5 Books That Changed or Impacted My Life – Tim Washburn
I didn’t realize how difficult this task would be until I started mulling it over. I’ve read thousands of books over my lifetime and each had some type of impact on me, some subtle while others were more profound. I think we all retain bits of stories that dwell in the recesses of our minds for a lifetime and only come to the forefront when triggered by certain events. Think of old songs that spark a memory when you hear it years later. The same applies to the written word, at least for me.
Here is my list in no particular order:
THE GRAPES OF WRATH by John Steinbeck. I grew up in a one-stoplight town in the middle of Oklahoma. How could I not have an affinity for the Joad family from my home state? The novel, which I first read in my middle teens, opened my eyes to the inequality that was, and still is, prevalent in society.
LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov. I probably wouldn’t have discovered this novel until later in life if it hadn’t been a requirement for a college English class. Humbert Humbert is a pervert with a taste for young women, or specifically one young woman, Dolores Haze, or using his moniker, Lolita. For me, Nabokov writing about a taboo subject, allowed for a wider discussion about societal issues that are often difficult to discuss.
INVISIBLE MAN by Ralph Ellison. In my small town, there were two African American families, and I never considered looking at life through their eyes until I read Invisible Man. Of all the books I’ve read this one probably had the most profound effect on me. I saw the world in an entirely different light, one more inclusive rather than exclusive. And it’s a theme that’s stuck with me through life.
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP by John Irving. I read this book when it was first published in 1978. The coming of age story resonated with me because, at that time, I was struggling with some of the same issues T. S. Garp struggled with––finding an identity, and the yearning for a sexual relationship. Too bad my mother never sprang for a hooker.
LONESOME DOVE by Larry McMurtry. I love a big sprawling western. I cut my teeth on the novels of Louis L’Amour and read everything he wrote. Lonesome Dove is a bit more sophisticated than the L’Amour novels. The reason it made my list is because, at that time, it was the only novel to make me cry.