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Old 07-29-2019, 04:51 PM
Location: Pittsburgh
38 posts, read 19,006 times
Reputation: 54


Does anyone have a book they read that changed their life?

I have a friend (34 y/o) who grew up in Elmore Square in the Hill District who lacks hope. His mother died when he was very young and father a heroin addict. He was in a gang and is currently incarcerated for 6 months for a stupid parole violation for not checking in. He has shared a lot with me he wouldn't tell others, like that he likes hanging out with me because he can smile. He said he can't smile while in the Hill or others will perceive he is weak. I'd like to send him a few books that can help build his self-esteem. He basically doesn't have any. There was a period of time while he was enrolled in Electrical school that he was a completely different person, started to have some self-esteem until he either didn't pass the test or the score he received was not high enough compared to others; whichever happened, he was denied acceptance into the union. It crushed him and he basically gave up.

While some may criticize how easily he quit / gave up. It has a lot to do with his experiences growing up. His home life lacked positive reinforcement. I feel strongly that each person is shaped by their experiences and I can't even imagine how difficult life has been for him based simply from what I have seen firsthand.

Given the above information, if anyone has any suggestions on literature I can send him so he can better himself while incarcerated. Once out, I hope that he can find a mentor to take him under their wing to teach him to be an electrician because school only does so much.

Thank you for your time.
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Old 07-29-2019, 06:07 PM
515 posts, read 201,476 times
Reputation: 204
Sorry I dont have a book to recommend but I hope he finds his way. It can be hard and I dont blame him for giving up. I have known many people like this and a lack of self esteem can be one of the worst things to have. I will say if possible the best thing he can try to do is start off somewhere fresh and maybe find some support groups. Not sure if he is religious at all but often there are free religious groups that can provide support though I am sure there are others.
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Old 07-29-2019, 06:15 PM
3,777 posts, read 1,477,450 times
Reputation: 7390
"Does anyone have a book they read that changed their life?"

1. To Kill a Mockingbird.
2. Slaughterhouse 5.
3. the Road.

this excludes the religious texts.
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Old 07-29-2019, 06:58 PM
Location: Brookline
2,721 posts, read 2,059,895 times
Reputation: 3242
It’s been a 18 years since I read The Four Agreements so I am not sure how relevant it is outside of the age in which I read it, but I do remember at the time feeling profoundly confident and motivated after I read it.
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Old 07-30-2019, 03:35 PM
Location: Squirrel Hill PA
1,975 posts, read 1,892,107 times
Reputation: 4022
I one book, no but quite a few books helped me with getting my life put back together. I'm not sure any would really resonate with your friend since they are all about martial arts and horses. Books really can help you think about things differently but I think they have to be subjects that you are interested in or inspired by and that is a very personal thing. I think the biggest influence for me was taking up a martial art and all of the new friends who came into my life because of it.

Titles that meant a lot for me.

The Tao of Equus-Linda Kohanov
The gift of fear- Gavin de Becker
Horsemanship through Life-Mark Rashid
Mastery-George Leonard
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Old 07-30-2019, 07:53 PM
Location: Pittsburgh
38 posts, read 19,006 times
Reputation: 54
Thank you all. It is refreshing to see that not just one, but several people volunteering their time to give recommendations to a complete stranger in hopes of helping. It says a lot about each of you.
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Old 07-31-2019, 12:42 PM
Location: Etna, PA
1,438 posts, read 870,784 times
Reputation: 1598
The Alchemist by Coelho.
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Old 07-31-2019, 04:31 PM
2,217 posts, read 1,688,130 times
Reputation: 2038
In recent years I started working as a social services professional. I am black and was raised in the hood. I had good parents and I belong to a strong black extended family. Growing up I did come across young men like your friend. Growing up without a mother and a drug addicted father is a trauma and too much for a child to endure.

I am in my 40's and it took me this long to realize that all of the violence and illicit behavior we witness on local news is tied to childhood trauma. Many of the news stories we see are children that are or once was in "care". The shootings that we see are kids that are tied to foster care. I am responsible for reuniting families and most of my direct reports are front line staff. They in the trenches daily and I respect them for that.

Your friend needs to understand history. Knowing where you come from and the contributions to US society can be liberating to some. I would suggest reading.

Dark Sky Rising...Reconstruction and the rise of Jim Crow - Henry Louis Gates Jr.

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker - Damon Young (A Pittsburgh native)
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Old 08-05-2019, 10:52 AM
Location: Pittsburgh
324 posts, read 323,486 times
Reputation: 409
Originally Posted by tyovan4 View Post
The Alchemist by Coelho.

^^^^Yes. One of my favorites.^^^^

~~~The Universe Always Conspires to Help The Dreamer~~~
Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist)(quoted in my profile)

Also, I try not to ever give or recommend 'self help' types of books.
I try to have people read something they will actually finish, & also become inspired & look inwards instead of following someone else's 'instruction'.
After all, change must come from within.
Start simple, people get deeper as they move along their journey of change.

One of the best little books I've ever read:

Maya Angelou:
Wouldn't Take Nothing For My Journey Now.

Last edited by Catia; 08-05-2019 at 11:04 AM..
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Old 08-05-2019, 12:16 PM
Status: "Joshua 1:9" (set 1 day ago)
4,159 posts, read 3,345,643 times
Reputation: 5547
Reading the first post made me think of biographies and autobiographies of other people who have overcome horrible childhoods and/or traumatic experiences...

In no particular order...

"Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand

"I Can't Make this Up" by Kevin Hart (Hart had a childhood similar to what your friend endured)

"Born a Crime" by Trevor Noah

"Educated" by Tara Westover

"Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story" (I hesitate to recommend this one because of the political association, but still he has had an amazing life.)

"The Story of my Life" by Helen Keller

"When Breath Becomes Air" by Paul Kalanithi


"The Bible" and/or a devotional. "Jesus Calling" is a popular one. The Dali Lama has a book about happiness if Christianity is not the faith you want to encourage/follow.

"Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage" by Alfred Lansing


"The Power of One" by Humphrey Bower (this is loosely autobiographical)

"The Life of Pi" by Yann Martel

"The Old Man and the Sea" by Earnest Hemingway

"The Art of Racing in the Rain" by Garth Stein

"The Good Earth" by Pearl S. Buck

ETA: what you wrote about your friend failing the electrician test got me thinking...is it possible that your friend has a learning disability? Does he like to read? Is he really good with his hands? Can he explain all the answers but does he have trouble putting them in writing? If any of that is possible, and your friend has a documented learning disability, he might be able to retake the exam in another format. He is protected under the Americans With Disabilities Act.
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