Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Seven Books that Changed My Life

Hey guys, so since I’ve recently moved houses, I had to set up my bookshelf again. As I was going through all of my books, I got an overwhelming sense of nostalgia. So many of these books have shaped who I am and the person I have become. Although it’s hard to narrow it down, I’ve chosen the seven books (okay, some of them are series because I’m a cheater!) that have really played a role in the formation of my self. In no specific order:

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.
2. The Transall Saga by Gary Paulsen: I doubt many people have heard of this book; it’s a young adult (possibly even middle grade?) novel about a thirteen year-old boy who gets transported to a post-apocalyptic world. I don’t remember how old I was—probably nine or ten—when I saw this book at the top of our library pile. (I was an avid reader and my parents always got tons of books out of the library for Leah and I). I remember thinking it had to be a book for my dad, because it looked so grown-up! My dad told me it was for me, to give it a try, and just to put it down if it were too difficult. I devoured that book. It was absolutely epic—a dark survival story with a love story and tragedy and adventure. This will always be one of my favourite novels and one of the books that stays with me. For a kid, it’s gritty, dark tale that pushed the boundaries of my reading comfort zone, and for an adult, it’s a commentary on society and the strength of the human spirit.

3. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran FoerI actually read this book three years ago after reading on author Marie Lu’s blog how influential it was. I guarantee you, this book will change your life. A non-fiction account of Foer’s look into the farming industry, this book reveals the horrors and inhumanities that occur to farm animals because of the meat industry. Normally, I hate preachy books, but Foer is never judgmental—instead, he lets you experience things for yourself, never telling you what to think. But his recollections are so chilling, I became a vegetarian about four chapters in, and haven’t looked back since.

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!

1 comment:

  1. I haven't read Eating Animals yet, but my sister has, and she said some very good things about it. We're both vegans (I've been for approximately 4 years, and she's been one for a little longer) and had been vegetarian for many years previously. Excited to see a book like this mentioned on your site! :)