Here's a list of books, in no particular order, that I read at some point and they totally changed my perspective on the world. These are the heavy-hitters in my life, the ones that I don't necessarily own but I might quote them or refer to them as old friends a little too often. If you're looking for a meaningful Christmas present, consider a life-changing book.
Plain and Simple: A Woman's Journey to the Amish is about a busy woman who goes to live with the Amish for a while to learn how to slow down and simplify. When I was a young I would have jumped up and joined the Amish at the first opportunity (and maybe there's still a little bit of fantasy about that, lol). I was obsessed with the Amish like she was and maybe this gave me some perspective as well.
Little House Series had a huge influence on me. This was the first thing that got me interested in simple living and homesteading and after I read them (again and again) I felt very alone because the internet didn't really exist at that time. I was young and had a big imagination and these books lit a fire in me that never went away.
Little Women really resonated with me when I first read it around 12 years old, and I've read it many times since then. What it did was connect me with history in a way that hadn't happened before since I felt I had very much in common with the main character, Jo. This book had an indirect influence in getting me interested in alternative religions (which is surprising since it is full of trite moral lessons), as I began researching the Alcott's and then their circle of Transcendentalist friends like Emerson and Thoreau.
Creating True Peace: Ending Violence in Yourself, Your Family, Your Community, and the World had more impact on me than any other spiritual book I had read. I re-read it now and then to kind of keep myself on track, because I often lose sight of peace as my ultimate goal.
The Continuum Concept: Allowing Human Nature to Work Successfully, I only wish this was one of the ones I had read as a teenager. What frustrates me is that I had heard of it in passing but only as a psychology book, not as something you could apply to your life. I didn't read it until both girls were born, which is something I try to counteract every day.
The Tao of Pooh was the second book I read after reading the Tao Te Ching for the first time. Not only is this the best book on Taoism, it does what Don't Sweat the Small Stuff should do. I just wish I could remember all of these lessons all the time.
Heart & Hands was the first book on midwifery that I had read. The beautiful photos captivated by 13-year-old mind and prepared me to watch the birth of my brother.
One book that I can't find out what it was for the life of me, but also indirectly influenced me in a big way was by a Liberal Quaker who discussed spirituality in a kind of lazy, philosophical autobiography. I don't remember anything else except that he used Don Quixote as his personal scriptures, and it blew my mind since I had never considered using a work of fiction as the guidebook for my life. Now having gotten a little older I've realized that most things people think are fact are really fiction, and the power of a good myth is infinite. I wish I could find that book again!
One-Straw Revolution: Introduction to Natural Farming by Masanobu Fukuoka. I read this about the same time as the book above, and it changed my perspective on life in general. I got it from the library and this is the one book that I regret not stealing because it is out of print and unavailable.