Monday, March 24, 2014

15 literary influences

There is a meme circulating on Facebook right now. It invites people to list the first 15 literary influences in their lives - in under 15 minutes.

Because my husband, BMG, asked, here are mine, organized by the type of influence they had on me:

Stories I remember reading in my childhood:

  • Carolyn Haywood - Hers were the first mindless serials I remember reading obsessively. To this day I still find an author I like and then inhale her/his books. The author du jour is Deborah Crombie. I continuously stalk the library shelves for books by Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child, and Jonathan and Faye Kellerman
  • Ray Bradbury (ONLY because of the short story "All Summer In A Day," which I had to read in 4th grade. It horrified and fascinated me and I've never forgotten it.)

These two guys wrote the first "adult books" I ever read:

  • Stephen King - "The Stand" was the first long form adult book I ever read. (My pal Erika gave me the Stephen King gateway drug, "Night Moves." Yup, I mean business when I read
  • John Irving - My aunt loaned me her copy of "The Cider House Rules," which started a ridiculous love affair with his work and helped me become a feminist. "A Son of the Circus" was nothing but irritating to me, then I learned that John Irving has an elitist side IRL, and the love affair ended. 

These authors wrote books I read during my college years - some because I had to, others because I wanted to. All introduced me to new ideas and world views that had an impact on me:

  • Margaret Atwood - "The Handmaid's Tale" was on the reading list the summer before my freshman year
  • Aldous Huxley - "Brave New World"? Woah. 
  • William Golding - "Lord of the Flies" is still a useful cultural reference today. Go banana.

Yep, I love to escape inside a good, all-consuming fantasy world, and these are the masters, IMHO:

  • Johnny Gruelle - Boy did I get lost inside the Raggedy Ann and Andy books of my youth. Perhaps these books helped launch my love affair with gnomes? 
  • William Goldman - "The Princess Bride" rocked my world. If you haven't read it, you need to because it is pure genius. 
  • J.K. Rowling
  • J.R.R. Tolkein - I read "The Hobbit" while camping and backpacking in Yosemite National Park. The redwood forests are a terrific place to to imagine the world of hobbits really exist.
  • Gregory Maguire - "Wicked" was the first and best. All the others he has written are too derivative of the first and don't come close to capturing the magic of his reimagined "Wizard of Oz." 

And just a few that can only be categorized as being the authors of memorable books that help me see the world in different ways:
  • Amy Tan - "The Joy Luck Club" because it and her other books, like those by Lisa See, opened my eyes to the cultural peculiarities of the mother/daughter relationship
  • Mark Salzman - I truly and seriously love the book "The Laughing Sutra" for helping me appreciate the value of adventure for adventure's sake.
  • David McCullough - Who knew history could be so engaging?!
Which authors are on your list? Why? 

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