Five Books That Changed My Perspective

archerA good friend responded to my Feburary 28th post with five pretty legit ideas for posts, so I’m taking these cues and running with them.

1. Snow Crash
This book changed what I thought about the process of writing.  I had gone through a phase when I was younger of wanting to be a science fiction writer, but over time had given up on it.  This abandonment happened largely because so many of the books I was reading up to that point had been largely dry without any attitude or humor or edge (I had not discovered Philip K. Dick, and John Scalzi was decades away).  So when I read the first pages of Snow Crash in the Barnes and Noble in Mankato, I literally said, “Holy fucking shit.”  And then next day, I switched majors to Creative Writing.
2. To Kill a Mockingbird
This was required reading in Georgia schools in 8th grade, and was likely the first of many books to really make me think about social issues.  I had grown up in whitebread Minnesota, and was now living in the Deep South, and while I was in a mostly-whitebread suburb of Atlanta, I was now exposed to real racism for the first time.  The story put forth by Lee was compelling, and led me to really look at the world.
3. The Green Mile
Changed my view on the death penalty.  While the story and its elements are hardly realistic, the message about the potential humanity, about reasonable doubt, and man’s inhumanity to man, are all there, boiling below the surface.  By the end, I realized that any acceptance of the death penalty was largely based upon emotion, and that in something as monumental as ending a human life, there is no justification when the decision can be colored by emotion.
4. …And the Band Played On
My first experience with reading about how a combination of governmental policy and scientific infighting cost us countless years and lives in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  I finished this book in a fit of anger.
5. A People’s History of the United States, 1492 to Present
Not your typical public school history book.  If you thought the U.S. was always the good guy, that you have rights, that somehow this is a government for the people and by the people, then man, you got another thing coming.  Read this.