What do Willy Loman, Ebenezer Scrooge, and Ivan Ilyich have in common?

I’m currently working on my own first book project, and the thought occurred to me that a handful of books I’ve read have significantly shaped my life. I feel lucky to have grown up when schools still made you read some of the classics. And a certain few took hold of and have guided my entire life. I’m sure I’ve read these books a couple of dozen times each: The Death of a Salesman, A Christmas Carol, and The Death of Ivan Ilyich.collage

And why would I read these old stories so often?

Well that brings me to my first question. What do Willy Loman, Ebenezer Scrooge, and Ivan Ilyich have in common? Well, what they have in common is that their lives have haunted me my entire adult life! That’s what they have in common. Just horrifying! And even though these stories were written decades upon decades ago, I see these lives being lived out in real time today. These were all fictional stories, but I see real people living them out today more than ever! Frightening!

I have consistently taken measures to ensure that my life does not end up like theirs! All three men lived lives that were a big mistake. These men wasted their lives focused on the wrong things, lives that were complete lies. Only Scrooge was lucky enough to turn things around at the very end of his life, and even then it took several ghosts to scare some sense into him.

I guess I keep going back to these stories just to keep myself on the right path, to seek a life rich with purpose and meaning. Or at least that’s been my goal.

So what books have shaped your life? I’d love to hear if you’ve got your own books that have guided your life so significantly.

“Ivan Ilyich’s life had been most simple and most ordinary and therefore most terrible.” ~ Leo Tolstoy