Ten Books That Influenced Me

Another thing I was tagged in! I feel so popular and loved in my little writing community. I really do have a give a quick shout out to some of the amazing writers I’ve met in the last 9 months. I swear the reason I can’t stop gushing about them is that they are all truly amazing. wonderful people and I wouldn’t be anywhere without their support, friendship, and overall awesomeness. Thanks Janella for tagging me, and Christine and Erin for starting this. Be sure and check out their posts, as well as Maddy’s. Again, I will be tagging Katy, Ella, and Melody.

Here are the rules as provided by Erin:

1. No two books by the same author!

2. But, you can count a series as one book!

3. Also, this isn’t really a rule, but we’re listing our books in chronologically order, which I think is super cool!

I don’t remember the exact ages when I read these books but this is roughly in chronological order. It was impossibly hard to narrow it down to just ten books, but I really tried!

1. Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene

Nancy Drew was pretty much my gateway into books. My parents suggested it because they knew I’d loved Scooby Doo as a child, so they thought maybe I’d read instead of watching TV if they bought me a mystery series. It worked a little too well because from the ages of 7-15, I didn’t watch any TV at all. Nancy Drew was really the first person I ever wanted to be (and to this day my dream car is a blue convertible) and I was always envious of all the adventures she and Bess and George went on. It may be why I incorporate an element of mystery into everything I write. It may also may be why I love giving my female character traditionally male names.

2. The Famous Five by Enid Blyton

I went through the Nancy Drew original 50 yellow books so fast that my parents were at once excited I was reading and (rightfully) concerned that I’d just traded one story obsession for another. I’m pretty sure most people haven’t even heard of Enid Blyton, but she was an English author who was popular in India. Because my dad had read her books as a child, he gave me his favorite ones: The Famous Five. This was another mystery series, but I read a lot of her other series as well, including ones set in boarding schools. I remember being very upset with my parents for refusing to send me to British boarding school for years after I read her Malory Towers series.

3. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

I’ve been pretty vocal about my love of all things Harry Potter so I’ll talk about my favorite memories here. I loved growing up with the books. I loved that after the first four, I had to wait for the books every year. I remember staying up all night to read the books the day they came just so I could avoid spoilers (and this was before social media!) I remember being so sick with a cold and fever in India when the sixth book came out. My grandfather surprised me by going to the store in the morning to buy the book for me. Then my grandmother had to confiscate my book so that I would rest. I finished it on a train to visit family in another city and cried when Dumbledore died—the first time I ever cried over a book. I remember having so many conversations with friends about whether or not Harry was a horcrux. But my favorite thing of all was that it inspired me to write. It’s because of Harry Potter that I realized a truly amazing book for me isn’t one that makes me say “wow that was great” but one that makes me sit down and write. And I can tell you that Harry Potter does that for me every single time I read it.

4. Down a Dark Hall by Lois Duncan

When I was in middle school I went through a very, very brief thriller/horror phase, probably triggered by my close friend Monika forcing me to read my first ever Christopher Pike book, which utterly traumatized me– though evidently not enough to deter me from the genre all together. I read all of Lois Duncan’s books one after the other so it’s difficult for me to say with any degree of certainty which one I liked the best. I chose this one because right after I’d finished I Know What You Did Last Summer, I picked up Down A Dark Hall at the recommendation of a friend who passed away earlier this year. My memories of this book will always be tied to discussing it with her.

5. Animorphs by K.A. Applegate

There are very few things I remember from middle school (mainly because I blocked most of it out) but one of those things is binge reading Animorphs with my best friend. We would spend our lunches in the library only because we loved books so much, and would fight over who got to check out the next Animorph book first. Mega was the faster reader, so she’d argue that she should get to read them first, but I was the brattier one so I got my way more often. I never actually finished the series (someone spoiled that one of the MCs dies at the end and I got so angry I stopped with maybe 10-12 books left) but that was the first time I got so into a series I was willing to read over 30 books set in that world!

6. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Oh Inkheart. The thing that blows me away about Inkheart is the reverence for books that’s in the entire series. Just thinking about the book gets me so emotional. I used to reread this book so often because I felt like no one else understood my love of books as much as Meggie and Mo and Elinor. I always wanted to be read into a book—or meet people who were read out of books. One of the first worlds I created as a child was a world in which you could visit other story lands—a direct result of my Inkheart obsession.

7. Queen of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

So yes, I’m calling this Queen of Glass, not Throne of Glass, because the book that influenced me wasn’t the book in it’s published form, but rather the one I read on FictionPress. I have really strong memories associated with the parts of the book that eventually became Heir of Fire. To be fair I don’t remember a lot of specific details, which I’m sure have been changed anyway, but I remember being so utterly blown away by it that for the first time I decided to try my hand at writing my own fantasy. It was absolutely ridiculous and didn’t make any sense, but even though I never got past the planning phase of that story, I did go on to plan other stories that I did write. It really sparked my love of writing original stories, and is in part the reason I pretty much only write fantasy today. I was so excited when years later, I looked her up on a whim, and it happened to be the week before Throne of Glass was published.

8. Princess Bride by William Goldman

I’ll admit that I watched the movie before I read the book—in fact it was because of the movie that I picked up the book. Again, this is a memory I associate closely with my best friend, Mega. We watched the movie together and laughed so much that I promptly went out the next week and bought the book. As an immigrant, it’s often difficult to know when I have a gap in my pop culture knowledge. I can talk all about the last decade of pop culture really well, but stuff that came before that, stuff that is “common knowledge” in America, is often something that I struggle with, since I simply wasn’t exposed to it. This was such an influential book because reading it and watching the movie was such a big milestone for me. It was one of the first moments I felt really American because I could finally understand all those Princess Bride references.

9. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

This wasn’t my first Neil Gaiman book, or even my favorite Neil Gaiman book. I read Neverwhere because I’d loved Good Omens so much. But while Good Omens was a fun read, Neverwhere had an impact on my writing. It was a perfect blend of subtle British humor, fantastical things based on literalness (i.e. metro stop names), and of course the magical elements within a completely normal city. It was the direct result of this book that I came up with the first version of the plot for my own urban fantasy novel (see below).

10. These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Oh gosh, I can’t even begin to talk about this one. Like I said earlier, my definition of a truly good book isn’t one that makes me say, “wow this is incredible,” or makes me cry (both of which These Broken Stars did, by the way), but one that makes me get up and write.

I read this book last year, at the recommendation of Melody. I’d just finished my first NaNoWriMo in November and I was so excited to have gotten my 50k words done on my urban fantasy that I celebrated on November 30th by taking the night off writing and reading this book. I stayed up until past midnight reading this book and literally sobbing in bed at how utterly beautiful the romance was. And then after I finished it, I simply couldn’t fall asleep. So I got out of bed at 1AM, got my laptop, and ended up writing what would become the first chapter of my scifi novel. Other than being the same genre, my book has absolutely nothing in common with These Broken Stars, but to this day, just thinking about the book puts me in that very mindset I had when I drafted that first chapter.

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