View Full Version : Your Most Influential Book



floater
08-28-2004, 11:30 AM
Downtownguy's recommendation of The Power Broker reminded me of others I've met who've described it as the most influential book in their life. I'm a fan of city building, but discovered the field too late for it to have had a tremendous effect on me.

As a kid, instead of reading kid's books, I read my dad's books. One of these was Peggy Noonan's What I Saw at the Revolution. She was one of the stars of the Reagan speechwriting department and wrote Bush's famous "Read my lips: no new taxes" speech. Her inside take on the Reagan Administration is filled with interesting anecdotes about the culture of that White House, but it was her comedic irony and poetic prose that I absolutely ate up as a kid. To this day, no other book has shaped my writing style more than this one.

What about you guys and gals? What's the most influential book you've read?

mranderson
08-28-2004, 03:06 PM
I wonder how many will respond with "The Holy Bible?"

Influential? I really do not have one. It would probably be a book on conservative politics.

Keith
08-29-2004, 07:03 AM
You are so right, mranderson.........the most influential book for me is the Holy Bible :D . To me, it is the blueprint of how we should all live our lives. I don't read it as much as I should, however, when I need answers, it is The Book that I go to. BTW, mranderson, if you don't have a Bible, I can get one for you...if you like.

mranderson
08-29-2004, 08:08 AM
Actually Keith, I have several Bibles including one my mom gave me the day I was born, but I appreciate the offer.

Joe Schmoe
08-29-2004, 02:20 PM
This is like favorite songs, impossible to name just one. My list would change from time to time & the order would be flexable.

Okay, Bible as a given, (at least here.) In particular the Psalms, & for entertainment value, Revelations.

Lets see;
the Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Shock of the New
Mein Kampf
Freud's Interpretation of Dreams
Goedel, Escher, Bach
Une Semaine de Bont
A Separate Reality

And right up there with the Bible would be the I-Ching. (They are not incompatable because Confucianism is a mode of conduct & not a religion.)

A top ten is the closest I can get.

floater
08-29-2004, 04:21 PM
Hey, Joe Schmoe, I'm curious as to what you took from Mein Kampf. This is half-serious question :p

Joe Schmoe
08-30-2004, 05:53 PM
"I'm curious as to what you took from Mein Kampf. This is half-serious question"

I was serious about the book. It was very influential to me because it helped me to understand how constructs can be developed to rationalize incredible actions, like the need to methodicaly kill 6 million people.

Hitler's book is very pernicious in the development of its twisted logic. When I was reading it, the ideas haunted me even though I knew they were wrong. It takes core beliefs that almost seem like common sense and skillfully intertwines them with only a few falsehoods. Most of what Adolph says is true... & his logic is good, but those little kernels of hatred turn it all into the imperative to save the homeland... by violent means.

W.W.II was huge in my life, just because of my proximity to its time. It always seemed too easy to label people like Hitler & Goering as "EVIL." I wanted to know what they really thought, & how they convinced others to do horrible things. So I read as much of their actual words as i could.

I still don't understand Nazis anymore than I understand Charley Mansion, but I realize that no one ever thinks they are bad. They have good reasons to do what they do. It gives me perspective in current events.

Even Adolph was good to his dogs, they loved him...

floater
08-31-2004, 07:35 PM
Interesting. No matter the subject, I think if we took the time you did to try to understand how this person could do what he did, we'd be better off as a society. I don't think we should condone terrible deeds, but the act of putting oneself in another person's shoes allows us not to get so caught up in our self-righteousness.

Midtowner
09-24-2004, 11:30 AM
Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged & The Fountainhead
War & Peace
Roots
Bible
Quotations of Chairman Mao Tse Tung (aka "The little red commie book)

Luke
09-25-2004, 11:36 AM
For me, the Bible is the most influential.

Next to that is CS Lewis' "Mere Christianity". Just an amazing philosophical take on Theism and Christianity. "How Now Shall We Live" is a book by Chuck Colson. It's essentially a handbook on healthy, wholesome spiritual living. Very practical.

Of course, conservative political books are always fun reads. Ann Coulter's books "Slander" and "Treason" are fun. CBS insider Bernard Goldberg's exposť on media bias entitled "Bias" is particulary timely with the whole Dan Rather thing. And it's a great read.

There are others, I'm sure...

Joe Schmoe
09-26-2004, 10:45 AM
Oh yeah! the Fountainhead is one of my most cherished books! Roark's testimony in court about the soverenty of the individual creative is like an anthem.

"Thousands of years ago, the first man discovered how to make fire. He was probably burned at the stake he had taught his brothers to light. ...

That man, the unsubmissive and first, stands in the opening chapter of every legend mankind has recorded about its beginning.

No creator was prompted by a desire to serve his brothers, for his brothers rejected the gift he authored and that gift destroyed the slothful routine of their lives. His truth was his only motive.. His own truth, and his own work to achieve in his own way. ... "

The movie is pretty great too.

Mao talked a lot about fighting a larger force with a smaller one. Our leaders would do well to read his book to understand how they can be beaten by a rag tag group of people with a cause.

Luke, did you see the PBS show recenly that staged a kind of debate between CS Lewis & Freud? Excellent.

floater
09-26-2004, 11:01 AM
Midtownwer, did you know that Tolstoy was originally going to call it War, What is it Good For?

Luke
09-26-2004, 02:48 PM
Joe Schmoe, I saw the first part of the CS Lewis / Freud series on PBS. I have the second part recorded but haven't seen it yet. I agree, excellent.

Floating_adrift
10-22-2004, 02:29 PM
A few favorites

Godel, Escher, Bach (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0465026567/qid=1098479338/sr=8-1/ref=pd_csp_1/103-9481243-9878215?v=glance&s=books&n=507846)
The Selfish Gene (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0192860925/qid=1098479414/sr=2-1/ref=pd_ka_b_2_1/103-9481243-9878215)
The Blind Watchmaker (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0393315703/qid=1098479414/sr=2-2/ref=pd_ka_b_2_2/103-9481243-9878215)
The Traveler's Gift (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0785264280/qid=1098479468/sr=2-2/ref=pd_ka_b_2_2/103-9481243-9878215)
Being Digital (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0679762906/qid=1098479493/sr=2-1/ref=pd_ka_b_2_1/103-9481243-9878215)
Engines of Creation (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0385199732/qid=1098479518/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/103-9481243-9878215?v=glance&s=books)

Midtowner
10-22-2004, 02:43 PM
Midtownwer, did you know that Tolstoy was originally going to call it War, What is it Good For?

No kidding?

It's a hell of a book at any rate. I'd recommend it to anyone. Not only is the story really, really good, it raises some great philisophical points about the way we view "great men" in history and what makes them great. Kind of a chicken or the egg thing.

It's long as hell, but I swear to God, as dull as some people made it sound, to me, it was a real page turner.

mranderson
10-22-2004, 03:07 PM
A few favorites

Godel, Escher, Bach
The Selfish Gene
The Blind Watchmaker
The Traveler's Gift
Being Digital
Engines of Creation

Never heard of any of them. Who wrote them? A brief discription of what they are about would not hurt.

Floating_adrift
10-22-2004, 03:12 PM
Never heard of any of them. Who wrote them? A brief discription of what they are about would not hurt.


K, they're linked

floater
10-22-2004, 05:48 PM
Yeah, I hadn't heard any of them so I checked the links. They are pretty interesting titles! When I get some time, I gonna check out that Godel, Escher, and Bach book. Thanks for opening these to us!!

floater
10-22-2004, 05:56 PM
No kidding?

Well, actually, Midtowner, I was kidding. It was another line from Seinfeld I like to drop in every now and then. When Elaine (as a book editor) tells Jerry she's meeting a Russian author, he says that and she takes it. Later, when meeting that author in a limo, her boss tries to stop her from insisting on it because he knows better. The author doesn't buy it either, and later throws out her cell phone because it keeps ringing.

nurfe75
12-11-2004, 07:33 PM
Is everyone in Oklahoma a right wing Christian? Just curious. I don't mean to pick fights, and I definitely understand wanting to read Mein Kampf for academic reasons (I have a lit degree and I couldn't get through it, though), but what exactly is the point of trying to shine light on the GOOD side of Hitler?

Two separate questions, certainly. But I'm interested in both. I see a thread called influential books, and the first two books I see are The Bible and Hitler. And we accuse the blue states of painting Oklahoma with a broad stroke.....

nurfe75
12-11-2004, 07:34 PM
Is everyone in Oklahoma a right wing Christian? Just curious. I don't mean to pick fights, and I definitely understand wanting to read Mein Kampf for academic reasons (I have a lit degree and I couldn't get through it, though), but what exactly is the point of trying to shine light on the GOOD side of Hitler?

Two separate questions, certainly. But I'm interested in both. I see a thread called influential books, and the first two books I see are The Bible and Mein Kampf. And we accuse the blue states of painting Oklahoma with a broad stroke.....

floater
12-11-2004, 09:22 PM
Joe Schmoe should probably answer this but I doubt he was looking for a good side. It was finding out what could make a man do what he did. In terms of the Bible, I think you'll find that in both red and blue states.

Remember, this question isn't about the best written, it's about most influential. People of different careers and interests would select different nonfiction (maybe some fiction as well) books -- but larger than those interested in business, politics, or sports, there are Christians.

windowphobe
12-11-2004, 10:05 PM
I have an annotated Mein Kampf which includes, among other things, transcripts of actual Nazi handbills used to promote Hitler's public appearances; the compression of Third Reich thought into a single page makes for an interesting contrast with Hitler's own prose, which is convoluted and messy at best.

As to what books made me the vacillating centrist and wishy-washy Deist that I am, it would take a lot more lines than this text editor is likely to permit. :)

El Gato Pollo Loco!!!
12-15-2004, 07:13 PM
I think mine would also be the Bible followed by "Green Eggs And Ham" By Dr. Suess and "Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks" by Mick Foley

mistipetal
01-18-2005, 01:41 PM
nurfe75....NO all Oklahomans right wing christians...very thought makes me rather ill actually...one, no single place should be all one opinion, stifles the thought process and growth. Of course there are going to be some people saying the bible. Personally, i think its a fairly interesting read and reflection of the male dominated times. I haven't read Mein Kamph, but I heard it's not an entertaining read. I didn't pick an influential book, mostly because I don't have one. I read a lot and they all enter into my ideas, but none are the be all, end all ...I don't think there is such a thing. I just had to comment on myself and the others in this state who aren't christians or right wingers.

Midtowner
01-18-2005, 02:20 PM
nurfe75....NO all Oklahomans right wing christians...very thought makes me rather ill actually...one, no single place should be all one opinion, stifles the thought process and growth. Of course there are going to be some people saying the bible. Personally, i think its a fairly interesting read and reflection of the male dominated times. I haven't read Mein Kamph, but I heard it's not an entertaining read. I didn't pick an influential book, mostly because I don't have one. I read a lot and they all enter into my ideas, but none are the be all, end all ...I don't think there is such a thing. I just had to comment on myself and the others in this state who aren't christians or right wingers.

I concur.

There still must be some books that you think are higher up your totem pole than others though.

Surely Atlas Shrugged is more worthy of consideration than The Te of Piglet (or you're a leftie, so maybe it's vice-versa).

mistipetal
01-18-2005, 02:54 PM
Fair enough, I would rate some books higher than others. I liked the The Te of Piglet, but actually prefer The Tao of Pooh. : ) Zen Physics is one that I found extremely interesting, as well as the author's other books. Politically, I don't usually read the righties stuff, more often than not I find it sexist, stilted and a dry read. Add the christian side to that and you get sexist (again) and lacking in logic. The left behind books are an interesting read, and I quite enjoyed the realist painting of the 'antichrist'. Not as influential as The Tao of Pooh though.

Midtowner
01-18-2005, 02:59 PM
Fair enough, I would rate some books higher than others. I liked the The Te of Piglet, but actually prefer The Tao of Pooh. : ) Zen Physics is one that I found extremely interesting, as well as the author's other books. Politically, I don't usually read the righties stuff, more often than not I find it sexist, stilted and a dry read. Add the christian side to that and you get sexist (again) and lacking in logic. The left behind books are an interesting read, and I quite enjoyed the realist painting of the 'antichrist'. Not as influential as The Tao of Pooh though.

Having read Rand (you might call her a righty), she certainly is not sexist or dry. If you have time for a classic novel with a decent story line, a dab or two of philosophical instruction and an extremely provocative point, check out either of her two famous works -- Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead.

I'd characterize her as pro-capitalist rather than being a Righty. She would definitely find enough wrong in both of our present parties to not be happy with either. Really though, her work was some of the best of the 20th century, and I'm not the only person to think that :D

mistipetal
01-18-2005, 03:19 PM
I haven't read Rand, so I'm not calling her anything as yet. After I finish the Left Behind, I'll give her a read and get back with you on my opinion.

I agree that there is plenty wrong with both parties, and personally I think its time for a restructuring of the political parties and perhaps the government. As it is, democracy in action bears little resemblance to what the founders wrote. At the very start, I think popular vote should be instituted. The capability exists and would give an actual oppertunity for every vote to count, whereas here in Oklahoma, my vote didn't so much. That's sliding away from topic however, so I'll stop there.

Influential books:

as a child, Narnia was probably the biggest one to shape my ideas of mythology.
As an adult, V for Vendetta and a wonderful short story, which I sadly don't remember the title of, in which a universe of pure numbers was created by professors. There are many fascinating books out there, but those are a couple that leap to mind. Plus, as I mentioned, the David Darling books.

Midtowner
01-18-2005, 03:39 PM
I haven't read Rand, so I'm not calling her anything as yet. After I finish the Left Behind, I'll give her a read and get back with you on my opinion.

I agree that there is plenty wrong with both parties, and personally I think its time for a restructuring of the political parties and perhaps the government. As it is, democracy in action bears little resemblance to what the founders wrote. At the very start, I think popular vote should be instituted. The capability exists and would give an actual oppertunity for every vote to count, whereas here in Oklahoma, my vote didn't so much. That's sliding away from topic however, so I'll stop there.

Influential books:

as a child, Narnia was probably the biggest one to shape my ideas of mythology.
As an adult, V for Vendetta and a wonderful short story, which I sadly don't remember the title of, in which a universe of pure numbers was created by professors. There are many fascinating books out there, but those are a couple that leap to mind. Plus, as I mentioned, the David Darling books.

Much that is wrong with both parties could be solved if we elected statesmen (and women) instead of politicians.

mistipetal
01-19-2005, 10:11 AM
It would be better if we could get rid of the professional politician. Maybe make government a volunteer service, or pay grade with that of a normal goverment worker. No gifts allowed and extra special in-depth tax audits of all monies received during their term.

Or even better, find people that actually cared about their society and governing of it. True statesmen/stateswomen. I like the idea, but I fear that it couldn't be a reality.

mranderson
01-20-2005, 06:08 AM
It would be better if we could get rid of the professional politician. Maybe make government a volunteer service, or pay grade with that of a normal goverment worker. No gifts allowed and extra special in-depth tax audits of all monies received during their term.

Or even better, find people that actually cared about their society and governing of it. True statesmen/stateswomen. I like the idea, but I fear that it couldn't be a reality.
There is nothing wrong with being a career politician. Here is why. I will use my platform as examples.

At age 21, a person is elected to city council. In two terms they do the following. Build a second terminal at Will Rogers for America West, who announces they are opening a new hub here. As a result they bring 500 flights a day into and out of Will Rogers. They need at least 500 flight crews. That would be a minimum of about 2500 new jobs. A regional reservation center brings at least 2000 more, plus the maintaince base brings a few thousand. That makes a major need for new housing, other businesses, new schools and more. Plus, an 80,000 seat domed stadium to house our new NFL team. It also hosts a Presidnential convention and a lot of events, being filled all year round. In addition. A new multilevel Government building, combining city and county governments into one building. Streets are repaired to bring them above national standards, light rail is started, bricktown is further improved, Disney announces Disneyworld Central, which includes EPCOT, Magic Kingdom, Disney/Fox studios and more. The airport trust chairperson also becomes an elected office. By the time this person leaves office at age 29,the population of Oklahoma City proper has grown by 50%.

Then, they become the youngest Mayor in Oklahoma history bringing two mega headquarters to town and more. When they leave office for the state capitol at age 37, the city has doubled in size and has five major league franchises and a 750 foot tall oil tower as a symbol. The bricktown walk of fame has grown to be larger than the one in Hollywood.

Then four years in the house. There they reform education bringing the number of school districts to 77. They are county schools instead of city. That saves so much money, the state can afford to become the Harvard of K-12 education. Even private schools are losing teachers to Oklahoma public schools. By this time Sandy Garrett has been defeated by a very wide margin. Her only vote came from herself. Car dealers can open on sunday, thus increasing sales. We have an intrastate rail system called Sooner-rail. Our roads and bridges become the talk of the country instead of the laughing stock. We repeal the income tax, increase casino gaming, have the best state police in the nation being just behind the FBI in premier status. We reform workmans comp to be the premier system in the nation. By the time this person leaves the capitol, we have gained over a million new people and two new congressional seats. This also takes part of the terms in the Senate.

While in the Senate, new strict traffic laws are launched including a speed reqirement law. Drunk driving laws are so strict it is a first offense felony with mandatory prison time, and second degree homicide if the offender is convicted involving a fatality. Penalty... Mandatory life without parole. First amendment rights are honored. Also, the Governor and Lt. Governor run on the same ticket.

At age 49, the person is elected to Congress. While in Congress, the following happens. Roe vs Wade is repealed by constitutional amendment, same sex marriage is banned the same way, also in the same way, Speaker of the House is now a nationally elected office (third in line for the big house), Oklahoma's freeways are upgraded to the finest in the country, the income tax is repealed, federal government is streamlined, and more.

At age 57, it is the Governors mansion. By this time God only knows what needs to be done, but it gets done. The state is now in power row. It has exceeded Ohio in population.

When this person leaves the state house, they are praised as being the savior of the state and are forever enshrined as the best politician from Oklahoma in history.

Is this far fetched. Some may think so. But imagine what someone would say in 1799 if Ben Franklin has said he had an invention called the internet.

Professional politicians are needed in society. Without them, without a chain of office, less than half of what has been accomplished over time would have become relality.

Food for thought.

"And that's my two cents." quote from Kelly Ogle

Midtowner
01-20-2005, 12:40 PM
You missed the point of the discussion. We were talking about a "statesman" vs. a "politician". In other words, someone that looks out for their constituents vs. someone who looks out for their own political career.

It's a question of where the individual's priorities lie that determines whether they are a statesman or a politician. One can be a statesman and still have a career in politics -- Harry Truman, or Bob Anthony for example.

Examples as far as OKC goes: Humphries : Politician :: Cornett : Statesman (my opinion could change depending on how the state fair tax money is spent).

mistipetal
01-20-2005, 02:22 PM
Midtowner said it right. Not positive about his examples, but the idea...absolutely. I have serious problems with the vast amount of politicians and the few and far between statesperson.

I thought about trying to address the platform, but I've just had way too little sleep this week to try. As it relates to the discussion, how would acheiving your goals and all this progress affect your constituents? Would you sacrifice the good of them simply to put the deals in place and further your career? A "politician" would, because getting ahead and their name out there would be primary. A "stateman" would consider the best interests of the people represented, which too often does not happen.

Midtowner
01-20-2005, 02:26 PM
Midtowner said it right. Not positive about his examples, but the idea...absolutely. I have serious problems with the vast amount of politicians and the few and far between statesperson.

I thought about trying to address the platform, but I've just had way too little sleep this week to try. As it relates to the discussion, how would acheiving your goals and all this progress affect your constituents? Would you sacrifice the good of them simply to put the deals in place and further your career? A "politician" would, because getting ahead and their name out there would be primary. A "stateman" would consider the best interests of the people represented, which too often does not happen.

Yeah, I know.. two shakey examples.. Bob Anthony, well, I actually know some things, but he has done a great job as Corporation Commissioner. Outting the bribery goings-on with SBC took a lot of guts. It is something that I think will cost him a shot at any higher office -- ever.

As far as Truman.. well, he was a Democrat. But nobody's perfect! ;)

mistipetal
01-20-2005, 02:32 PM
Sadly, speaking the truth is usually punished. Has been throughout history, no reason to think anything will change just here in OKC. I don't know enough about the details on Anthony, less than you, sounds like.

And as for Truman...OF COURSE he was a democrat. He was one of our best and he had true strength....I'll admit that lately the choices are pretty few and far between, but I'm blaming the politicians. :)

Underling
01-21-2005, 08:21 AM
Mr Anderson, I find it amusing that you and others are so threatened by the concept of same-sex marriage, as if you're afraid the "gays" are going to ruin the institution of marriage. I think that the straight world has done a pretty good job of ruining the "sanctity" of marriage all by itself, judging by the divorce rate in this country.

Let's get back to the subject at hand...influential books...

mranderson
02-04-2005, 09:13 AM
Mr Anderson, I find it amusing that you and others are so threatened by the concept of same-sex marriage, as if you're afraid the "gays" are going to ruin the institution of marriage. I think that the straight world has done a pretty good job of ruining the "sanctity" of marriage all by itself, judging by the divorce rate in this country.

Let's get back to the subject at hand...influential books...

Underling: First, I know what you said about your decision on your orientation. However. First. I do not use, and find offensive the term "gay," in reference to homosexuals. Second. I also find it odd, and offensive that you and other people that support homosexual "rights" will call someone you have never met, scared of homosexuals. To the best of my knowledge, you are not a mental health professional, and if you are, you have never seen me. Therefore, you have no authority to call me scared of anything. I just do not agree with your lifestyle. That does not make me scared of homosexuals.:fighting2

Midtowner
02-04-2005, 09:36 AM
Underling: First, I know what you said about your decision on your orientation. However. First. I do not use, and find offensive the term "gay," in reference to homosexuals. Second. I also find it odd, and offensive that you and other people that support homosexual "rights" will call someone you have never met, scared of homosexuals. To the best of my knowledge, you are not a mental health professional, and if you are, you have never seen me. Therefore, you have no authority to call me scared of anything. I just do not agree with your lifestyle. That does not make me scared of homosexuals.:fighting2

Why do you not agree? What gives you the right to tell others how you feel they should live their lives?

mranderson
02-04-2005, 10:10 AM
Midtowner: We have discussed this until I am blue in the face. You KNOW why. I will not answer it again.

mistipetal
02-04-2005, 10:39 AM
Mr. Anderson: I think Underling really said it all on the PBS thread. Why don't you just let it rest. I don't think he is around right now to read it anyway.

Patrick
02-04-2005, 10:58 AM
Look guys...the homosexuality debate is over. I won't allow the entire site to turn into a debate about homosexuality. I closed the PBS thread, but I'm not going to close any other threads. One homosexuality thread is left in the Faith and Religion forum, but I even advise letting that rest. Everyone has had a chance to express their opinions on the matter. Let it rest.

Now, tell us about an influential book that's had an impact on your life.

Patrick
02-04-2005, 11:03 AM
I actually just got through reading Dave Ramsey's book, The Total Money Makeover. It really has some good insights on cleaning up bad credit, preparing for retirement, etc. I encourage you guys to look at it.

www.daveramsey.com

Underling
02-04-2005, 01:53 PM
"Life of Pi" is one of the best books I read in 2004. The story kept me aboslutely riveted and I ended up reading it in one sitting on a Sunday afternoon.