…and what I’ve taken from them.
1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I had to read this in 8th grade, and I came into it expecting to be bored witless. While everyone else read it chapter by chapter, I blazed through in it in a single day. What’d I learn? That sometimes the simplest stories and most unassuming characters can be more riveting than crazy action and adventure (I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy at the time).
2. On Writing… by Stephen King
From this book, I learned that I still wanted to be a writer. I graduated with a degree in Creative Writing. Not real useful, and I’d been playing the role of autodidact during school, teaching myself web dev/design. I got caught up in that and writing fell by the wayside for far too long. I’ve been writing sporadically since, and every time I pick up this book, it’s like the turbo kicks in for a bit.
3. Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
The first book in the Southern Reach trilogy was super creepy. I actually got to the point where I didn’t like windy nights because of this book. Super weird story that is more of a psychological journey than anything else, though, and environment that really comes alive. Also: fuck a whole bunch of abandoned lighthouses.
4. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
My first run-in with writing that had great in-your-face style. This book actually caused me to change major from Computer Science to Creative Writing. I read the first two pages in the aisle at the Barnes & Noble in Mankato, Minnesota, and never looked back.
5. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
My god, what a book. An emotional gut-punch. This is where I learned that a writer has to metaphorically spill their entrails on the page. Jesus. Thinking about the ending of this book still makes me get a lump in my throat.