Books That Changed My Life

Life changing books

Oprah claims The Color Purple changed her life, not only due to the film role but also due to the ideas in the novel. She writes, “I got the book and read it, in one day. And then, I went back, the next day, and bought every copy they had. I would hand the book out to everybody that I knew. I passed it around to everybody in the office. I became obsessed with the book.”

Book obsession. We all have it, right? It’s glorious, even when it hurts. Some books lift us up and others make us cry.

And some stay with us for a lifetime.


On Twitter and Facebook recently, I asked my friends what books changed their lives. Here are some of the answers:

Gaby selected Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin because “it made me realize how much I depend on what I see”

Wendy said The Mortal Instruments led her to Malec and MM.

Author Heidi Cullinan had several of her books mentioned by various readers ranging from loving the “kink” in Nowhere Ranch to loving the emotional weight in Carry the Ocean

Jacki picked Be Good to Yourself Therapy by Cherry Hartman among others, and she mentioned how much it “comforted” her through dark times

Susan said the books of K.A. Merikan changed her “on every level”

Liliana called Unquiet by Melanie Hansen a “tough” but “important” read

Marinieves chose Omorphi by Cody Kennedy because “it made me realize I do not have to be afraid.”

CL chose Christine Jorgensen’s biography for “having a profound effect on my unconditional acceptance of LGBTQ people.”



What about me?

There are so many books that I love. Books that challenged me, and books that saved me. Like the picture of this beautiful man in the water, books made ripples of change in my life.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest made me examine my faith in institutions and my hope in humanity

We Were the Mulvaneys reminded me how easily even a good family can splinter

Maybe life-altering books can come at life-altering moments?

I believe this is true.

For example, I can recall my father handing me the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe. It was the same week he was leaving me.

Angry at my parents and their divorce, I devoured Poe, especially his darkness. It was the first time I ever read stories that bleak and crazy. I loved having the permission to go into that part of my heart.

On the other hand, that same year, I also used to sneak to my mother’s bedroom and rummage through her large stash of romance novels. These books gave me hope.I loved how the heroine and hero struggled to be together. In a world where my parents love simply disappeared, I needed those happy endings.

I think we find different books the way we find different people in our lives. They come in moments when we need them to arrive, and they linger way beyond the pages.

Anna Quindlen writes, “In books I have traveled, not only to other worlds, but into my own.”

― How Reading Changed My Life


Please feel free to add your own list in the comments. Happy reading!




Flash Fiction and Romance


A good friend asked me to write flash fiction for a GBLT science fiction anthology. Despite never writing much science fiction and never writing flash fiction, I agreed because he’s a sweetheart. Besides I like a challenge, right?

Wrong. This was so much more intense than I thought. The story has to be under 300 words, which I can write in an introduction ( 300 words!  This freaking blog post is longer!)

Yet… I am so grateful to him. Flash fiction is a wonderful writing exercise. It forces me to take the clutter out of my prose and make every word count. It makes my prose lean and mean.

Hooray for slicing off the fat! Trim is the way to sexy prose!


Whether or not this little story ends up in his anthology, I’m uncertain about at this point. I’m excited that it gave me a way to focus my editing.

If you take any romance novel and order yourself to cut it in half—imagine how sharp and necessary the words that stay will be?! It also gave me a new idea for a novel.

The point is that writing something out of your comfort zone can be rewarding.

Tell me about a writing exercise that worked for you? 

As for me, I’m off to go and chop 50 more words out of my story.