5 Books That Changed My Life

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Since I’ve been having lots of 2014 recap posts lately, I thought I would mix things up by sharing some books that have changed my life. Okay, maybe not in a big way, but I couldn’t find another more appropriate title for the post, and “5 Books that Made an Impact on Me and I Kind of Think of Them, Sometimes” just didn’t have the same cachet.


I hope that some of you find this list interesting, and as always I’d love to hear all of your favorite books. Please! I’m a fiend!

1. The Millionaire Next Door: My mom made me read this book when I was a teenager and had just started my first time job as a hostess at a restaurant. I don’t subscribe to everything in the book, and I don’t think the authors would at all approve of what’s on my credit card statements. But I’ve thought of it more than a few times when making larger financial decisions. It’s literally stopped me in my tracks a few times before big splurges and I moved the money to my investment account instead. What power, huh? Ha!

2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: My favorite book of all time. Mr. Feather thoughtfully gifted me a first edition of this for my last birthday, but it’s too precious to take out so I just keep reading my old ratty paperback.

It sounds a little cheesy, but I always think of this book when facing adversity and it’s pushed me through some tougher times. Thinking about the fictional heroine – Francie’s – determination is always inspiring to me. She’s real to me, if that makes sense.

3. The Handmaids Tale: The book that introduced me to Margaret Atwood (and I’ve read almost everything from her since). A reminder that not every woman lives in a country where women have equal rights to men. An absolute shame and injustice.

4. Nothing To Envy: I’m fascinated by North Korea and go through any and every kind of video/reading on the country. This book however is the strongest reminder to me that this “weird” country is led by not just some cartoonish regime, but one that is actively and currently responsible for the suffering of so many people.

5. The Godfather: This may be kind of cheesy, but I think about The Godfather all the time when I’m in difficult situations. There’s that one scene, where the Don is asking Hagel if the producer Jack Woltz is a “real Sicilian” – if he has the balls to risk everything for what he wants. I don’t think I’m a real Sicilian, but I do try to fake it when I’m entering a situation I feel nervous about (like a salary negotiation!). For some reason that particular scene has always stuck with me. Man oh man do I wish I could be like Don Corleone sometimes!

What are some books that have changed your lives?

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  • Tabitha
    December 18, 2014 at 8:11 am

    You know I haven’t read any of them but I love the film of the Godfather so that is definitely worth a read.

    • Katherine
      December 18, 2014 at 11:49 am

      I think you’d really like it! Please read!

  • Julie W
    December 18, 2014 at 8:40 am

    I love love love A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and The Godfather! And I happen to have the same ratty paperback of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn as you do.
    The books that have recently stayed with me are The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson, a great read on how many of the most successful people have psychopathic tendencies, and Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout which they made into a mini series on HBO.

    • Katherine
      December 18, 2014 at 11:49 am

      I started The Psychopath Test a few months ago…a good reminder that I need to pick it up again!

  • Angela
    December 18, 2014 at 8:58 am

    I finished Nothing to Envy two days ago- what a powerful book!

  • Mimi
    December 18, 2014 at 10:06 am

    I’ve read the millionare next door, my mom bought it for me a long time ago too. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn sounds like one i would like to try….

    Aesthetic Lounge

    • Katherine
      December 18, 2014 at 11:29 am

      Please do! It’s wonderful.

  • Maria
    December 18, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    I have never read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn but now I feel like I absolutely must! I was very young when I read The Handmaids Tale for the first time. A great book that has always stuck with me, too.

    I just finished (more like devoured) Cheryl Strayed’s Wild and heartily recommend it. I hear the movie is very good, too.

  • Justine
    December 18, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    I recently read Without You, There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea’s Elite by Suki Kim. I picked it up intending only to skim it or read a little bit, but ended up reading the whole book in one sitting. It’s the first book I’ve read about North Korea, and I would be interested to hear what you think about it.

    The Fast Diet by Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer blew my mind because it taught me that it’s okay not to eat all the time and that fasting can have medical benefits. While I don’t practice 5:2 intermittent fasting, the book shifted my perspective because I was raised in a culture where food = love and also that food = medicine. When I was growing up, my mother constantly told me to eat, eat, eat to keep up my energy. Even now that I’m an adult, she opens every conversation by asking, “Have you eaten yet?” no matter what time it is.

    Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist by Debra Jaliman is a keeper for me because it’s short and practical. Books by Paula Begoun and Leslie Baumann are great for in-depth reading, but I prefer Jaliman’s manual for a concise reference.

    There are important concepts that I remember from certain books, but I wouldn’t identify the entire books as life-changing. For example, I gleaned from Lean In by Sheryl Sandbergy that a mentor is not Prince Charming. Shortly after that, I read that a mentor is not a fairy godmother. From Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, I internalized that it takes about 10 years to become an expert.

  • Lisa
    December 19, 2014 at 8:22 am

    Keep up your book suggestions! Your blog is an inspiration 🙂

  • Sarah
    December 19, 2014 at 11:05 am

    I read the millionaire next door, despite the book having raised some good points, I thought that they were a bunch of miserliness. How can anyone say, ‘I am my favourite charity?’

    • Katherine
      December 22, 2014 at 11:35 am

      I forgot about that one….eeks!

  • save. spend. splurge.
    December 20, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    I am putting #2 on my list to read. I loved #1.

    My list would include Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged..

  • save. spend. splurge.
    December 20, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    My own list of 10 books is here: 10 books that affected me forgot I wrote the post!!!

    • Katherine
      December 22, 2014 at 11:40 am

      Thank you so much! Fabulous list 🙂

  • Danielle P.
    December 21, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    I absolutely love A Tree Grows in Brooklyn!!!!!

  • Danielle P.
    December 21, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    A few of my favorites….

    Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi

    The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

    Parting the Waters: America in the King Years by Taylor Branch

    The Opposite of Fate by Amy Tan

    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

    Bird by Bird Anne Lamott

    Danielle P.

  • Danielle P.
    December 21, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    One more 🙂

    Pull of the Moon by Elizabeth Berg

    • Katherine
      December 22, 2014 at 11:35 am

      Thank you!! Adding to my list!

  • Allison
    January 2, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    Great selection of books! Nothing To Envy sounds interesting. I only know the general things about North Korea, so I think that’d be an interesting read.