Knockout Narratives Sale

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Visit our stores


Authors, readers, critics, media — and booksellers.


Author Archive: "Josh Hanagarne"

Seven Books That Actually Changed My Life

I'd predict that 99 percent of the small talk in the staff elevator at my library involves the following question and its answers:

"Are you reading anything good?"

Most recently I asked this of a woman holding The Poisonwood Bible, which I adored.

"Yes!" she said, waving the book in front of me. "I'm almost done. This book has changed my life."

Hearing that a book changed someone's life is one of my greatest pleasures. I can't think of a better compliment an author could hear. Unfortunately, my follow-up question doesn't always yield a satisfying answer:

"How?" I said. Meaning, how did it change your life?

"Because it was amazing!" she said.

This is a pretty typical response, and I know I do it sometimes as well.

"Because it was just so good!"

"It was incredible!"

"I loved it!"

These are all great to hear, but none of them indicate any clues about how a life might have been changed, not that anyone owes me an explanation if I ask. Still, "This changed my life!" is pretty high praise and shouldn't be interchangeable with "This book is ...

  • back to top


Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at