Richard Hyatt: 10 books that changed my life

December 19, 2013 

Thomas Jefferson couldn't live without books and rock philosopher Frank Zappa noted there was so many books and so little time. Now someone in the world of social media wants us to list 10 books that have impacted our lives.

In a medium that is sometimes frivolous and often repetitive, this question made me think. It is a question without a right or wrong answer, for how can anyone argue that a particular book isn't important to the person reading it?

I don't remember when my addiction to books began and I can't tell you a time when books weren't around. Things got so crowded a few years ago that I donated my personal library to Columbus State University, with the understanding that I had the right to come visit them once in a while. People on Facebook are chiming in on 10 books that changed their lives.

Their lists are dominated by classics -- the kind of serious works found on a required reading list in school. Mine is more eclectic, including ones that inspired me as a writer as well as a reader.

Here's my 10 -- in no particular order:

• "The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck -- Any writer who can spend several pages describing in vivid detail a turtle crossing a highway has my vote.

• "Gone With the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell -- I'm from Atlanta, so this book has to be on my list. I remember the accomplishment that I felt the summer I was 10 years old and read this book from cover to cover.

• "The Boys of Summer" by Roger Kahn -- The author taught a young sportswriter that there were stories behind the players on the field and he made me want to hear them and record them.

• "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee -- A prominent Baptist preacher used a passage from this book as his sermon every Father's Day.

• "Hoop Crazy by Clair Bee" -- This was just one in a series of boys books about Chip Hilton, a clean-living young athlete who was a star for all seasons. I read them all and later was shocked to discover that not every ball player was as pure as Chip

• "Last Train from Memphis" by Peter Guralnick -- A quintessential biography of Elvis Presley that should be a primer for anyone wanting to write about someone's life.

• "The Good Old Boys" by Paul Hemphill -- A collection of articles that still inspires me.

• "Dance with the White Dog" by Terry Kay -- A beautiful story about love and death by a writer who understands language more than most.

• "Ball Four" by Jim Bouton -- One of the first books to tell the truth about sports.

• "The Bible" -- A book that inspires, teaches and guides and never grows old.

Richard Hyatt is an independent correspondent, hyatt31906@knology.net

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