books of a lifetime

Great books are high on my mind these days, stemming from our discussion at a recent Toastmasters meeting, and as I attempt to complete the research for the second volume in my chocolate travel book series, Chocolatour.


Reading “Why Women Need Chocolate” by Debra Waterhouse helped inspire me to write my own book about chocolate.

what are some of the great books that have impacted your life?

I’ve spent a great deal of time recently thinking about what makes a book great, and what makes it memorable — the kind of book that can change our lives. So for this week’s post, I’d like to talk about books that have had the most significant impact on our lives and separate them into three categories:

1. From your childhood: Is there a book you read when you were a child (or one that was read to you – probably repeatedly) that helped shape the personality of who you are today? I’m not a sentimental person, but one book that has made it through the past 50 years with me through all the moves and places I’ve lived, is “The Princess and the Goblin” by George Macdonald. This book was published in 1913 – significant, because that is the year my father was born. Books were never a big part of our family household or my growing up, but my father read to me repeatedly from this book when I was little, and I have kept it all these years because of that. My copy is very old and tattered, so perhaps it was a book that my father also had as a child.

The Princess and the Goblin was one of my favourite books as a child.

The Princess and the Goblin was one of my favourite books as a child.

2. The book you’ve most enjoyed as a reader: Was this simply one of pleasure for you? Did it provide you with escape, laughs, inspiration? Or was it just so interesting to the point where you’ve referred to it time and time again? I admit to not being a fan of fiction and that most of the books I read are informational, educational or funny. In this category, the book that I found most enjoyable and enlightening has been, “Why Women Need Chocolate” by Debra Waterhouse. It’s so nice to know that my chocolate obsession is actually biological and that there is no use fighting it.


The Power of Intention by Wayne Dyer is a book that has influenced my life.

3. The book that has most significantly impacted your life: Perhaps it is because you were the author of this book and researching it, writing it, or having significant success as a result of its publication has greatly altered your life. Or is it a book that touched your soul or spirit in some way that resulted in a new you (or a notably different ‘work-in-progress’)? What is it about this book that has impacted your life or your soul so significantly? Or did it impact you simply from a pleasure or knowledge-fulfilled aspect that resulted in a change in course? There are quite a few books in this category for me as books that provide some form of spiritual guidance or enlightenment are the ones to which I most often turn. I love Dr. Wayne Dyer’s book, “the Power of Intention” as it is beautifully designed, laid out in such a way as to keep my interest and contains a strong message on every page.

How about you? What books have most affected your life? Please share with us here, as we have a lovely sharing community and have learned much one from another.

Thanks to all who have contributed to this discussion. If you’re only reading the posts and not the resulting comments, you’re missing out on a lot!





Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

141 Responses

  1. Mostarin Mishu says:

    Favorite childhood book is the easy one: Magic Elizabeth. It is still on my shelf and I read it every couple of years. The other categories require more thought than I have brain power today!

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  4. Marika says:

    My favourite book as an adult is a book called “Baseball Life Advice” by Canadian Author Stacey May Fowlers. Talks a lot about how baseball helped her though hard times and being a women involved in baseball. 2 of my favourite childhood books are Stop that Pickle and Shhhh. My school librarian read us Stop that Pickle when I was a kid and I always remembered it and I always bring it to read to students. Shhhh I borrowed many times from the library as a kid I don’t know why I liked it but I did!

    • Hi Marika and thx so much for sharing your fav books with us. I think it’s really cool how you continue the tradition of reading Stop that Pickle with your students. ❤️

  5. Beverly says:

    I enjoyed your review about the impact books have on their readers. I read mostly mystery books.

  6. Robert Bott says:

    In fiction, two books that I’ve read three times at different stages of life are Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and On the Road by Jack Kerouac. I think they must have an impact on my life. I eventually read vast amounts of Mark Twain, and it was fascinating to see how non-fiction Life on the Mississippi turned into the Huck Finn masterpiece. I read the latter for the third time while bicycling along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. I read the Kerouac for the third time while bicycling down the West Coast.

    I’ve always loved westerns and thrillers too from an early age. It’s hard to single out titles and authors from the thousands (more than 800 just on my Kindle) but among westerns I’ll suggest a fine Canadian example, Lightning by Fred Stenson. An early favorite among thriller writers was John D. MacDonald, and I can single out the first book of his Travis McGee series, Deep Blue Good-bye (1964), for one line that changed my life: “I’m taking my retirement in installments while I’m young enough to enjoy it.” Still doing that at 75.

    It’s even harder to pick favourites among non-fiction writers. A few that come immediately to mind are Simon Winchester, David McCullough, Ken McGoogan, Jared Diamond, Fawn Brodie, and John Krakauer. There are many, many more. One of my special interests is Arctic and Antarctic exploration. Oh yes, if your looking for influential books from childhood, one that had a big early impact was Sailing Alone Around the World by Nova Scotian Joshua Slocum.

    Enough. Now I’ll read some of the earlier posts.

    • Thanks so much for sharing some of your favourite books with us, Bob. I love how you connect books with travel as that’s been pivotal to my preferences as well. I’m really enjoying this thread and how each of us is motivated and inspired by different styles of literature.

  7. Janet says:

    As a child, I was enthralled with the Black Stallion Mysteries by Walter Farley. Shipwrecks in far away lands. A boy and a stallion on adventures. Read every volume several times as a kid.

    I was constantly checking out books from our local library. The librarian started letting me go into the adult section at about 12 years old. The book that impacted at 12 was Spencer’s Mountain by Earl Hamner Jr. . Imagine my surprise when The Waltons series came on TV and it was based on this wonderful story.

    To this day, my favourite book to read is Green Darkness by Anya Seton. This story takes you through many emotions as Celia lives through 2 different centuries simultaneously. Every 5 years or so I read again. Anya Seton is such a great storyteller. She also wrote Dragonwyk.

    • Thx so much for sharing your love of books with us, Janet. I’ve known you for so long, and have always known how much you love to read. But I hadn’t realized just how important reading was to you even as a young child.

  8. Here are my favorites:
    From my childhood, “Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.”
    Most enjoyed as a reader, The “Angelique” series (historical French romantic adventure) by Sergeanne Golon
    Most significantly impacted my life, “You can Heal Your Life” by Louise Hay
    Thanks, Doreen, for asking such a fun and insightful question.

    • Thanks for joining the conversation, Carolyn. I love reading about the books that have impacted my readers. And knowing the incredible life you are now living, I have no doubt that the Louise Hay book really did have a positive impact on your life. 🙂

  9. Hi Doreen, really such informative post, books also impact our life. I definitely want to add some of these books to my wish list. Thank you for sharing this amazing collection.

  10. I don’t know that I have specific favourite books – I read a LOT! I had to slow down my reading while raising my babies, but now they’re 8 and 11 and I find I’m getting back to it.

    Terry Brooks Sword of Shannara series opened my eyes to the world of fantasy while I was in elementary school and I’ve been on that path ever since. I love most genres, but I rarely read non-fiction. Right now I’m heavy into Steven King and am reading my way through the Dark Tower series.
    Jessica – A Modern Mom’s Life recently posted…Five things I DON’T do over the holiday seasonMy Profile

    • Hi Jessica, and welcome to Chocolatour! As you are an avid reader & lover of fantasy, I’m confident you would enjoy the When Words Collide festival for readers and writers held annually in Calgary. You’ll find a post about it on this site, as I’ve been there twice.

  11. Great post Doreen! I love books with a passion and was often found with my head buried in one as a child!

    I recall several Judy Blume books caught my attention as a young teenager. I understood the desire to grow up, to have a boyfriend, to be popular. I was fascinated by the American slang and yearned to taste a Hershey Bar!

    As an adult a book that stood out to me is The Power of Habit.

    I enjoy reading thrillers (nothing creepy) and gravitate to authors who throw in a twist at the end.

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Phoenicia. I hope you got to taste that Hershey Bar! There is something quite unique about them as Milton Hershey invented the double condensed milk recipe that adds so much richness to the chocolate. I’ve not previously heard of “the Power of Habit” but I’m sure it’s a great read. Habits do have the power to make us do just about anything!

  12. Jenn says:

    I always love a favorite/inspiring book post. I can definitely relate to books like “why women need chocolate”. I don’t have a favorite in that category yet but I love reading these kind of books.
    I also love Wayne Dyer and began following him on You tube a few years back. I’d be interested to read his book and will add it to my list. One of my most influential spiritual books thus far is You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. It’s the book that sparked my spiritual quest and for that, I will always remember it and be thankful. I also reference here and there and find myself picking it up again and again.
    A few of my favorite fiction books are:
    The Red Tent
    A Thousand Splendid Suns
    The Kite Runner
    Harry Potter of course
    Those are the top ones that come to mind quickly. Thanks for sharing your faves Doreen! I look forward to reading the other comments.

    • Thanks for joining this discussion, Jenn. I love how books join us all together. They help shape our lives, help us understand those we love, and help us develop goals and bring them to reality. I rarely read fiction as I am so wrapped up in travel, but as a professional writer, certainly appreciate the skills it takes to completely create a compelling world with the intricacies of its characters.

  13. Robina Charlie says:

    Books are sharing inspired knowledge without doing any reactivity. A book is the best medium for collecting knowledge. You can spent your time with a book without feel bored.

  14. I think readers would enjoy my comedy Chocolate Chocolate Moons. My protagonist, like many struggling with their weight on Earth, goes to college on the moon because there her 287 pounds will be 47.6. When her favorite candy, Chocolate Moons, much like a chocolate truffle but much better, is poisoned she springs into action and solves the crime.
    Kirkus Review said “delightful.”
    Midwest Book Review said “A humorous romp sure to please.” Get it on Amazon and enjoy your chocolate.

  15. Favorite childhood book is the easy one: Magic Elizabeth. It is still on my shelf and I read it every couple of years. The other categories require more thought than I have brain power today!

    • I’ve never heard of that one, Rose. I look forward to hearing your other two categories. 🙂

      • You know me, I’m adding a whole different question/answer here. Smack me later. I love fiction. I love mysteries. I love John Sandford’s character, Virgil Flowers–a cop. I read “Holy Ghost” and loved it (I gotta love going on, I know.) both as a reader and as a writer. His books are always good, but there was something so utterly perfect about this one that I already started to re-read it to figure out what it is that makes me state such a sentence.

  16. Lots of books but a few that come to mind! Gone with The Wind, Celestine Prophecies, a Course In Miracles, River Gods, Thanks for all you words and Kindness!

  17. Beverly says:

    What an interesting topic you have chosen to write about! I love to read and most of my family love to read as well. I don’t have a favorite book, but I like to read fiction. I really enjoy reading a good mystery book. An example of an author whose books I like to read is Agatha Christie.

  18. I don’t know if it shaped my life, but one of my favoite picture books was “The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge”. My mother read it a lot to 4-year-old me and even as an adult, every time we drove past the George Washington Bridge, I’d try to catch a glimpse of the little red lighthouse and it was always there. I hope it still is.
    santafetraveler recently posted…Mother’s Day 2014: Ode to my momMy Profile

  19. I voraciously read fiction, but tend to those offering a good dose of history – e.g. I just finished Khaled Houssaini’s ” A Thousand Splendid Suns.
    I will be sure to voraciously read your book about chocolate.

  20. My favourite authors include Daphne Du Maurier and John Galsworthy – does this give you a clue about the decade of my birth? But in all my wide reading over many decades, I return to Du Maurier for sheer, uncomplicated pleasure.
    Carolyn Taylor

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks so much for your comment, Carolyn, and for visiting us here on the blog. I believe it is your first visit. We’re always thrilled to have new voices join our community.

      I must say I am unfamiliar with the authors you have mentioned. I pretty much exclusively read and write non-fiction. Here’s hoping my upcoming chocolate book will bring readers “sheer, uncomplicated pleasure.” 🙂

      Hope you’ll stick around and subscribe to the blog. Cheers!
      WizardOfWords recently posted…take heed and listen to the signsMy Profile

  21. It was a Seth Book, “The Nature of Personal Reality”. Totally changed me and lauched me onto a new path in life. Very profound, interesting reading.
    Teresa Carey recently posted…What’s In Vol.1, No.3My Profile

  22. Carole Kaus says:

    Hi Doreen,
    My favorite children’s book was “Heidi”. I read it over and over. Her love of the Alps and her simple life were very real to me. Her longing to be home with her grandfather and her friend Peter, reminded me how lucky I was to be with my loving family. To this day, when I’m enjoying dairy products, I remember the descriptive passages the author made of Heidi’s enjoyment while eating goat cheese and drinking a glass of milk.

    I don’t remember the names of the books that had the most impact on my life. These self-help readings gave me guidance and help to deal with loved ones who were in trouble due to alcoholism. I found much help and comfort in these books and they guided me through some of the most difficult times of my life.

    As an adult, I have found many favorite books. Among them … “The Prince of Tides” and most recently “Life of Pi”. These were both funny, quirky and full of human emotions. I always love books that make me laugh and cry.

    Carole Kaus

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks so much for your comment, Carole! I hope you had a Merry Christmas.

      I equate the covers of books to be the tiles that make up the mosaic of our lives. Each one has contributed to the overall reality that is ours.

      Hoping to see you in 2013. All the best!
      WizardOfWords recently posted…a salute to 2012: it’s been a good yearMy Profile

  23. Leora says:


    I’m going to mention Harriet the Spy as a book that impacted my childhood. My friends and I were encouraged to write because of that wonderful book.
    Leora recently posted…Rant on Guest Post SubmissionsMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Cool, Leora. Thx for adding “Harriet the Spy” to the list. It’s neat to look back at books that have impacted our lives. And exciting that this had been my most popular post EVER! Nice to know people still care deeply about books. 🙂

  24. Naxysch says:

    I would want to mention here a book that has really made an impact on my life! And that book is “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho. It has really changed my perspective of life and made me believe that everyone has a purpose in life and everything we do leads us to our final destination!

  25. As someone said above, shameless self promotion, my book Broke Hungry and Happy, about my son’s life, is my favorite. My favorite books from teenage years: Gone with the Wind, Forever Amber, Lord of the Flies, Jane Eyre, then later, Thornbirds (I used to be a hopeless romantic). After losing my son some inspirational books on grieving the loss of a child: Beyond Tears (Mitchell), The Year of Magical Thinking (Didion),Saving Graces (Elizabeth Edwards), Only Spring (Livingston),Five Cries of Grief (Strommen), Lament for a Son (Wolterstorff), and light and frothy: mysteries by Jonathan Kellerman and Stephen Wright, books by Grisham and Chrichton.

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Hi Rae Ann: Isn’t it great when our writing can help others? I’m sure your book about your son’s death was helpful to many parents and families.

      As they say, it’s not the length of our life that is important. It is the number of people we have touched. Sounds like your son touched many.

      • I ended my book (about my son) with a saying I found that I love: “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” For this, I’m forever grateful as my son had so many moments that took his breath away. Yes, I’ll look for you on Twitter. Thanks.

  26. LED Flashlights says:

    I really love “Red Badge of Courage”.. A story about civil war… This is the first book I read…

  27. Doreen – 2 was an awesome book of art of living the lovely book i have ever heart

  28. Doreen – 2 books that I love and refer to often are: Reflections on the Art of Living: A Joseph Campbell Companion, and The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Both are filled with wisdom.

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks for joining the conversation, Barb.

      Yes, I have the Power of Now and have found it to be a great book. Will have to look up your other recommendation.

  29. Great questions. I am coming into this discussion late but thought I would add my two cents worth anyway.

    I have always been a reader. I read everything – fiction, non-fiction, comics, poems, magazines, blogs, etc. It started when I was very little and my mom and I would read books together. I spent my childhood reading all the time – Robert Munsch, Judy Blume, The Babysitters Club, The Bobbsey Twins, Archies, R.L Stein, etc. I actually found a cassette tape of myself recently where I am in grade five and I am talking to the microphone and telling the tape how proud I was that I was leading the class that year in the number of books read – apparently I was keeping track of the titles and authors and setting goals for myself and thought it was important enough to put on a cassette journal. I guess you could say I’ve always been a book worm.

    To answer your questions – my favourite book from my childhood would be Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein – it contains a collection of silly poems and drawings. My mom and I would read them together in funny voices and giggle. Sometimes we would even try writing our own poems in a similar style to Mr. Silverstein. It is a book that I dig out from time to time and still enjoy many years later. My mom actually mailed it to me a few months ago and it has provided lots of entertainment and trips down memory lane in the past few weeks.

    The books that I have enjoyed the most as a reader were The Alchemist, The Prince of Tides and I Know This Much is True. All have a great story and I just could not put them down. The Prince of Tides was required reading for an English class at Dalhousie University taught by author Lesley Choyce. I remember reluctantly starting the book – thinking it was going to be super boring – but then realizing I couldn’t put it down. I read it in one weekend and finished it weeks before the rest of the class. The Alchemist was recommended to me by a classmate in a religious studies class and it really made me think about what we are searching for in life. I Know This Much is True I believe was part of Oprah’s Book Club. I had previously read Wally Lamb’s She’s Come Undone in the book club and didn’t think he could top that one but he did with I Know This Much Is True – a long, but very wonderful read.

    I’m not sure which book has most significantly impacted my life – perhaps it hasn’t happened yet. I have never tried to write a book, but I do have a few ideas floating around in my head so maybe some day I will finally begin and it will impact my life signficantly. I think I am just too scared to start writing one, afraid that I won’t be able to get my thoughts organized enough to put down on paper, or that it will turn out boring. I’ve always had a technical type career – one based on numbers and practicality – very cut and dry with no room for creative freedom- and perhaps I am afraid to allow my mind to wander fully into the realm of creativity and write a novel, even though I desire it. I started blogging as a way to begin the process of recapturing my creative side and it seems to be working out well for me, so perhaps a book is the next step. Time will tell!

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks so much for joining the conversation, LGB.

      I have no doubt that your creative juices are percolating on your blog. I can definitely sense them, and your wit. There is no doubt this will evolve into a major creative writing project that will enable you to grow as a writer.

      My advice to you: Join a writers group or assn to help you move forward with your writing. I know you live in a rural area, so it’s not easy to get to meetings, or necessarily to find a writer’s group in close proximity. If you’re not already a member of the MB Writer’s Guild, I suggest you join that. They have a regular newsletter and e-notices to inform members of professional development opportunities that are happening that you can plan for. (Like the session I’m giving for them in Winnipeg on Feb 25th on “Finances for Freelancers.”)

      Hope to meet you sometime soon.

  30. Coming in at the tail end of this discussion, Doreen, but here are my favourite books.

    I wasn’t much of a reader as a child, mainly because I lived in a home that didn’t value books. What I did read were comic books! So I have to admit rather sheepishly, that Superman and Batman were two of my earliest influences in life. In bed when were supposed to be sleeping, my brother and I made up all sorts of stories featuring comic book heros and other characters we concocted out of our wild imaginations. It was tremendous fun and had much to do with my later attraction to short stories and books. Also, I read all of the Classics Illustrated comics, my first introduction to great literature.

    My first foray into serious reading came in junior high school. Thanks to a gifted teacher, I was introduced to Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, and E.M. Forster. My favourite stories from those times were Robinson Crusoe, A Christmas Carol, and The Machine Stops. The latter story by Forster is a futuristic scenario written in 1912, I believe, in which people have become completely dependent on “the Machine” – an automated device that serves everyone’s tiniest need. Everyone lives underground in tiny cells, bodies atrophied, communicating through screens. The parallels to today’s internet are staggering. You can read in online (through our “Machine”) at:

    As I got older, the books that influenced me the most included: The Three Pillars of Zen (Philip Kapleau), The Teachings of Don Juan (Carlos Casteneda), Zorba the Greek (Nikos Kazantsakis), The Primal Scream (Arthur Janov), Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Robert M. Pirsig), The Lord of the Rings (J. R. R. Tolkien), The Snow Leopard (Peter Matthiessen), My First Summer in the Sierra (John Muir), Steps to an Ecology of Mind (Gregory Bateson), The Whole Earth Catalog (Stewart Brand), and so many more!

    As for the book that most significantly impacted my life, I would have to say it is Zorba the Greek. Zorba is the quintessential Zen character, full of life, zest and wonder, even in the midst of tragedy. He is fully alive NOW. When his business venture collapses in failure, he shrugs his shoulders, laughs and dances on the beach. It’s the one book I reread over and over, along with others by Kazantzakis.

    One day I hope to say that the most influential book on my life will be the one I write! I’m working on it!


    • WizardOfWords says:

      Hi Bruce:
      Thanks for joining the discussion. Better late than never!

      Interesting point you raise about comic books and our tendency to then lead toward short stories as the next step in our reading evolution. I admit to having the same history! Only my favourite comics were the Archie series! I loved Betty, Veronica, Archie, Reggie. I even married a Reggie!

      And I, too, love stories with a travel or Mediterranean flair! Perhaps it stems from a past life or two. I am drawn to the Mediterranean in many ways.

      Thanks for sharing, and good luck in getting that book published!

  31. The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander was the first book I remember reading on my own. Opened up my mind to the realm of fantasy (along with The Hobbit).

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Hey, Art. Thanks for joining the conversation and adding to the flavour of the list. There are certainly some interesting volumes represented here. And yes, I, too, loved the Hobbit.

  32. Suzanne Lieurance says:

    Hi, Doreen,

    Many books were special to me when I was growing up. And now I still love, love, love books!

    My favorite book in the 6th grade was called The Magic Pin and it was about a girl who had a horseshoe shaped pin that gave her the ability to talk to animals when she wore it. I wanted a pin like that so badly because I loved animals – especially dogs.

    Later, To Kill a Mockingbird had a big impact on me – probably because I lived in the South as a child, and the book was so truthful of the way things had been (and to some extent still were).
    Suzanne Lieurance recently posted…Building Your Freelance Writing Business: Set Income GoalsMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks for joining us here on the blog, Suzanne.

      Wow! Wouldn’t it be great to have a pin/tool that would enable us to communicate with animals? As a child, I always thought I could “talk” to our cat. Funny how all these years later … I am still a cat lover thru and thru. a special bond indeed.

      And yes, literature written about our home turf always holds a special place in the heart, doesn’t it?

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  33. The books that mean a lot to me creatively and professionally have been Start Where You Are, by Chris Gardner, Making Ideas Happen, by Scott Belsky and Caffeine for the Creative Mind. I recommend Start Where You Are for anyone willing to look back so you can look forward.
    Dennis Salvatier recently posted…What might be right for you, may not be right for someMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Cool, Dennis. I can see you are a creative thinker. Neat concept to look back to that you can look forward.

      Thanks for joining the discussion and sharing your recommendations.

  34. Carolyn Taylor (Matthews) says:

    Great subject…would you believe that in my sixth decade and a voracious reader, I still think of my reading of Daphne du Maurier’s novels with huge nostalgia and have read them again and again. Also John Galsworthy’s The Forsyte Saga.
    Another more recent love of mine is Sarah Dunant’s “The Birth of Venus.” Her chapter where a middle-aged gay man in Florence in the 15-16th century has to consummate his marriage to a young virgin to save himself is the greatest, most riveting prose I’ve read.

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks for joining us here, Carolyn. I believe it’s your first visit to the blog.

      Wow, you’ve got some interesting recommendations. The way you have described the writing in “Birth of Venus” certainly sounds riveting indeed. As I’ve confessed, I’m not a big reader of novels, but I’m sure others on the list will be making note of your choices.

      Hope you’ll join us here again soon.

  35. Margaret Anne Fehr says:

    What a wonderful chord you struck with this topic Doreen. I remember when my home town got its first library, about the size of a 50’s living room back then, In order to get a library card, my mother had to sign it and I remember running home, getting it signed and then running back to the library, that was a considerable distance, so that I could sign out my first book. I recall it was a fantasy book about Victorian dolls. That was the beginning of the love affair. Even back then when I was 7, I was taking out 3 or 4 books at a time. I especially loved the wonderfully illustrated books of the time, since drawing was my outright passion! Books like Mr. Popper’s Penguins, any book illustrated by Robert McCloskey and the beautiful book plate colour illustrations in a book I won at Sunday School, Little Women. The Secret Garden was another fave as was The Wind in the Willows. These were gentle, reflective books full of incredible charm.
    Books can soothe troubled times – they certainly did as I was growing up. You can inhabit different worlds. I love the fact that books are timeless. You are mixing and mingling your own thoughts with those of writers who lived in different times, different locations but you can still achieve connections and insights simply by entering into the world of the printed page.
    It’s always been a form of magic and it continues to be so.

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks for that comment, Margaret. It actually gave me goosebumps, as I could feel your passion as I was reading your words. I know what a creative person you are — both with words and with drawings. How wonderful that is to have 2 equally strong creative streams.

      I wonder if your mother realized how much impact that library card had on your life?

      Thanks again for dropping by, and for once again adding a thoughtful response to the post.

  36. Faye says:

    Thanks Doreen!
    I’ve read “Atlas Shrugged” three times and always get some great insights. Another great books are “The Millionaire Messenger” by Brendon Burchard and . Brendon’s a fabulous business book that I’ve read twice and about to start a third read.

  37. Faye says:

    What great questions, Doreen!
    1. My favorite books when I was a kid were definitely Dr. Seuss, especially “The Cat In the Hat.” I can still recite the first few pages!
    The other favorite from childhood is a poem called “Seein’ Things” by Eugene Field. I even performed this poem in front of audiences several times over the years.
    2. My favorite books as a reader were fiction that I just couldn’t put down. I don’t read much fiction, so the experience was particularly enjoyable. “Mutant Message DownUnder” was one I read without putting it down. Since the author couldn’t stop her journey, I felt that I shouldn’t either.
    I have thoroughly enjoyed the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. Laughed out loud all the way through each book. She writes with such a great mix of intrigue and humor, I got to number 11!
    “Memoirs of a Geisha” I listened to on tape while driving in the car. I actually listened to the whole thing twice.
    3. There are two books that have had a major impact on my life: “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand gave me eyes to see some things that I hadn’t been able to see and I completely changed my life as a result. The other was “Hypnotic Writing” by Joe Vitale, which shifted the way I write and edit books, marketing copy, etc.

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks so much for joining the conversation, Faye. You’ve got quite a fascinating list!

      I know Joe Vitale’s writing and agree it is noteworthy.

      “Atlas Shrugged” sounds like an interesting book. I am lucky that this list will be preserved on this blog and I will definitely refer to it when future when I’m treating myself to a new book or shopping for others.

  38. WizardOfWords says:

    Wow, Coretta! Them’s powerful words!

    I am unfamiliar with the book, but it sounds intriguing.

    It is so true that we too often see what we WANT to see, and don’t see what may be staring us in the face because of prejudices or pre-conceived notions.

    We have so much to learn from literature. Thanks for sharing your favourite with us.

  39. Coretta says:

    Thanks for this post. It’s a great reminder. In high school, I picked up Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. The prologue grab me. I read it again in college and again as an adult. It’s probably time to read it again.

    Here’s the first paragraph of the prologue…I hope it grabs you like it grabbed me.
    I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids — and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination — indeed, everything and anything except me

  40. says:

    Wow, what a great post, that really made me think. I love most books I read for many different reasons, not just the story, could be the phrasing, word choice. But I did think of a few that stuck with me. I’m not saying they are my favorites, just ones that are still hanging around in my head. They tie me back to specific times in my life.

    “For the Love of Anne.” We read this in high school and I don’t even know who wrote it. I was the true story of a young girl who had severe mental issues. Looking back, I know believe it was severe autism, but autism wasn’t heard of then. It was the first time I got a glimpse into the world/reality of someone who was “different”.

    “Tuesdays with Morrie,” I love just a about anything Mitch Albom writes. His writing is so approachable and real. Read this after the death of a relative.

    “You Are Special” by Max Lucado. Loved reading this to my two young sons. I still read it when I need a little boost myself.

    Thanks for getting me thinking. Love your blogs.

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks for your comment, Hilary. Glad you’re enjoying the blog!

      Thanks for sharing your choices. I’m sure enjoying the process of sharing, and learning what makes others tick.

      I hope you’ll join us here again soon.

  41. Steve says:

    The first book that I remember being absolutely enthralled by was McElligot’s Pool, a rhyming picture book written by Dr. Seuss in 1947. The story is about a farmer who sees a hopeful young boy dropping a fishing line in a small pond in a farm field. The pond is far from pristine – the reader can see tin cans, old boots and and other debris sitting on the bottom of the pond. The farmer laughs at the naivety of the boy and then tells him that he is wasting his time because there are no fish in the pond. The young boy politely listens to the farmer but keeps fishing anyway because something told him that there was more to this pool than what you could see on the surface.

    As a child of the fifties I grew up in a Levittown style suburb very similar to the landscapes that appear in many Seuss’s books. My subdivision was bordered on three sides by hundreds of acres of ex-farmland slowly turning into a No Man’s Land of weedy fields filled with development spoil and polluted little pond’s like McElligot’s pool.

    The young lad in the Seuss tale imagines what amazing things could be lurking just below the water’s surface. Fish that look like cats and dogs. Fish with long exotic feather-like fins. Fish with steamy red faces swimming in hot southern waters. And many more. There was something about the young lad’s sense of hope in a forlorn landscape combined with the outrageously silly fish possibilities that I found irresistible. And at the very last moment, something nibbles on the young boy’s hook.

    What can I say? The book struck such a nerve with me that signed it out from our local neighbourhood bookmobile so many consecutive times the librarian finally announced that I had maxed out my library card and I was banned from borrowing that book again until I had graduated high school.

    But the spirit of McElligot’s Pool has lived in me ever since. On one hand, I became a lifelong nature nut. The fishes in Seuss’s imagination pale in comparison with some the real life critters who actually share our planet. I’m also a big fan of people who have the imagination to look below the surface of stagnant conventional wisdom. Where others find old boots and a rusty tea kettles down there, others find inspiration and adventure.


    • WizardOfWords says:

      What an amazing reply, Steve! You should publish that as an essay, or at the very least … on your own blog!

      I do hope you have your very own copy of McElligot’s Pool now. You’ve certainly earned it!

      Thanks for bringing some whimsy to the conversation.

  42. Michelle Greysen says:

    Thanks Doreen for reminding us that books greatly impact who we become not only as writers but as people. Books, both reading and writing, have been a huge part of my life since a child and has led to a lifelong writing sideline as a vintage and collector book dealer. I had an antique store, Inktiques, themed entirely in the vintage office world and had a retail library of close to 10,000 catalogued and researched titles on hand and all personally acquired by me for the shop and many world-wide clients. I now have no physical shop but have 5 busy online antique shops and one of which features many of my titles. My personal home office library remains in the thousands and my retail library doubles that and constantly dwindles and grows. I am so fortunate to be able to surround myself and work within the energy of all my favourite volumes each and every day. Some great leather bound first editions but most well read dog-eared issues to dear to part with. My personal favourite are my Pauline Johnson collection of her rare and autographed precious few titles along with my large collection of fine Rudyard Kiplings. Also high on the list are my Nellie McClungs and my Lucy Maud Montgomery volumes but of course a Hemmingway rests alongside a few Sinclair Lewis and John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men stands tall against my all time favourite J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. – For anyone collecting or searching out a favorite or rare title please feel free to contact me anytime through my online antiquing blog and gateway to my shops at

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Wow, Michelle! You should get the award for the book-loving and respecting gal on the planet! I should tell my brother about you, as he has a very extensive collection of books from various genres. Perhaps he is reading this post and will make note of your site. If not, I will try and remember to pass it on.

      You may wish to connect with Elizabeth Campbell of Kenora, ON. Elizabeth is fondly known as the “Canadian Book Lady” on Twitter. You can connect with her via her website at She, too, has a very eclectic collection of new and used books.

      Thanks for joining the conversation. I will invite Elizabeth to join us!

  43. I have read so many books I can’t remember what one had the biggest impact on me. I just love reading anything that’s well written. I’ll give you a snapshot of a book through time:

    Young Child: Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book. Loved it so much I bought a copy for my daughter and for my granddaughter. I still love reading it.

    Teen: The Good Earth, by Pearle S. Buck and To Kill A Mockingbird (remember I grew up in the U S of A 🙂

    Young Adult – Majored in English in University. I took a course in Canadian Lit. There were so many amazing books but the one that sticks with me is Susanna Moody Roughing it In the Bush.

    Adult – Many, many but I absolutely love anything that transports me away from the present. Enjoyed every Harry Potter book. Am reading a book by a local (London, ON) author, Paul Cavanagh, “After Helen”. This was his first novel. I can’t wait for his next one to come out.

    • WizardOfWords says:

      You inspire me, Suzanne!

      You have such an amazing appreciation for literature. How lucky both your daughter, and now your granddaughter are to have you as an influence!

      Thanks for sharing some of your choices here, and for continuing to be such a strong supporter of this blog.

  44. Sorry I’m arriving late to this book club party. I was lucky to be raised by parents who were readers, especially the daily paper. We had many interesting discussions based on what we’d read in the paper, and it helped me get good marks on “Current Events” quizzes–which some of my classmates did not, because their parents weren’t readers. I know we were read to, and given books as kids, but I don’t remember them.
    The book I remember most from those early years is “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith. I identifed with it because the heroine, Francie, was the same age I was–12. She wanted to be a writer or a teacher, and so did I. It was a family story that had its trials, tribulations, and a happy ending. I loved the book and hated the movie–a pattern to be repeated. I also identified with “The Steven Truscott Story” by Isobel Labourday (spelling is likely wrong.) I was 14 when I read it–the age Steven Truscott was when he was [wrongly] convicted of raping and killing a classmate. [He’s been cleared, but he served 10 years unjustly, and I think he is still fighting to clear the record.] I learned an early lesson about justice, injustice, and why I’m against capital punishment.
    As an adult, my favourite series of books is written by Sue Grafton. Her “Alphabet Crime Fiction” series is now up to “V is for Vengeance.” I like these books because they have strong characters, and Grafton spins a good tale that offers some escape into another time (late 80s) and place (Southern California.) I talk about Grafton, her style, and the development of her main character, Kinsey Millhone, in my writing classes.
    Finally, the book that has had the most impact on my life is my own–“With Humour and Hope: Learning From Our Mothers Depression and Alcoholism.” It was therapeutic for me to write it, I met (only online) some amazing women who shared their stories, and it helped launch speaking and teaching for me.
    Books, whether they are in print, or now being read online or as e-books, can have an amazing impact on anyone’s life. As I said, I was raised by readers, I married a reader and we have two sons who are avid readers. How lucky am I?

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks SO much for joining the conversation, Christine. I always look forward to your comments.

      You are indeed fortunate to have come from a family of readers. That certainly wasn’t the case in my family and I think it had an impact on my disinterest in reading fiction. However, I was always encouraged to be curious and that has led me in the way of non-fiction, informational books which I love to read and to write.

      Thanks again for being an important part of this community we have built here.

  45. Joshua Bray says:

    To be refreshingly honest, I can’t say that I’m much of a book person. However, I have started reading a book titled “In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts” by Gabor Maté, a Canadian physician. It regards the many realms of addictions, a seemingly must read… I will have to update if it’s as it’s as good as it’s promised to be!

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Don’t worry, Josh! You’re young yet, and as you go thru life, the right books will find YOU. Just keep your ears and eyes open.

      It’s already happening, as the book you are now reading deals with the medical world and that is aligned with your chosen profession. I hope it touches, inspires or strengthens you in some way.

      Thanks for dropping in and sharing your thoughts.

  46. satinka says:

    Hi Doreen,

    Wonderful idea for a blog!

    Without a doubt, the book used to influence me the most was the Bible. As a child, the Bible was used by my parents to teach me obedience and subjection. It was a book that instilled fear—a book of oppression filled with harsh, punishing beliefs. My parents used the Bible to produce compliant children who were easy to control and manipulate.

    Now, as an adult, I still see the influence of the Bible by authority figures. Being biblically conditioned, I subsequently—and most unfortunately in my ignorance—used that same book to brainwash my children. I produced compliant, obedient sheep, rather than people who might think for themselves.

    As a mature adult, I examined my life when it fell around me in ruins, only to realize I had been lied to by my parents, by religious leaders and by our governments—all in the name of god. I came to realize that religion uses the bible to produce bigots who are incapable of seeing they are indeed bigots. Their religious leaders have told them they are superior to every other religion. Persecution of others different from them became a natural consequence of such an oppressing belief. In the USA we have some of the leading bigots currently running for the presidency. Who recognizes this? I can see the influence the Bible has brought to their political situation.

    I see a government right here in Canada currently in power who claims to be Christian, yet enabling the destruction of our planet through greed. In truth, Big Oil is Prime Minister Harper’s god. He is complicit while the First Nations ways of life and livelihood are being destroyed and the people are being demoralized. The oil industry is polluting the planet, even though we are supposed to be caretakers and stewards of the earth, according the Bible. We have a so-called “Christian” government that cares more about money than the inhabitability of the earth. Oppression of the many by a few.
    Governments use the Bible to propagandize the population—to dumb us down and subjugate, divide and conquer. It is a book that teaches poverty for the common folk and riches for the elite. It teaches patriarchy as a way of life, where women and girls are subject to male domination and oppression.

    The time has come for me to reject this book that enables such an unprecedented level of corruption by patriarchs. I would not have seen this if I had not read the Bible and fallen under its influence. Now I realize it is time to take my power back and reclaim the earth and protect it from greedy governments and corporations who have no soul. Corporations have no soul, and neither do the politicians who have been bought by corporate money. Our government leaders are bought and sold to the highest bidder these days. Now I see the Bible as a book written by men for men to oppress humanity in the name of god.

    Without a doubt, the book used to influence me the most was the Bible. Today, it helps me to see where people in power are misusing their power in the name of god. It is patriarchal book used to control and manipulate people, all in the name of god.

    This essay is also posted at
    satinka recently posted…Residues of the BibleMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Wow, Esther. Thanks for the impassioned response.

      I was wondering when/if someone was going to list the Bible as a book of influence. I hadn’t expected a response from your perspective, but it is certainly a valid one as I know how much pain religion has brought to you in the past, and how it still holds a dark cloud over your head.

      I am hoping the day will soon come when that cloud will dissipate and nothing but warm, glorious sunshine will fill your life and thoughts.

  47. As I see, here gather many bloggers and people who like writing and share their experience 🙂
    I want to offer you the book David Ogilvy “Ogilvy on Advertising”, it’s quite an old one, but in spite of it, very useful, you’ll know how to interact with your readers or customers, learn how to write ads in the most effective way and many other helpful things.
    Hope, you’ll like it 🙂
    Emily Williams recently posted…Creative Infographics for Photographers About PhotographyMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks, Emily.

      Finding tips on how to better communicate is always welcome, so I’m sure some of my readers will be interested in your recommendation.

      Thanks for joining us here on the blog.

  48. Valerie Stark says:

    Hi Doreen,
    Interesting topic.
    Am currently reading The Lemon Tree, a nonfiction by Sandy Tolan. Is giving me a better understanding of the history of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.
    I’ve read The Shack twice!

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Hi Val: Thanks for joining the blog!

      Well, that’s 2 votes for The Shack, so I think I’d better get myself a copy!

      Thanks for sharing your choices.

  49. Re: “a young child would have been so touched” I was terribly precocious! Also, I think I liked the “idea” of the book as much as reading — it made me feel very grown up.
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  50. Doreen, I wanted to respond as soon as I read your post but I got so (embarrassed) emotional thinking about my favourite childhood book that I shelved my response. It was “Children’s Garden of Verse,” a huge book that my Aunt Eva gave me when I won a poetry recital in Grade One. The book replaced the doll I had once carried and I took it (the book) with me everywhere, including to bed. I lost my copy somewhere along the road of life but found it again in an old book shop and now proudly have it on my “special” bookshelf. I feel it is the book that defined and set out my purpose in life…and yet I still strive toward my first book of poetry!! What a beautiful invitation to share, Doreen. Thanks.
    Christine Cowley recently posted…Inspiration from a backward glanceMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks for sharing your reflections, Christine.

      Wow! “Children’s Garden of Verse” must have had quite the impact on you! Hard to believe a young child would have been so touched by a book of prose. Glad you found yourself another copy.

      I know what you mean about having a “special bookshelf.” I have one, too!

  51. Candice says:

    Oh god, I love this topic. And now I have to go through all the comments and write down all these books I want to read. Thanks! Hahaha.

    1. The Grand Escape by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor made me want to be a writer because I loved the book so much. In fact, it probably inspired the handwritten series I created about my two dogs.

    2. The Colony of Unrequited Dreams by Wayne Johnston. The kind of literature that I found overwhelming, and although I’m not fan of Joey Smallwood, his character was one of the most memorable I’ve ever read to date.

    3. Elli by Livia E. Bitton Jackson. It’s a pretty gruesome account of the holocaust, and I read it when I was perhaps 12 or 13. Really changed how I saw the world, in the sense that I became less naive.
    Candice recently posted…That Time a Dolphin Undressed me in MexicoMy Profile

  52. Marijke says:

    I haven’t read any of the other comments yet. My contribution is controversial. Many people hated it and were very vocal about it. This book is very short novel that I normally would not have read, but I read it a few years ago when I was searching for some meaning to my life. Trying to get over some things, trying to understand things.

    I picked up the book and read it almost all in one shot. Through the author’s words, I found myself asking and answering questions about the way I saw life, spirituality, and how people interact. While I didn’t walk away with all my problems solved, the book made me really think about some long-standing beliefs I had.

    The book is The Shack, by William P. Young.

    I am not a religious person. I was not brought up to be religious. My husband is faithful to the Catholic Church. He read the book and he agreed that it made him think. Not that he agreed or disagreed with the story within, but it made him think. That, to me, is what a powerful book does.

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Wow! That’s quite a powerful recommendation, Marijke! Thanks for letting us know about the Shack. I’l be sure to add it to my Wish List!

      Thanks for joining us here and contributing to the conversation.

  53. Lyle Appleyrd says:

    A book I read about 25 years ago was The Chariots of The Gods. I always had an interest in UFO’s, as most nerdy teen boys did. I read this as an adult and was totally fascinated by it. It was a new theory to add to all the other theories about UFO’s I read.

    Since that time, most of the book has been discredited by historians and scientists. This was no surprise. There was no concrete evidence to support his thories. No smoking gun.

    Despite this critisism, this book stuck with me because it challenged the exisiting theories. That is something we should always be doing, until we find one that is unrefutable.

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks for joining the conversation, Lyle. I’ll ask my friend and renowned UFO writer, Chris Rutkowski, to respond to your comment. Stay tuned!

      And thanks, also, for joining my author’s page on FB. My Toastmaster friends rock!

      • Thanks for the invite, Doreen!

        Overall, von Daniken probably did more harm than good to ufology, astronomy, archaeoastronomy, anthropology and other fields. Because his books could not be backed up by scholarly research, much of what he wrote was sheer speculation. And even worse, he seemed to have ripped off work from earlier writers such as Robert Charroux and Raymond Drake. One of von Daniken’s books, Gold of the Gods, was even admitted to have been made up completely!

        Of course, von Daniken had a good publisher with a broad marketing campaign, and it worked well in his favour.

        As for challenging theories, von Daniken more or less ignored them rather than challenged them.

        However, I agree that von Daniken managed to get people THINKING, which is something that mainstream science still has trouble doing. In fact, it was his alternate view of history that made his work appealing to the masses, who were suspicious of the “establishment” as a result of societal worries and pressures.

        • WizardOfWords says:

          Thanks for your reply, Chris, and the explanation re UFO books. I’ll be sure to let Lyle know you’ve dropped by to comment.

          Now … how about sharing which books have impacted YOU?

          • Books which impacted me? Hmmm… well, I once made my wife so mad, she threw a copy of War and Peace at me.

            Oh, wait, you probably meant something else. All right.

            When I was a kid, I discovered the “Science Fiction” section of the local public library. The first book I read from that section was The White Mountains by John Christopher. I read it in one sitting and eagerly sought the other two in the series. When I was done, I was hooked on SF. I had read Hardy Boys too, but it was the diversity of the SF that led me to speculate on “What if…?”

            In high school, I found a copy of Intelligent Life in the Universe by Shklovskii and Sagan. That may have started my real fascination with the possibility of life “out there.”

            I was never into classical or mainstream literature as such. I chose Asimov over Steinbeck, Bradbury over Hesse, Clarke over Hemingway. As a consequence, when I sat in on my first writers guild meeting, I had never read a Carol Shields book, anything by Gabrielle Roy, and wasn’t all that interested in Margaret Laurence or Robertson Davies.

            “Struggles of a young girl (or boy) growing up on the Canadian prairie…” was simply not good enough. Now, put that same girl or boy in a colony on Mars, and we’re talking. Same emotions, same angst, same unrequited love, but with complexities impossible with a standard terrestrial rural setting.

            I went back and read some of the “classical” works just to be sure.

            I was.
            Chris Rutkowski recently posted…Sounds like Conspiracy SpiritMy Profile

          • WizardOfWords says:

            Thanks for sharing your selections, Chris.

            I’m with you. I haven’t read a lot of the mainstream classic literature either. It’s never been my bag. I certainly respect the talent of the “great” literary writers but it’s not the kind of writer I want to be (i.e. writing novels) and so that’s not the kind of reading I am drawn to.

  54. Dorian Kent says:

    Ah the joy of reading. It’s a great way to go on an adventure without having to leave the comfort of your home. Here are a few books that I have read that have impacted my life in various ways:

    Tuesdays With Morrie
    How to be Happy Dammit!
    Enough Already!
    The Last Lecture
    Dinner with a Perfect Stranger
    A Day with a Perfect Stranger

    I can hardly wait for the summer, so I can head to the cottage and relax with a good book by the lake!

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks for sharing your selections, Dorian. I hope you’re happier after reading number 2!

      Sounds like quite the eclectic mix.

      Thanks for joining the conversation,

  55. Doreen, You are so right about physical activity. I used to love Curves but the closest one to me (about 15 minutes away) closed. Zumba sounds great but I haven’t found any classes close by. For now, I have to settle for Dance on my Wii but it’s not nearly as much fun as getting out of the house and interacting with other women.
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