The Book Prescriber is in!

Left to Write

I have always been intrigued by the power of books to affect our lives so profoundly that we change, grow, move-on, get over, become different by just reading them. It has been my experiences that reading certain books can profoundly heal and/or change our lives. Whether it is through imaging what the characters are going through so strongly that we change or by reading their cautionary tale we become different, just by reading the book. So I am always on the lookout for books that are ‘life-changing,’ novels and non-fiction alike.

Books that inspire us ourselves came up as a topic of conversation seven years ago, when I reached out to an ex-best friend – someone I thought I would be friends with forever – on her 50th birthday. Have you ever had a friend with whom you just clicked? With whom it felt like she just ‘got” you and vice versa? With this particular friend I felt that we would be friends forever. Sadly this relationship did not last.

I have been lucky in that I have formed quite a few of these friendships and had various best friends over the years. But also unlucky in that so many of them have faded away. For this particular woman, we stopped being friends decades ago; she became another name on a long list of lost girlfriends.

I remembered her birthdate and called on her 50th birthday. After catching up on husbands, kids, careers, etc. I asked what she had done to mark the event. I was intrigued and inspired by what she told me.

She had had a party, invited dear friends, asking each to bring a ‘life-changing’ book as a gift. The book could be motivational, or inspirational or aspirational, fiction or non-fiction but it had to have made an impact or difference to the gift-giver’s life.

Of course we’ve lost touch again – picking up some relationships after 25+ years is just not possible – but I have thought about her clever book party theme since then. I would love to have a list of books that have the power to change our lives. Think of it, if you are feeling depressed or sad or blue, wouldn’t it be great to have a list of books that are perfect for elevating your mood, a book pharmacy of sorts.

Feeling blue over a dead-end career? There are books for that! Feeling wistful as an empty nester? There are books for that! Longing for a long lost friend? There are books for that! Looking for help to get over a broken heart? There are books for that!

This is one of the main themes for the book, The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George that I recently read for my online book club, From Left to Write. It is about a book seller who calls himself a literary apothecary set in France who obviously knows and loves books.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to go into a book store feeling one way and walk out with a prescription for a book that would help heal you or energize you or raise your spirits or calm your anxiety? This is what I imagined the inspiring books themed party that my friend described to be like.

There have been quite a few movies about small, independent bookstores with delightful book sellers encouraging people to buy some books and discouraging them from buying others, basically trying to make a difference in someone’s life. Two that come to mind are Hugh Grant’s character in Notting Hill and Meg Ryan’s in You’ve Got Mail. And while I love watching movies, there is nothing that compares to a book in my mind for elevating my mood, changing my perspective or inspiring me.

Two of the many books mentioned in The Little Paris Bookshop that I had heard of and loved were The Elegance of the HedgeHog by Muriel Barbery and The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim.

So while I don’t have any plans for an inspiring books themed party for my 55th birthday later this month, maybe I will host one for my 60th!

What life-changing books have you read? It would be wonderful to share and compare book lists!

Disclosure: This post was inspired by the novel The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George, where Monsieur Perdu–a literary apothecary–finally searches for the woman who left him many years ago. Join From Left to Write on October 8th as we discuss The Little Paris Bookshop. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.



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13 thoughts on “The Book Prescriber is in!

  1. AmazingSusan

    although I didn’t understand it at the time, the books that have been most important and influential in my life are the same in style, substance, and message.

    It’s fascinating to look back and see how that is. The first one is a children’s story called Pookie. it’s about a rabbit who had wings, and who felt he didn’t belong and so he had to go out into the world and seek his fortune. He ran into all manner of obstacles along the way.

    The second, and I’m listing them in the order in which they came into my life, is the Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut Junior. It was followed by illusions, the adventures of a reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach, who also wrote Jonathan Livingston Seagull. The last is the alchemist, by Paulo Coelho.

    All the books have similar themes: searching for one’s purpose versus living out one’s destiny, free will versus fate, love versus loneliness, personal power versus the power of the universe, etceteras.

    It’s amazing to me that each of these books has been central within a certain time frame in my life and that their similarities only became evident upon looking back…

    X Susan

    Reply
    1. Heidi BK Sloss Post author

      I think it wonderful to find/see patterns out of seemingly random things in our lives. I get into trouble when I try to assign meaning in those patterns but that is another story. I ave read some of the books you listed, but didn’t get the thrills from reading Th Alchemist that most people did. I love The Elegance of the Hedgehog and Racing in the Rain and The Mists of Avalon (and the subsequent books in that series, although not as must as the first one) and Emmanuel’s Book and Motherless Daughters, almost all of Isabel Allende’s books, Merle Stone’s When God was a Woman and so many more!

      Quite a few years ago I started to list the books I have read (and rated them) on Shelfari. Most people use GoodReads, but I started with Shelfari and stuck with it. The books I love are transformational books in which the characters or people change in the course of the book due to things that happen to them or thoughts and feelings they have. I de believe in the power of transformation and that each and every one of us always has the choice of how we react to events in our lives. As you can guess, I love breaking out of old patterns and habits that no longer serve.

      Thanks for posting your comment!

      Reply
  2. Alicia

    What a great way to tie in the book and the message of the book. I love the idea of sharing books that have changed our lives. One for me is the Bible of course. So many lessons to be learned from that one. Little Women is another one that taught me so much about family and the unconditional love one gets from them. How so many different personalities can come from the same mother and father. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is another one. One quote that resonated with me was “Everyone works for every one else. We can’t do without any one.” Even though later in the novel John Savage points out that the system, much like ours really only benefits those who rule it, not those are have the lesser, menial roles. Still that quote reminds me that we are all important, right down to the person who plays the smallest part in our lives.

    Reply
    1. Heidi BK Sloss Post author

      Love hearing what books you value and why. The common theme in some of your books about the way we all matter, no matter our differences, is a healing message. I haven’t read Brave New World in ages. Might have to go back and revisit it. Thanks for the comment and share!

      Reply
  3. Kate

    That’s a wonderful birthday gift idea! And such a great way to get introduced to new books and authors. Not really related but linked in my head somehow … a co-worker writes her name in every book she loves along with the date she finished. When she passes it on, she asks others to do the same. When the books makes it back to her, she’s able to see how many other people have enjoyed the same story!

    Reply
    1. Heidi BK Sloss Post author

      Great way to connect with other people who love similar books. Did you ever see the movie Definitely, Maybe? In it one of the main characters is searching for a copy of Jane Eyre that her father inscribed before he died. Reading your inscription idea made me think of that movie. I love giving books to people, but now that I read almost all books on my tablet my whole book buying has changed. And I miss being able to see book covers of what other people around me are reading. But I love the convenience of not having to carry heavy books around and now that I have gotten used to it, I love having a search mode in a book!

      Reply
  4. Kim Acedo

    What an awesome birthday idea! One of the most life-changing books I’ve read is the “Compound Effect”. When I started understanding that the things we do everyday, the choices we make every moment add up and lead us in a certain direction, that completely changed my awareness.

    Reply
    1. Heidi BK Sloss Post author

      Thanks for the book recommendation. I will have to check it out. It is amazing how our choices, some seemingly small and random, can have far reaching effects on our lives. This really hit home with me when I finally accepted that while my mind and tastebuds craved certain foods, it had disastrous effects on my body!

      Reply
  5. Farrah

    I love the idea of having a life-changing book birthday party! I’ve always loved to read, so those would make such amazing gifts! I really loved the idea of having a prescription for a book that’d heal my soul too! <3

    I'm going to need to check out the two books you listed!

    Reply
    1. Heidi BK Sloss Post author

      While I haven’t yet held my life-changing book party, I have gone to book exchanges and really enjoyed them. I think getting book recommendations from friends can be like receiving a book prescription. I once had a friend in college earnestly tell me how a book had changed her life and that I had to read it (and love it) if we were to remain friends. Good thing I did love the book and we became best friends for a while. I no longer have friends with litmus tests but there is something I find amusing in the idea–at least looking back 35 years later!

      Reply
  6. Pingback: Book Club Discussion: Little Paris Bookshop - From Left to Write

    1. Heidi BK Sloss Post author

      The Alchemist is probably the one book that had been mentioned by friends over the years as their favorite life changing book. It is amazing how a collection of words, organized into a book can be a powerful, life-changing influence on us, isn’t it?

      Reply

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