Shortform Reads: When a Book Literally Changes Your Life

What book helped Allie quit her job? What book adaptation is Allie in love with?

Allie is from New York and is a host on Shortform’s YouTube channel. She enjoys reading a mixture of historical fiction and nonfiction, and she’s even made some major life changes based on what she’s read.

Out Interview With Allie

Recently, we had a chance to interview one of Shortform’s YouTube hosts. Here’s what Allie had to say about her reading tastes.

What’s your favorite book?

My favorite fiction book is Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix. I read it in third grade and then five more times after that. The story is paced perfectly. It’s just as good every time.

My favorite non-fiction book is The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama. I read this during a time in my life when I felt lost, and it motivated me to find my purpose again.

What’s on your reading list these days?

I read The Storyteller’s Secret recently, and it was absolutely beautiful. I’ve been reading The Light Between Oceans for longer than I’d like to admit—I wish I had more time to read! And I’m not sure what’s next on my reading list, but I’m going to make sure it’s something I already own. Buying a new book is always tempting …

If you could have a dinner party with any three authors—dead or alive—who would they be and why?

I listened to R. L. Stine on a podcast once, and I loved every second of it. His sense of humor is amazing. Then maybe Jodi Picoult because I love her books and we’re from the same hometown. Lastly … maybe Anne Frank? When I was a young Jewish girl trying to understand the world around me, she meant a lot to me—and she still does! I think we’d have really interesting conversations together.

What’s your favorite genre? Why does it intrigue you?

Historical fiction, forever and always. History was always my favorite subject in school, and I miss studying it in that capacity. Reading historical fiction always feels a bit like coming home.

Are there any book genres or tropes that you dislike or refuse to read?

Do poetry books count? I’ve always wanted so desperately to like poetry, but I just can’t do it!

What’s your favorite way to read a book?

On a Kindle at the beach during the summer. Chef’s kiss!

What books do you think everyone should read in their lifetime? Why?

The Bible. Not even for religious reasons—I’m not religious—but simply because there are so many biblical references that went over my head until I had to read some of it for English class in 12th grade.

The entire Harry Potter series. Honestly, kind of for the same reason as above. It’s such a cultural cornerstone, and people miss out on references if they haven’t read it. Also, it’s HARRY POTTER! Who doesn’t want to read that?

I feel like there are so many more that should be on this list, but I’ll leave it there.

Who are your favorite authors? Why?

Jodi Picoult’s writing is so beautiful, as is Kristin Hannah’s. I just feel like I can relate to so many of their characters. They also always manage to suck me into their stories pretty quickly.

How have your reading tastes changed over the years?

I’ve leaned more toward non-fiction over the last three to four years than I ever thought I would! I guess my pre-frontal cortex is developing …

Was there a specific book that sparked your love of reading? How so?

The Magic Treehouse series! Specifically, the Pompeii one for some reason. It was so fun to imagine myself in those historical situations.

Do you have any guilty pleasure books?

Smile by Raina Telgemeier. It’s a graphic novel that’s definitely geared toward younger readers, but the story is so cute and quick to read. If I ever have trouble sleeping, I’ll pull it out and read the whole thing.

What’s an interesting fact that you learned from a book recently?

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg digs into habit-building at a societal level—I thought this was interesting. He says that successful social movements rely on three triggers: 1) the social habit of friendship, 2) the social habit of peer pressure, and 3) the development of new social habits.

Have any books you’ve read caused you to make any life changes or to develop any habits?

The Art of Happiness helped me quit my teaching job back in 2021. Now I get to do what I love every day, and I’ve truly never been happier.

What’s your favorite quote from a book or an author?

“In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart” (Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl).

What are your favorite book adaptations and why?

Greta Gerwig’s Little Women!

Sorry, let me chill out. I just love that version so very much. Incredible screenplay, incredible cinematography, and incredible performances.

Are there any lesser-known books that you’ve read that you want others to know exist? What makes them stand out?

Sky’s the Limit: One Man’s 70,000 Mile Journey Around the World. I read this during the peak of COVID when we couldn’t leave our houses, and it made me feel like I was traveling right next to him. It’s a reminder that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. I exchanged some messages with the author on Instagram, and he is so nice and helpful.

At Shortform, how do you go about working on a book that has viewpoints you don’t agree with?

I haven’t dealt with this too much. But, in my videos, I try to make it known that I don’t agree with them. I’ll maybe add a funny jab or two or just make a questionable face. I want to remain as neutral as possible, but, sometimes, I just can’t do it.

Like, I just filmed a video on Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life. There’s no way I can just say that information without critiquing it. In extreme situations like that, it’s important for me to distinguish myself from the takeaways of the book. Thankfully, I work with really awesome people whose views normally align with mine, and I always feel super safe voicing things that may feel uncomfy.

Are there any books you had to read for Shortform that you thought you wouldn’t like and ended up loving?

Eat That Frog!! My goodness, I think about that book every day. I was so confused about what the book was about when I first read the title. But, now I tell everyone about it. I even have a reminder in my to-do list once a week that tells me to “eat that frog,”—a.k.a., do something on my to-do list that I have to do but really don’t want to do.

What are your favorite books in the Shortform library and why? 

I loved The 5 AM Club so much that I did a vlog on it. The concepts are insane, but it’s a great book to help you check in on how your body operates. I also love The Wim Hof Method.

  • Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama
  • The Bible
  • The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
  • Sky’s the Limit: One Man’s 70,000 Mile Journey Around the World by Eric Giuliani
  • Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy
  • The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma

About the Series

At Shortform, we want to give our employees names and faces so you can get to know the people who make the magic happen. That’s why we’re doing the Shortform Reads series, where we interview our employees and share their thoughts and opinions. You can check out more employee interviews here.

Shortform Reads: When a Book Literally Changes Your Life

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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