If you know anything about me, you know books are incredibly important to me. Every major point in my life has had a book attached to it. As a shy kid and an early reader, books have been my best friends for many years.
While I love nearly every book I’ve ever read, there are a few that have influenced me in different ways. Ten of those are listed below.
Just a note: I haven’t added the Bible, even though it has been a major influence in my life. I wanted to list some of my personal influences, both on my writing and my personal life, and the Bible is an influence on both. However, I wanted to delve more into what are specific to me, rather than the obvious.
So, here we go. These are in no particular order at all.
Anne of Green Gables, particularly Anne of the Island, by L.M. Montgomery.
This was one of the first series I remember reading, and Anne Shirley was one of the first characters that I ever related to, right down to the red hair. It also doesn’t help that Wes and I have basically lived out Gilbert and Anne’s relationship, apart from the six kids(so far). 😊
Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
This book is by far the most influential piece of literature I have ever read in my life. It was the single most important reason that I wanted to become a writer: I wanted to create my own Middle-Earth. I read my dad’s copy of the trilogy(pictured above) until it fell apart, and it’s still my favorite, even though I own at least three copies of Fellowship of the RIng alone and a paperback copy of the entire trilogy. It’s my favorite, and always will be.
The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
If Lord of the Rings showed me I wanted to write, then Inheritance showed me I could. Here was a guy, not much older than me, writing about this fantastic new world of Alagaesia, and he was getting published! Above all, he was homeschooled, just like me! It opened up a whole new realm of possibility that had never existed before, and made me believe that I could do it.
Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie
This is an odd one for me, because it doesn’t really influence my life, as much as make me believe that in storytelling, anything is possible. Even the most bizarre and terrifying things can make a story, and one never needs to follow anything but their own imagination.
Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
This set doesn’t have a standout, because every single book, every single line, and every single word of it is etched onto my memory for the rest of my life. Out of the myriad of lessons that this series taught me, the most important to my life as a writer was that Christian influences can be as subtle or as overt as you want them to be, but you must let the reader discover them for themselves. You cannot jam it into their faces and call it good, but you must weave it into the story, like the shining thread of a tapestry.
Seven Daughters, Seven Sons by Barbara Cohen and Bahija Lovejoy
My introduction to romance in storytelling. This book is unique for me in that I would not recommend it to anyone over the age of 15 or under the age of 12, and really would rarely recommend it at all. However, it speaks to my nostalgia, as I read it several times in middle school. It reminds me of a more innocent time in my life.
The Master Puppeteer by Katherine Paterson
This is such a beautifully written, wonderful little book, the kind looked over by most adults as an educational book for kids to read and learn about Japanese culture. While it is that, it’s also a journey of self-discovery, redemption, and the love of family that is well beyond what most adult novels understand. I read this book in high school, and I have re-read it several times since them. It is truly one of the most marvelous books I’ve ever read.
The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
The first book I remember reading more than once. I read it first when I was about eight or nine, and re-read it a total of four times in about a year. It’s a simple story of a swan born without a voice, who learns to play the trumpet in order to win over his love. In the meantime, he learns to write on a chalkboard and manages to become a hero for swans and humans alike. A heartwarming tale, that introduced me to the joys of revisiting the pages of old friends.
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
I realize this isn’t technically a book, but it was in my house: I had a copy in book form for a class in high school. I had read Shakespeare before, of course, but I had never studied it in depth and understood it so well. Macbeth was the first play I ever studied, and it opened up the world of Shakespeare to me as it never had been before.
A Mercy by Toni Morrison
I consider myself to be a bibliophile: up until recently, I had never met a book I hated. I had a few that I disliked parts of, but never a book that I wanted to throw away and never see again. This was that book: it was the most gut-wrenchingly awful piece of literature I have ever read. It was poorly written, the characters were stiff and unfeeling, and the story was hard to follow and erratic. If just one or even two of these errors occurred in a book, they can be overlooked and used by the author. However, having all three together created a disaster that must be viewed to be believed. In short, it is a terrible book.
It must be said that these are not all of my influential books, and some are not even the most compelling. However, each of these books have influenced my life in some personal way.
Okay, now it’s your turn: audience participation! What are your most influential books? What books have inspired you, given you hope, or lit a fire in your soul?
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