With Flightless being sent out to agents, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about books I’ve read that influenced my life as a writer. There are almost too many to pick from, but here are five that I still have on my bookshelf because of how they impacted me.
Most of the books on this list are from my childhood, or changed my life not because of what they said, but because of where I was when I was introduced to them. I believe that some books don’t have to have a powerful message, they just need to be in your life in the first place.
1. The Giver by Lois Lowry
This was the first book I read more than once. I was in sixth grade when I first got my hands on it, and Lowry’s writing captivated me in a way no other book had. Not because of the world or the characters, but the ideas. It made me think about who I was, and opened my eyes to themes in novels such as standing up for what was right and choosing the right path over the easy one. To this day, The Giver makes me want to not only write well, but to have my books mean more than just words on pages.
2. Full Tilt by Neal Shusterman
This book from my childhood, and its author if you’ve read my previous post about him, had a profound affect on my writing life. Full Tilt was the first book I read where the hero was reluctant to be one, and it showed me that not every protagonist needed to be excited by the aspect of being a hero. It shaped how I’d create my future characters.
3. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
I had to read this for a project in my high school English class, freshman year. I was a quiet high school kid with a fly under the radar type of attitude, but this book, like The Giver, taught me that I needed to chase after my dreams if I was ever going to achieve them.
4. Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
Back in 2008, as a quiet high school senior, I found a website dedicated to the Patricia Briggs series. I hadn’t read them, but the community was welcoming even to a newbie like me. I jumped on board and got to know fellow high school students obsessed with a world of vampires, werewolves, witches and then some.
It was here that I met someone who’s now a sister to me, who’s been my cheerleader when I’m down and an editor when I needed tough love. I want to meet, and sometimes surpass, her high standards and I hope to one day be half as creative and well spoken as her. If Patricia Briggs never wrote her Mercy Thompson series, I never would’ve found her, so I will always be grateful for her work.
5. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
This wasn’t the first book I read by Neil Gaiman, but it was the first time I was introduced to Terry Pratchett’s work, and wow, I was blown away. I read it only two years before his death, and when he passed away, I was crushed. Up to that point there was yet to be an author I enjoyed reading who died while I was only just getting introduced to their work and it reminded me to cherish the writers who are still alive.