It’s been a while since I’ve accepted a tag, but this one has to do with books! Not just books, but the ten most influential books I can think of. This is not going to be easy, but I’ll do my best. (I’ll probably end up listing ten books, and then realizing tonight that I left out five other, more important ones; but life goes on.)
I should also note that I’m not including books written by any of my friends. I want to keep this a fair fight.
1. William Bennet’s Book of Virtues. Growing up, this is the book I have the most distinct memories about. It’s a thick, almost Dictionary-sized volume, filled with stories and poems both famous and obscure. It carried tales about everyone from Icarus to The Cobbler and the Brownie to Oedipus and the Minotaur, and I know it shaped the way I think and write, even now.
2. The Narnia series. I know this is an entire series, but I grew up on it. I remember the day my mom brought home The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It didn’t take us long to finish all the books, and they’ve remained a heavy influence.
3. The Hobbit. Another book I grew up on, this book showed me that you can have fantasy, humor, adventure, danger, intrigue,and a large host of characters without sacrificing a solidly good story filled with subtle virtues. (I would include all of Tolkien’s other books, but I don’t want to be too obvious.)
4. The Inkworld trilogy. It seems like forever ago that I first read Inkheart and got hooked. Those books showed me how to craft words like magic, how you can have an alternate world in your novel without following a set pattern, and how characters, through the most subtle gestures, can become the deepest and most memorable.
5. The Hollow Kingdom trilogy. Beauty and the Beast meets Labyrinth; this series is all but perfect. Everything about it, from the Goblin King to the main character (with whom I always identified very strongly) is beautiful; and the fact it was written as a series of letters gives it a thoughtfulness many books don’t have.
6. I Capture the Castle. I read this book, along with the Hobbit, every year. There’s something so unique and fascinating, something almost fantasy-like about this novel even though there’s nothing fantasy about it. I have my friend Cassie to thank for introducing me to it, and I’ll never be able to repay her.
7. The Grand Sophy. This book was better than Jane Austen – I’ve never finished a Jane Austen book. I’ve seen all the movies and miniseries, but none of the books ever captured me like The Grand Sophy did. I recommend Sophy to almost everyone I come across, if books come up in the conversation.
8. Tahn. This was the first time I realized that I loved tortured heroes with tragic pasts. That, quite obviously, influenced my writing…a lot…
9. The Riddle-Master Trilogy. Patricia McKillip became one of my favorite authors of all-time after I read this novel. Her colorful characters, her lyrical writing, her complex and beautiful plots – she is a complete master of her craft, and someone I look up to.
10. A Wrinkle in Time. This is another novel I grew up with, and it became as much a part of me as my skin and bones. A bizarre but relatable tale about love and everything that implies. I read this almost every year.
I know I left out many authors and novels that I would also like to list, but if I made a COMPLETE list it would be probably eighty books long. What about you? What books have influenced your life and writing craft?