Close up image of the Display monitorThe MSU Library is more than just a house for books, it is a home that fosters new ideas and expanding imaginations. This year for our annual Open House the theme of Reading Alters Lives brought about the question of "what book has enriched your life?".  In this Display we explored that idea asked the library employees that very question and were thrilled by the responses, and happily displayed them to share with the public and get the passers by to stop and think about the books they have read and how some simple words on a page has altered their lives. 


Click on an image to view as a slideshow.

Kaycee A.

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao 

A powerhouse of a novel featuring giant mecha robots fighting aliens and a good hearty dose of anti-patriarchy. Zetian is a wonderful, terrifying and merciless protagonist, but you'll be cheering for her the whole way. Scared of another love triangle YA trope? Have no fear, this book has the first polyamorous relationship from a main character that I've ever seen. It was just the right amount of fun I needed this year. 

Kaycee A.

My Sister the Serial Killer

Come for the slasher, stay for the introspective on family and sibling relations. Dark humor and a narrator you either sympathize with or can't stand to be around. This book got me into short horror stories and horror in translation. 

Kaycee A.

Earthlings by Sayka Murata

The strangest book I have ever read. It was so morbid, so weird, mortifying at times, and yet strangely enthralling. I found myself not wanting to miss any second on finding out what was going to happen. That ending was WOW! The trauma in this book is hard to read, but only because it was so real and raw. It doesn't look away from the trauma, but tackles it head on. Murata talks about serious, real ideas such as escapism and dissociation but in such a compelling and disorientating way. It's one of those books where you NEED someone else to read it just so you can work through what happened.

Christina T.

Real Life by Brandon Taylor

I have spent most of my life either working to provide aid to the less fortunate or working in higher education with a focus on equity and helping every person feel like they have a home in learning.  Brandon Taylor's book was shocking and eye-opening to me, as he brings readers inside the perspective of a college freshman who is both gay and black.  Seeing how the everyday actions of well-meaning institutions are perceived really made me question and think about my approach to creating welcoming spaces and conversations. 

Christina T.

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

Azar Nafisi captured my heart with this book.  Librarians are always advocates for reading and literature, touting that books have the power to impact our lives.  This book is the perfect example of the impact classic literary books had on a group of young women, their ideas, their inspirations, and their ability to survive an incredibly traumatic time, the upheaval in Tehran.  Blending the beauty in the writing and the narrative of each book with the experiences of these women, I was left wanting to read and reread more books, to look deeper into them, to look anew at books I'd read years ago and see what they have to share with me about life today.  All of her books continue to change and shape my outlook on the world, but this one was my first love.

Lissa F.

Twilight (saga) by Stephenie Meyer

Yes, I know what you're thinking.... Twilight? Really? but hear me out... I first read this in high school when it came out and I was team Edward all the way (if you know you know!).  Fast forward to my senior year of college when I reread this, and it was as though it was a completely different book. This book opened my eyes to how a reader can change when the work remains the same. As I read, I felt betrayed by my memory of the book and how it played out. As a young and rather naïve person I saw only the romance in the book, but after years and many new experiences that changed me, I was flabbergasted at what I found. The once infallible Edward now became a monster to me as I he came to life as a manipulative creature. Bella's once sweet and unwavering devotion became a flaw that only created her own misery. And Jacob became an even better candidate for Bella's love (until the last book... when the weird stuff really hit the fan! but that is a whole different rant of rereading evolution). I wondered how I could have possibly been on team Edward. Perhaps it was the psych class I took, or the personal relationships experienced, whatever it was that had changed me had also changed the book. What an eye opener it is to realize that which was “written in stone†(or ink in this case) could be SO different with a new perspective. It has taught me to step back and look again at a book, situation, relationship, and such with a new perspective. And so that is why Twilight is the one book that truly has enriched my life!

Nich P.

Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man's Fundamentals for Delicious Living by Nick Offerman

It was an introspective look at a man who generally plays a hard working, government hating "mans man" as a tv character, Ron Swanson, but at his core as a person he is the complete opposite. The book separates the man from the character, but shows how his own interests and hobbies overlap with his characters while trying to debunk and restructure our own understanding of masculinity and manliness.  

Jessica L.

Fed Up: Emotional Labor, Women, and the Way Forward by Gemma Hartley

This book, at first, made me irrationally angry, because it made me realize all the invisible labor that I was putting in that my partner wasn't noticing. After that though, it sparked thoughtful and enriching conversations about helping and dividing the work while living together. Most importantly, it made our partnership and relationship stronger! In my professional life, it helped me be more assertive and create boundaries that help keep my mental health in check.

Anthony W.

The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific by J. Maarten Troost

Many books have enriched my life, from philosophical treatises to memoirs; from rare and limited prints to mass market paperbacks. It's hard to pick just one. I don't think about the book that I've selected much, but I encountered it at a time when I was traveling and wanted to write about traveling but wasn't quite sure how to write about traveling. Troost's travelogue about living on an atoll in the Pacific Ocean, for me, was a gateway into how fun and smart travel writing can be. There is a lot of "travel writing" out there, and it's not all about travel guidebooks and self-indulgence. For me, travel writing is about humbling oneself and discovering environments and ways of life previously inconceivable. Travel writing can be both insightful and funny, and has been, for as long as writing about encountering new places and people has been done.


The Book Thief, Markus Zusak

Even though it's a fictional story, this book solidified the notion that reading can truly save lives. The privilege of literacy can offer both a means to escape situations as well as the ability to create new opportunities.

Rachelle M.

Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran

"A gripping tale of adventure and searing reality, Lucky Boy gives voice to two mothers bound together by their love for one lucky boy."
Oh my gosh when I finished reading this, I was reeling. I just fell in love with the characters. This book really made me stop, question, and re-think everything I had believed about immigration to the United States; motherhood; teenage pregnancy. I could not put this book down, what a story. As I write this review, I still remember closing the book and just sitting, thinking about this tale, so very relevant to the world we are living in today, and trying to figure out how I felt about the ending. I had no answer to that but my heart was touched forever by these women.


Robot ethics: the ethical and social implications of robotics

A fun and interesting book talking about the current and future social implications of using robots in our daily lives!

James T.

The Old Man and the Sea

It made me realize that life is more about trying than winning. Failure is an acceptable outcome. It made me think that fears of not succeeding should not stop me from trying something new, bold, or risky. Perseverance is what matters.

Star B.

The Martian by Andy Weir

This is an exceptional example of a survival story. Left alone alone on Mars astronaut Mark Watney survives for an extended period of time using his wits and the supplies that were left behind when his mission was aborted. Reading this book showed me how a person can overcome what appears to be even the most insurmountable adversity.


Animal Farm by George Orwell

I read this book as a teenager and it had a big impact on me. It showed me that even though humans should all be equals, in the real world that isn't always the case. As it says in the book, some animals are more equal than others.


Harry Potter and Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

This first book in the Harry Potter series was not only a great read, but also brought the joy of reading to so many children. This book series introduced so many children to the wonderful world of Harry Potter and it's characters. The entire series made so many children, and adults, who thought they didn't like to read start reading and keep reading. A series that makes so many people enjoy the act of reading is all right in my book.

Jacqueline F.

The Overstory, by Richard Powers

The Overstory - It made me think. An intertwining and deeply emotional story, this book made me wonder why I never considered trees so friendly, and uniquely complex before. It made me think about the future of humanity, and our place in that trajectory. 

Jacqueline F.

Malibu Rising, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Malibu Rising - I got whisked away. Filled with drama, this sucked me into a faced paced story that reminded me why I love reading, when I get absorbed in a different life.

Jacqueline F.

Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies -

Jacqueline F.

s, by Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle, and Half Broke Horses - They give me hope. Both memoirs are of resilience, working against the odds towards your dreams, and finding beauty wherever you are along the way.

Leila S.

The Kissing of Kissing

This is a book of poems that is emotional, thought provoking, and lyrical. It is part of a series of books written by neurodiverse authors-- Emerson is a non-speaking autistic woman. Emerson is an important voice to add to our collection.