What Book Changed Your Life?

Words are powerful. There’s no secret about that. They provoke, inspire, calm us – especially the written word because the written word has permanence. Written words never waiver, and we can always look to them when we need to. The stories that words create infiltrate our brains (or souls, if you’re the more feeling type of reader) and become part of who we are. 

Given the importance of the written word, the Pulse wants to know: What book changed your life?

We encourage readers to submit their answers to this question. Whether it’s fiction, nonfiction, poetry, the Declaration of Independence, Family Circus comics or otherwise, we want to know what book or text changed you. If you’re looking for some guidance, read on to see what Grace Johnson, our events-calendar manager, shared when she gladly volunteered to be the first to answer this question. 


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

by Grace Johnson

The book that changed my life is an easy choice, and I never hesitate to say that it was the Harry Potter series – specifically, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The first book was released in 1997 when I was only three years old. Although I didn’t get the opportunity to jump on the series when it first came out (my reading skills weren’t that great at three), I did pick up Chamber of Secrets when I was in second grade (eight years old), and by then, the first four books in the series had been released.

At that time in my life, my book choices typically consisted of nature books about orcas, my favorite animal at the time. Although I didn’t learn much – I focused on the pretty pictures – I had a great time flipping through them. I was checking out one of these books in the school library when I first noticed the Harry Potter series. They were displayed right next to the librarian. The cover art was pleasing, and although I had never read a “big” chapter book before, I thought I would give it a go. I chose the second book because I was in second grade. After finishing the second, I went back to read the first.

That was the first chapter book I read all on my own, and it essentially changed my life.

Following this discovery, I started to voraciously consume books – anything that I could get my hands on. Before I knew it, I was reading multiple books at once and walking around with a book in my face (not the safest choice).

Not only did the series kick-start my love of reading, but it also helped me through some tough times in my life. I lost my grandmother, an uncle and my father through the span of middle school. It was a hard and confusing time, and many nights it was difficult to fall asleep. When this happened, I would pick up a Harry Potter book and be swept away to another place. They continue to be a comfort when times get tough. Without even realizing it, the books taught me about love and loss, that it is okay to grieve and that friends are some of the strongest supporters you can have in life.

To pay tribute to all that the books have done for me – and as a little personal thank-you to J.K. Rowling for writing such an influential series – I read the entire Harry Potter series once every year.

Send your answers to [email protected] with the subject line “Book That Changed My Life.” Please limit submissions to 400 words so that we can share lots of them, and if you’d like to submit a photo of yourself, please do. If you can’t keep your answer to 400 words, that’s all right, but we cannot promise to run the full answer. Happy reading and writing!