The Old Man and the Sea
By Ernest Hemingway
This short novel about an aged Cuban fisherman's battle to land a giant marlin remains a favorite because it redefined my concept of success. I first read it in high school at a time when I was driven solely by achievement, or more specifically, by the visible trophies of success: varsity letters, academic commendations, writing awards. Hemingway's story unveiled a philosophy in which the final outcome was not nearly as important as the journey. Even now, in midlife, I find this story still serves as a touchstone, urging me to embark on challenges simply for the sake of the voyage, regardless of my chances of triumph or failure.