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Books Can Change Your Life

2013 June 7

Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled “This could change your life.” ~Helen Exley

Books change livesWhat happens when a dream you’ve held since childhood … doesn’t come true? Some will doggedly continue to carry the shattered pieces of their dream around, safely tucked away in their minds and hearts as a perpetual reminder that it’s best not to dream at all lest you risk suffering further heartache. Lisa Bu, chose to find a new dream and learned firsthand that books are not merely for entertainment … books can change your life.

Lisa Bu is a Content Distribution Manager at TED. In fall 2012, Lisa prepared a talk about her love of reading to share with fellow staffers at their annual retreat. Everyone has to get up and talk about something, either something about work or something interesting from their own lives – Lisa chose to talk about how books had changed her life. And the “quiet, funny and efficient Content Distribution Manager” brought down the house, with a story deemed simply too good not to share. Lisa is the first staffer ever to be invited to speak on the  main stage at the TED Conference.

I have come to believe that “coming true” is not the only purpose of a dream. Its most important purpose is to get us in touch with where dreams come from, where passion comes from, where happiness comes from. Even a shattered dream can do that for you. ~Lisa Bu


Born and raised in Hunan, China, Lisa Bu has been with TED since 2011. Before that, she spent seven years as a talk show producer and a digital media content director at Wisconsin Public Radio. She’s also a computer programmer, with a PhD in journalism and an MBA in information systems from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as a BA in Chinese from Nanjing University in China.

How about you? Have there been any books in particular that have inspired your life? Do you ever read books to learn about other cultures or people? What’s your favorite genre – why?

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17 Responses
  1. June 19, 2013

    Books can really inspire our lives just like some movies do and that is because we are exposed to a thought that may have never clicked us. Books at times provide us with solutions that we are looking for since long. Thanks for the great share.

  2. June 12, 2013

    Great post , I really enjoyed it
    Books are one of the best source that give me motivtion and inspiration ; they are really helped me to change my perspective on life .
    Thank you so much for these great tips .
    rachid recently posted..100 Impossible Quotes With Pictures To Inspire You To Challenge And Conquer The Impossible (Part 7 of 10)My Profile

  3. June 12, 2013

    I am a book lover, most of the time it teaches me to do what is right and apply it. It definitely changes the lives of every reader as it open up their minds.

  4. Aayna from used guns permalink
    June 11, 2013

    I love reading loads of fiction related books or some pychology based books. My personal liking about a book is the book which gives me a food for thought. I can’t read any such stuff which adds no value, this is the reason I go for some like enhancing books also in the past two months. While reading the book, we get a bundle of things which we can apply in our life. Thanks for the share.

    • June 12, 2013

      Hi Aayna, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I agree with you about books that make us think. There’s a great quote about how you know you’ve read a really good book when you get to the last page and feel sad, because you want more. :-)
      Marquita Herald recently posted..Cultivate Courage to Defeat Your FearsMy Profile

  5. June 10, 2013

    Books are very potent. They can shape your ideas, your outlooks or even your entire personality. Similarly, they can change your ideology or opinion towards a certain subject. In my opinion, a person should be strictly careful when choosing the books he reads. Especially the ones closely related to his belief system.
    Naomi Jefferson recently posted..3 Ways to Improve Direct Mail Response RatesMy Profile

  6. June 10, 2013

    Books are really just fun I love reading books a lot
    Thanks for sharing this awesome post concerning books
    have a cool day ahead :)
    anis recently posted..10 Sweet Ways to Make Easy Cash Online !My Profile

  7. June 9, 2013

    Hi Marty,

    Wonderful post, indeed!

    Books can certainly be life changing. One book which really started the journey of transformation for me was Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz. Until I read his book, I suffered a lot from low self-confidence and low self-esteem caused mainly because of stuttering. Once I read his book, I realised how I had created a very poor self-image of myself though the way I would see myself in my mind. I then began to experiment with creative visualisation as explained in the book to help change my self-image into that of a confident person.

    Thank you.
    Hiten recently posted..How to Live with More PurposeMy Profile

    • June 12, 2013

      Always value your thoughtful insight Hiten – it’s just so hard for me to imagine you as suffering from lack of confidence, but then I guess that gets back to the interesting topic of the gap between our true selves and the person we show to the world. I recall someone in the throws of an “I’m so worthless” fit asking me how I could possibly understand how they felt since I’m “so confident.” I was sorely tempted to laugh at that just thinking of the various bouts of anxiety suffered each time I push myself to a new level. The obvious difference between us and others who experience those feelings is we long ago made the decision to not settle for less than giving our best to life. :-)
      Marquita Herald recently posted..Cultivate Courage to Defeat Your FearsMy Profile

  8. June 8, 2013

    I have been reading a lot of history the past year. I really enjoy reading about former presidents and the revolutionary period. I have really gained some leadership principles from reading history. Thanks for sharing!
    Luke Roland recently posted..Lessons Learned From D-DayMy Profile

  9. June 8, 2013

    I can’t tell you how many times a good book has been a turning point in in my life. Books have a way of pulling you in and slipping into your subconscious. Somehow the ideas and inspiration from a good book seems to permeate you. I run a personal development blog and anytime I feel like I am stuck, all it seems to take is a few pages from a good book to completely renew my focus and give me new ideas. Thanks for Sharing, awesome article!

    Dave Goettsch (Personal Growth Project)

  10. June 7, 2013

    I’d have to say that historical fiction is my favorite genre….to visit another time and experience it with all the sights, smells and sounds is amazing. Thank you for an inspiring video too.
    Rachel Williamson recently posted..They Are So NOT Into YOU!My Profile

    • June 12, 2013

      So glad you enjoyed the post Rachel. I love books about history as well, though I tend to lean toward nonfiction – I’m an long-time fan of the Gutenberg Project. By the way, great article on your blog – really enjoyed it!
      Marquita Herald recently posted..Cultivate Courage to Defeat Your FearsMy Profile

  11. June 7, 2013

    This is a great TED talk. Thanks for sharing. Books have opened my mind and have changed my life. Thanks!

  12. June 7, 2013

    Without a doubt, the genre (if you want to call it that) of books that I like to read involve a journey, literally. One book in particular that started me off down this road of books about self-discovery was ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coehlo. I guess seeing other people (even if they are fictional) follow a path and learn about themselves and the world around them is inspirational reading to me. It’s what I think we all long to do with our lives in some capacity … learn about ourselves and the world around us in the hope of making a lasting impact to those that follow.

    More recently, I have been absolutely consumed by the 5 book ‘The Walk’ series by Richard Paul Evans. I just finished the 4th book in the series (which was just released last week) and can’t wait for the 5th due to be released next May.

    I am not sure you can ever pick up a book expecting or even hoping that it will change your life. But, when you turn the last page of certain ones, you know that it certainly did. It’s an absolutely wonderful, exciting, and liberating feeling that I hope everyone gets to enjoy sometime along their own journey.
    Dave recently posted..Be who you areMy Profile

    • June 12, 2013

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful post Dave! You are obviously as avid a reader as I am, and I am intrigued by the books you mentioned. I confess my guilty pleasure are mystery/thrillers and it’s not uncommon for me to read through the night when I find a good one. Otherwise, I also enjoy stories about journeys, and just love stories about everyday heroes. Thanks again for contributing to the conversation. :-)
      Marquita Herald recently posted..Cultivate Courage to Defeat Your FearsMy Profile

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