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Old 11-20-2012, 01:19 PM   #1
kuwisdelu
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Has fiction ever changed your life?

Pretty much what it says in the title.

Not limited to prose and poetry. I want to have movies and TV shows, paintings and plays, and other performing and visual arts included here, too. This was the most appropriate place, I figured, but if there's indeed a better place — that considered — please move this thread there.

But anyway, AWers, has a work of fiction ever changed your life? Made you a different person? Touched your heart in your time of need?

I'd like to hear your stories, if you're comfortable, and you'd so oblige.

What stories have changed your fate?
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Old 11-20-2012, 01:23 PM   #2
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Not sure if this is what you mean, but novels by Ann Moray, Susan Cooper, Lloyd Alexander, and Mary Stewart (the Merlin books) interested me in medieval Welsh. Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond chronicles interested me in medieval literature in general, and Middle Scots specifically.

By "interested" I mean I spent a fair amount of time and money specializing in medieval English and Celtic lit.
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Old 11-20-2012, 01:31 PM   #3
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Not sure if this is what you mean, but novels by Ann Moray, Susan Cooper, Lloyd Alexander, and Mary Stewart (the Merlin books) interested me in medieval Welsh. Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond chronicles interested me in medieval literature in general, and Middle Scots specifically.
I meant more along the lines of this:

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Made you a different person? Touched your heart in your time of need?
I mean, statistics interested me enough to major in it, so in that respect, it changed the course of my life, but I don't think it changed who I was as a person. Though learning more about it and the scientific method in general has shaped my views, certainly, it didn't radically alter my outlook and perspective on the world as a whole in a single sitting/reading/etc.

I'm interested in hearing stories of how fiction has shaped how an individual relates to the rest of the human race, himself or herself as an individual, and maybe even reality itself.

That's the kind of thing I'm asking.

Thank you for sharing, nonetheless.
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Old 11-20-2012, 01:42 PM   #4
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I'm interested in hearing stories of how fiction has shaped how an individual relates to the rest of the human race, himself or herself as an individual, and maybe even reality itself.

That's the kind of thing I'm asking.
Ah.

Well then—Heinlein (especially The Moon is a Harsh Mistress), James Tiptree Jr., Elizabeth Lynn, Vonda McIntyre, and other SF writers helped me realize that there were alternative ways ways of being and loving besides the more conventional family unit +dog.
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Old 11-20-2012, 01:44 PM   #5
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+dog.
I've been doing pretty well (debatably) with +cat.
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Old 11-20-2012, 02:17 PM   #6
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Yes I'd like to think Harry Potter changed me. Grew up with Harry. Touched my heart most definitely. It's the only one I can think of right now that's had a great impact on me.

As I'm ill and I've got a migraine at the moment.
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Old 11-20-2012, 02:52 PM   #7
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Still need to read the book; afraid to really -- sometimes words can fail the moment.

Close tie between that and Rand's Anthem telling me not to be a street sweeper (beware kids who read the entire English textbook).
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Old 11-20-2012, 03:08 PM   #8
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Yes fiction has changed my life. In a time when I was younger and not doing well emotionally fiction pulled me through and literally saved my life. Reading brought me out of the reality I was suffering. And writing? Whole new ballgame.
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Old 11-20-2012, 05:07 PM   #9
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Two separate works stand out to me as having affected me so profoundly that I'm not sure I'd be where I am today (as dramatic as that sounds) if I hadn't run across them.

1: The 1982 movie Conan the Barbarian. This was a coming-out movie for me. I saw it my senior year in high school and to this day I can't tell you what about it that struck a chord so deep inside that I still, to this day, feel the change that turned in me.

Maybe it opened my conscious up to fantasy and set me on the path of becoming a fan of science fiction and fantasy books, maybe it was the character Valeria who, for that time in my life, represented all the things I could be: strong, independent, beautiful and fierce.

2: Frank Herbert's Dune. It was so wild and so out there and, to me, turned science fiction and the messiah story on its head. The world was so rich and deep and was one of the first books that so captivated me that I knew then I wanted to do what he was doing.
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Old 11-20-2012, 06:17 PM   #10
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Old 11-20-2012, 06:22 PM   #11
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When I was seven or eight, "The Secret Garden" taught me that not all girls are created by Enid Blyton. Which was something of a relief. I suspect it saved my sanity, in some ways. At least after that, I knew what to look for in a friend (to wit: someone who liked "The Secret Garden".)




ETA: Marilynne Robinson's "Gilead" didn't exactly change my life - but it added immeasurable pleasure.

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Old 11-20-2012, 06:35 PM   #12
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I read this book, The Diceman by Luke Rhinehart, when I was a teen. It's about a man who decides to live his life by the roll of the dice. Previously I had seen my life stretched out before me in a very predictable fashion.

After reading the book I didn't exactly decide to live my life by the dice, but I did decide to give myself more random options. "Should I get a job or go to college?" became "should I work on a kibbutz, go to college in America, join the travelers or start a band?" The book, which according to reviews on Goodreads has not aged well, showed me that I could have a very different life from the banal projection if I just gave myself more options.
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Old 11-20-2012, 07:21 PM   #13
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Reading Gone with the Wind in my early teens opened my eyes to the world. It taught me about war, and war terminology. It taught me about sacrifice, stupidity, starvation. It taught me about relationships, failure of relationships, going from youth to maturity. The scene in the book where Mammy has a dialogue with Melanie following Bonnie Blue's death, brought me to tears. It was agonizing. And later when Melanie was dying, I knew the foolishness of Scarlett still wanting Ashley when Rhett, despite his bad ways, had been there all along. The book still echoed in my head days later. I remember sitting in church with my mother, and the preacher was giving his sermon, but all I could think of was Scarlett and Tara and all the things that had happened.

Also, The Golden Key by George Macdonald was so beautiful. I felt like I had discovered a great secret. There's a lot of wisdom in that little book.
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Old 11-20-2012, 07:25 PM   #14
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I read this book, The Diceman by Luke Rhinehart, when I was a teen. .
What I really loved about that book when I first read it, was that it allowed me to use the word "subversive" for the first time in my life and feel confident I was using it correctly. It was a very subversive book.

Well - it felt like it was.

I was young. *sigh*



ETA: Just remembering - I said "subversive" a lot that year.

It was a very good year for subversive.

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Old 11-20-2012, 07:29 PM   #15
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No.

Unless you consider that Robert E Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs influenced me to write.


But beyond that, no. I've never been touched.
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Old 11-20-2012, 07:36 PM   #16
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I read Frances H. Burnett's books "A Little Princess" and "The Secret Garden" when I was 7-8 years old, and they changed my way of viewing the world. Sarah in "A Little Princess" inspired me to be much kinder and friendlier to everyone

As for movies, Hayao Miyazaki always inspired me a lot. Since I was still a kid when I watched them, I guess they influenced my way of thinking - especially "Mononoke". I've always wanted to help save the environment and even go back to a more primitive way of living and I think that movie played a big part in it. I LOVED "Mononoke" and still do!
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Old 11-20-2012, 08:17 PM   #17
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A lot of different fiction books I read when I was a child and teen helped me become someone who very seldom judges anyone else. It opened my eyes to the world, to different cultures, different life-styles and ways of life that were very different from my own.

A book that made me want to change my own life was The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, as it showed that sometimes, what you desire, and travel the world to find is right at home but not always easy to find. So it helped me look for the little things, and the little things sometimes are actually the big things...
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Old 11-20-2012, 09:14 PM   #18
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Lloyd Alexander's Book of Three was the very first "big" book I read as a child that had real elements of SFF. It opened me up to a whole other world (actually, many, many other worlds, I suppose). SFF is pretty much infused into every aspect of my life, now. If I hadn't encountered it so early, I'd probably have been a different person.
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Old 11-20-2012, 09:49 PM   #19
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Heck, yeah. When I was in the final stages of my English degree, I felt like I never wanted to write another English essay. All ambition to be an English academic went out the window.

Then I read my first Rosemary Sutcliff novel.

Now, I'll always love books and writing, but I love Roman History in my bones. I am currently learning Latin and starting a second degree in Ancient History in 2013. I think in it, I have found a deeper purpose, and really can't imagine doing anything else in life.
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Old 11-20-2012, 10:20 PM   #20
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A book that made me want to change my own life was The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, as it showed that sometimes, what you desire, and travel the world to find is right at home but not always easy to find.
Lovecraft's Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath taught me the same thing. Also, that you should be nice to cats.
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Old 11-20-2012, 11:01 PM   #21
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Some books resonated strongly, offered powerful new insights, or inspired. I grew with them as I would when crossing paths with interesting new friends. So yes, they affected my life.
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Old 11-20-2012, 11:14 PM   #22
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Yes I'd like to think Harry Potter changed me. Grew up with Harry. Touched my heart most definitely. It's the only one I can think of right now that's had a great impact on me.

As I'm ill and I've got a migraine at the moment.
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Prayers for your healing, fireluxlou.

As far as the OP's question: Two books stand out.

One was The Age of Reason by Sartre. From it, I came to the conclusion that commitment is important to the life well-lived (which is probably the reverse of what Sartre wanted to portray).

The other was The Autobiography of a Yogi by Parmahansa Yogananda, which, yes, I know, isn't fiction. But while I was reading it, I heard the inner voice that gave me my Sikh name, Siri Kirpal Kaur.

Blessings,

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Old 11-20-2012, 11:47 PM   #23
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"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord Of The Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."
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Old 11-21-2012, 01:14 AM   #24
jjdebenedictis
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Fiction has changed all of us. In a surprisingly literal way.

When the world of the novel blooms in your mind, when your emotions rampage around due to the story, when you solve the mystery before the hero does--that's your brain having a workout.

Children whose parents read to them tend to do better in school and have a better-developed sense of empathy because the act of understanding and imagining stories exercises the developing brain.

Aging brains benefit from this workout too. Reading changes you; it re-wires you; it makes you better. If you read books, your mind is stronger than it would have been if you hadn't read.

Now, to actually answer the question, there have been so many books that have galvanized me and opened my mind to new possibilities that I can't really pick one. Books helped to form me--and it's very hard now to tease out which bits of my character would have turned out exactly the same if I weren't a reader.
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Old 11-21-2012, 01:15 AM   #25
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Smile

Edgar Allan Poe, specifically The Raven, when I was a kid. Dark and dreary, it introduced me to literature very different from Little House on the Prairie and Hardy Boys Mysteries. It led me into dark worlds.
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