Books that Change the Course of Our Lives
Heidi K. Isern

To really be true to your directions in the last paragraph, digging very deep, for me it was a book on my mom’s bookshelf, in the late 60's. “Lewis at Zenith”, which was a compilation of three renowned Sinclair Lewis novels, “Main Street”, “Arrowsmith”, and “Babbit”, absolutely informed and formed the way I thought about American society from that time, about 10–12 years old, until now. To a young boy like me it was revelatory, to read this brilliant author’s novels about the constant inner conflict of personal freedom and authenticity versus the mashing-down effect of societal norms. I’m 58 now, and have never forgotten how this book led me to others, all of which made me recognize and value honesty over appearances. In a funny way, I realized this again a few months ago, when walking by the window display of our local bookstore. That month, the store was featuring “Banned Books”, and I realized that I’d read nearly every one on display, not for that purpose (i.e., to read all banned books), but just because it all started with being hooked by Sinclair Lewis at such a young age. I can’t say that this made me choose a particular career or life’s work, but it did form me as a critically-thinking person.

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