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The Book That Changed My Life: Interviews with National Book Award Winners…

av Diane Osen

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1925107,838 (3.13)14
Every reader can name at least one book that changed his or her life--and many more beloved titles will surely come to mind as well. In The Book That Changed My Life, fifteen of America's most influential authors discuss their own special literary choices. These unique interviews with National Book Award winners and finalists offer new insights into the many ways in which the experience of reading shapes the act of writing. Robert Stone on Joseph Conrad's Victory, Cynthia Ozick on Henry James's Washington Square, Charles Johnson on Jack London's The Sea-Wolf--each approaches the question of literary influence, while offering rich and wonderful revelations about his or her own writing career. James Carroll, Don DeLillo, E. L. Doctorow, Diane Johnson, Philip Levine, David Levering Lewis, Barry Lopez, David McCullough, Alice McDermott, Grace Paley, Linda Pastan, and Katherine Paterson are the other distinguished contributors to this collection of informed, insightful interviews.… (mer)
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I have often wondered what books may have inspired writers. I was able to get a small insight into such books, but wished there would have been more author interviews. It did prompt me to add a few more books to my "want to read" so it was worth the read. ( )
  BookLove80 | Aug 11, 2019 |
Not as interesting as I had hoped! But David McCullough was an interesting, although short, chapter. ( )
  deldevries | Jan 31, 2016 |
Fifteen authors interviewed about the book, or in many cases books, that changed their lives. And not just any authors, but authors who had won or been nominated for awards for their work, important authors that dedicated readers might find interesting to read, if only to find out if they disagree with those critics who bestowed the awards. These life-changing books range from children's favorites to popular fiction to classics: the Canon. The stories told in the interviews share in common the love of reading and its meaning for people who have become creators of books themselves. But what does it mean for a book to change your life? Did it influence you in some important way? And, if so, how and when and why? That is part of the import of the interviews, but most of wonder of this collection of interviews arises from the reading of books and its importance for these authors. There is a hint of the mystery of the act creation (as Arthur Koestler put it in the title of a marvelous book about creativity) and the wonder that reading can have any influence at all.

My interest in this book comes from that same space: wonder at what reading has meant in my life, and why and how. In my case the why is simply the question why, but each author must answer for him or her self. The parts of this book that impressed me were the moments of remembered childhood and the books that were important then in the beginning, formative years. Whether it was Diane Johnson reading Henry James or Philip Levine reading Dostoevsky, it is fascinating to read their stories about what books meant for them. The "matrix of relationships" is complex and, as I said, no two are alike, but it is reassuring to find, here and there, an author who read a book that you did and was influenced in some small way. Creativity begins there in part and love of learning and the road to Wisdom as well. ( )
  jwhenderson | Jan 29, 2014 |
First, I didn't dislike this book. "it was ok"

So I thought it would be mostly interviews where we found out what these famous writer's considered a book that changed their lives, but most of the interviews seemed to focus on the books they wrote that changed there lives. Which okay, pretty interesting.

How curious that pretty much all of the fiction/poetry authors, especially the men, seemed much more pretentious, and the historians not so much. But Grace Pauley sounds lovely, and I'll have to look her up. ( )
  MarieAlt | Mar 31, 2013 |
This collection of interviews with fifteen National Book Award winners and finalists highlights the award-winning books and investigates the books that influence these writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The interviews are with James Carroll, Don DeLillo, E.L. Doctorow, Charles Johnson, Diane Johnson, Philip Levine, Davis Levering Lewis, Barry Lopez, David McCullough, Alice McDermott, Cynthia Ozick, Grace Paley, Linda Pastan, Katherine Paterson, and Robert Stone, and are organized alphabetically by last name. All of them are followed by a list of the author's books through 2002 (when this book was published), and all but one include a list of works that influenced the author, some of which are usually mentioned in the interview.

I appreciated the variety of authors and their approach to writing represented in this collection. I started making a list of all the books mentioned at the end so I could see which titles are mentioned repeatedly, and I added a few of the authors to my ever-growing TBR list. My enjoyment of these interviews was slightly hampered by the fact that I've only read books by three of the authors highlighted (Katherine Paterson, David McCullough and E.L. Doctorow) and had only read the award-winning book for one (The Great Gilly Hopkins). Some of the questions deal with the winning or finalist book, and little care is taken to prevent spoilers, making this a difficult way to discover a new-to-you author. Diane Osen has clearly done her homework by reading the entire oeuvre of the interviewed author as well as the books that influenced them; this comes through in the interviews positively in that she's able to ask very interesting, probing questions, but on the flip side it's more challenging for the reader who doesn't have that same background to follow along with the answers. A mixed bag, but I'm glad I read it. ( )
  bell7 | Mar 1, 2013 |
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Every reader can name at least one book that changed his or her life--and many more beloved titles will surely come to mind as well. In The Book That Changed My Life, fifteen of America's most influential authors discuss their own special literary choices. These unique interviews with National Book Award winners and finalists offer new insights into the many ways in which the experience of reading shapes the act of writing. Robert Stone on Joseph Conrad's Victory, Cynthia Ozick on Henry James's Washington Square, Charles Johnson on Jack London's The Sea-Wolf--each approaches the question of literary influence, while offering rich and wonderful revelations about his or her own writing career. James Carroll, Don DeLillo, E. L. Doctorow, Diane Johnson, Philip Levine, David Levering Lewis, Barry Lopez, David McCullough, Alice McDermott, Grace Paley, Linda Pastan, and Katherine Paterson are the other distinguished contributors to this collection of informed, insightful interviews.

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