Book Discussions & Lists

Armchair BEA: Books that Changed My Life

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Today’s Armchair BEA topic is literary fiction and books that had a great impact on me.  What books changed my life, the way I think or perceive things?  Well, here’s who wins the Thanks for Changing My Life Awards.

1. The New Lease on Death Award goes to The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  We often perceive Death as the grim reaper, a scary figure that steals life from a person who does not want to go.  With Death as the narrator in The Book Thief and set in Nazi Germany during the Holocaust, Death gives his unique perspective of why people go to war and kill each other, and is surprisngly compassionate about the job he has to do.  This book made me think about my own mortality and death in a different way, I just hope Death is as compassionate when my time comes.  Click here for my full review of The Book Thief.

book thief

2.  The Hug My Kids a Little Tighter Award goes to Sarah’s Key by Tatiana deRosnay. As a busy working mom of 3 boys, I feel like I’m always on the go, being pulled in different directions.  It’s easy for me to lose sight of how lucky I am to be blessed with wonderful (albeit crazy) little healthy boys.  The plight of Sarah, a young Jewish girl living in France during the French roundup of Jews during the Holocaust, in Sarah’s Key was heartbreaking.  Torn apart from her parents and not knowing if she could save her 4 year old brother from death, Sarah was treated like her life had no value. While this is a fictional account, it is based on actual events. I cried for Sarah and those families she represented.  We see kids losing their lives every day, maybe not in a Holocaust, but in senseless bombings, shootings and devastating natural disasters.  This book made me remember to cherish my time with my kids and hug them a little tighter everyday. Click here for my full review of Sarah’s Key.

sarahs key

3. The I’m Proud to be an American Award goes to the The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.  The story is divided between the present day life of Oscar living in America and the life of his mother growing up in the Dominican Republic (DR) during the rule of Trujillo, a merciless dictator.  While I didn’t care for Oscar’s story, the DR story was riveting and truthfully, painful to witness the fear and atrocities that the citizens faced living under such a dictator.  His treatment of women as property was apalling.  This book made me thankful to live in a country where we have democracy, freedom and can live without constant fear of physical or mental abuse. Click here for my full review of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

brief wondrous life of oscar wao

4.  The Mother I Aspire to Be Award goes to Marmee in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.  In our hectic world, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by life, keeping up with the Joneses or trying to be a perfect Supermom with perfect kids.  Since I work for the time being, we are able to and do buy things we want to entertain ourselves and then get overwhelmed by the clutter it creates. I confess that after a full workday, it’s even harder to maintain patience with kids who have had their full day being active at school, it sometimes makes evenings tough. Reading Little Women about a poor but tight-knit family, I was reminded to take joy in the simple things in life and that even Marmee, the mother in the story, had to practice patience for years to master. Marmee lets the girls learn in their own way the valuable lessons they need, rather than preaching to them. The ultimate reward for practicing patience and teaching is the love of my kids and creating happy childhood memories for them, which is reward enough for me. Click here for my full review of Little Women.

and last but not least…

5. Maybe the Bad Guy is Really Just Misunderstood Award goes to Wicked by Gregory Maguire and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Sciezska.  As an Internal Auditor, my job title precedes me and people often have distinct impressions of me being the “bad guy” before I even speak. I like that both Wicked and The True Story is told from the “bad guy’s” perspective and how they came to be perceived as bad when really maybe they are just misunderstood.  I sincerely empathized with the characters and I liked that the authors told classic tales from another perspective.  It made me realize that often times, we judge people (or animals) based on our preconceived notions about their appearance or in my case, job title.   We need to open our eyes and take the time to understand where another person is coming from before rushing to judgment.Click here for my full review of Wicked.


true story of 3 little pigs

Well, there you have it. Congratulations to these books for winning my not-so-coveted Thanks for Changing My Life Awards.  It’s these kind of books which is why I keep reading, I love finding books that challenge my way of thinking or living for the better.

What books have you read that changed your life, the way you think or behave? Please do share your thoughts with me. As always, happy reading! 

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  1. I love Marmee too, I want to be that mother that listens and helps. I also loved the mother that Jo became in the later books.
    I still have to read The Book Thief, I plan to get to it soon.
    Great choices, thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. The Book Thief was seriously one of my favorite books also. I loved everything about that book. I loved the use of color to describe different things and the details were amazing. It made me cry. Seriously one of the best books ever.


  3. I currently have Wicked on loan from the library but haven’t had a chance to read it yet. I too like the idea of reading from the ‘bad guy’s perspective’ and finding out that really they weren’t so bad. Thanks for visiting my blog and enjoy the rest of armchair BEA 🙂

  4. The Book Thief really sounds like one worth checking out. When I served during O.I.F., mortality, karma, and the concept of death was a common and sobering topic among the unit. I would be interested in reading the point of view of a compassionate reaper and possibly passing it along to my battle buddies. I’m also very intrigued by Wicked by Gregory Maguire and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Sciezska. I agree that villains are indeed misunderstood! Thanks so much for bringing these on my radar. Thanks also for visiting my blog. See you next post.

  5. that’s a tough question, not sure if 1 book changed my life, I feel changed gradually page by page. by the way, I had to give up on Diaz, because i was annoyed by the # of f words per page. I don’t mind it from time to time, but i thought that was over the top

  6. I am not surprised to say that I love every book you chose!! 🙂
    One book that changed the way I think is “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”. There are scenes from that book that I still think about at least once a week and it’s been years since I read it. –Lisa

  7. Fabulous recap! I love, love, love The Book Thief. I know it’s rather dense, but Cloud Atlas kinda changed my life. I finished it, thinking, “Wow, what amazingly skilled writing at its finest.”

  8. Wonderful, wonderful, triple-wonderful post Tanya! You have listed some fantastic books! The Book Thief…oh my word. Sarah’s Key…fabulous :*)

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