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May 13, 2010

Books that changed my life

Filed under: Books, Happiness Project Wednesday, Personal — Tags: , , — llcall @ 5:52 pm

I have long pointed to two books (outside of the scriptures) that were life-altering for me: Beloved by Toni Morrison, which is, to me, the most tragically beautiful thing ever written, and Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, which includes my all-time favorite scene when a murderer and a prostitute sit down to read the Bible together.

And now I have a new one to add to this elite list.

Doesn't the cover alone just make you happy?!

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin is in an altogether different vein.  For starters, it’s nonfiction (but I still think you might enjoy it, Nikki!); the story of her efforts to increase happiness in her daily life.  And while I believe happiness is a lofty topic, it certainly reads differently than the other two and their themes of poverty, slavery, guilt, forgiveness, suffering, redemption.

Although Neal has also been reading The Happiness Project, he initially expressed that he could see how it could be ground-breaking or eye-opening for some people, but most of it is territory that we have already talked about at length as we’ve considered the sort of life we want to build together.  It certainly didn’t feel life changing to him.

But that comment made me realize something quite wonderful about the book (as well as Gretchen Rubin’s related blog which I’ve been following for about a year now).  It is not a paradigm-shifting book for me, as the other two were when I first read them in high school.  It has not made me rethink life, the universe, everything.  Rather, it has seeped into my consciousness and started to reshape the small and simple things about my day-to-day life.  And it couldn’t have come at a better time, as I try to adjust to new motherhood and beat this postpartum depression.

So although I haven’t started a formal Happiness Project of my own just yet, I’m going to spend a series of posts sharing some of the ideas I’ve garnered from Gretchen Rubin and how I’m applying them to my life to become a better, happier person.



  1. That sounds great! I could really use another positive experience with non-fiction. I’m also adding Beloved to my list. I’ve heard of it a few times, and now I’m really convinced. Let’s talk after I’m done with it 🙂

    Comment by Nikki — May 13, 2010 @ 6:05 pm

  2. Thanks for the suggestion. I totally love you.

    Comment by rach — May 13, 2010 @ 8:10 pm

  3. Will you please form a book club and invite me?! I use to think Crime and Punishment was my favorite book and then I read The Brothers Karamazov by the same author and changed my mind. I think you’d love it if you haven’t read it yet.

    Comment by Rachel C. — May 13, 2010 @ 8:57 pm

  4. I once thought Crime and Punishment was my favorite book and then I read The Brothers of Karamazov, also by Dostovesky. Have you read it? IF not, I think you most certainly should.

    Comment by rachel C. — May 14, 2010 @ 3:00 am

  5. wow, I just realized i posted twice almost the exact same thought. yikes!

    Comment by rachel C. — May 14, 2010 @ 3:01 am

    • I’m gonna chalk it up to sleep deprivation, Rachel, and all’s forgiven 🙂 And yes, I also love “The Brothers Karamazov”! I took a class in college entirely devoted to Dostoevsky, so I have read most of his work. But those two are my favorites.

      Comment by llcall — May 14, 2010 @ 7:10 pm

  6. I’m just such a fan when somebody writes their own “review” of books. I liked reading this snipet about one of your new favorite books. Audrey also writes up her own reviews. I loved reading them. Thanks…

    Comment by holly — May 14, 2010 @ 8:44 pm

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