Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Seven Books that Changed My Life
1. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien: This is a given. The Lord of the Rings was a life-altering journey for me. This was my first taste with high-fantasy, the idea of being whisked away into an extraordinary land, and thanks to Tolkien, I never would never go back to reality. LotR is solely responsible for my love of fantasy, of adventure, and ultimately, of my own desire to create such worlds.
4. The Descent by Jeff Long: Perhaps another obscure novel, The Descent is a science-fiction/horror novel about an exploration deep into the earth where vicious humanoid creatures pray upon the explorers. This may sound campy, but this book’s writing cuts to the bone and the story explores the darkest parts of humanity. The first chapter gave me nightmares—and I mean that as a compliment. Why do I find this novel to be so influential? I was fourteen years old when I entered a fanatic Twilight phase. Leah started reading The Descent and one day she said to me: “You know, after reading this book, I’ve realized that…Twilight isn’t very good.” Lo and behold, I picked up the worn copy (The Descent is my father’s favourite novel of all time) and suddenly I realized the power of good writing. I was cured of my Twilight obsession.
*Disclaimer: I don’t hate Twilight now. I did for a while, but now I appreciate what Stephenie Meyer has accomplished for the young adult fantasy genre. And I think she’s a very fine writer.*
5. Dune by Frank Herbert: If I had to choose one novel that should be required reading for every human on the planet, it would be this one. Dune is a life-altering, view-changing science-fiction that will bring the world and its problems into focus. Touching on subjects such as religion, ecology, politics, and race, Dune examines our own society through an exciting and dramatic tale of family. Besides it’s powerful message, Dune also inspired me to become a better writer. Herbert’s lack of “and”, dual POV-usage, and love of semi-colons have played into almost everything I’ve ever written since.
6. Goose Chase: A Novel by Patrice Kindl: Is it odd on a list with Dune I’ve also included a middle-grade fairy tale about a flock of geese? Goose Chase was my all-time favourite novel growing up. Written almost satirically, Goose Chase is hilarious, exciting, and clever (and, I’ve just realized thinking about it now, has a strong feminist message!). After reading Goose Chase, I KNEW I HAD to write novels. I then fleshed out and wrote the first three paragraphs for Pixie Flights, pretty much an exact replica of Goose Chase. I’ve since moved on to more original ideas, but I have to thank this witty book for truly inspiring me to write.
7. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman: This is my favourite series of all time and the most influential book(s) on the list. After reading this series, I learned that books could say something, books could alter the world, books could create a better society. The message in Pullman’s writing is controversial, but it’s important. Never had I felt so radically different from when I first picked up a book until I put it down. I truly felt like I was seeing the world for the first time.
Let me know what books influenced you—I’d love to check them out and add them to my list!