The Books That Changed Your Lives
  • Recently read this artlce

    then thought whether we can ask the same question to our members. If
    possible, we can restrict to history books, but I wouldn't.

    Request members to just post the book names, we can discuss the merit
    and de-merits of author or books in seperate thread if required, which
    would keep the thread in focus.

    I was influenced by Balakumaran's writings, though it is difficult to
    mention one book, I can clearly remember these books.

    1. "Kanavugal Virpavan" by Balakumaran
    2. "Sathya Sodhanai" tamil translation by Gandhi.

    When it comes to History books, none other than

    1. Ponniyin Selvan by Kalki
  • Thiru, very good subject. To me a few books (there were many) that changed my life were -
    1 Thi Ja's Mogamul (we had a thread on this already)
    2 Manian's many travelogues (inspiration to travel and see other cultures)
    3 Sujatha's Karayellam Chenbagapoo (Inspiration for new ways of writing mysteries and thrillers on par with western novelists)
    4 Sivasankari's Paalangal (women based subject on balancing generation gaps, also very reminiscent of my grandmother's childhoood)
    5 Last but not the least Amarar Kalki's Sivagamiyim Sabatham (yet to read another novel that really brought out so much emotion, I am a woman but really not into love stories or soft romantic subjects, but SS made even men feel emotions around true love, unrealisation of dreams and dedication to ideals..could write a few volumes on this.))
  • Oh also forgot..Na Parthasarthy a.k.a Manivannan's Kurinji Malar.
  • Wow.. Great topic. The book that started of my reading habit,

    Parthiban Kanavu,

    The book which made me go crazy


    The book which influenced and influences me in daily life,

    The Devil and Miss Priym
  • Hi
    Mine was (though not a book) the readers digest.
    i laid my hands on a out dated copy and was fascinated at the variety.
    how articles used to jump from action to social workers, from travel
    to health issues, from crime to humour.
    it was a treat to the brain.
    i didnt get a single word in the " word power"
    understood half the jokes in laughter the best medicine , none in the
    humour in uniform.
    i managed to read the condensed book in the end. it was about hitlers
    architect-albert speer " the devils architect."
    but then i went on to subsribe as well as colect the old ones.
    i had a complete collection from 1955 onwards. some sent to me from
    people abroad.
    finally i gave up the entire collection to a school library.
    in big way i think the 'readers digest' has shaped me.
  • Paalangal - a really good work of Sivashankari- showed the generation
    gaps beautifully.

    For me, i would say novels like Lakshmi Kadaksham, Srimathi
    Mythili,Mithila Vilas, anbin ellai, premaharam, Sriman Sudharsanam
    helped change my pereception towards many things inherent in life as
    such. PS re-kindled the urge in me to delve into South Indian history.
  • Hi,
    In my schooldays i read only one book "ponnar sankar" by Kalaingar and i was very much impressed in reading historical novels.
    But after that i didnot get any historical books,.
    But few months back i started to read Kalki's Sivagimiyin sabadham..
    After that i read lot of books regarding Novels related to Cholar period.
    The books which are all fresh in my mind and affected very much  are
    1.Ponnar sankar by Kalaingar
    2.Sivagamiyin sabadham by Kalki
    3.Ponniyin selvan by kalki
    4.Yaazh nangai by vikraman
    5.Vengayin Mainthan  by Akilan
    6.Udayar by Balakumaran (My favourite book which turns me on Rajaraja Cholan and on Lord Shiva)

  • For me books that initiated me into reading were Devan's Thuppariyum Sambu (both chitra kathai & text version), Miss Janaki, Sriman Sudarsanam. I've liked all Lakshmi's novels- learnt about life led by people of that era. PS is always no.1 in the list of books that are read repeatedly& Anbin Ellai the second.
    English Sherlockholmes always a favorite, James Herriot 'cos of my love for animals, other fictions like to read but forget soon.
  • If the question is what got me interested in reading, I cant but admit,
    gokulam, chandamama and siruvar malar - of course amar chitra katha - my
    scientific inspiration stems from amar chitra katha's book on einstien.

    A lot more of novels in english have influenced me, but the book that
    changed my life was ponniyin selvan - it brought out to light how much I
    love the tamil culture (not indian - tamil specifically) and changed my
    habits from:

    - work, work, work, pub, movies, fun


    - work, historical interest and serious introspection of our society,
    spending my free time on more useful activities (guess thats the difference
    between a hobby and timepass), paying more attention to my family

    If you understand what I mean, thats a serious change.
  • well, I should add that the change was not just because of ponniyin selvan -
    the book, but because it got me into ponniyin selvan - this group, and it
    was the group that changed my outlook on life.

    Thanks all.
  • Hi, iam balaji or nkb and am a day old baby to this group.

    proud to be part of a very rich thought provoking group.

    my wife is fan of kalki and he was introduced to me a few years
    back. honestly all along was more obsessed with english novels.

    after reading kalkis triology (SS, Ponniyin selvan and Parthiban
    Kanavu) iam proudly calling myself a thamizhan. the above three
    changed not only outlook but also my tastes and preferences in life.

    now iam consiouly speaking with everybody only in thamizh (thooya
    thamizh...) with AMMANI being the only word for addressing females.

    The other book which has helped me realise more about myself is THE
  • Hi,

    My reading habits started with "Muthu Comics" during my school days
    and I was facinated by the stories of "Irumbukkai Mayavi", "Lawrence
    & David", "Mugamuudi Vethalar", "Cisco/Pancho" etc., etc., and that
    still continues. I'm still a reader of those comics and preserve
    quite a bit of them till date.

    My father had a collection of hard bound serials from Kumudam, Ananda
    Viketan etc., from 50's and 60's. I used to read them for the jokes
    especially "Washingtanil Kalyanam." Some bound volumes were Maniyans
    and I was too young to read anything from it.

    When I was in 8th standard, I went to my granny's place for the
    annual vacation and to keep me not bored, my aunty told me
    the "sivakamiyin sabatham" story, few chapters a day... The story
    influenced me a lot. I didnt understand all the affairs between the
    prince and Sivakami ( or may be she avoided material not suitable for
    my age ) , but the deeds of Paranjothi and the secret of Ajantha cave
    paintings kept me interesting.


    During my +2 vacation, I found a hard bound original Kumudam series
    of "Mannan Mahal" by Sandilyan. Good drawings by Sagar brought the
    characters alive. Except for the last few chapters, the book was
    intact and I read it in one sitting. That was the first historic
    novel I ever read.

    Then in college, I bought all the Sandilyan novels and became a fan
    of him...

    Then one guy told me about Kalki's greatness and said that the hero
    will not even touch the hands of the heroin in Kalki's novels. If he
    ever touches, it was for a promise. This was something like a "pure"
    form of love for me... So I wanted to read Kalki's novels and read
    more about this kind of love that was platonic.

    That was a time, when Kalki's books weren't at print. There were a
    few copies in the university library, but they were locked
    permanently by some research scholars.

    And one friend offered me to give a bound book from Kalki magazines
    for reading, 1 at a time, to be returned intact within a week and not
    to be given to anyone including my siblings. The deal was that I have
    to give him 1 "Moore" cigerette per volume. This was a bit expensive
    for me and I had to starve myself to get the volumes... but the
    result is history...

    My quest for books still continues and I have spent lot of my
    fortunes on books of any sort....
  • Dear Shoba, I liked Lakshmi very much too although I felt she became stereo typed in later years. She was a medical doctor, an MD and a novelist as well!!
    Have you read Latsiyavaadhi, it is one of my favorites of hers. Also Kanjanayin Kanavu?
  • Venkat, yes you are right about RD. I came to know though after coming to US that it is not held in such high regard here as in India. The reason as I understand is getting credit from bits and pieces of other books and also the organisation's forays into evangelism and lottery.
  • Really very very interesting topic!

    Hope from which we can prepare a great list of books and authors!!

    The first ever book made a big impact in my life is Ennangalai
    MEmbaduthungal by Copmeyar it's a tamil translated version book which I
    read! There are so many things in that book which will guide us in our day
    to day life and will teach us to control & utilize our thoughts. When I was
    in college I read PS first and addicted to Kalki's writings then I started
    reading his other books like SS, PK and Alai Osai.

    The ultimate turning point in my life happened at when I joined this PS
    group, I learned a lot through this group and moreover its guiding me
    towards history, Tamil literature, temples, Sculptures, etc.,!!

    In english novels the interesting one's are Clive Cussler's - Valhalla
    rising, Tom clancy's - The executive order, The Red october and Dan Brown's
    - The Da vinci code, Angels and Demons, The digital fortress and the The
    deception point.

    The list is endless....

    Especially I was very much ispired by our Vijay kumar's postings in this
    group as well as in Min Tamil group. Earlier I used to got to temple only
    for worship, but now I started seeing the sculptures, though I couldnt
    understand its configuration, style, specials etc., I am very much confident
    that I will learn slowly. If I can't learn here in this group I can never
    learn! Also I started taking photos of temples, I will post it temple by
    temple in the coming weeks.
  • Good topic.

    Book changed my life?? I can say books that influenced me or the ones
    I like, but cant say anything that changed my life (for that matter
    only Madan US has said PS changed his all.. we share our
    books of interest I think).

    As VK said, Poonthalir and Gokulam had a lot of influence during my
    childhood. lots of morals and mythological stories to cherish.

    Jonanthan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach - I think the first book
    I read in one sitting (till date never broke that record). And his

    Ofcourse PS - after reading PS I was so obsessed that for nearly 5
    years I didnt read any English novels. Later came out of my cocoon
    thinking that I am only loosing if I stick only to tamil historical

    Paulo Choelo's 'Alchemist' - the crux of finding happiness.

    I was bowled by 'Freedom at Midnight' and cried a lot while reading
    it. (till date I feel humiliated by Nehru's words '6 hours of sleep is
    necessity, 7 hours is luxury').
  • Hi Balaji,

    If Kalki's novels made you feel proud as a tamilian, you should read
    chadilyan's kadal pura - it elates one to feel proud of our ancestor's might
    and influence - the conquests of rajendra chola and the reasons behind them
    made me equate cholas to the US of today - a world power.

    As a natural continuation, it also made me want to read Jayankondar's
    kalingathuparani. But havent done that yet ;)
  • Sathish,

    Cant help but express my sour taste after reading the alchemist - it was
    a nice moral, but the story was just a 'javvu'. It was as if the author had
    to write so many pages to publish the book. well, opinions differ ;)

    About Nehru's words, I think you are feeling humbled - not humiliated.
  • Did someone write about *Notes to myself* ?

    ~ Udanx
  • Yay here!!! I did not write about it (there are too many to write) but yes that is a great one!!
  • Malati,

    This book (Notes to myself) I read when I going through a tough phase. Very
    good book and it had an impact in my life. My suggestion is that every one
    should read it atleast once.

    On the lighter side every one (Youngsters) should read Sujatha's Pirivom
    Sandhipom ... I am sure I will be in the receiving end after this mail. But
    I read that at the age and felt very nice. I wont say that it changed my
    life but it had an impact ...

    ~ Udanx
  • Interesting topic. I started my reading pretty early and started
    with the comics and Poonthalir. I think the 'Poonthalir classics'
    series started a fascination with the English literature classics
    which continues today. Also the books in New century book house and
    the Sarvodaya Ilakiya Pannai, both in Madurai, actually played an
    important part. Resulting in a kind of overexposure to Russian
    literature at an earlier stage (8th std, I've read already Tolstoy,
    Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Shalokov etc). I still look at the copy of 'The
    Idiot' which I bought for 28Rs long time back in a road-side NCBH
    Sujatha was my starting point in Tamil (I mean, after Vandumama!).
    And the US travelogue by Manian (which was a prize to my mom for
    securing school first in Geography back in 1970) started my American
    dreams!. Read the entire Shakespeare on loan from a professor who
    lived nearby during by 11th holidays and that triggered me to buy a
    lot of English classics (again, my mom being a BA english drop-out
    helped and found all her old college texts!). This is when I think I
    read the Musketeers and 'Pride and Prejudice' (I have about 4-5
    editions of the book and 3-4 DVDs of the different adaptations). If
    there is going to be one novel that I want to take it to my grave,
    it will be P&P (Sorry PS fans!). Followed by all Austen and Dumas's
    works and then discovered Wilde (I mean, I still read 'The
    importance of being Earnest' whenever I am down) followed by Kafka
    (odd, but there was a Tamil translation I read which led me to the
    surrealists), Camus, Proust, Satre etc and got bored of the lot and
    dumped. Meanwhile read Thi.Ja and started buying more of Thi.Ja and
    La.Sa.Ra and their ilk. I read PS when in 8th standard but still
    consider 'Ivan Hoe' to be a much better historical romance any day
    (Thats me and dont jump on it). More discoveries in English
    literature and Su.Ra, Jeyamohan, Nila.Padmanabhan, A. Madhavan and
    others in Tamil. Even ran a small literary magazine while in
    Earning money made me getting books easy and having been in US for
    most of the last 12 years changed nothing. When we decided to settle
    back in Chennai, I sent one box full of books and carried one more
    32" suitcase full of books to here. Now trying to find a way to
    consolidate my book shelfs as they are overflowing now.

    And hey, thanx for giving the way for a completely narcissistic post
    and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

    Muthu Prakash R
  • Muthu, so nice to read your 'narcissicm' :) from another book worm :) If I have any more books my father has threatened to throw me out as books take up more room in our modest home than people :) I am not even thinking of sending them to India, some time we will see.
    It is not that usual for desi guys to like novels like P&P, that was a pleasant surprise too !!
  • No. humiliated. because after I read that, almost for 10 years or so,
    I am trying to sleep only 6 hours but never could make it. Daily I
    will think i should get up early the next morning, but .... :(
    So I feel ashamed whenever I remember his words '7 hours is luxury'.
    Gandhi used to get up at 2am in the morning to attend to his personal
    mails and reading/writing.
    Dont you think its humiliating to people like me?
  • ok. As this thread moving away from the original intention, let me
    throw my 2 cents as well.

    Sathish, if you feel humiliated, then probably you are half way, there
    is a saying which goes like this. "Don't count the number of failures,
    if you failed n times, then you have tried n times by raising from
    failure again and again, that is what counts".

    Keep trying, all you need is a motivation which require you to do some
    thing you you are passionate about.

    Keep trying

    On Tue, Jul 1, 2008 at 10:40 AM, SatishKumar Arunachalam
  • kekka nallathan irukku...

    anyway, thanks for the encouring words. I never gave and still hope
    that someday i will make it.. :)

    And,coming back to the thread.. Malathi and Venkat were talking about
    Bharathi and Kalki..

    If I am correct, Bharathi did write some poems/articles in favour of
    the brits. atleast I know of a poem written to welcome the prince of
    wales (? I am not sure). Probably such work of him might led people
    like Kalki to criticize him thinking that he is not a patriot.
  • Dear Satish,

    getiing up early does not matter much...

    How do we spend our time ..

    towards personal (including family ) benefits ..

    towards common : social - religeous - cultural causes ..

    towards upliftment of one' self..

    and selflessly cutting across caste - regional - linguistic

    As Head of the Family - as an employer in an Organisation most of
    ones commitments are demanding enormous attention !

    Remember the story : Naradhar forgot to utter " Narayana" when given
    a cup of ghee and was asked to bring back without spilling it !

    Without harming others if we are able to be some support to persons
    comparable below our life-style, it is enough to begin with..

    I remember (Actor) Parthiban having said (years back) when attended
    a function with (his wife) Sita ::

    At home, she talks and I listen..

    On the dias, I talk and all (including her ) listen .. !

    We have never listened to Kasturiba ! - with due respects to

  • SPS, I remember reading a great book on Kasturiba Gandhi, translated inot tamil by AK Chettiar, a long time ago (the original was hindi or gujarati, i don't know). Ba as she was fondly called in some ways is deserving of even more respect than Gandhi.
    AK Chettiar was a less known but very well travelled old man/author - wrote travelogues like Manian and spoke around 12 different languages. In his last years he was a frequent figure at old book stores in Chennai, including the famous pavement Azhvar kadai.
  • The two books which changed my life are

    1. Of course, our "Ponniyin Selvan" and
    2. Thiruvarangan Ula (I see that our Venketesh has written
    the "Thillaiyil oru Kollaikkaran" inspired by this book. That is my
    next buy)

    Until I read the two, I had no big idea of the great history of our
    Tamizh Nadu. But these two books kindled a fire in me to study more
    about it.

    While Ponniyin Selvan was in true "thriller" category, with a whole
    lot of Historical details for a beginner, Thiruvarangan Ula by
    SriVenugopalan, presented the journey of the Sacred Vigraham of Sri
    Ranganatha for 40 years. That was a revelation to me, as all that I
    knew was that the processions are restricted to only the 4 mada
    veedhis around ThiruvallikkeNi and other like wise places, with
    occasional visits to some far of places, that too in a "pallaku". But
    the way the story goes where in every one carries the idol, hit me
    hard regarding the attrocities committed by the invading Muslim
    marauders and the way an entire state was deprived of its rich culture
    for almost 48 years before the Vijayanagar king Bukka and his son
    Kambana restored the glory.

    which honestly, I hated during my school days.
  • AK Chettiar's 'Annalin Adichuvatil' is a travelogue/experiences of
    him trying to get footage for the documentry on Gandhi he was
    making. Amazing book and the tenacity of the man is just
    unbelievable. This is currently in print by Kalachuvadu(who BTW are
    doing a great job in publishing a lot of books in their classics
    series). The restored documentry itself was screened in last year's
    chennai book fair by Kalachuvadu.

    Muthu Prakash R
  • Hi

    A.K Chettiar was primarily a traveller.
    knowing few languages e trotted across the globe sometimes shovelling
    coal to pay for his voyage.
    but then like the great travellers of the past he paused to record
    each step.


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