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Books can be incredibly powerful. They have the ability to suck us in, take us on adventures, and influence the way we think.
They can teach us, move us, give us new perspectives, and help shape us. And the most powerful ones change our lives forever.
I asked my Business Insider colleagues to share the one book that has significantly influenced them. Here’s what they said:
‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy
Amazon synopsis: A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food — and each other.
“‘The Road’ is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, “each the other’s world entire,” are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.”
‘The Tao of Pooh’ by Benjamin Hoff
“I read this book in college, and it completely changed my perspective on the world. It’s a fun primer on the Eastern philosophy of Taoism, and eye-opening for people (like me) who sometimes try too hard and would be better off just relaxing and going with the flow. I still remind myself that nothing’s really good or bad; it’s just another interesting thing on another day that we should all be grateful for.” —Jenna Goudreau, deputy editor
“This book introduced me to the idea that simplicity isn’t the enemy of satisfaction; it’s the essence of it. The inclusion of such familiar and beloved characters also helped the ideas stick in my mind.” —Christina Sterbenz, weekend editor
Amazon synopsis: The how of Pooh? The Tao of who? The Tao of Pooh!?! In which it is revealed that one of the world’s great Taoist masters isn’t Chinese — or a venerable philosopher — but is in fact none other than that effortlessly calm, still, reflective bear. A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh! While Eeyore frets, and Piglet hesitates, and Rabbit calculates, and Owl pontificates, Pooh just is.
“And that’s a clue to the secret wisdom of the Taoists.”
‘Anna Karenina’ by Leo Tolstoy
“It was the rare work of fiction that actually changed how I saw the world. It made me want to be a more moral and better person.” —Paul Schrodt, entertainment editor
Amazon synopsis: “Considered by some to be the greatest novel ever written, ‘Anna Karenina’ is Tolstoy’s classic tale of love and adultery set against the backdrop of high society in Moscow and Saint Petersburg.
“A rich and complex masterpiece, the novel charts the disastrous course of a love affair between Anna, a beautiful married woman, and Count Vronsky, a wealthy army officer. Tolstoy seamlessly weaves together the lives of dozens of characters, and in doing so captures a breathtaking tapestry of late-nineteenth-century Russian society. As Matthew Arnold wrote in his celebrated essay on Tolstoy, ‘We are not to take ‘Anna Karenina’ as a work of art; we are to take it as a piece of life.'”
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