Thursday, April 16, 2009

These Are the Books of My Life

It's time for another blog chain, and for this round it is my turn to choose the topic.

Now in our many months on the chain we have discussed many writing related topics from characters, to angst, to even two chains back showing off a bit of our mad short story writing skillz.

This time though, I'd like to focus on the flip side of the writing coin - reading.

Specifically, what books have influenced you? This can be books that influenced you as a writer, or simply books that touched you as a human being. If you want to talk about one book, a top three, ten, or even twenty go right ahead.

For me though, there is no way I can pick and choose, or try to limit my picks in anyway. Rather I'd like to acknowledge the various books in my life the same way that the stars receiving an Oscar at the Academy Awards do - with a long-winded seemingly endless list read loud while the Orchestra (you'll just have to go ahead and imagine this part) plays the "get off the damn stage already" music in the background.

So, thank you to all the books I've read in my life. You've been there for the sitting by the pool times and huddled beneath the blankets with the itty-bitty book light times. You were there when I needed pick-me-ups or distractions. You were good for escape and also inspiration. From library books and ones I've purchased, to the ones well-meaningly lent to me by friends that I conveniently forgot to give back - thank you all.

There are too many of you to list, and I know that I'll forgot ones that meant more to me than I can say, but I'm going to try and give props to the ones that I can.

Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein were some of my earliest books from the library.

Next came Beverly Cleary's Ramona series and then everything ever written by Judy Blume.

I discovered the joy of science fiction from Anne McCaffrey and her various series of Pern, Krystal singers, and telepaths.

I fell in love with classics like To Kill A Mockingbird, The Catcher in the Rye, Anne of Green Gables (and everything else written by LM Montgomery), Little Women (and Little Men), A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, Where the Red Fern Grows, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Joy in the Morning, The Scarlet Letter, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and so many more that I am no doubt forgetting to list.

There was Christopher Pike's Remember Me that I had to sneak out of my older sister's underwear drawer because she didn't like me reading the same books as her.

Then came the time when I was old enough for "adult" books and began to borrow from my grandmother's selection. The first I remember was Beaches. Yep, the same as the movie. I felt so proud reaching such a grown-up book.

When I finished that one I started digging into my grandmother's stacks of Mary Higgins Clark, Sidney Sheldon, Lavyrle Spencer, Julie Garwood, Jude Deveraux, Judith Krantz, Judith McNaught, and again many more than I can remember.

By this time I had fallen fully in love with the romance genre and was trying to get my hands on everything I could. It was around this time that I discovered Susan Elizabeth Phillips' Fancy Pants and I was in love. I read everything of hers that I could get my hands on.

A few years later when I found Jennifer Crusie and Janet Evanovich, I felt much the same way.

More recently I've come to love memoirs, a genre that I never would have thought I'd find interesting. A few times already on this blog I've mentioned Angela's Ashes and it's effect on me. Other memoirs I've read and loved are: everything by David Sedaris (although technically not quite memoir, honestly these brilliant little essays defy categorization), Running With Scissors (the two sequels aren't bad either), The Liars' Club, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (difficult to get through, but worth it), and A Girl Named Zippy ( the sequel to this, as well as her fiction works are pretty amazing as well.)

In other non-fiction that I have known and loved. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto (again his other books were great as well), The Omnivore's Dilemma, and Into Thin Air (and then this book so fascinated me with the story of Everest I also read High Crimes, another book by a different author about the same topic).

Is the Orchestra getting louder? Okay, okay, I'm getting close to the end.

Other books in no particular order.
The Book Thief (just read this one last month).
A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews. OMG this book was gorgeous. Read this a little over two years ago and it just sticks with me.
Books by Melissa Banks.
The Tomorrow When The War Began series. This is another one I just love too too much.

And finally two books that gave me sanity and order after I had my son Jamie. The Happiest Baby on the Block and Secrets of the Baby Whisperer. See? Books really do influence each and every part of my life.

Ooooh, I know I am forgetting so many books. In fact there are books out there in the universe that I forgot the title and as much as I would love to read them again, I cannot (mostly ones that I got from the library, but one was a book my older sister owned and knowing I LOVED it, she sold it at a garage sale. She really did not like me reading her books.).

Anyway, that's it for me. To find out what books the rest of the blog chainers have loved (and perhaps, like me, even lost) head on over to Michelle McLean's Writer Ramblings next.

PS. All the pics are from an artist called Quint Buchholz.


  1. Aaarghhh! What a great topic! I felt myself getting teary-eyed as you lovingly described all the books that meant a lot to you. Many of those I read and loved as well, and some I haven't heard of but will add them to my list.
    Whee! I bet we will get some looong posts with this topic. :)

  2. Nice topic...I love your list! Ditto, ditto, ditto...

  3. Good topic! Yes, this could take a while to discuss my favorite books.

  4. So many good books! I totally forgot about Christopher Pike. And Shel Silverstein! Some of the books I read when I was younger sound so silly but they are what made me want to write. What made me want to reach people. And I'd like to personally thank Jane Austen because her Persuasion is what made me realize how important characters are to a story. Thanks!

  5. Great topic, Kate.

    I can't remember what I read as a kid it was so long ago, except perhaps for Dr. Seuss. Teenage years were harlequin romances. Then my brother introduced me to to science fiction and fantasy and I fell in love. Now my reading is a bit more eclectic and reading across the genres.

  6. Annie - Oh, can't wait to see you list too!

    Christine - I am thinking I will have a lot of ditto moments as well, when I read the other lists.

    Sandra - I know, I meant to keep this short, but I just kept thinking of more books.

    Cindy - I've never read Persausion (although I saw a BBC TV version), but it is officially on my TBR list.

    Robin - Isn't it funny how as we get older our tastes change? I've also become more eclectic and willing to experiment.

  7. Oh my goodness gracious! How in the world am I going to narrow this one down?

    I absolutely LOVE LaVyrle Spencer. (Even though it takes about 15 tries for me to spell her name correctly.) I think I've read Bittersweet about 20 times over.


  8. You know Kat, it has been ages (like over a decade maybe? geez that makes me feel old) since I've read one of her novels, but when I was making this list, I was thinking I need to look some of them up for some rereading.

  9. Kate, you amaze me. Not only because you read books that are like, classics, but just the sheer memory you have on you. Dude, I can't remember what influenced me as a child. So kudos for that.

    And I don't think I'm going to have any "ditto's." I haven't read most of those books. I'm what you'd call a "shallow end of the pool" girl. LOL.

    But a great topic! :)

  10. The book that influenced me the most is Stephen King's "On Writing". I noticed similaritites in our backgrounds and for some reason, that was enough to give me confidence to take my writing seriously.

    Lynnette Labelle

  11. Nice selection! I love how they are meaningful. I think of books I read as a teen with fondness, like friends or something. I sort of miss them.

  12. Elana - Wow, I actually kind of think I have a terrible memory, especially considering this is a very small percentage of the books I've read. I guess that is part of what makes these special - they managed to stick in my brain!

    Lynette - Oooh, I also loved King's On Writing. I should have mentioned that!

    T. Anne - Yes, I also tend to think of past books as my friends.

  13. What a great topic! That's quite a list and the only ones I can claim to have read come from the children's and classics section. And Anne McCaffrey of course. I guess that puts me at the shallow end of the pool too. Apparently I need to make more time for reading!

  14. Very good friends, old books. Trixie Belden. My Hat's off to her for inspiring me to see something bad in everything!..but the imagination to make it come out right. LOL I need that to write mysteries, don't you?

  15. Janyece - LOL, I don't really think anyone is at the shallow end of the pool. I just have read an insane amount of books.

    Bethanne - I think that is perfect for writing mysteries!

  16. Wow, there are so many books on your list that would be on mine. I've Loved books for so long that I can't even list all of the ones that changed me or challenged me to think in new ways.

  17. Great list : ) I loved "The Book Thief", but I was especially taken with your including Seuss and Silverstein.

    I loved both gents as a child, and I rediscovered them as an adult when reading to my own children ... and realized that they are as applicable to "grown-ups" as children ... if not more so!

  18. Jessica - We must have similar tastes in books! And it really was difficult making this list - as I read the lists from the others in the chain I am realizing how many I missed!

    KLO - I know what you mean about Seuss and Silverstein - I cannot wait until my son is old enough for me to introduce them to him.