I was reading through Paul Bailey’s post regarding his personal writing history and the books/authors that inspired him throughout his life and it gave me pause to think about my own experiences to do with this.
I don’t know if I can point to many particular authors to narrow down the list as opposed to listing actual book titles. I also don’t know if I can say that any particular book or author specifically inspired me to write like Mr Bailey was able to do, so I am going to just share with you some of my favorite books from over the years – many of which I have read multiple times. (note before we start – all the pictures I am using are the book covers I had these books in… ahhhh nostaaaalgia… 😉 )
I figure that while I didn’t particularly think about consciously being a writer at the time of reading these, the fact that they were written words that I loved likely influenced me in ways I can’t even imagine. They influenced my imagination, they influenced my ultimate style of story telling, and they influenced the way I look at the world in general.
I asked my mother if she could remember any particular books I loved as a small child to include them in my list – she responded that I loved the Wizard of Oz movie and I loved watching Winnie the Pooh. Which I recalled on my own… and that was not helpful, Mom. Thanks. Haha.
The earliest book I recall being my favorite was one called The Story of Ferdinand.This was a book at my Grandmother’s house that I wanted to read every time I went there – between the ages of 3 to 7 at least.It is a story written in 1936 and is about a bull that would rather sit and smell the flowers instead of participate in bullfights.
This is a book I stumbled across again when my daughter was a baby and I HAD to buy it again. As you’ll notice the more I talk – many books on this list will have been bought by me multiple times, let alone read multiple times. I have this inherent need to bring them to my children’s attention – or to reread them myself repeatedly – especially in the case of the higher level reading.
Besides the basics such as Dr Seuss, the next big author for me was Enid Blyton. This extremely prolific children’s author from Britain captivated me with her Naughtiest Girl series and her Faraway Tree series (my favorite being the Enchanted Wood.)
I have bought my daughter these series along with the Wishing Chair series and the Secret Seven series by Enid Blyton. I do so hope she loves them as much as I did. She is currently listening to the Naughtiest Girl series on Audio book and has really been enjoying it – so Yay!
Simultaneously with Ms Blyton, I did read a lot of Roald Dahl. I particularly liked his short stories – I had two books of his short stories. My hardback Roald Dahl anthology is currently awaiting it’s turn in the queue to hopefully fascinate my children as well.
As I got a little older (6th-9th grade, I’d say)I fell into reading the Sweet Valley High and the Babysitter’s Club. As one did so often that point in time. I was much like every other girl my age in the early to mid 90s. My mother would go to the used book stores and buy them for me for 25 cents a piece and I read them voraciously.
There was a book at one point – it was in a series similar to these, though I can’t recall what series it would have been… It was a relatively mild version of a dating abuse story… the imagery has long stayed in my head and I think I read that book several times due to the fact I was experiencing it worse around that time. I connected on a subconscious level I guess. Wish I could remember exactly what book it was.
The next main book I recall (I mentioned this in That Boy in 7th Grade; but couldn’t recall if it was Australian or British – it was Australian btw.) was Fatima from the In Between series by Maureen McCarthy. I remember reading as many of the series as we had at the St Philips library, but hers is the only story I even recall.As I got older, I read a lot in my teenage years – several I found to be good books – but not enough for me to reread or specifically stick out in my memories. While I was in 7th grade reading Fatima, it wasn’t until 9th or 10th grade that I found more to influence me. Some of these came in the form of an assignment from a teacher, some were more recreational in nature… but these titles stuck with me the most.
Shakespeare in general – my imagination was turned on by Shakespeare at a young age as my favorite movie from age 8 had been “Kiss Me Kate” and prior to that I loved an old 1930s version of A Midsummer Nights Dream. As I entered 9th grade, my English teachers opened the world of Shakepeare to me further. I could probably do an entirely different post on this topic…
Forgive Me Natasha by Sergei Kourdakov – I got this old 1970s copy from my father and I read it several times. I found it in Swedish print (Förföljaren) and bought it at the “Saker och Ting” shop across from my school. “Förföljaren” means “The Persecutor” which is another name this book was published under. This is a book about a Russian man that grew up an orphan, became a well respected persecutor of Christians in the KGB and then converted and fled for America.
I lost both those copies in Hurricane Katrina… it took me years but I found it again under “The Persecutor” in English online and ordered it from a used book store… and a few years later found a nice old man in a small Swedish used book sellers that was willing to ship the Swedish version overseas to me. Shout out to sweet old Swedish men! Haha
I will start listing from here with the occasional side note so as not to make this post ridiculously long.
Next up is Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Of which I’ve owned several copies and have read countless times in the past. Followed by:
White Oleander by Janet FinchThe Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (This is another book I have bought multiple copies of…)
The Beach by Alex Garland (again, multiple copies)The Beach (with this cover) is what I was reading in A Vision in Aquamarine, just as an FYI…
The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren. The first full book I read for Swedish class… My father bought me the Swedish copy and it was the only Swedish book I saved during Hurricane Katrina. I have since bought it in English as well – with a matching cover.Another dual language book I have is one that Svea introduced to me – Popular Music from Vittula by Mikael Niemi. Also, read in Swedish first and joined by an English copy later. Svea always said one should read a book in it’s original language first, if one is able. So as to make sure you can grasp the author’s intent and mastery of language fully – something that can be lost in translation otherwise. Lucky bitch can not only read Swedish and English, but French as well.
Another series I have in both English and Swedish is the CS Lewis Narnia series. How could I forget those in my childhood? Of course I have reread them a couple of times even as an adult, those are timeless stories in my mind. I used to watch the BBC versions on VHS as well. Oh goodness… My head is filled with books! How many more can I choose? How many should I strike off my list? I am clearly not one you should ever ask for a definite favorite or even a top 5 of something… Speaking of Top 5… High Fidelity was a good book too… haha.
But seriously, there’s just a few more I must add:
Wicked by Gregory Maguire (Well, the whole Wicked series is pretty good.)My Story by Ingrid Bergman The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice – my favorite of all of her Vampire books. I treasured my copy as a teen… and last year found a new one with the same original cover I had… I love when I can get the same covers over again for books I loved in the first instance. As I teen I loved reading Stephen King books… Now… not so much. I still think Mr King is a Master of Words, but I decided years back I needed the darkness in my head to go away. Mr King’s books perpetuate dark thoughts that I just can’t deal with anymore. At least not on the regular. His book On Writing is a very good book that I always intended to read again, though… so I need to find a new copy.
I also, as an adult, really enjoy the Wallander and other mysteries by Henning Mankell. It makes me so sad he is now deceased and won’t be writing further books… siiigh.
I have others, more recent, that I haven’t yet read multiple times… but may end up going that way in the future; however, I may just leave this post here.
Though I can’t say any one book or author inspired me to write, their words have radiated through me for a life time. It’s as if I was always meant to write – professionally or no. Because I have always loved words. I love to collect words. I love to collect quotes. I love to collect paper. I love to collect the musty smell that comes with a well worn, well loved book. On that note… I think I have the urge to go look through the used book stores tomorrow to see what treasures they hold.
Then, perhaps, I can whittle down some of my favorite quotes for you now that I’ve brought that idea to mind, haha.
….edited to add: I can’t fucking believe I forgot Mists of Avalon…. read multiple times since I was a teen, and really shaped a lot of how I view women’s issues… So there ya go. I’ll attempt not to keep adding the Oh! I forgot! Titles as the urge arises LOL…but Mists of Avalon certainly couldn’t be missed. 😊