Top Ten Most Influential Books

bookmagicIt’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?


27 thoughts on “Top Ten Most Influential Books

  1. I haven’t read a lot of those. o.o But I was heavily influenced the Arthurian legends when I was younger. And Mark Twain was huge too. Tolkien as well. I know those last two are authors and not books, but really anything by them was a huge influence on me. 😛

    The Ranger’s Apprentice series was pretty interesting too. I remember the intrigue, mystery, humor, and cast. It was very well done.

    • I tried to think of a single Arthurian book and I couldn’t – my mind is so chock-full of legends from everywhere, so I just opted for leaving it out. Mark Twain and the Ranger’s Apprentice series are good, too! (Halt! Whoo!)

      • YES, I love Ranger’s Apprentice! I just bought the 12th book, Royal Ranger, and it’s sitting ever so patiently on my shelf, waiting for me to get to it. The humor in those books is just awesome…

      • lol! I know! I can’t think of the author or the titles of the Arthurian books. O_o The Greek myths were also a big thing. And Halt is awesome. 8)

  2. The Dragons in Our Midst series by Bryan Davis (along with the sequel series Oracles of Fire and Children of the Bard) have had a huge impact on me. The depth of the characters and the brilliant truths woven through the stories are beautiful. There’s a wonderful balance of humor, emotion, and intensity. And as the story world unfolds book by book, the layers of intrigue are amazing! 😀

  3. The Narnia series, for sure! I’ve never read anything so amazing as those seven books. My favorite was The Horse and His Boy.
    Also, the books by Gail Carlson Levine were very influential to me. Those books are amazingly well-written.

  4. And this is one of the rare, very rare, moments that I feel old. I know some of your shares, but have never heard of others. Interesting list. will have to look into them. 🙂

  5. The Book of Virtues! Yes! That filled in so many gaps of knowledge for me as a kid. 😀 Another childhood favorite of mine is “Just So Stories” by Rudyard Kipling.

    And I really ought to read “A Wrinkle in Time” one of these days…

  6. Oh definitely Narnia! I was writing fan-fiction (and definitely not calling it fan-fiction…I was totally sure it was original) when I was 12 and it still pretty heavily influenced my fantasy story. Until I totally overhauled it and made jungly stuff eat people. THEN I was free of plagiarism. 😉 But Narnia is awesome.

  7. For a couple years of my childhood, Narnia was all I would read. Then Redwall. Then anything Wayne Thomas Batson…those three series probably influenced me the most and convinced me to start writing.

  8. I totally just added some of these to my to-read shelf on GoodReads! I’m ashamed that I haven’t even heard of all these.

    I literally would not be the person I am today if it was not for Tolkien. The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings introduced me to a whole new world (literally, but you know what I mean). Narnia as well, most definitely. I think someone mentioned the Dragons in Our Midst/Oracles of Fire series. My favorite series of all time, which is saying something. There’s also this series called the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace that was basically my childhood and probably the first books that brought to my realization how utterly fascinating reading is. Those books are very near to my heart. The DragonKeeper Chronicles is amazing. And let’s not forget the wonder that is Howl’s Moving Castle.

    Okay, I’m going to stop, I promise. I get a little too enthusiastic when it comes to talking about books.

  9. Um, you, Marriam? 🙂 (Seriously, though.)
    Definitely The Dragon Keeper Chronicles by Donita K. Paul, Harry Potter, Agatha Christie mysteries, and the Narnia books! ^-^

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