3 Books that Changed My Life

Since I was a kid, I’ve been captivated by books. First it was the Magic Treehouse series, then Series of Unfortunate Events, and onward through middle and high school. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve traded some of my old favorite YA Adventure books for more historical or memoir type books. I still love a good adventure novel, don’t get me wrong, but the books listed below are ones that truly opened my eyes and changed the way I think on a daily basis. I would highly recommend all of these, and I truly think everyone could benefit from reading them!

  1. 1. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

    This book is probably my all time favorite. It tells the story of death-row defense attorney Bryan Stevenson as he navigates his law career and the cases he worked on. Bryan gives incredible insight into how working on death row, as well as his own life experiences, has changed his perspective on justice, empathy and humanity. He interrogates the American justice system, and why we’ve ended up in this position. I can’t recommend this one enough, it completely changed my perspective on the justice system, the death penalty, and criminality. It was also just adapted into a movie featuring none other than Michael B. Jordan, so that should be reason enough to give it a read. Even if you aren’t super interested in the criminal system or politics, this is an incredibly valuable human perspective on criminal justice policies a lot of us are unaware of or don’t fully understand.

  2. 2. American Radical by Tamer Elnoury

    American Radical is a memoir written under a pseudonym by a Muslim-American man who joins the FBI after 9/11 to help infiltrate American terror cells. It is one of the most unique books I’ve ever read, and I truly don’t think there’s another one like it. The way Elnoury shares his experiences and the emotional toll they’ve taken on him is eye opening, and he weaves in patriotism and faith seamlessly. As someone who didn’t know a whole lot about the Muslim faith, this book was incredibly informative in showing the actual ideals of Islam as well as how these ideals have been distorted by extremists. The entire book is fascinating, and one that I’ve gone back and reread multiple times.

  3. 3. The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog by Bruce Perry

    Bruce Perry is a child psychologist who deals primarily with children who have gone through incredibly traumatic experiences. He worked with the children from the Branch Davidian complex as well as many others who had difficult starts in life. While it doesn’t sound uplifting, I loved the way Perry told the story of rehabilitation with these kids, and the lessons he learned from them as he worked to give them a fresh start. I think this book gives some great insight into empathy and the way our childhoods stick with us long after we “grow up.” While there is a fair amount of psychological and biological language in this one, I still found it to be a worthy read. 

All of these books have impacted me in one way or another, and I really hope you give them a try! They were all out of my comfort zone when I picked them up, but they taught me so much and I am so grateful I decided to read them. If you’re tired of your Netflix show, try picking up one of these from your local library or bookstore!