Sunday, April 6, 2014

Top ten most influential books.

There's a tag going around on Booktube where you're asked to list the top ten books that have been the most influential in your life. I've really enjoyed seeing other people's responses, so I decided to make a list of my own. :)

It was a little more difficult to make this list than I thought it would be. It's not as easy as naming off ten of my favorite books, though of course most of these are among my absolute favorite books. I had to think about which books actually changed me or impacted me in a huge way. I didn't put the Bible on this list because while, as a Christian, it's the most influential book in my life, it seems too important and too obvious for the list. :)

By the way, except for the first one, these are in no particular order.

The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis. Other than the Bible, these books have been the most influential in shaping my ideas about God and heaven and life in general. I won't ramble about them again now, because I already did that here.

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. This book taught me to beware of being prideful or prejudiced because it could make me miss out on my future Mr. Darcy! Just kidding (mostly). Seriously, though, as a young teenager, P&P crushed my belief that classics were dull and dry. The story and characters grabbed hold of me the first time I read it and haven't let go. (I can't believe that next year will be ten years since I fell in love with this story!) I feel so close to the characters in P&P...I feel like I actually know them. Again, I've dedicated a blog post to this one.

Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White. I was in second grade when my teacher first read this book to my class. She did different voices for the characters. This was probably my first encounter with a book that was funny and sad and beautifully written all at once.

Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbitt. Yay, cheesy movie cover! It seemed like I read this book for school nearly every year during my late elementary to middle school years, but I never got tired of it. It's so simple and short, but so profound. How many children's books tackle thoughts like this one: would you live forever on this earth if you were given the chance? And like Charlotte's Web, the writing is gorgeous.

Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis. Every Christian should read this book. It's full of so much wisdom, and my copy is all marked up. I think I'm due a reread soon. :)

The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling. This series is probably largely responsible for the obsessive reader I am today. And the reason why I find myself a part of several "fandoms." :) The Harry Potter books aren't overrated in the least, in my opinion. They're wonderful and funny and the world-building is probably the best I've ever read. I never get tired of rereading these books.

The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom. Okay...I've only read this book once so far. I've since bought a copy, so I definitely need to reread it. But I knew that there had to be a WWII or Holocaust book on this list, and this is one that really stands out in my memory so it's the one I chose (also, it's nonfiction). As someone who loves vintagey things, it's easy to get caught up in the good things of the 40s: the big band music and the glorious movies and even the way that our country pulled together during the war. But I don't want to overlook all of the horrific things that were happening during that era. The Hiding Place is a perfect example of the best sort of WWII book (nonfiction or fiction): it shows how good people lived and made a difference amongst all of the unspeakably terrible things.

The Giver, by Lois Lowry. This was my first introduction to the dystopian genre. I had never read anything like it before, so I was discovering the secrets of his "perfect" society right along Jonas. I still remember the shock I felt when reading about the infants being released. I really recommend this entire series.

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. I loved this book from the first time I read it. But when I reread it, I was surprised by how much I felt like I knew Jane. I'm going to say this, which is a pretty big statement for a book lover: I feel like I know Jane Eyre better than I know any other character I've ever read. It's not that we're that similar, though we are in some ways (people pleasers who usually keep our emotions to ourselves behind a quiet façade). But this is such an introspective novel that I honestly feel like Jane is a friend.

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. I've only read this book once, a couple of years ago, but after finishing it, it went straight to my favorites list. (I'm hoping to reread it very in the next month or two.) It was one of those classics that truly does live up to the hype. It was beautiful and simple unlike anything I've ever read before. I think this book is a great example of flawlessly mixing humor with serious issues, which is something I appreciate. Everyone should read this book at least once.

I have a couple of honorable mentions. :) I didn't include these because they're packed away and I couldn't get pictures of them. But when I was younger, the Baby-sitter's Club and the American Girl books were among my favorites. I credit the AG books for my love of historical fiction.

Which books have been most influential in your life?


  1. This is an interesting idea. Here's my hastily assembled list (in no particular order). These are mostly books that have influenced me in the past 5 years or so. Had I written the list back then, it'd be very different.
    1. Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa
    2. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
    3. The Anarchist's Tool Chest by Christopher Schwarz
    4. The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
    5. The Magic Ring by Baron de la Motte Fouqué
    6. Ubik by Philip K. Dick
    7. Hrolf Kraki's Saga by Poul Anderson
    8. Lilith by George MacDonald
    9. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
    10. Month of Swallows by C.P.R. Tisdale

    1. The only one of these that I've read is the LOTR trilogy. Les Miserables is on my to-read list, though!

  2. This is a great list, Kristin! I've read and enjoyed all of these except for the entire Harry Potter series (see the paragraph below :) and Tuck Everlasting (I think. I may have actually read it a looong time ago, but it's very vague in my mind, so I should definitely re-visit it). The books that captured my imagination as a child and gave me a gigantic love for stories are: The Little House on the Prairie series, The Little Britches series, The Chronicles of Narnia, Stuart Little, My Side of the Mountain, and The Swiss Family Robinson. In middle school and high school I fell in love with (and obsessed over...) Anne of Green Gables, Jane Austen, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Sherlock Holmes, and pretty much anything by Louisa May Alcott. I went through a period of about two years between 17 and 19 where I hardly read anything other than a few non-fiction books (crazy and sad, I know!), but then an acquaintance – who, it turns out, had hardly ever read a book in his life – lent me a copy of short stories by Ray Bradbury. That book reminded me how much I LOVE to read, and restored me to my old book-devouring self. :) I'm not really sure if those are the most “influential” (I'll need to think about that more!), but they're definitely ones that have stuck with me!

    I JUST (as in, a few weeks ago) read The Sorcerer's Stone for the first time. I'd heard about Harry Potter since the books first started coming out, but my mom steered me away from them when I was younger because she had never read the series and was a little leery about how the magic would be handled. As I grew up I sort of just forgot about them/was intimidated by the commitment of reading such a massive series. :) Anyway, I finally picked up a used copy of The Sorcerer's Stone, thoroughly enjoyed it, and promptly ordered a set of hardcovers on Ebay. I'm very excited to read the rest of them now, although I probably won't be cruising through them like I would have when I was growing up - it's amazing how much adult responsibility cuts into my coveted reading time. ;) I can definitely see why the Harry Potter books made it onto your list – based on my experience with the first one, they would have made it onto mine as well if I had grown up with Harry, Ron and Hermione. :)

    1. You should definitely revisit Tuck Everlasting. :) It's such a short little book, but it's so wonderful.

      You're the second person lately who's said you're reading the HP series through for the first time! I'm so jealous. :) I read the first book when I was about 8 or 9, and while I loved growing up with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, sometimes I wish I could experience the series again for the first time! :) Anyway, I'm so glad you enjoyed The Sorcerer's Stone and I can't wait to hear what you think about the rest of the series. I think they get better and better as they go...the last book is probably my favorite. It's just a really incredible conclusion. All this talk about Harry Potter has really made me want to reread the series again! (It's been almost three years since I have and that's really too long...)

      P.S. Are you on Goodreads?

    2. Discovering everything about a fictional world for the first time is one of the best feelings! Re-reading holds a different kind of pleasure (which definitely can be just as good, if not better), so I'm going to soak in the Harry Potter series for all it's worth. :)

      I do have a Goodreads account, actually. I started it at the beginning of January, so that I'd have a digital record of the books I read to go along with the notebook that I keep. Yep, I'm slightly obsessive about lists. :) So far I haven't done much with it other than enter the books that I've finished recently, but I'd like to eventually add all the books that I own so that I can keep track of them. I don't know anyone personally who has an account (other than my little brother... who rarely updates his status), so I'd love to add you as my second friend if that's okay! :)

  3. These are some of my favorite/most influential books, too.

    This is a great post, and I love the idea of bringing a booktube tag into the blog world.

    1. Thanks! I often watch Booktube tags that I'd like to participate in...but I don't make videos. :) I'd like to start doing more of those tags on my blog.

  4. So right when I started reading your post, I thought, OOH, The Giver would have to be on my list. Then I scrolled down and lo and behold, there it was! I've been tagged a few times on Facebook to participate in the most influential authors/books thing, but I keep not doing it because I feel like I can't narrow it down.

    I have to say, though, Janette Oke would probably make my list. Her old prairie romance books were some of the first "adult" books I read. And even though today it may not be my first genre of book to pick up and read, her books were massively influential for me, helping to shape my own desire to be a writer.

    1. The Giver is such a great book! (The movie trailer makes me very nervous...I'm worried that it won't be a very good adaptation.)

      Of Oke's books, I've only read Love Comes Softly. I still love a good prairie romance every once in a while, but for whatever reason I never really got into her books!

  5. History of Virginia, Third grade textbook
    The Secret Garden, Frances Hodnett Barnett
    Nancy Drew Mysteries, Carolyn Keene
    Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte'
    Mistress of Mellyn, Victoria Holt
    Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
    The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck
    The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom
    Possession, A.S. Byatt
    The Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline tied with The Book Thief, Markus Zusak, for # 10.

    I am one of those weird people who love history books. In 3rd grade it was the History of Virginia that caused me to wonder about my ancestors and whether they lived here during the time periods listed in that history book. I am an enthusiastic genealogist because of that book and found out I am a direct descendent of John Rolphe. Jane Eyre, The Nancy Drew Mysteries, The Good Earth and Mistress of Mellyn were all books read during my teen years, late at night, after lights were supposed to be turned out. They made me want to read more. Gone With the Wind was a great influence on my reading novels. I read this book in the barn hayloft with no interruptions from brothers or my chores. I had a deaf ear to all other things but this book. The Hiding Place was a gift from my late aunt who loved to read and the book opened my eyes to WWII even more than Anne Frank's Diary. Possession is this genealogist's greatest love as it tells two stories in one and shows the research and determination it takes to find those long lost relatives. I saved The Secret Garden for last. I have purchased at least 10 copies of this book. It is the perfect gift for the 8 year old having a birthday. My daughter gave me a copy with the illustrator's autograph and drawing of Mary for Christmas. My 6th grade teacher read this book to the class (more than once) and it was a favorite of the boys and girls alike. I wrote to this teacher before she died and gave her my gratitude for my love of reading. Her reply was that she hoped one of the books I read was the Bible, always the teacher.

    1. I still haven't read any of the Nancy Drew mysteries! I own the first two but haven't read them yet.

      The Secret Garden is such a lovely book! I grew up watching one of the film adaptations of The Secret Garden and the Shirley Temple version of A Little Princess, but I didn't actually read the books until several years ago. I really enjoyed them both, but I like The Secret Garden more.

  6. Wow. Cool idea, Kristin. C.S. Lewis' Narnia books, BIG yes. In fact I've not read the entire series yet (I was reading them when the films released) and should probably start over now. They were so good. Adored the film Charlotte's Web as a kid though I doubt I read the book... hmm...

    For kids books, I was big into American Girl, Mandie and also multiple series by Nancy Rue that were set at various pivotal historical eras.

    Since I'm a Christian fiction reader, probably the books that were the biggest influence were Janette Oke then Lori Wick (some of the first "adult" novels I ever read) and eventually Dee Henderson which shaped my love of mystery. Fun post.

    1. You should read the whole Narnia series as soon as possible. :) It's amazing.

      I think I read a couple of the Mandie books. And did Nancy Rue write that series about a girl named Lily? I think I read most of those.


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