I was tagged on Facebook by my friend Andrea Stewart, a wicked talented writer, to participate in this meme. Ten books that changed your life. I decided I’d do a blog entry instead of a Facebook post on this topic, because hey, content.
Like many other people who’ve participated in this meme, I find it’s really hard to boil it down to just ten. But here goes.
- The World of Pooh by A. A. Milne. All of the Winnie-the-Pooh books in one volume. It’s the first book I remember reading on my own, and the book I most remember my Mom reading to me when I was a kid. I still have the copy I grew up with, though it’s a little water damaged now.
- The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin. This mind-bender of a book really made me think about the fluid nature of reality and the role that dreams play in our lives.
- The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks. I read this book for the first time when I was in sixth grade. While the sequels didn’t really speak to me, this book really made me think about writing. I think that’s partially because my sixth grade English teacher, Mr. Walsh, saw me reading it and said, “I bet you could write something just like that.” I haven’t tried my hand at epic fantasy outside of a Dungeons and Dragons game, but this was the book that really sparked my interest.
- Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. I had never really given much thought to comedic fantasy before in my life until I read this book. I’d go so far as to call this one my very favorite book of all time. I re-read it every year or so, or whenever I’m going through a bout of depression, because the humor in it always makes me laugh.
- Greek Myths by someone whose last name is Caldicott, I think. I can’t find this book anywhere online, but I know it existed. This book introduced me to Greek mythology, and to the notion of myths and legends in general. I still maintain a fascination for mythology and folklore, although I don’t read up as heavily as I used to.
- The Best of H. P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre by H. P. Lovecraft. This is the first collection of Lovecraft stories that I ever read, and his stories broke my little high junior brain. But they also inspired me to write horror, which I did a lot of in high school.
- The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. I read this during my freshman year in college for a “Philosophy and the Biological Sciences” class, and it really changed my life. Up until then I’d been really struggling with my chemistry and math courses (biology courses were a snap), and thus my ambition of becoming a doctor. But then I took this class, and read this book, and realized that the history and philosophy of science were absolutely fascinating topics that I could build a college major — if not necessarily a career — out of. Side note: I knew many people in college who read this book and became atheists. I read it and found that it deepened my faith. Weird, huh?
- The Stand by Stephen King. My introduction of post-apocalyptic fiction, and my introduction to Stephen King. Though I thought at the time — and still do think — that King cheated at the end of this novel, it made me think more about the boundaries of horror fiction and what I could possibly do myself. Funny story: I have a distinct memory of being forbidden to read Stephen King until I was sixteen years old, because my parents knew what my imagination was like and what I was likely to inflict on my own brain. My parents deny this, but I remember it.
- Fred, Again by me. A controversial inclusion, I admit, because I wrote this one myself and it’s not available to anyone. I wrote it for National Novel Writing Month in 2005, and the exercise of writing this one opened my eyes to the different kinds of writing I could do. Up until then I’d only written straight horror and science fiction and fantasy. It had never occurred to me that I could include comedic elements and still write something of quality. So it’s totally fair to say that this one changed my life, or at least my writing path.
- Return of the Kings by Jennifer Crawford et. al. Perhaps another controversial one, because this one is less than a year old and not widely printed, but of all the ones listed here, this is perhaps the most life changing for me because it really made me aware of how much Jennifer loves me, and how many good friends I have, regardless of whether they participated in the making of this book or not (a couple of my best friends were not involved, but I don’t love them any less). I’ve had some dark moments since I got this book on my 45th birthday, but they’ve been lightened because I know now, for sure, that there are people I can go to when I need to.
And now I tag YOU! What are ten books that have changed your life?