What book changed your life?

Updated April 21, 2018

(Jessica Roy / Los Angeles Times)

Books can change lives.

As this year's Festival of Books begins, we want to hear from you: What’s a book that changed your life, and how?

It can be the curriculum requirement from high school that first made you love to read. It can be a book of poetry that made you look at things in a whole new way. Or it can be a biography that gave you an entirely new point of view. Even a cookbook that taught you the perfect Thanksgiving turkey recipe — we want to hear about it.

Festival of Books is April 21 and 22 at USC.

See the calendar and events lineup here.

"Go Ask Alice"

My own 'Happiness Project' has changed the way I live!

"The Color Purple": "It showed me that there was a whole world of human experience that I had no clue about. It humbled me."

"Traveling Mercies": "Her no-holds-barred, hilarious, sensitive voice truly got me through some dark times, when I had thoughts swirling within me I thought I couldn't share with anyone."

"It made concrete the horrific effects of war that are usually sanitized out of news broadcasters."

"I’m not a scientist but it gave me a love for what the best of science may accomplish."

Benjamin Chapman

"Anne of Green Gables"

Bill Mann

"'Giovanni's Room' is a gem, held close to heart, and passed down through generations of queer family."

"'The Wizard of Oz' was one of the first books I read just for fun."

"It was the first time ever that I read a book with an Asian American girl (like me!) as the main character."

"I was always a reader, but this book marked the transition from children's to adult books for me."

"The Dharma Bums"

I gasped throughout and screamed out loud at the ending.

"I was an eighth grader and had put off reading the book until the weekend it was due. I started it on a Friday afternoon never put it down over the weekend. I was hooked for life."

Ellen Cicconi
Ellyn Moscowitz

"I first read 'The Phantom Tollbooth' by Norton Juster when I was around 8 years old. It led me to a life-long love of reading and the wonderful intricacies of the English language."

Faizah A. Rajput

"I grew up in a cult. This was the first book I read in community college that rocked so many of my underlying assumptions."

"My dad read books to me when we were young. I can still see this book in my mind, and I am 80."

"Countless drinks, chemicals, brain cells and experiences later, I thank the late Hunter S. Thompson for opening my mind to the things you'll experience on the fringes of society."

"Jane Eyre"

I gave up tenure and moved home to California.

Greg Lucas
Gregory Kubelek
Hal Bass
Jed Jones
Jeff Borg

"I can directly link reading 'Frankenstein' to eventually becoming a doctor."

"Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism" (aka "The Big Book") by Bill W.

Jessica Osuna
Jocelyne Flores
Jonathan D. Morse

"Today I am in the process of writing my first book, and I owe it all to my sixth-grade teacher for making me love books – starting with 'Hatchet.'"

"The Feminine Mystique"

Lynne Friedmann
Marie Ohanesian Nardin

"We humans have not evolved to outgrow inflicting violence to achieve political or economic gain on perceived adversaries."


"'Paradise Lost' made me re-think my entire perception of life and people."

"Auntie Mame"

"It gave hope that future events can change for the better, when everything seems to be at the darkest point imaginable."

"Conversations with God"

"Lost Worlds"

Peter Stadlera

"The Book Thief"

"The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy

"As a brown girl growing up, this story was everything to me."

Shaked Landor

"I made a rule for myself to do something every month that I had never done before."

"This book awakened me to activism just as I was graduating from high school, and informed my views and personal politics from then on."

"Slaughterhouse-Five:" "It literally changed the way I think about time, life, death, and eternity."

"Ray Bradbury opened my eyes to how great literature might transport me to anywhere I wished to travel."

Walt Quinn

"'Les Miserables' taught me a code of ethics of how personally to treat others, and how our society should treat the unfortunates among us."

"A Wrinkle in Time"

"Silent Spring"

Originally published April 16, 2018

Additional credits: Development by Vanessa Martínez