By Mandy Major
This was my first Nancy Drew, when I was 8. She was smart, brave and capable of getting out of any kind of scrape you could imagine. The book also turned me on to series books: I loved the fact that you don't always have to say goodbye to a character when the story ends. -Diane Oatis, Woman's Day Copy Director
Like the ink on their pages, some books are bound to be indelible. Whether it was an eye-opening mystery in grade school or a powerful work of nonfiction in adulthood, there are books that have a special power to transport, inspire and propel us toward new ways of thinking and living. See which picks influenced the WD team and share your own influential book in the comments below.
The Sign of the Twisted Candles by Carolyn Keene
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On the Road by Jack Kerouac
I read On the Road in 10th grade, after my American history teacher recommended it. I had always been an avid reader, but this was the first book that really resonated with me. The adventures they went on, the crazy characters they came across, the notion of living for words and poetry and friends and love-it so appealed to me as a teenager growing up with very little in small-town Florida. I loved that these guys didn't need a lot of money to have these experiences, and that art could be created anywhere, by anyone, regardless of who they were and where they came from. Not only did the novel encourage the writer in me, but it sparked my dream of one day living in New York City. Had I not read that book, continued to study writing and dared to dream big, who knows where I would be now. -Meghan Ahearn, WomansDay.com Senior Associate Editor
The Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin
The Baby-Sitters Club books, which I read when I was probably about 9, are what made me love reading. As silly as they are, I literally couldn't put them down. There are pictures from one summer that my family spent at my grandparents' house on Cape Cod and I have my nose in those books in almost every shot. Sure, they're no War and Peace, but I like to think that they have a lot to do with why my favorite part of the day is still crawling into bed at night with a good book. -Amanda Greene, WomansDay.com Staff Writer/Editor
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Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall
This book chronicles McDougall's foray into the Tarahumara culture, the indigenous people in Mexico who are known for their long-distance running ability. McDougall leads readers through his revelations about running, weaving in interesting characters and fascinating research in a humorous, first-person way that only a journalist can (clearly I'm biased). As a runner myself, this book changed my view of the sport and what it means for me. Instead of a purely individualistic pursuit, I was reminded that running can be a fun and social community-based activity. -Abigail Cuffey, Woman's Day Associate Health Editor
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
I was in sixth grade when I first read The Outsiders, and something about it has stayed with me ever since. The books' two groups-the Greasers and the Socs-are involved in many battles due to race and money. I think the issues that arise through the character's struggles introduced me to many real-world topics as a child. Although it's been deemed controversial by some, the book has also become a classic staple on many high school and middle school reading lists. -Olivia Putnal, WomansDay.com Assistant Editor
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We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch
When I was a freshman in college, I took an introductory course in international relations, during which we read this book. In it, New Yorker staff writer Philip Gourevitch goes to Rwanda soon after the genocide and interviews people, weaving their personal stories into the bigger picture of international politics. When I look back on this book, I imagine a veil being lifted from my eyes, and seeing the world clearly for the first time. It made me see that we all have to be watchdogs; we all have to protect each other. The fight against injustice and persecution is far, far from over-and probably never will be. -Alexandra Gekas, WomansDay.com Associate Editor
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
My second-grade teacher read this to us as part of our storytelling time. I then read it on my own that same year. I loved that this young girl managed to take care of herself, had a dog to keep her company and, in the end, triumphed by fighting off hunger and wild dogs, and was saved. I think the book was, at that time, one of the rare stories that focused on a girl surviving-so perhaps that's why it meant something to me. When I was well into my 20s I reread it, and I loved it just as much as I did as a second-grade student. -Donna Duarte-Ladd, Woman's Day Style Editor
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Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah
This was the first personal memoir I read, and the first book in which I found a character I genuinely connected with. Through Mah's anecdotes, I learned a lot about my cultural history and was better able to understand my family's background-two things I never had a curiosity for until I picked up this book. -Michelle Jiang, WomansDay.com Intern
Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
I found this book to be very interesting, and it had an impact on the way that I perceive Islam and religious extremism. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an outspoken critic of radical Islam. In Infidel, she describes her extraordinary life, from her childhood in Somalia to her work as a member of the Dutch parliament. I think this book had such an impact on me because the author is someone who truly speaks her mind, despite any risk to herself. She continues to speak out in an effort to help Muslim women obtain rights and fight the oppression that many of them face. This book (and her work overall) is controversial, but I consider her an inspiration for free thinkers who refuse to be brainwashed by what any group-religious, cultural or otherwise-might be telling them. -Barbara Brody, Woman's Day Health Editor
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The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
It might be a bit of a stretch to say this book changed my life, but it did give me great comfort to read it as a teenager. It helped me realize that I wasn't alone in my teenage angst-which is all any teenager wants in life: validation. -Amy Brightfield, Woman's Day Health Director
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
I love this book because I took so much more from it than how detrimental rhythmless dialogue is to an otherwise beautifully-written story. A sort of semi-biography about Lamott's personal struggles with alcoholism as well as an instructional guide to creative writing, the book encourages writers to use their experiences within their writing, and also gives them the skills they need to do just that. Whether I'm feeling uninspired, bogged down by everyday pressures or stuck on something technical while writing, like character development, I can always refer back to some section of it that I've earmarked for such an occasion. -Brynn Mannino, WomansDay.com Assistant Editor
Original article appeared on WomansDay.com.
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