Every so often in life you come across one of those special books, a book that has a revolutionary effect leaving you permanently marked for the better. One that resonates with you, forces you to challenge your own thinking or opens up a new world you were unaware existed. I am sure every reader has come across at least one of these books, whether it was the first they ever picked up, or a story that was there for them exactly when they needed it. As an enthusiastic bookworm and student, I like to think every book I pick up has influenced me in some way, however, there are certainly some that have had a bigger effect than others!
I was super excited when I saw Leah from The Perks of Being a Bookworm had chosen me to complete the ten influential books tag. What a great idea for a list! It has taken me a shamefully long time to get round to, but I spoke to Leah about it and she promised not to transfigure me into a pocket watch, so I should be okay. A couple of weeks later Artsandyouthlove kindly tagged me as well. I believe the idea originated on Youtube and that the general aim was to list ten books that had influenced you for a variety of reasons but to not spend too long explaining why. Since I am completely incapable of keeping my rambling to a minimum not prone following the rules (watch out, we have a rebel in our midst) I am going to explain in a bit more detail why these books were influential, I think it will be more interesting that way too! This list will no doubt continue to change the more I read and it’s highly likely I may have forgotten to put something important on here, but for now this is my list of the ten books that have influenced most in no particular order!
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1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling.
Does this one even need explaining? It’s HARRY FREAKIN’ POTTER.
Who could forget that first moment when they met the little boy in the cupboard under the stairs? And then how that little boys life was magically transformed when an overlarge hairy man came to his rescue and whisked him off to a world of magic at Hogwarts? This book was so vital to me in my younger years. It taught me about true friendship, the power of love, how to stand up to bullies and go after what you believed in. Most importantly, it developed my thirst for adventure and all things fantastical. I was obsessed. My friends were obsessed. The whole world was obsessed, and for good reason!
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was the beginning of a whole new age. *Cues Imagine Dragons music.*
2. Eragon by Christopher Paolini. | My Review.
Eragon was an influential book for me because it bred my thirst for dragons. While I had encountered plenty in movies Eragon was the first time I came across dragons as a prominent part of a book, and I LOVED it. While this series gets a lot of criticism (which is to an extent deserved) it remains one of my favourites. I still remember how grown up I felt because I had chosen to read such a ‘difficult’ and ‘long’ novel.
3. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. | My Review.
I had always had a hate and distain for grammar and writing books, I didn’t like the idea of professionals with ideas of grandiosity shoving writing rules and ideas down my throat, but when I picked up On Writing all of that changed. In my original review I described King’s approach as ‘humble, yet strict and authoritative’, a style which to me was very effective. King writes with such vigour and enthusiasm. It left me buzzing and desperate to write, I had never felt so energised and inspired! Not to mention, by making his ideas accessible and not chastising or looking down on those who have little grammar knowledge *pointing the finger at yours truly here* he completely transformed my approach to learning about the written word. He made me want to learn the grammar rules rather than causing me shrink away from the idea feeling scolded and embarrassed (which many others had caused me to do in the past).
4. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. | My Review.
I know a lot of people are going to cringe at this one, but I can’t deny the huge impact Twilight had on me as a reader. It was my first full on fangirl experience, the first book I read in the paranormal romance genre which spurred me on to read numerous others. Most importantly, it played a huge part in keeping up my enthusiasm as a reader. Sometimes I wonder if I hadn’t discovered and loved this series in my teens whether my love of books would have trailed off. I think the teenage years are when you begin to cement who you are going to be as an adult, especially your interests. Twilight taught me that I was going to be a bookworm.
5. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.
How could I not put this devastating story on here? This book contains real diary entries from a young girl in hiding from the Nazis. I first came across this novel in my latter years at primary school, a teacher read us a condensed children’s version of Anne tragic tale. I had never heard of her before so I was completely shocked and horrified at the ending when the diary just stopped because Anne was torn away from safety and put in a concentration camp. The story stuck with me and I bought the proper version a few years later. While the day to day information given on food rations and family bickering were a bit tedious, they only intensified the impact of the final pages. Anne Frank was just like any other young girl, and that’s what was truly horrifying. It brought home to me the ‘human factor’ of WW2, something which can be easily forgotten when pouring over dates in a textbook.
6. Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff. | My Review.
It is difficult for me to say exactly how this book influenced me, but there is no way I could have left it out. Picture Me Gone is still my favourite read of 2014 so far, I was blown away by it. It didn’t influence me in a specific area of my life like some of the other books listed above, instead it influenced my way of thinking. Whist reading it I was forced to look at the world from a variety of different perspectives I hadn’t considered before which were vastly different to mine!
7. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. | My Review.
Okay, so I have already poured out my heart and soul talking about the numerous reasons I love this book in a previous post, so I won’t bore you with too many details. Wuthering Heights was influential to me because it was the first classic novel I ever read. It opened my eyes to unchartered territories, it made me realise that classics didn’t have to be boring people sitting around having fancy conversations about nothing in particular. I learned that classics could be wild, dark and psychotic. That they could even contain supernatural elements which I was unaware of at the time. This book grabbed my heart, battered and bruised it and then tossed it back again. Whoa, what a ride.
8. Book of Shadows by Cate Tiernan. | My Review.
Book of Shadows was the first in a thirteen book series. Teen me felt absolutely in love with Morgan’s tale in which she discovered she had an affinity for using magic. I adored this series for many reasons, but it was most influential for me because it caused me to become utterly obsessed with the religion Wicca. I found it – and still do, a fascinating topic to research and learn about. Many people of course associate it with Satan and dancing under the stars naked (oh worldwide media, you give it such a good name) but it’s really about celebrating nature, spreading positivity and treating others as you would like to be treated (or karma will get you in the form of the threefold law). For a while after I spent ages looking up and writing down the meaning of runes, investigating spells etc., I had a lot of fun investigating!
9. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. | My Review.
I loved the entire Hunger Games Trilogy, but it was Mockingjay that influenced me the most, causing me to brood over it even months after I had finished it. I know a lot of people were unhappy about how this series ended and the author’s choices. It left me feeling sad and hollow, but in the best way possible. It caused me to completely reanalyze my previous ideas on war, how it changes people, the ambiguous notions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’, what happens to the casualties of war after the fighting is over. This book opened my eyes to a lot of things I had never thought about before as a younger reader, not to mention it had a gripping story and a brilliant heroine at the core of it!
10. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. | My Review.
My childhood education scarred me for what I thought would be lifetime against anything Charles Dickens related. I hated Oliver Twist with a passion, the film, the book, all of its characters. I was forced to study it so many times that I swore I would never read anything by Dickens again. Then last summer on a whim I picked up Great Expectations and discovered that I adored it in every single way! This book was influential to me not only because it changed my opinion of Dickens, but also because it taught me that sometimes it’s important to give an author a second chance.
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So that’s it! My top ten influential books from a mixture of genres. I hope you enjoyed finding out a bit more about some of the books that have come to define me as a reader. Now I just have one question: Which books have influenced you the most? 🙂
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Book Covers via Goodreads.