The Ten Books That Changed Me- TGBOL

The prompt for the Great Book of Lists this week was to list books that “transport” us to another time or place, out of our daily lives. I found this difficult, purely because every book that I enjoy transports me into that particular world. If it doesn’t, I stop reading it – life’s too short, and my reading pile too big! Choosing just a handful on this basis was also beyond me…

So below is a list of the ten books (not necessarily novels) that have had the greatest impact on me, that have transported me either through the power of the storytelling, or in the influence they have had on me personally, or both.

In no particular order:

1. Cormac McCarthy – The Road
The book that put me off wanting to be a writer, because I’ll never write anything as good as this.

2. Nick Hornby – High Fidelity
The right book at the right time can have a huge effect. This tracked and amplified my obsession with list-making… and look where that’s got me!

3. Julia Donaldson – The Gruffalo
I could have chosen one of half a dozen of her books – she directly inspired me to write children’s stories in rhyme.

4. Shel Silverstein – Where the Sidewalk Ends
I was recommended this by my American critique group (I hadn’t heard of him at that time), who paid me the great compliment of being Silverstein-esque. I only wish!

5. Max Brooks – World War Z
A great book, bold in scope, unique in vision. This was unfortunately made into a distinctly average film of limited scope and generic, by-the-numbers vision. (Note to film-makers – zombies DO NOT run. They are the reanimated dead, not Olympic sprinters.)

6. Iain Banks – The Wasp Factory
I can still picture every detail in this slightly bizarre, yet surface-normal, world, even though I haven’t read it for at least a decade.

7. Douglas Adams – The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
A huge influence on my sense of humour. I was too young for the radio series, but grew up with the original TV show, and even remember playing a text-only computer game of it. Must read this one again.

8. Roald Dahl – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
A children’s story with both lyricism and darkness.

9. George RR Martin – A Song of Ice and Fire
I’m not normally a fan of fantasy, but these had me gripped. I raced through all the novels one after the other (courtesy of a friend’s generosity in lending me them… There isn’t room on my bookshelves for this weighty series!). After reading one of the books, I read Hunger Games. It was like drinking lemonade after a fine wine.

10. Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard Book
Gaiman is the writer I most want to be, and The Graveyard Book is the book I most want to have written.

So, feel free to analyse away about what this list says about me… What books have transported you, in one way or other?

 

gb

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Author: Al Lane

Writer, Poet, Daydreamer

64 thoughts on “The Ten Books That Changed Me- TGBOL”

  1. Ah, Shel… one of my personal favorites. There are several of his books filling my shelves, mind and heart! <3

  2. Ah, Shel… one of my personal favorites. There are several of his books filling my shelves, mind and heart! <3

  3. Though I’ve only read 4 of the 10, I like your choices! Hitchhikers affected me the most and made me an instant Adams’ fan, but I also, like you, want desperately to write like Gaiman.

    I agree completely with you that all books I read to the end transport me because, otherwise, why read it? 🙂

    1. Exactly! I used to try harder to persevere with “challenging” books , or books that people suggested I “ought” to read… But if it has no pull for me, I just don’t bother now. Kids’ books for one age or another, and poetry collections are my main staple at the moment. At least until Gaiman brings another book out 🙂

  4. Though I’ve only read 4 of the 10, I like your choices! Hitchhikers affected me the most and made me an instant Adams’ fan, but I also, like you, want desperately to write like Gaiman.

    I agree completely with you that all books I read to the end transport me because, otherwise, why read it? 🙂

    1. Exactly! I used to try harder to persevere with “challenging” books , or books that people suggested I “ought” to read… But if it has no pull for me, I just don’t bother now. Kids’ books for one age or another, and poetry collections are my main staple at the moment. At least until Gaiman brings another book out 🙂

  5. I’ve just got the answer. Though I’m still unsure about the question. 42, yes, but… ?
    I got that book for Xmas, just finished reading it. I had heard a lot about it, from one person or the next, all people I really respect and maybe admire in some ways. I really enjoyed reading it. Feeling a bit… hungry for more with the ending?
    I won’t say it’s one of the books that’s made the biggest influence on me, because that may have been the case 3 or 4 years ago, but I’ve grown so much in the past 3 years that I was ready to accept it rather than be surprised by it, if it makes sense?
    I must say (and if you read me, you won’t be surprised, and I’m talking to people who may be reading this comment, not to you Al, I know you have a fairly good idea what I write 😉 )… so let me start this sentence again. I must say that the book that changed me most probably was 50 shades of Grey. I know, it’s silly, I hated the writing, but in a way it empowered me and made me decide to come alive. More than half of what it writes about I haven’t tried, and I’m not sure I want to. But it gave me the will to break free.
    Other books that come to mind are Pride and Prejudice (women power, you can be liked for who you are, I don’t know…), The Brain that changes itself (very interesting to read as a mother, marvelously awe-inspiring for the curious mind within), The little Prince, Harry Potter, To kill a mockingbird, A fine balance, The six wives of Henry the 8th (taught me that I do like history, in the end, if someone manages to make it interesting to me), and the list is too long to continue.
    Thank you for making me reflect on this 🙂

    1. Ooh! And another one I forgot! The complete idiot’s guide to the law of attraction. This one was a turning point in my life. Came right at the perfect moment. Strange, he? 😉

          1. Sounds a good friend 😊

            I don’t know most of the books on your list, unfortunately. I’ve never read Potter (I probably will in a couple of years with my boys), 50 Shades never appealed… I even managed to get an A in my A level English paper on Pride and Prejudice based on just the first fifty pages, which was as far as I read! (The tv series filled in the gaps, along with Letts revision guides 😊)

            1. Lol! It’s good to know that even someone who turned out as a writer used the same tricks my kids try to pull. No such luck with a mum like me though 😉
              50 shades… you are not missing much from a literary point of view. I remember vividly thinking that even I could probably write better sex scenes than she did (so few words to describe the male member!). But it allowed me to dream of things that I hadn’t dared dream before, and that, just maybe, I wasn’t a complete freak for still wanting (or should I say finally?) a sex life. Even in my forties. Potter is really good. Good characters, good writing, helps you think without making you feel like you have to…
              The list is very diverse, from self-help books to erotica and children literature to scientific books. Another such one that REALLY influenced me was ‘Why love matters’. Now that I think of it, that one was a pretty big influence on how I viewed myself as a person and a mother and others around me, and made me realise it was in my children’s best interest that I treat my depression, no matter what my then husband was saying…

            2. Ah! Two more things. Yes, a very good friend. And 50 shades also in a way helped me realise that it was OK to start writing myself. So a big influence on two very different parts of my life. I may never become a professional writer, but I sure do enjoy it 🙂

            3. I’ve read a couple of pages of Harry Potter and it didn’t impress. Once you’ve read Pratchett it all seems rather twee and Blytonesque in comparison. My youngest swept through Potter several times but as a teenager was far more into Skullduggery Pleasant (much darker).

  6. I’ve just got the answer. Though I’m still unsure about the question. 42, yes, but… ?
    I got that book for Xmas, just finished reading it. I had heard a lot about it, from one person or the next, all people I really respect and maybe admire in some ways. I really enjoyed reading it. Feeling a bit… hungry for more with the ending?
    I won’t say it’s one of the books that’s made the biggest influence on me, because that may have been the case 3 or 4 years ago, but I’ve grown so much in the past 3 years that I was ready to accept it rather than be surprised by it, if it makes sense?
    I must say (and if you read me, you won’t be surprised, and I’m talking to people who may be reading this comment, not to you Al, I know you have a fairly good idea what I write 😉 )… so let me start this sentence again. I must say that the book that changed me most probably was 50 shades of Grey. I know, it’s silly, I hated the writing, but in a way it empowered me and made me decide to come alive. More than half of what it writes about I haven’t tried, and I’m not sure I want to. But it gave me the will to break free.
    Other books that come to mind are Pride and Prejudice (women power, you can be liked for who you are, I don’t know…), The Brain that changes itself (very interesting to read as a mother, marvelously awe-inspiring for the curious mind within), The little Prince, Harry Potter, To kill a mockingbird, A fine balance, The six wives of Henry the 8th (taught me that I do like history, in the end, if someone manages to make it interesting to me), and the list is too long to continue.
    Thank you for making me reflect on this 🙂

    1. Ooh! And another one I forgot! The complete idiot’s guide to the law of attraction. This one was a turning point in my life. Came right at the perfect moment. Strange, he? 😉

          1. Sounds a good friend 😊

            I don’t know most of the books on your list, unfortunately. I’ve never read Potter (I probably will in a couple of years with my boys), 50 Shades never appealed… I even managed to get an A in my A level English paper on Pride and Prejudice based on just the first fifty pages, which was as far as I read! (The tv series filled in the gaps, along with Letts revision guides 😊)

            1. Lol! It’s good to know that even someone who turned out as a writer used the same tricks my kids try to pull. No such luck with a mum like me though 😉
              50 shades… you are not missing much from a literary point of view. I remember vividly thinking that even I could probably write better sex scenes than she did (so few words to describe the male member!). But it allowed me to dream of things that I hadn’t dared dream before, and that, just maybe, I wasn’t a complete freak for still wanting (or should I say finally?) a sex life. Even in my forties. Potter is really good. Good characters, good writing, helps you think without making you feel like you have to…
              The list is very diverse, from self-help books to erotica and children literature to scientific books. Another such one that REALLY influenced me was ‘Why love matters’. Now that I think of it, that one was a pretty big influence on how I viewed myself as a person and a mother and others around me, and made me realise it was in my children’s best interest that I treat my depression, no matter what my then husband was saying…

            2. Ah! Two more things. Yes, a very good friend. And 50 shades also in a way helped me realise that it was OK to start writing myself. So a big influence on two very different parts of my life. I may never become a professional writer, but I sure do enjoy it 🙂

            3. I’ve read a couple of pages of Harry Potter and it didn’t impress. Once you’ve read Pratchett it all seems rather twee and Blytonesque in comparison. My youngest swept through Potter several times but as a teenager was far more into Skullduggery Pleasant (much darker).

  7. Yep, Hitch-hikers is probably the first book I can say influenced me directly. I was 13 & used some WH Smiths vouchers to buy it, then found out later that day that it was about to be shown on TV; I had to keep ahead of the serialisation! I also saw a theatre production, read the radio scripts and played the computer game (you can still play it – and die repeatedly – on the BBC website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/1g84m0sXpnNCv84GpN2PLZG/the-hitchhiker-s-guide-to-the-galaxy-game-30th-anniversary-edition
    )
    I’m also a big Iain Banks fan but was more taken with Complicity and The Crow Road (and his sci-fi work).
    And most things by Terry Pratchett, of course (big shout out for Small Gods & The Night Watch).
    Pushing Ice by Alistair Reynolds was one of the most well-written & engaging sci-fi stories I’ve ever read (with 2 female lead characters too!)
    There are also a fair few books I read to my kids when they were small that I thought were terrible, which made me think I could do a better job (and now I blog and write).
    Biggest most recent influence has to be Sunwielder by our mutual friend D Wallace Peach, which was superb, very much my cup of tea. And she started out with just a blog and some ideas… We can do that too (probably not quite so well though).

    1. I think the Wasp Factory was my first Banks novel – might be why it made such an impression. I do love The Crow Road too, but I find it hard to separate the book with what I remember from the tv adaptation (which I even have on dvd now… complete with a young-er Peter Capaldi).

      I did get into Pratchett in my teens too – Mort was a favourite at the time (well, the DEATH character really) – I really need to revisit them.

      Will have to check out the last two, esp Diana’s. I like to support people I’ve “met”, and you recommending it is the icing on the cake!

      Blog plus ideas, eh… Who knows where it’ll lead!

  8. Yep, Hitch-hikers is probably the first book I can say influenced me directly. I was 13 & used some WH Smiths vouchers to buy it, then found out later that day that it was about to be shown on TV; I had to keep ahead of the serialisation! I also saw a theatre production, read the radio scripts and played the computer game (you can still play it – and die repeatedly – on the BBC website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/1g84m0sXpnNCv84GpN2PLZG/the-hitchhiker-s-guide-to-the-galaxy-game-30th-anniversary-edition
    )
    I’m also a big Iain Banks fan but was more taken with Complicity and The Crow Road (and his sci-fi work).
    And most things by Terry Pratchett, of course (big shout out for Small Gods & The Night Watch).
    Pushing Ice by Alistair Reynolds was one of the most well-written & engaging sci-fi stories I’ve ever read (with 2 female lead characters too!)
    There are also a fair few books I read to my kids when they were small that I thought were terrible, which made me think I could do a better job (and now I blog and write).
    Biggest most recent influence has to be Sunwielder by our mutual friend D Wallace Peach, which was superb, very much my cup of tea. And she started out with just a blog and some ideas… We can do that too (probably not quite so well though).

    1. I think the Wasp Factory was my first Banks novel – might be why it made such an impression. I do love The Crow Road too, but I find it hard to separate the book with what I remember from the tv adaptation (which I even have on dvd now… complete with a young-er Peter Capaldi).

      I did get into Pratchett in my teens too – Mort was a favourite at the time (well, the DEATH character really) – I really need to revisit them.

      Will have to check out the last two, esp Diana’s. I like to support people I’ve “met”, and you recommending it is the icing on the cake!

      Blog plus ideas, eh… Who knows where it’ll lead!

        1. The last time I was on it (several months ago) I was still trying to get the bloody Babel fish – which I the same point I left it in 1987 (it was on a company mainframe & an older IT colleague showed me how to access it, & then I left).

  9. Hey, I stumbled on your blog by chance and Im so glad I did.

    Gaiman is my favorite author and I can only wish to be as good as him. He has been such a great influence and if there was an author I can be, it would be him too.

    1. Thanks May – glad to make your acquaintance. You clearly have great taste 🙂
      I was reading yesterday that they’re finally filming the American Gods TV series… I hope they do it justice.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment 🙂

      1. I know! I can’t wait for it to come out! I just realized, that if I were to write a list like this, I’d put Neverwhere, because it opened the “door” to my Gaiman love affair. It was the very first book that I read of him. 🙂

  10. Hey, I stumbled on your blog by chance and Im so glad I did.

    Gaiman is my favorite author and I can only wish to be as good as him. He has been such a great influence and if there was an author I can be, it would be him too.

  11. Out of your list of ten books, I’m familiar with “Charlie and the Chocolate factory.” I read this book several times for my kids in school. They loved it, whenever I named a different book they insisted I read Roald Dahl’s book, and Gordon Korman’s I Want To Go Home.
    When I read Charlie And The Chocolate Factory as one of your favorite book, I was delighted.
    I’m also thankful to you for liking my week 7 limerick. “Aspire.”
    All the best to you. 🙂

  12. Out of your list of ten books, I’m familiar with “Charlie and the Chocolate factory.” I read this book several times for my kids in school. They loved it, whenever I named a different book they insisted I read Roald Dahl’s book, and Gordon Korman’s I Want To Go Home.
    When I read Charlie And The Chocolate Factory as one of your favorite book, I was delighted.
    I’m also thankful to you for liking my week 7 limerick. “Aspire.”
    All the best to you. 🙂

  13. Thank you,for the 2016 reading challenge, I’ve read six books,and am reading the 7th. None of these are from your list, I’m pleased because the books I left in my shelf I’m reading now. I was introduced to Paulo Coelho a while ago, I read all his books that are available here. I’m thinking of broadening my reading horizon, to achieve it, I’m selecting books from different genres as suggested by Rashmi.
    Did your son like ,Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach?
    Your son must be thrilled with the Willy Wonka outfit. It’s a great way of getting kids interested to read. 🙂

  14. Max Brooks – World War Z was soooo great.
    The only hard thing was the film later from the book. The book was sooo much better than the film. I understand why this book is on your ist.

    1. The book is incredible, and has changed the way that I think about zombies… and this comes from someone who thinks about zombies a lot! Thank you for commenting, Ronja. Pleasure to make your acquaintance 🙂

          1. Yes, of course, i love this TV-Show. Z Nation too.
            Have you seen “White Zombie” with Bela Lugosi? Some classics are really good. But it’s hard to find good modern zombie movies, including quality and story.

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