizing I knew nothing of Iran's history or even current events. The novel was so emotional and shocking that I began researching more about Iran and the Middle East. Now I read the news constantly and am heavily involved in Amnesty International and other human rights activism and advocacy groups. I honestly think reading this graphic novel was the catalyst for my becoming the person I am now.

So has anything you've read ever deeply affected your beliefs or the way you think and act?
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Mzyxptlk
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### Re: Has a book ever changed your life?

No book has ever qualified as life-changing for me. A lot of books (films, too) have changed my feelings and emotions though. A recent example is Cryptonomicon, which has (logically) changed my opinion of the importance, usefulness and limitations of crypto.
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WBLambert
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### Re: Rattle my worldview - Has a book ever changed your life?

The Gospel According to Larry by Janet Tashjian. When I read it back in sixth grade, I decided to simplify my life. So, because of this book, I'm a minimalist (and a Buddhist, but that's indirect.)
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Chfan
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### Re: Rattle my worldview - Has a book ever changed your life?

It may not be worldview-rattling for many of you, but anything on newer physics is fucked up in so many ways- especially quantum mechanics. I'm reading Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene right now and it's just really weird.
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lilyanne
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### Re: Rattle my worldview - Has a book ever changed your life?

The last four words of 1984 will shake the very foundations of your soul. The Magus, by John Fowles, will introduce to you the true meaning of humanity, both its searing beauty and its dark and animalistic core. Camus' The Stranger will make you fear to be a member of the human race, while Of Human Bondage gives us the human condiditon shorn of extraneous adornment.

To read a book, if it is well written and well meant, is to be affected by it. For everyone who has cried for Emma Bovary, made excuses for Alec D'Urberville, been drawn to Rodya Raskolnikov, loved to hate Scarlett O'Hara and hated to love Rhett Butler, who has wished Bridge to Terebithia didn't have to end the way it did, fallen in love with Mr Darcy, discovered that Hell is other people but so is heaven, or seen any aspect of themselves in a character on a page -- their life has been changed by a book. It doesn't need to be some mind blowing experience (though, for me, The Magus was,) the mere act of reading is enough.

No other medium has the purity of relationship between artist and audience that books enjoy. Save an editor or possibly a translator (who, if he is good, will keep his voice out of the text as far as possible) books are the only way to experience the vision of another human being with only a flimsy sheet of paper to separate your selves. So yes, a book has changed my life. I wouldn't think myself alive if not for the joy of words and the companionship of characters which will never fade.

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### Re: I need a book to rattle my worldview

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Gödel, Escher, Bach (this is long and difficult but 100% worth it)
Catch 22

I would also like to ad this one that I am surprised is not present (perhaps it is too obvious and everyone has read it).

A Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

Not quite as epic as GEB, but a couple of books that have solidified and expanded a lot of my feelings and thoughts about many personal experiences with science, beauty, problem solving, bad science, assholes, and problem creation have been

Complexity
The Black Swan
Fooled By Randomness

Coincidentally, some of the topics covered in Taleb's books relate directly to the current economic crisis. But in general theyhave helped me gain a lot or perspective on problems I face in day to day life as well .
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### Re: Rattle my worldview - Has a book ever changed your life?

aion7 wrote:Also, 1984 by George Orwell

Wildcard wrote:1984 and Animal Farm, both by Eric Arthur Blair, had profound effects on my worldview.

1984 truly changed my life. I was brought up in a cult (though of course we didn't think of it that way at the time), and when I read it around the age of 18/19 I realised that the way the Party operates was exactly like the controlling religious system I'd been brought up in, right down to the thoughtcrime.

As a story it is good in itself, and indeed I cried at the sadness of some parts, but as an eye-opener and a warning against systems of thought, control, oppression, it severely shook the foundations of my walled-in mind and helped me free myself.
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Fledermen64
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### Re: Rattle my worldview - Has a book ever changed your life?

Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy
2001
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### Re: Rattle my worldview - Has a book ever changed your life?

alain de botton's two books i enjoyed were: how proust can change your life and kiss & tell. they're books mostly about perception in some of the most subtle hurmor out there as well as some blatantly laugh out loud moments. i'd give both a chance as they both have heavy references to proust.
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### Re: Rattle my worldview - Has a book ever changed your life?

The Tao Of Physics was a massive eye-opener for me. After pining after my ex-girlfriend, it showed me how one of the most fundamental things about life and the universe is change. Had I read a book about Buddhism itself, it would have helped, but to have it married with my chosen subject and something I've been interested in for as long as I can remember, and to show that the two are equivalent on a certain level, was absolutely amazing. It helped me cope enormously and really changed my life at the time. I will always remember it.
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Bluggo
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### Re: Rattle my worldview - Has a book ever changed your life?

When I was a kid, The Neverending Story. That book shaped very, very much of what I am.
Later, GEB and de Unamuno's "The Life of Don Quixote and Sancho" - an essay on Don Quixote that I actually enjoyed more than the book itself: I really cannot recommend it highly enough.

Also, Kafka and Rimbaud.
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urbazewski
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### Re: Rattle my worldview - Has a book ever changed your life?

Little Raccoon and the Outside World by Lilian Moore // The 100 Dresses by Eleanor Estes

Amelia Earhart // Elizabeth Blackwell // Florence Nightingale // a series of biographies of famous women that I read in elementary school

Let’s Go Europe

The Feminine Mystique Betty Friedan // Growing Up Free: Raising Your Child in the 80’s Letty Cottin Pogrebin

The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life Irving Goffman

World Hunger: Twelve Myths Frances Moore Lappe, Joseph Collins, Peter Rosse

Laurel’s Kitchen: A Handbook for Vegetarian Cookery and Nutrition
Laurel Robertson, Carol Flinders, Bronwen Godfrey

The Zero-Sum Society Lester Thurow

Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy David D. Burns, Aaron T. Beck

The Revolutionary Ideas of Karl Marx Alex Callinicos

Writing Down the Bones
Natalie Goldberg

Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos M. Mitchell Waldrop // Artificial Life: A Report from the Frontier Where Computers Meet Biology Steven Levy

Open Heart, Clear Mind Thubten Chodron
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### Re: Rattle my worldview - Has a book ever changed your life?

Definitely the Ender and Shadow series, they may not change your life if you read them as an adult, but they certainly changed mine when I found them in high school, and no matter your age are definitely worth a read.

Norwegian Wood (Haruki Murakami)
Notes from Underground (Dostoevsky)
The Elegant Universe (Brian Greene)
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GeorgeYoung
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### Re: Rattle my worldview - Has a book ever changed your life?

Hitchhikers I think is the first book to really change my life, for the simply reason that it got me into reading. I'd read books before and enjoyed them, but the Hitchhikers series (All five of them) made me actively seek out new books to read, simply for the pleasure of reading a good story. I can still remember the week when I was 14 when every day, Monday to Friday, I would bring home one of the Hitchhikers books from the school library, get home and, stopping only to eat, I would read non-stop until 11, 12 even 1 o'clock. That Friday evening as I finished Mostly Harmless is one of the defining moments in my life, I think.

tommorris
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### Re: Rattle my worldview - Has a book ever changed your life?

Kripke's Naming and Necessity convinced me that necessary a posteriori truths exist.

David Armstrong's Universals: An Opinionated Introduction and Universals and Scientific Realism convinced me that there is a prima facie case for immanent universals that are compatible with physics.

Then in Belief, Truth and Knowledge, Armstrong convinced me to adopt externalism.

John Rawls' Theory of Justice convinced me that social contract theories aren't all doomed to failure.

Nozick's Anarchy, State and Utopia convinced me that not all libertarians are Glenn Beck or Ayn Rand style morons.

El Spark
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### Re: Rattle my worldview - Has a book ever changed your life?

I'm gonna go ahead and underline Ender's Game and the Shadow series.

Also (and once again, probably a bit religious for this crowd, but it's the only one I could think of that fit the topic as stated), Mere Christianity by CS Lewis. I'm intellectually a Christian myself (and that will be the end of my brand of Bible-thumping, don't worry), and I re-read this one every year or two. I always find something that makes me say, "Wow." Whether or not the reader agrees with his conclusions, dude was a thinker. He's rocked my world many times.
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Josephine
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### Re: Rattle my worldview - Has a book ever changed your life?

The Singularity is Near, by Ray Kurzweil
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### Re: Rattle my worldview - Has a book ever changed your life?

In terms of fiction (Although they are all based on true stories and events): Ellen Hopkins' books. They're aimed at people about my age, and have given me a very different view on a lot of people, particularly those who are troubled. I've been very closed off in the past, and so have been unable to sympathise or even begin to understand what some people have to go though, but these books have really opened my eyes.

Non-fiction? Any of them really. Mostly the physics ones, that made me realise my crackpot theories as a kid were embarrassingly wrong.
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### Re: Rattle my worldview - Has a book ever changed your life?

The Web of Life by Fritjof Capra, probably the first dandelion-seed, spark-on-the-powder-trail event in the long reinvention of my persona and memeset. Just perfectly intoduced me to the fractal nature of the universe, the complexities interacting on every scale, the amazing behaviour of replicating systems with simple rules, and just about everything I'm now interested in.
Read it when I was something like thirteen, in a life previously starved of a decent education in the sciences (thanks to my dyscalculia, many of my teachers automatically assumed I was just an idiot or some sort of savant for drawing and writing) and had lumped me in the lowest-set classes for anything that they even suspected might be 'too technical'. I'd been programmed-by-deficit into thinking of science as some dull, grey, tabulated catalogue of things we already know.
Then I saw a book on the shelf with an interesting pattern on the cover (a Mandelbrot Set, of course)... then glanced at the back. Then read the blurb properly. Then opened it.
What followed were three brilliant nights sitting in my chair by the light of a flickering, half-broken re-appropriated desk lamp when everyone else was asleep, filling up the empty processing space in my head with raw natural complexity and over and over again just thinking "fan-TAS-tic".

And so yeah, I'd put that down as a major one, having changed a bored, unhappy scribbler-with-pencils who had to look inward on a clichéd and underdeveloped fantasy world to perceive any great deal of beauty at all into a burning-eyed, information-eating, not-quite-an-architect-yet-but-working-on-it sort of being.

A more recent one would be so cite most of Buckminster Fuller's written work, just because it's pretty fantastic
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### Re: Rattle my worldview - Has a book ever changed your life?

When I read Fountainhead last winter it solidified my agnosticism and made me seriously consider atheism. Before I was just kind of doubting the reasoning of religion and the influence of God. After I finished reading Fountainhead though, I realized that man is the supreme being and not the other way around.

I read Atlas Shrugged in the summer following that winter and turned into a huge jerk. It took me about a year to recover to quasi-normalcy in terms of valuing other people. But yeah, Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead are great books that should be required reading. Read Fountainhead first too. It deals more with the individual and less with the role of government/organizations. Also doesn't feel like Ayn Rand is reading you her beliefs through a novel quite as much like Atlas did.

Aiwendil42
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### Re: Rattle my worldview - Has a book ever changed your life?

The Fountainhead is strange - it's probably my second least favorite book I've ever read, yet I have a friend whose literary tastes otherwise agree quite closely with mine who loves it.

I don't think any book has really fundamentally changed my life, though the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus by Wittgenstein and the collection Logical Positivism edited by Ayer did rather change my view of the fundamental nature of things.

Nullifidian
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### Re: Rattle my worldview - Has a book ever changed your life?

In terms of changing what I choose to study, it's The Eighth Day of Creation by Horace Freeland Judson, father of biologist Olivia Judson, of Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice fame. That book, which is a mammoth study of how the science of molecular biology began, made me want to study biology in earnest. But I had a long love affair with the natural world before that. My five year-old self's childhood dream was to be a nature documentarian because my parents would take me to IMAX documentaries and I'd look at the "making of" portions and see these guys hanging out of ultralights way up in the air and I thought, That is so cool! In regards to the natural world, Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac and E.O. Wilson's The Future of Life changed how I relate to and think about it.

I was also drawn into sociology by Michel Foucault's Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison and then Surveillance and Security: Technological Power and Politics in Everyday Life by Torin Monahan (ed.). Foucault blew my mind on the subjects of prisons, schools, and other forms of government-mandated group dynamics, and then Surveillance and Security took his insights and turned them into serious and insightful analyses of how these dynamics play out for people in real life. That's sociology at its best, and I was very impressed with it.

Pyotr Kropotkin's The Conquest of Bread changed my political views entirely by asking questions that I was only just coming around to — and asking them a hundred years before me. I started out a moderate conservative in the Burkean mold, then I grew disenchanted with the whole conservative thing, once I saw it turning into a form of far-right demagoguery than a sober political movement. I place the blame on Reagan, who got the ball rolling by turning the fundagelical right into a voting bloc, and Gingrich, who perfected this brand of power-hungry, amoral demagoguery. It was Gingrich's accession to the role of House Speaker that got me reconsidering. I only went as far as a Blairite "third way" social democracy until I left the country for Germany, where I spent a year as an exchange student and found that social democracy was just another form of capitalist domination. Then I fell over Kropotkin's "Die Eroberung des Brotes" in a German bookstore and started reading it. It helped me get over the ingrained fear and prejudice I had against anarchism.

Much of what was best in conservatism has kept with me throughout these changes so that I now half-jokingly describe myself as "what happens when a conservative loses his faith in capitalism and government".

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### Re: Rattle my worldview - Has a book ever changed your life?

1984, Brave New World, Makers, Little Brother, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
Marbas wrote:I'll usually jump from one strange thought to the next, such gems as: "I wonder if bears get depressed", "I think the sun is unnecessarily smug" and so on.

Redjack443
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### Re: Rattle my worldview - Has a book ever changed your life?

I haven't read any books that changed my life in a meaningful way, but some do make me look at the world in a different way.
Off the top of my head:
Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter
Brave New World by Aldous Huxly

RabbitWho
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### Re: Rattle my worldview - Has a book ever changed your life?

The Plague by Albert Camus completely changed my way of looking at life.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera completely changed my way of looking at books.