Bezzie had a good post this morning. She asked if there were any books that changed our lives, and I started this really long reply about how I couldn't think of any specific books, and then, I named a couple (Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie, The Tightwad Gazette, Barbara Kilarski's Keep Chickens) that had an impact, but while those books made me think about my life, and probably resulted in my changing a few things, they didn't really change how I was existing day-to-day.
Then, I remembered that there is actually one book that really did change the way I live. I talk about on my blog all of the time, and it has had a significant impact. It truly did change my life.
The book? Possum Living by Dolly Freed.
I grew up in a seriously economically depressed area and being poor was almost sinful in the eyes of the community where I lived, and ironically, where 80% of the population was poor. Not being able to meet one's basic needs is incredibly demoralizing, and a lot of people just gave up trying and allowed themselves to be supported by government handouts.
But it wasn't the poverty that was so awful. People there had always been cash-poor and had struggled to subsist on land that was bountiful, but often inhospitable to all but the most robust.
Over time, though, through a series of legislative acts, the rights of the people to just live were slowly stripped from them, like the land from the tops of the mountains, and when I lived there, the air was thick with a sense of defeat. Poverty is demoralizing enough, but being financially impoverished, AND denied the opportunity to provide for oneself with something as simple as planting a garden and raising a few animals for food is devastating.
As such, most of us grew up with the belief that having money would be our salvation, because having money is the key to a "good life." Right?
What I realized in reading Possum Living is that there is a significant difference between struggling to make a dollar and choosing to focus one's energy on making a life. Reading the book has changed my focus to the latter, and I no longer gauge my value as a person on a dollar scale. I'm worth more than the sum of my pay check.
I've read thousands of books in my lifetime and many of them have left a strong impression on me, but the one that really did change my life was Dolly Freed's Possum Living.