Years before I was a writer, I was a reader. I’ve devoured books for as long as I can remember. The Archie Comics. Sweet Valley High. Anything by Sydney Sheldon. Trips to the library or to the book store were my favorite outings where I would plead with my mom to buy just one more book, arms already laden with treasures.
Ah, the bliss.
I’ve read hundreds and hundreds of books. But what are the most influential?
First of all, what does ‘most influential’ mean to me?
- Books that I’ve read more than once.
- Books that have left a lasting impression.
- Books that I always recommend.
Let’s give it a go, shall we?
Here are the most influential books I’ve read, starting in high school when I first read Dostoyevsky:
1.Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
I was a senior in high school, in the only AP class I took—English, of course—and we read Crime and Punishment. I remember being stunned by the darkness, the imagery, the theme. The rawness. It was one of the few times that I actually willingly spoke up in class, and it was during a discussion of the book.
2.The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
I should’ve listed this book first as it is my all-time favorite. This book introduced me to world-building on a scale that left me in awe. Bradley truly made the book pop off the page, and left me so immersed that I felt like I was part of the story. I’ve read it a dozen times, and it has been my #1 favorite book for 15 years. I’m forever grateful to my friend, Michele, for recommending it to me all those years ago. It’s complex, intricately woven, beautifully descriptive, and so creative…it checks all my boxes. A+++
3.A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
This book was recommended to me by my therapist at the time. I had landed on her couch, having hit the big 4-0 with no identity, self-esteem, or ability to obtain either. I was lost in a transcendental way, and she recognized traditional therapy methods just weren’t going to work. She was reading A New Earth at the time, and recommended it to me. I’ve read it numerous times, and the Oprah Winfrey Podcast where she interviews Eckhart Tolle, breaking down the book chapter by chapter, is an invaluable resource to accompany the book. I can honestly say this book changed my life.
4.Germinal by Emile Zola
I read this book in French class in college. I don’t remember much about the book, but the description of the mine where much of the novel occurs has always remained a vivid memory. I’ll never forget it, or the amazement I felt when I read it. I truly saw how words could create so much beyond the letters that they’re made of. Brilliant descriptions.
5.The Black Lion by Jude Deveraux
Oh, yes, please. This book is my all-time favorite romance novel. I’ve also read this book numerous times and it’s like an old (yummy) friend.
Series or notable authors I’ve loved with no explanation because this blog will be too long:
- The Amelia Peabody Series by Elizabeth Peters
- The Highlander Series by Karen Marie Moning
- The Cormoran Strike Novels by Robert Galbraith
- The Armand Gamache Series by Louise Penny
- Anything by Lars Kepler, but you gotta like noir or I wouldn’t go here.
Notable Audible Series:
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo/Millennium Series—written by Stieg Larson, narrated by Simon Vance.
When the radio or music aren’t doing it for me, and I’m feeling too sensitive and temperamental to try a new audio book, I go back to this series on Audible. The stories within themselves are incredible. The narrator just makes it all the better.
Movies based off books I’ve watched repeatedly:
- The Hunger Games
- The Harry Potter Books