From the archives of "This American Life" -- Listen to full show
Stories of people who believe a book changed their life. It's a romantic notion, and one reason we believe it is because we want to believe our lives can be changed by something so simple as an idea — or a set of ideas contained in a book.
When Alexa was seven, she started going through her grandfather's books. Her grandfather was a playwright and teacher, and through the books—and especially through his notes in the margins—she entered the world of 1930's American theater. And she found a book that changed her life: writer Moss Hart's autobiography Act One. (5 minutes)
ACT ONE. ACT ONE.
More of Alexa Junge and how Moss Hart's autobiography changed her life. She followed his path, learned specific lessons, and had a vision of him that was absolutely clear—until she met his widow. (10 minutes)
ACT TWO. THE FAMILY THAT READS TOGETHER.
The story of a book that changed a family's life, but only temporarily and not for the better. David Sedaris describes what happens when he finds a dirty book in the woods and shares it with his sisters. This story is published in Sedaris' book Naked. (9 minutes)
ACT THREE. ROGER AND ME, LEWIS AND CLARK.
Reporter Jeremy Goldstein tells the story of a man who had many books change his life, even though he'd never read them. (14 minutes) Available: The Journals of Lewis and Clark, containing excerpts from the explorers' journals. -- Read More