I’ve been a voracious reader since about second or third grade. As an only child, it was kinda a requirement. It was my way of keeping myself occupied (well…outside of causing massive amounts of chaos) without having playmates. And as such, books–and the things that go with them–have had a lot of influence on me. Here are the ones that I think had the most impact:
1. The Bible
Being the child of a pastor who was the child of a pastor who was the child of a pastor, this has kind of permeated my existence from the very start. And I’m glad it did. It’s the only way to keep your sanity in a world full of chaos (not the good kind) and disaster and evil. And even if it wasn’t, you know, the most important book in the whole of the universe and one of the foremost religious texts, it’s a pretty amazing book. It’s one of the earliest works that’s still in print and read every day by millions of people, not to mention a pretty awesome collection of books. Read it. I highly recommend it.
2. Everything’s Coming Up Josey
Am I embarrassed that a Christian chick-lit book is number two on my list of influential books? No. Well…maybe a little. Anyways, there’s a lot more to it than that. It is slightly disconcerting how much I can relate to the main character. It felt like the author had been peeking at my life and feelings and stealing it as plot fodder! Josey (the main character) was like looking in a mirror. Almost everything about her–living in her imagination half the time (check), being a writer (check), and enjoying her food a bit too much(double check)–reminded me of me.
The story was about a lot more than simple romance (though that’s good, too). It touched on all the worries of the typical Christian girl–feeling insignificant, fearing that everyone else is on their way while you’re stuck forever, wondering if you’re going to be alone forever, being unsure of your purpose in life, and wondering what God has for you–and wrapped them up in a neat, funny, altogether-too relatable package. I can’t even count how many times I’ve read it, and it always makes me think.
3. The Lost World
I think this was the first Victorian sci-fi book I read. Once I got into it, I read the second half in one afternoon. Since then, I’ve been hooked on all things Victorian, sciency, and strange. It wasn’t really the message or the theme of the work that influenced me. It was simply where reading the book has taken me. I’ve since moved on to writing my own Victorian adventure novels and sneaking neo-Victorian stuffs into everyday life, all due in part to dear old Mr. Doyle.
4. The Negotiator
Again with the romance…Phooey. Anyways, this was the first adult book I read, way back when. I was bored out of my mind, and my mother recommended this one so I dove in and never looked back. I’ve been poking my nose into adult books ever since, from Agatha Christie to Robert Heinlein and everything in between. The Negotiator opened up a brand new world for me. It showed me that the adult books were actually interesting and that complex plots were lovely. Definitely influential.
5. Calvin and Hobbes
I was “reading” these long before anything else, a fact that I’m betting contributed to the peculiar, overly imaginative person I am today. If anything would foster a life of rejecting reality, inventing imaginary people, and sort of preferring them to the real article, it would be Calvin and Hobbes. My dad had almost the entire collection and I would spend hours looking at the pictures and enjoying the adventures of Spaceman Spiff, Tracer Bullet, and regular old Calvin. It wasn’t until later that I began actually enjoying Watterson’s sarcasm and copious vocabulary.
So what about you all? What books have made an impact on your life?