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Books and Movies That Change Your Life

Jewcy editor Michael Weiss recently sent out an office email asking editors and contributors for recommendations of books and movies with the intention of putting together a list with capsule summaries for the Shvitz. It got me thinking about Yale … Read More

By / May 21, 2007

Jewcy editor Michael Weiss recently sent out an office email asking editors and contributors for recommendations of books and movies with the intention of putting together a list with capsule summaries for the Shvitz. It got me thinking about Yale Prof and lit curmudgeon Harold Bloom's idea that reading was a lifelong process of helping you become yourself. Not an idle act in the least, Bloom contends that reading great literature has the power to transform, to either give us the courage to be ourselves or to make us more than we are (really, I suppose, the same thing). If a failure of the imagination is one of life's most stubbornly persistent villains, then for Bloom great books are its superheroes. I find this idea very appealing. My ravings about books or movies I've most cherished are never particularly coherent, more like capsule reviews-cum-lyrical gushings that generally end with the phrase, "It's a life-changer." It's a phrase, no doubt, more apt to come from young folk. But I believed it was a good standard then, and a good one now. Granted, rereading Magic Mountain today wouldn't force me to quit my job and jump on a plane to Thailand as it did some years ago. While a good book, fiction or nonfiction, can entertain and inform, a great book changes the way you see the world, mediating the gulf between our lives as they are and as we want them to be. In my case, for some reason, the changes run the gamut but they always somehow end in more or less of either sex or travel. Weird, no? So, what are your life-changers? Let's start a list (and you obviously have to provide some sort of explanation). Movies or books.

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