(Ernie here: We’re continuing the guest blogging series! Get in touch if you would like to contribute.) All true book lovers can rattle off a long list of books that they hold dear, but every now and then we run across a book that stands out even among these.

It changes your perspective, your goals, your whole TBR (to be read) list.

books that change your life

What are your faves?

Here are 12 books that change your life.


Among the long list of books that change your life is Joseph Heller‘s satirical novel is still a favorite more than 50 years after it was first published.

Set in Italy during World War II, protagonist Yossarian is angry that there are so many men with the audacity to try to kill him — men who he has never even met! — just because he’s in the opposing army.

But his more immediate problem might be found in his own camp and the ever increasing number of missions he is forced to participate in.

Unfortunately for Yossarian, there’s no way for him to escape these missions without violating Catch-22.

The Death of Ivan Ilyich

Ivan Ilyich a high court judge who has never wasted a moment’s thought on his own mortality.

But a sudden accident brings him face to face with the impending reality of his own death, Ivan is suddenly desperate to find a way to avoid dying. He reflects on his life and holds tightly to the idea that he doesn’t deserve to suffer because he has lived a good life.

However, the closer he draws to death, the more he begins to question if he really did live a good life.

This is one of the books that change your life in a big way — because it changes how you think about death.

The Redbreast

This is part of author Jo Nesbo‘s Harry Hole Series, although it also works well as a stand-alone novel.

Oslo police detective Harry Hole finds himself caught in a web of murder and betrayal that is rooted in World War II and his country’s shrouded past.

Among other things, the novel investigates the controversial subject of Norwegian collaboration with Nazi forces.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Dexter seems to be a perfect gentleman to everyone including his adoptive sister and the entirety of the Miami police department.

But Dexter has a secret. He is a serial killer.

And he just might be committing murders he doesn’t remember.

Invisible Man

First published in 1952, this novel explores life in a black community in the deep South.

Eventually, the unnamed narrator moves to New York and becomes a spokesman for the Harlem branch of “the Brotherhood.”

The novel delves deeply into racism, loss of innocence, and hypocrisy.

The Woman in White

Originally written in serial form, the pace of this mystery novel is extremely controlled and makes for a compelling read even now, more than a century and a half after its initial publication.

The story opens with Walter Hartright’s eerie encounter with a woman dressed entirely in white in London one night. Later he finds out that she has escaped from an asylum, setting off a series of events that leave the characters sleuthing and searching for answers.

Incorporating themes of Gothic horror and psychological realism, The Woman in White is told from the perspectives of each of the main characters.

A Dark-Adapted Eye

Faith Severn has grown up with the stain of murder on her family’s name.

Her aunt was sentenced to death for the crime, but it is far from in the past when a journalist comes prodding for truth, forcing Faith to reevaluate the events she would sooner forget.

A Simple Plan

Three men stumble upon what remains of a plane that has crashed.

In the wreckage, they find a duffle bag with four million dollars inside. They devise a simple plan to ensure they can keep the money, but is that their first mistake?

The Killer Inside Me

Lou Ford is a beloved deputy sheriff in the small Texas town of Central City.

Everyone from the small-time criminals to the real-estate entrepreneurs and all of his coworkers know him to be the nicest guy around. But behind the kind facade lurks a monster that proves to be difficult to placate.

When Lou’s brother falls to his death in a construction accident, Lou is far from convinced that it was accidental.

Lou moves to avenge his brother’s death and anyone who gets in his way might just find themselves slightly more dead than before.

Dare Me

Addy Hanlon and Beth Cassidy have always been best friends.

Now, as seniors, they are at the top of the high school and inarguably at the top of the cheer squad.

Until Colette French, the new cheer coach, topples their carefully crafted high school empire, coming between the girls and recruiting Addy into her shiny adult life. Then a suicide focuses a police investigation into Colette and her squad.

The line between loyalty and love becomes dangerously thin.

One Kick

Kick Lannigan is a formidable woman.

She is self-reliant, determined, and headstrong. Everything she needs to be dangerous.

Kick is also cautious. So when John Bishop shows up and requests her help rescuing missing children, she is wary.

In the end, though, her personal connection to child abduction is stronger than her fear. She joins John and his seemingly endless source of money and details of her secret past.

Is the gamble worth taking?

The Boy in the Suitcase

Nina Borg can’t say no when someone asks for her help.

She is a Red Cross nurse, wife, and mother of two.

When a long-ago friend leaves Nina a key to a public locker in the Copenhagen train station, she finds a suitcase inside. And inside that?

A three-year-old boy. Naked and seemingly drugged, but alive.

As Nina contemplates her options and how best to proceed, her friend is found murdered and it becomes increasingly obvious that her life – and that of her young charge – is also in danger.

Nina is forced to flee across Denmark as she searches for answers.

Who is the boy? Where did he come from?

Why does someone want him dead?


While the list of books that change your life could be infinitely longer, these are twelve books that certainly belong on the list.

Of course, there is no shortage of books that change your life. What are some of your favorites?