What Book Has Rocked Your World? (And What Did You Do About It?)


Photo by Madisson Stoddart (Creative Commons)

Certain books stand out above the rest. The words jump off the page and you find yourself fascinated with the characters or challenged with new ideas.

For me, one of these books is the Catcher In The Rye. I first read it in my thirties, but if I’d have read it as a teenager, I likely would have pursued writing as a career.

Why do I love this book so much?

1. The tone. Salinger perfectly captured what it feels like to be inside the head of a teenage male. He shows what it is like to be isolated, depressed, horny, longing for connection, and not wanting to grow up.

2. It’s messy. The narrator contradicts himself and is often confused. Just like real life.

3. It broke rules. J.D. Salinger broke every rule he could find when writing this book. From writing rules about the passive voice, to talk about sex, to calling out phonies. But none of it is gratuitous in nature or forced for shock value.

4. It’s an adventure. A depressed, rebellious teenager with a pocket full of cash alone in New York City. What could go wrong?

5. The ending. I don’t want to give away too much, but the ending of this story is perfect. Absolutely perfect.

So, what’s the point?  What if you’ve read Catcher In The Rye and hated it? No worries!

The take away is this—find something that inspires you and use it to create something.

My writing style is heavily influenced by what I loved about Catcher. I want those five components to be mixed into my writing. This book inspires me to create. One paragraph tosses fuel on my creative fire. I’ve even copied out passages of the book and written them out as an exercise.


Okay, that’s enough from me—I want to hear about one of your favorites. What do you love about it? Most importantly, how did the book inspire you to create? Please share this in the comments.

  • http://www.sieverkropp.com/ Mark Sieverkropp

    Hi Jim! Great post. I had to think about which books had affected me.

    I think the biggest influence has been “The Power of Starting Something Stupid” by Richie Norton. It helped me over come so many mental roadblocks I face in my life. In a very real way, it’s the reason that Happen To Your Career exists today!
    Beyond that, I was able to interview Richie on the HTYC Podcast and he’s the real deal! Down to earth, supreme teacher and a blast to talk to.

    This book literally jump started my journey towards my dreams.

    • http://jimwoodswrites.com/ Jim Woods

      Very cool Mark! Thanks so much for sharing that. It sounds like an awesome book!!!

      • http://www.sieverkropp.com/ Mark Sieverkropp

        No problem! Thanks for asking the quesiton…made me think back to what books have had the biggest influence on me!

  • David Mike

    The book ” Unbroken” shook me. It is an unbelievable true story about survival and forgiveness. It helps me remember that no matter how bad I think I have it, someone else had it way worse. This book is a must read. I am also a fan of “Lone Survivor” for the same reason. The second book is being released as movie very soon.

    • http://www.sieverkropp.com/ Mark Sieverkropp

      David, I LOVED Lone Survivor and can’t wait for the movie!! Have you read Chris Kyle’s book, American Sniper? It’s awesome in its portrayal of the family strains of a special forces soldier…highly recommend

      • David Mike

        Yes, I read that book as well. It was awesome. Were you military?

        • http://www.sieverkropp.com/ Mark Sieverkropp

          I was not. I’m not that cool. I DEEPLY respect our soldiers, their families and their sacrifices.

    • annette skarin

      Unbroken coming out December 25th. This book really shook me to the core. I also read, Camp 13, about the North Korean who escaped after living his entire life in sub-human conditions. These kind of books expand my world views and open my eyes even wider, mostly with empathy and compassion.

      • David Mike

        Are you saying, Unbroken is coming to the theaters? I looked at Camp 13, but haven’t read it yet. I think I will look again. I “read” all my books on Audible while working a second job. This allows me to digest quite a few books a month. Thanks for the recommendation.

        • annette skarin

          Camp 13 is a very hard read. Very depressing. I had to read several happier books after that one. I recommend that most people just watch the documentary..

  • http://notdrinkingcoffee.com/ Lynn Long

    So many great books. It’s hard to name just one, so I have to name two. First, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Originally began as a radio comedy, then adapted to other formats including a book. It’s brilliantly creative, weird, funny, and a wild ride. Second, Dracula by Bram Stoker. It masterfully touches on many themes in Victorian culture. Stoker is also credited with defining the modern form of vampires, as Dracula is the quintessential vampire.

  • http://deuceology.wordpress.com Larry Carter

    I’ve read all of my life. What book has stood out the most? The Stand by Stephen King. It just kind of blew my mind. It was possibly the first adult book I ever read.

    • http://jimwoodswrites.com/ Jim Woods

      I started that one Larry but quit reading because of the length. Sounds like I need to give it another shot!

  • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

    I love “The Dog Stars” by Peter Heller. I started it last year while in Africa one under the most amazing night sky. The book is set in a post-apocalyptic period but is told from the perspective of a writer who hangs on to love and hope even though the world is a cruel mean place. I love how real it is, but the character doesn’t let the harshness of life keep him from having hope.

    • http://jimwoodswrites.com/ Jim Woods

      Sounds great Jeremy!!!

  • http://www.unchartedstreams.com/ Josh Taylor

    Always been a Lord of the Rings nerd. I was raised on the books, so that’s part of it. I guess I like the idea of going to an imaginary world and getting involved with epic wars, as I’ve lived a more sheltered life like the hobbits. I also enjoy his poetic style.

  • http://www.empoweringthe80percent.com/ Ellory Wells

    Jim, there are very few books that I’ve read more than once.

    The first, a fiction novel about the Civil War, “Rifles for Watie” was a fun and interesting journey.

    The 2nd is Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich” and Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Those two books should be taught in every business course around the world. (It’s a shame they aren’t.)

    Never read “Catcher in the Rye” though.

    • Jim

      Wow Ellory, that Civil War one sounds really interesting! Agreed on those others. Those are classics. Catcher in the Rye is honestly the best fiction I’ve ever read–because of all those reasons I rambled about ;) haha

Switch to our mobile site