It’s Thanksgiving today in the United States. In honor of the holiday, we thought we’d share the books that we are most thankful for — the books that have in some way inspired us.
I know it is cliche, but Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll is the first book that I am most thankful for. It was the first full-length novel that I read as a child. Carroll’s words fueled my imagination. I felt as though this specific book unlocked something in my mind. It gave me permission to dream. Whatever boundaries that were being placed on my imagination by culture and society as I matured, I ignored. My imagination is my most prized possession and I am proud to say that as of today, in my 30’s, it is still brilliantly limitless.
Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood is another book that I am thankful for as it taught me about letting go and finding where I am happiest. Elaine Risley was the first character that forced me to reflect on my life. Her story was one that resonated with my soul. Just like Elaine, I also have a background in Biology, but I chose my passion and career to be in the arts. When I read this book, I was struggling to let go of experiences from the past. It was this very book that showed me how to let all of that pain and sadness go. Also during this first reading (and as a sophomore in university), I was wrestling with the decision whether to continue with my goal to become a Marine Biologist or to change my career to a Technical & Creative writer track. Cat’s Eye was the force that compelled me to choose writing.
A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L’Engle was probably the most important book of my childhood. I read it around the time a horse I loved died, and in a lot of ways it helped me learn how to cope with loss. Though I read a ton of books as a kid/young adult, this is the one I always remember. I think every young person (and adult) should read it at least once.
A lot of people are surprised by this one, but Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell is one of my favorite books of all time. No one can forget the brutal, stubborn, selfish Scarlett O’Hara. I don’t know if admitting this is a good thing, but she was one of the first characters I truly could relate to. She’s a survivor. Weaknesses and strengths aside, I understood her.
I’m going to buck the trend and eschew all that sentimental crap my colleagues are spewing. What books am I most grateful for? Good question. To be perfectly honest with you, I’ll read just about anything, but I have a very special place on my shelves for Terry Pratchett. The wit and surreal perspective, not to mention the sheer genius of the Discworld, have always spoken to me and keep me coming back for more. If I had to pick one book out of the canon which really stands out, I’d have to say Mort.
Another book and author to which I owe a lot in terms of inspiration is American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I’ve grown up on myths and legends but this was the first time I’d ever seen deities in the modern world. The fantastical and yet everyday themes which colour Neil Gaiman’s tales started me down the path
to insanity which I am currently hurtling down head-first.
Which books are you thankful for? Let us know in the comments!
Fahrenheit 451 is one if the first books that made me think. It also inspired a thought in me that maybe I could make people think by writing something. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. I love this blog and I appreciate all that you share.
Everyone that commented offered such great books. I’m so glad you mentioned Fahrenheit 451. It was my first foray into speculative fiction–could-be-our-world-but-isn’t-quite-our-world-but-still-makes-you-think-about-our-world–type of novels. I really love Ray Bradbury’s style, too.
I keep these novels on my desk at all time for inspiration: A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Hours by Michael Cunningham (won the Pulitzer), The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. They all touched my heart in different ways at different times in my life.
Oh, great choices, Marcy! Growing up in Alabama, I was required to read To Kill a Mockingbird many, many times. It’s a story one does not easily forget.
I have The Book Thief on my TBR list. I’m really looking forward to reading it.
My favorite book ever is DarkStar by Creston Mapes, but closely following is Born to Rock, by Gordon Korman. They inspired me to begin the novel I’m working on now. I’ll always be thankful for those two.
Thanks for sharing! I have not read either of those two books, but I’ll have to look them up. I just love those novels that give me the push toward writing my own.
It’s funny how most of the books that are most influential come from our formative years. I suppose that is natural, but I propose that maybe we need time to allow the influence of a good book to permeate our being before we can fully appreciate it. I wonder how many books we’ve read in the past year will seem influential in five, ten, it even twenty years? Great post, thanks for sharing and best wishes for a happy holiday season 🙂
You make a good point. There are some books we have to “grow into,” perhaps. And some books shake us up from the very beginning. Les Miserables was a book of the former category for me. A teacher made me read it when I was twelve, and I admittedly didn’t “get” a lot of it. But something about it stuck with me, because I kept going back to it. Now it’s one of my all-time favorites. More recently, I read The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. After I finished it, I felt like I’d been punched. Not an easy read, in a lot of ways, but I’ll say it inspired me greatly and I’ll never, ever forget it.
You didn’t list any of your influential books. 😛 Which ones inspire(d) you?
I guess you might have guessed (based on my response) that one of the more influential books was one I have read quite recently. “The Light Between Oceans”, a debut novel by M.L. Stedman, left me in actual tears (not ashamed to say) near the end of the book. It was that good for me – anything that evokes emotion, whatever type, is an influential book for me. Two other books, from further in the past that have hit me hard with emotion are “The Alchemist” and “To Kill A Mockingbird”.
Taste in books are like musical tastes – everyone is different. But, we can all appreciate, as readers and writers, how profound an impact these little characters so precisely arranged on a page can affect us 😉
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