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This is a question This book changed my life

The Goat writes, "Some books have made a huge impact on my life." It's true. It wasn't until the b3ta mods read the Flashman novels that we changed from mild-mannered computer operators into heavily-whiskered copulators, poltroons and all round bastards in a well-known cavalry regiment.

What books have changed the way you think, the way you live, or just gave you a rollicking good time?

Friendly hint: A bit of background rather than just a bunch of book titles would make your stories more readable

(, Thu 15 May 2008, 15:11)
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Books that made me who I am....
I love to read - in fact, I think it's one of the great pleasures in life. Nothing is nicer than a warm afternoon, a chair in the sun a cold drink and a good book. I'd say it's a sign of getting old, but I've always enjoyed it...

There are many books that have influenced me, but those that really made an impact on how I am today are:

1) Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. Yes, I loved Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but Dirk Gently was a book I read at school (from the school library, no less) that was funny, interesting and had enough about computers in it to grab my attention. I was a computer nerd at school and lusted after a Mac (back in those days you could buy a 386 PC with VGA graphics for £1000, or a Mac Classic with a 9 inch black and white screen for rather more money). Besides, Dirk himself reminded me of my best friend at school and, on re-reading it, I still wish that he was part of my life (a long and bitter story - short version: don't start a business with a friend that drinks).

2) Neuromancer by William Gibson. I can read this and literally start over as soon as I am done. I love the pacing, the feel of the society and I ached for technology to speed up to the point that we could jack into the matrix. Again, I read this when I was maybe 12 or 13, so it'd be 1989-ish. In those days there were many more competing computer standards and many esoteric things being created that to be a computer nerd felt like surfing the wave of the future and this book was like a beacon to us youngsters who were coding for fun.

3) Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. Given to me by a Spanish girl I met at University. She broke my heart, but this book has always had a great ability to help me get my shit together when things are bleak - I can't recommend it enough if you are feeling lost or alone. Just follow the story and let go of life for five minutes and I guarantee it'll help you get perspective on things.

4) Jeeves and The Feudal Spirit. In fact, anything Jeeves and Wooster, but this was the first I bought and read once I'd grown up enough to see past the initial "Bertie's an idiot, Jeeves is clever, it's a bit of a farce" impression the books create. I rediscovered a pride in my Britishness and Public School education by realising that Bertie is actually quite bright, yet self-effacing (he does, after all, narrate the books in a beautiful style), as well as being unselfish and honest (he'd do anything to help a friend). Basically, if more people acted like Bertie, we would not have 12 year olds stabbing each other. I wish, with all my heart, that I could join the Drones.

4) The Young Bond series of books - less pompous than Harry Potter and a return to the rip-roaring boys' own adventures that are a) good to read and b) a way of getting young boys to be interested in reading - too much has been made of girls' abilities in the classroom when compared to boys in the last ten years, so that boys are seen as under-acheiving hoodies who just want to happy-slap the teacher. By engaging them at a young age with books like these, maybe we'll see the balance returned to the classroom and a bit less aggro on the streets. If we don't, they are still a great little read - ideal for the train ride after work. I can also recommend the Alex Rider books and the Power of Five series (more supernatural/horror than spy, though). They are like a modern-day Willard Price series, which can't be a bad thing.

5) iWoz and iCon: The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business - two books about the founders of Apple Computers that encapsulate everything that was so exciting about the early to mid-80s in terms of computing (ok, the 70s to mid-80s. It doesn't matter that, on a commercial basis, Microsoft ended up dominating - so much of their design is stolen from Apple (and others) that it is really what Jobs and Woz did that shaped how the world sees computers. Jobs goes from the Apple/Apple 2 to the Macintosh, to being fired and starting NeXT (a great OS and some drool-worthy hardware back in 1990, much like my beloved SGI), then selling NeXT to Apple to give it the basis for OSX (the second UI revolution). Oh, and he got Pixar up and running and is now a major force in that whole field. Woz left Apple to pursue his passions (after the whole plane crash thing) and now works on teaching computers to kids, amongst other things. Big personalities, a whole new business ethos and a pair of role models for the 30-something tech nerds amongst us.

and, finally

The house at Pooh Corner, if only because it introduces the themes of growing up and the end of that innocent stay-at-home-with-mum period of life. In fact, my mother never read me the last chapter and I can see why - it's genuinely heart-breaking: Christopher Robin tells Pooh and the others that he's got to go away to School and won't be allowed to come back to the Hundred Acre Wood as he has to be a grown-up boy... It made me sad when I was 23 and re-read the book, so it would destroy a four year old!
(, Wed 21 May 2008, 14:51, 2 replies)
These are all books I've heard of, but have never read!
I really must correct the issue :)
(, Wed 21 May 2008, 14:59, closed)
You fool.
You don't even know how to enjoy a book. Books aren't for sunny afternoons with a cold drink.

I thought everyone knew books are for nasty cold days, under a duvet with a bong and a cup of coffee.

Oh, and for shitting of course.
(, Wed 21 May 2008, 23:21, closed)

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