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Joy

Woman left at the altar by her fiance decided to 'turn the day around’ and have a wedding anyway

"I didn't want to remember the day as complete sadness."

kayley stead, kallum norton, stood up bride
via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.


“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

Stead spoke with the groom at 4 p.m. the previous day, but they stayed the night with their respective parties to save some mystery before the big day. “The groom and I had already agreed not to speak the night before the wedding anyway, so I didn’t know what was happening on his end, I didn’t have a clue,” Stead told The Metro.

Stead was in absolute shock after hearing the news. She had paid for nearly the entire wedding herself, using up all of her life savings on the £12,000 ($13,000) affair. “As a joke, the videographer said ‘Why don’t you carry on, girls? You’ve spent all this money, you’re not getting it back, all your guests are there, why don’t you just go?’” Stead told The Metro.

So, she did just that. Stead decided that the wedding would go on without her fiance.

“That’s when I was like, I’m going to do it,” she said. “I’d spent all this money, I’d been looking forward to the food, a dance with my dad, spending time with my family, so why not?”

Stead, her friends, family and even the groomsmen didn’t let things go to waste and they enjoyed her wedding entrance, food, speeches, dances and even posed for photos. “I didn’t want to remember the day as complete sadness,” she said.

“She was the most beautiful bride we had ever seen,” Cullen added.

The good news is that after the party, Cullen set up a GoFundMe page to help Stead recoup her losses and it has already reached its goal of £10,000 ($10,830). Almost two weeks after the event, Stead still doesn’t know why she was stood her up on her wedding day.

The Sun caught up with Norton and he refused to apologize. The only thing he had to say was, "I don’t want to talk about the article.”

While it’s terrible that Stead was stood up on her wedding day, she should be applauded for making the best of the worst day ever. It’s also wonderful that her bridesmaids and family stood by her side and supported her as she dealt with a serious blow. Let’s hope she finds someone better soon. It shouldn’t be too hard—standing someone up at the altar and then not even explaining yourself is a pretty low move.


This article originally appeared on 09.29.22

Ileah Parker (left) and Alexis Vandecoevering (right)

True

At 16, Alexis Vandecoevering already knew she wanted to work in the fire department. Having started out as a Junior Firefighter and spending her time on calls as a volunteer with the rest of her family, she’s set herself up for a successful career as either a firefighter or EMT from a young age.

Ileah Parker also leaned into her career interests at an early age. By 16, she had completed an internship with Nationwide Children’s Hospital, learning about Information Technology, Physical Therapy, Engineering, and Human Resources in healthcare, which allowed her to explore potential future pathways. She’s also a member of Eryn PiNK, an empowerment and mentoring program for black girls and young women.

While these commitments might sound like a lot for a teenager, it all comes down to school/life balance. This wouldn’t be possible for Alexis or Ileah without attending Pearson’s Connections Academy, a tuition-free online public school available in 31 states across the U.S., that not only helps students get ready for college but dive straight into college coursework and get a head start on career training as well.

“Connections Academy allowed me extensive flexibility, encouraged growth in all aspects of my life, whether academic, interpersonal, or financial, and let me explore options for my future career, schooling, and extracurricular endeavors,” said Ileah.

A recent survey by Connections Academy of over 1,000 students in grades 8-12 and over 1,000 parents or guardians across the U.S., highlights the importance of school/life balance when it comes to leading a fulfilling and successful life. The results show that students’ perception of their school/life balance has a significant impact on their time to consider career paths, with 76% of those with excellent or good school/life balance indicating they know what career path they are most interested in pursuing versus only 62% of those who have a fair to very poor school/life balance.

Additionally, students who report having a good or excellent school/life balance are more likely than their peers to report having a grade point average in the A-range (57% vs 35% of students with fair to very poor balance).

At Connections Academy, teens get guidance navigating post-secondary pathways, putting them in the best possible position for college and their careers. Connections Academy’s College and Career Readiness offering for middle and high school students connects them with employers, internships and clubs in Healthcare, IT, and Business.


“At Connections Academy, we are big proponents of encouraging students to think outside of the curriculum” added Dr. Lorna Bryant, Senior Director of Career Solutions in Pearson’s Virtual Learning division. “While academics are still very important, bringing in more career and college exposure opportunities to students during middle and high school can absolutely contribute to a more well-rounded school/life balance and help jumpstart that career search process.”

High school students can lean into career readiness curriculum by taking courses that meet their required high school credits, while also working toward micro-credentials through Coursera, and getting college credit applicable toward 150 bachelor’s degree programs in the U.S.

Alexis Vandecoevering in her firefighter uniform

Alexis, a Class of 2024 graduate, and Ileah, set to start her senior year with Connections Academy, are on track to land careers they’re passionate about, which is a key driver behind career decisions amongst students today.

Of the students surveyed who know what career field they want to pursue, passion and genuine interest is the most commonly given reasoning for both male and female students (54% and 66%, respectively).

Parents can support their kids with proper school/life balance by sharing helpful resources relating to their career interests. According to the survey, 48% of students want their parents to help them find jobs and 43% want their parents to share resources like reading materials relating to their chosen field.

While teens today have more challenges than ever to navigate, including an ever-changing job market, maintaining school/life balance and being given opportunities to explore career paths at an early age are sure to help them succeed.

Learn more about Connections Academy’s expanded College and Career Readiness offering here.

A nasty note gets a strong response.

We've all seen it while cruising for spots in a busy parking lot: A person parks their whip in a disabled spot, then they walk out of their car and look totally fine. It's enough to make you want to vomit out of anger, especially because you've been driving around for what feels like a million years trying to find a parking spot.

You're obviously not going to confront them about it because that's all sorts of uncomfortable, so you think of a better, way less ballsy approach: leaving a passive aggressive note on their car's windshield.

Satisfied, you walk back to your car feeling proud of yourself for telling that liar off and even more satisfied as you walk the additional 100 steps to get to the store from your lame parking spot all the way at the back of the lot. But did you ever stop and wonder if you told off the wrong person?



What if that person on the receiving end of the note had a perfectly good explanation for why they're driving car with a disabled sticker and tag?

That's exactly what happened to Emma Doherty, who was surprised to see someone pen such vitriolic words to her in this letter she found on her car.

The language in the note is pretty harsh:

"You lazy conning b-tch. You did not have a disabled person with you! These spaces are reserved for people who need them!!!"

I get that avoiding conflict is something that's been trained into us, but maybe if whoever wrote this note decided to say something to Emma, this entire thing could've been cleared up entirely.

Instead, she had to take to Facebook to pick apart the anonymous grouch and explain her situation to the rest of us. And hopefully whoever wrote the note (if they see her post) understands why they were terribly wrong.

Emma is the mother of a terminally ill child, Bobby. Her ruthless and powerful message sheds light on the misconceptions associated with disabilities and helps to break the stigma that all impairments are visible, because they're not.

"To the person who put this on my car, which I had put my disabled badge fully on, I'm not angry at your pure ignorance, I'm actually upset with it. How dare you ever accuse anyone of not needing a disabled badge without knowing. I wish you had the balls to say this to my face and I would have told you (even tho I don't need to explain myself to the likes of you) but I'd have happily said why I have a badge."

"I promise to get the stigma away from people with disabled badges who don't "look disabled." I hope this gets shared and back to you and you will see my son is terminally ill, he's had over 15 operations, 3 open hearts, 2 stomach, lung and diaphragm and countless artery stenting operations and spent half his life on intensive care."

respect, community, disabilities, visible disability

Emma Doherty and her son Bobby.

SOURCE: FACEBOOK

In her post, she delineates the severity of Bobby's illness, which has put the young man through multiple surgeries and procedures that are no walks in the park.

"He's had 2 strokes and was paralyzed, brain damaged and has a spine and hip condition as well as a massive heart condition. The reason I didn't get his wheelchair out was because I was running late because my son, who had a MRI scan, CTSCAN and a dye for heart function yesterday, only got discharged late and was back in this morning so carried him in."

"But for your information not everyone who holds a blue badge needs to have a wheelchair! I've told ... security and broke down, I've sat through things nobody should see but why did your note break me? Because it's your pure ignorance towards others. I'm a single mom trying my best to hold it together for my son who's in and out if hospital. NOT ALL DISABILITIES ARE VISIBLE and I hope you regret doing this and learn your lesson!”

Throughout her post, Emma simultaneously castigates the person and drives one important point home: Just because someone isn't in a wheelchair or crutches, doesn't mean they aren't disabled or in need of physical care or assistance.

I knew something would be said one day as every day I get looks and stares and see people whispering to each other about me and Bobby walking from the car. Everyone needs to stop and think before acting. I hardly ever let anything upset me but this did. How aggressive as well, and as for conning my son's disabled pass... [It] is not a con, he's actually seriously ill. I've added a picture of him to prove not everyone looks ill or disabled but can be seriously ill.

The mother clarifies at the end of the message that she's sure it wouldn't be a hospital staff member who wrote the message, because those who work in healthcare are well aware of the various reasons someone would have a disabled tag on their vehicle.

"I'd like to point out this has nothing to do with the hospital itself. They were lovely with me when I was upset and they treat us with every respect, always have [in our] 3 long years with them. They've saved my son's life many times. It [was] just somebody who was parked [there].”

Her post quickly went viral, with many people echoing her sentiments and thanking her for helping to clear up that tons of people suffer from different disabilities and that not all of them are so readily apparent.

SOURCE: FACEBOOK

And as it turns out, Emma isn't the only parent who's dealt with judgmental individuals who gave them flack for having a disabled sticker on their car. As if having to deal with a sick child isn't enough, they also have to suffer through getting guff from randos on the street over a measly parking spot.

SOURCE: FACEBOOK

Bobby's condition has left him without pulmonary artery function, which means that blood will not pump throughout his body. As you can imagine, walking long distances — or performing many physical tasks otherwise healthy individuals take for granted — are out of the question for the 3-year-old.

As a result of her son's condition, Emma has to take him to the hospital for treatments throughout the week, and seeing the note on her car while having to deal with that ultimately set her off. Thankfully, she used her anger to send a positive message.

Floored by the positive response to her message, Emma went back online to thank people for being so receptive and helping to spread awareness that disabilities come in many forms.


"My inbox is full of people who have told me they have been stared at or even spat at. This is a serious problem and I just want it to change. I am hoping by sharing what I went through people will start to think before acting."



This article first appeared on 11.26.19.


Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

A size 21 Nike shoe made for Tacko Fall.

A local reporter at Hometown Life shared a unique and heartfelt story on March 16 about a mother struggling to find shoes that fit her 14-year-old son. The story resonated with parents everywhere; now, her son is getting the help he desperately needs. It's a wonderful example of people helping a family that thought they had nowhere to turn.

When Eric Kilburn Jr. was born, his mother, Rebecca’s OBGYN, told her that he had the “biggest feet I’ve ever seen in my life. Do not go out and buy baby shoes because they’re not gonna fit,’” Rebecca told Today.com. Fourteen years later, it’s almost impossible to find shoes that fit the 6’10” freshman—he needs a size 23.


The teen's height doesn't stem from a gland issue; he comes from a family of tall people. Both his parents are over 6 feet tall.

Eric plays football for Goodrich High School in Goodrich, Michigan, but doesn’t wear cleats, which led to a sprained ankle. He also suffers from ingrown toenails that are so severe he’s had two nails on his biggest toes permanently removed.

Last year, the family was lucky enough to stumble upon five pairs of size 21 shoes at a Nike outlet store. It was discovered they were made especially for Tacko Fall, the NBA player with some of the most enormous feet in the game. To put things in perspective, Shaquille O’Neal wears a size 22.

However, Eric soon grew out of those as well. The family was left with one more option: have orthopedic shoes made for Eric at the cost of $1,500 with no guarantee he won’t quickly grow out of those as well.

After his mother’s heartfelt plea to Hometown Life, the family got much-needed help from multiple companies, including Under Armour and PUMA, who are sending representatives to Michigan to measure his feet for custom shoes.

CAT has reached out to make him a custom pair of boots. Eric hasn't had any boots to wear for the past five Michigan winters.

Kara Pattison started a GoFundMe campaign on behalf of the family to help them purchase custom shoes for “the rest of the time Eric has these feet.” It has raised nearly $20,000 for the family in just over a week.

“The success of this fundraiser is well beyond what was ever expected,” Pattison wrote on the site on March 18. “The Kilburns plan to open a bank account dedicated to Eric's future footwear and some specialized sports equipment. He can use this to get a helmet that fits for football along with pads. They will also look into a football and track jersey for him.”

The sense of relief felt by Rebecca, Eric and the rest of the Kilburn family must be incredible. It has to be frustrating to be unable to provide your child with something as basic as footwear.

“It’s been overwhelming,” Rebecca told Hometown Life. “I have been this puddle of emotions, all of them good…It’s the coolest thing to be able to say we did it! He has shoes! I am not usually a crier, but I have been in a constant state of happy tears…We are so grateful.”


This article originally appeared on 03.23.23

Science

A juice company dumped orange peels in a national park. Here's what it looks like now.

12,000 tons of food waste and 21 years later, this forest looks totally different.


In 1997, ecologists Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs approached an orange juice company in Costa Rica with an off-the-wall idea.

In exchange for donating a portion of unspoiled, forested land to the Área de Conservación Guanacaste — a nature preserve in the country's northwest — the park would allow the company to dump its discarded orange peels and pulp, free of charge, in a heavily grazed, largely deforested area nearby.

One year later, one thousand trucks poured into the national park, offloading over 12,000 metric tons of sticky, mealy, orange compost onto the worn-out plot.



The site was left untouched and largely unexamined for over a decade. A sign was placed to ensure future researchers could locate and study it.

16 years later, Janzen dispatched graduate student Timothy Treuer to look for the site where the food waste was dumped.

Treuer initially set out to locate the large placard that marked the plot — and failed.

The first deposit of orange peels in 1996.

Photo by Dan Janzen.

"It's a huge sign, bright yellow lettering. We should have been able to see it," Treuer says. After wandering around for half an hour with no luck, he consulted Janzen, who gave him more detailed instructions on how to find the plot.

When he returned a week later and confirmed he was in the right place, Treuer was floored. Compared to the adjacent barren former pastureland, the site of the food waste deposit was "like night and day."

The site of the orange peel deposit (L) and adjacent pastureland (R).

Photo by Leland Werden.

"It was just hard to believe that the only difference between the two areas was a bunch of orange peels. They look like completely different ecosystems," he explains.

The area was so thick with vegetation he still could not find the sign.

Treuer and a team of researchers from Princeton University studied the site over the course of the following three years.

The results, published in the journal "Restoration Ecology," highlight just how completely the discarded fruit parts assisted the area's turnaround.

The ecologists measured various qualities of the site against an area of former pastureland immediately across the access road used to dump the orange peels two decades prior. Compared to the adjacent plot, which was dominated by a single species of tree, the site of the orange peel deposit featured two dozen species of vegetation, most thriving.

Lab technician Erik Schilling explores the newly overgrown orange peel plot.

Photo by Tim Treuer.

In addition to greater biodiversity, richer soil, and a better-developed canopy, researchers discovered a tayra (a dog-sized weasel) and a giant fig tree three feet in diameter, on the plot.

"You could have had 20 people climbing in that tree at once and it would have supported the weight no problem," says Jon Choi, co-author of the paper, who conducted much of the soil analysis. "That thing was massive."

Recent evidence suggests that secondary tropical forests — those that grow after the original inhabitants are torn down — are essential to helping slow climate change.

In a 2016 study published in Nature, researchers found that such forests absorb and store atmospheric carbon at roughly 11 times the rate of old-growth forests.

Treuer believes better management of discarded produce — like orange peels — could be key to helping these forests regrow.

In many parts of the world, rates of deforestation are increasing dramatically, sapping local soil of much-needed nutrients and, with them, the ability of ecosystems to restore themselves.

Meanwhile, much of the world is awash in nutrient-rich food waste. In the United States, up to half of all produce in the United States is discarded. Most currently ends up in landfills.

The site after a deposit of orange peels in 1998.

Photo by Dan Janzen.

"We don't want companies to go out there will-nilly just dumping their waste all over the place, but if it's scientifically driven and restorationists are involved in addition to companies, this is something I think has really high potential," Treuer says.

The next step, he believes, is to examine whether other ecosystems — dry forests, cloud forests, tropical savannas — react the same way to similar deposits.

Two years after his initial survey, Treuer returned to once again try to locate the sign marking the site.

Since his first scouting mission in 2013, Treuer had visited the plot more than 15 times. Choi had visited more than 50. Neither had spotted the original sign.

In 2015, when Treuer, with the help of the paper's senior author, David Wilcove, and Princeton Professor Rob Pringle, finally found it under a thicket of vines, the scope of the area's transformation became truly clear.

The sign after clearing away the vines.

Photo by Tim Treuer.

"It's a big honking sign," Choi emphasizes.

19 years of waiting with crossed fingers had buried it, thanks to two scientists, a flash of inspiration, and the rind of an unassuming fruit.


This article originally appeared on 08.23.17

Dramatic flying squirrel makes it look like the broom fell on it. Spoiler: It did not.

Animals can be far cleverer than we give them credit for, especially creatures we don't think of as having distinct personalities. Most of us expect cats and dogs to do show us their unique quirks, but what about a flying squirrel?

A video is making its way around the internet that has people giggling over the dramatic antics of a large pet flying squirrel. It includes no narration explaining what's happening and no context—it just shows a flying squirrel repeatedly faking its own death by broom.

That's right. Death by broom. And from the way it looks, the little bugger came up with the idea on its own and made multiple attempts to create a convincing crime scene.

This is one you just have to see.


Twitter user @Birrellebee wrote that the squirrel "faked his own death, and created a whole crime scene…for attention. I think I'm in love."

Whether the squirrel really did this just for attention or for some other reason isn't clear, but no one seems to offering a more plausible explanation for it.

Watch:

While some people have expressed understandable concern over flying squirrels living indoors as pets, we don't know what the living situation here really is. Maybe the squirrel was injured and rescued. Maybe it can't survive in the wild. We simply don't know.

What we do know is that this adorable rodent deserves an Oscar for its performance. The way it gracefully somersaults right into position. The placing of the broomstick on its neck and splaying itself out flat on its back. The checking to see if anyone is looking. The repositioning of the murder weapon multiple times to figure out which one seems more believable.

Was that really what it was doing? Who knows. But it was a genuinely incredible performance nonetheless.

And of course, the people of the internet didn't disappoint in the comments.

“@GreigBeck @BirrelleBee @MAllanScott It’s an insurance scam.”

This article originally appeared on 6.6.23

Education

12 books that people say are life-changing reads

Some books have the power to change how we see ourselves, the world, and each other.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Books are powerful.

As a participant in the Amazon Associates affiliate program, Upworthy may earn proceeds from items purchased that are linked to this article, at no additional cost to you.


Out of all human inventions, books might just be the greatest. That may be a bold statement in the face of computers, the internet and the international space station, but none of those things would be possible without books. The written recording of human knowledge has allowed our advancements in learning to be passed on through generations, not to mention the capturing of human creativity in the form of longform storytelling.

Books have the power to change our lives on a fundamental level, shift our thinking, influence our beliefs, put us in touch with our feelings and help us understand ourselves and one another better.

That's why we asked Upworthy's audience to share a book that changed their life. Thousands of responses later, we have a list of inspiring reads that rose to the top.


Unsurprisingly, the most common responses were religious scriptures—the Bible, the Quran, the Book of Mormon, etc. Beyond those, here are the most common books, both fiction and non-fiction, that people considered life-changing.

1. "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist book cover

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Amazon

"From the very first page, Coelho's storytelling prowess weaves a tapestry of adventure, wisdom, and self-discovery that is unparalleled. The protagonist's quest for his personal legend resonated deeply with me, prompting introspection into my own aspirations and purpose. The narrative, while seemingly a simple tale, unravels layers of universal truths and timeless wisdom that are applicable to every reader's journey." – Matt Brown

"Such greatness. Coelho tells the story with simplicity and elegance, and it is beautiful. The Alchemist is rhetorical kind of book that stays with you, and demands some time to unfold in your mind. Loved it!" – J. Green

Find "The Alchemist" on Amazon.

2. "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz

The Four Agreements book cover

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

Amazon

"This book literally changed my outlook on so many things. I’ve read it at least three times completely through. It helps deal with anxiety and helps you reframe and analyze your thoughts which may be troubling you. The writing style is great and I’ve already read other books by the same author. Would highly recommend purchasing this if you want to rethink your assumptions about yourself or other people." – Freddy

"By far the best book I’ve read. The simplicity in composition and detail is amazing. Would recommend everyone have a read. This book is truly a masterpiece." – Joshua

Find "The Four Agreements" on Amazon.

3. "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird book cover

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Amazon

"I remember reading the book many years ago and being moved by it especially being from the North and not as familiar with racism. I wondered why some schools were banning it so decided to revisit. I had forgotten the details but it is still an important book and reminds us that the fight against all prejudice is never finished and its current resurgence is cause for concern. This book should be required reading at a pretty young age. We can’t change what we don’t understand. If you have children read it with them and teach them well." – Maria

"I can’t imagine, for the life of me, why this book has been banned. It is the most moral and righteous book I’ve ever read. It represents a time in our history when racism was endemic to the white population except for one compassionate lawyer. Told from his children’s point of view with an unforgettable narrator, the story of a small southern town comes alive." – Peggy

Find "To Kill a Mockingbird" on Amazon.

4. "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle

The Power of Now book cover

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

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"This has become a true icon in the book of books on understanding how the mind works and how we become trapped in it. A must read." – Bill C.

"This book helped me through the toughest time in my life. It was an easy read, but ultimately, it helped me open my mind to many things and see things from multiple perspectives. My life coach recommended this book, and I'm happy that she did. It truly did save my life." – Coach J.

Find "The Power of Now" on Amazon.

5. "The Midnight Library" by Matt Haig

The Midnight Library book cover

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

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"I did not expect to enjoy this book so much. I very much admire the writer's prowess in creating a beautiful and inspiring story out of a depressing premise and what I admire even more is the perspective he has given me about life." – Ashish S.

"'The Midnight Library' by Matt Haig is nothing short of a literary masterpiece that effortlessly weaves together the threads of life, regret, and the boundless possibilities that lie in our choices. This No.1 Sunday Times bestseller and worldwide phenomenon is a soul-stirring exploration of the human experience that lingers in the reader's mind long after the final page." – George L.

Find "The Midnight Library" on Amazon.

6. "Atomic Habits" by James Clear

Atomic Habits book cover

Atomic Habits by James Clear

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"Atomic Habits by James Clear isn't just a book; it's a roadmap to personal excellence. Deserving a resounding 5 out of 5 stars, this masterpiece has profoundly impacted my approach to habit formation and personal development." – Ahamed

"Whether you're looking to break free from destructive habits, achieve ambitious goals, or simply lead a more fulfilling life, this book is a must-read. Clear's insights have the power to ignite change and propel you towards the best version of yourself." – SC

Find "Atomic Habits" on Amazon.

7. "Tuesdays with Morrie" by Mitch Albom

Tuesdays with Morrie book cover

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

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"I wish I had read this book earlier. It teaches to love those in your life with everything you have. We never know when life will take them away. Our parents will continue to age. Our friends will drift away. We will end up driving away the ones we say 'I love you' to. It’s not too late to tell them how much you love them. It’s not too late to show them how much you love them. If you share your love before it’s too late, you won’t live your life with regret." – P.M.

"Mitch Albom is my favorite author. Tuesdays with Morrie did not disappoint. Please please read this book. It is heartwarming, inspirational and will make you do an introspection that will change your priorities. I promise." – A.C.

Find "Tuesdays with Morrie" on Amazon.

8. "Untamed" by Glennon Doyle

Untamed book cover

Untamed by Glennon Doyle

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"By page 16, I’d already sobbed, laughed, sobbed, reconsidered who I am, how I live my life, and what I’m doing next, and cried again. So much fire lit. This is a masterpiece. Thank the universe (and Glennon) it published now. Lord knows we need this now. It is already one of my top favorite books ever, and I read a lot. Like, a LOT." – Anna S.

""Untamed" is a powerful and empowering memoir that delves deep into themes of self-discovery, authenticity, and breaking free from societal expectations. Doyle's writing is raw, honest, and deeply relatable. From the moment I started reading, I felt a connection to her journey and the struggles she navigates. One of the standout qualities of this book is Doyle's ability to articulate complex emotions and thoughts in a way that resonates with readers. Her insights into the expectations placed on women, the constraints of traditional roles, and the journey to reclaiming one's true self are both enlightening and inspiring." – Frank C.

Find "Untamed" on Amazon.

9. "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl

Man's Search for Meaning book cover

Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl

Amazon

"Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor E. Frankl is a poignant exploration of resilience under the most testing conditions. As a Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist, Frankl intertwines his concentration camp experiences with his psychological expertise. Central to the book is the idea of logotherapy, which posits that finding meaning in life is the primary human drive. Frankl's narrative transcends its historical context, offering timeless insights into human endurance and the quest for purpose. The book is especially impactful for those facing personal adversities, as it highlights the power of choice and perspective in shaping one's destiny." – Neal W.

"This little one hundred page book is perhaps the most meaningful and profound that you can ever read. Disturbing, yet full of 'tragic optimism,' this book will change the way you think about life, happiness, and meaning." – Paige T.

Find "Man's Search for Meaning" on Amazon.

10. "The Untethered Soul" by Michael Singer

The Untethered Soul book cover

The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer

Amazon

"Michael A. Singer's "The Untethered Soul" is a literary masterpiece that has left an indelible mark on my journey of self-discovery. I stumbled upon this gem through a TikTok video recommendation, and I am profoundly grateful that I did." – Matt B.

"This book encapsulates every spiritual book I’ve read into a concise oneness! Everyone would benefit in some way by reading this book. Period." – Joe S.

Find "The Untethered Soul" on Amazon.

11. "The Giver" by Lois Lowry

The Giver book cover

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Amazon

"Brought this book since my daughter had to read it for school and I always like to know what are they are teaching her. I am going to be honest very surprise that they are giving this kind of story to a 8th grader since the story is very intense, surprising, sad but at the same time beautiful and teach the real meaning of love and sacrifice. That live in an idealistic world does not work and it's never better than having love in your live." – Marla

"The way Lois slowly introduces us into her idyllic and yet cruel world is simply amazing. The end of the book has left me completely moved and flabbergasted." – Nathan S.

Find "The Giver" on Amazon.

12. "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch

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The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

Amazon

"I’ve read this book twice now. Once at 18 and now again at 33! Both time it hits deep. Fantastic read!" – A.C.

"Professor Randy Pausch was diagnosed with terminal cancer. In response, Pausch wrote and delivered one last lecture--a self-help guide on living life with purpose and meaning. But his lecture wasn't really for his students or for the world, although it's been a massive bestseller. It was for his children.

One of my favorite books of all-time, with one of my favorite lines of all time. 'If I could only give three words of advice, they'd be, 'Tell the truth.' If I got three more, they'd be, 'All the time.' --Randy Pausch" – Phil W.

Find "The Last Lecture" on Amazon.