We all know that one book or that one character in a novel that has had a special impact on our lives. We’ve asked around in our editorial room and had the bookworms write about their formative books.
When Sophia set out to conquer the world
As a child, Pippi Longstocking enchanted me with her attitude to life. With socks that didn’t match and shoes that were far too big, she boldly conquered the world without a care about conventions. School? No, thanks! Because who needs “plutimization”? Pippi challenges the “strongest man in the world” at a fair, or goes on a great sea voyage with her friends. She embodies things children want. Such as self-determination, adventure, and superpowers. It’s also impressive how she fights for justice and stands up for the weak. This makes her the ideal role model for children, both young and old. Because – to be honest – sometimes I would still like to take a leaf out of Pippi’s book today.
When Emily got enchanted
The poetry book that changed my life is the “Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude” by Ross Gay. However, it’s not the book itself that was life altering, rather that it piqued my curiosity so much it led me to a live reading by the author. At his reading, Ross Gay read top secret excerpts from his (at the time) forthcoming volume, “The Book of Delights.” Throughout the reading, his poems divulged moments of absurd pleasure to the audience. Like the time he, an adult man, peed his pants in his car and felt relief, delight and regret. His poems break with conventional prosody and syntax in favor of creating a unique moment in time the reader can take or reject as they please.
When Mia discovered a comic biology
I never thought that reading a comic book in my late 20s would change my life – but it did! Liv Strömquist is a Swedish comic book artist and radio host. Her comic “The Origin of the World” is mainly about men who are are too interested in what is called the “female sex organ.” A Swedish journalist wrote about the comic, stating it was “the only biology book you ever have to read.” It made me think of why I wasn’t introduced to this book when I had sex education at school? The comic demystifies a topic that is unpleasant for many in a wonderful way – with a pinch of salt and a lot of historical and biological knowledge. I think that educational comics like this can make a real difference (for adults of all ages).
When Jacob started to live
Albert Camus’ The Outsider was the book that questioned the fundamental values I had at the age of 17. The protagonist is seemingly oblivious to what people want from him and is expected of him, walks a blurred line between life and death, and acts according to a moral code based on his own intrinsic values. He rejects secular ideas and is indifferent to the impact civil law has on his life. A free soul, someone who accepts life as a state without purpose or higher meaning. It gave me the conviction that we’re thrown into the world, and that we’re literally born into conditions beyond our control. All we can do is accept our life for what it is – a transient state from nothing to nothing. And the best we can do is just live.
When Matthew reads like he listens to music
I only really understood what is meant in the arts by the difference between content and form when I read ” Extinction” by Thomas Bernhard. For the first-person narrator, there is only one question at stake. Are the Austrians “National Socialist Catholics” or “Catholic National Socialists”? The attempt to answer the question culminates in an unparalleled public insult. This one motif is varied over and again in the most vicious way while not much happens in terms of plot.
The Austrian first-person narrator seemingly obliterates himself in endless repetitive cycles that are so richly layered in their artfully crafted linguistic variation, propelled by a rhythm that keeps driving the language through the novel’s many pages, so that you end up not missing a storyline at all. Reading “Extinction” feels like like listening to music. And similar to the conclusion of a concerto, the score of “Extinction” evaporates when you put down the book. Upon this revelation, my perception of the world has changed for good.
When Abigail watches a filmization
A lot of people talk about that one life-changing book, but in my case it was a series I streamed just recently. The characters, the dialogue, the topics – everything’s perfectly observed and bang on target. It basically revolves around the unnamed protagonist in her early 30s living in London and her relationships. It’s got a romantic and friendly vibe, tackles topics as diverse as feminism and religion, and shows us a world of weird encounters at the family table. Underneath this funny and at times bizarre surface, a pain keeps lurking that we can’t really put our fingers on, but that still seems all too familiar. Fleabag is a tale of making mistakes and learning to love, a manifesto wrapped up in 12 episodes of under half an hour each. And yes, if you feel like reading it, you can read the play it is based on as well.