” If you do not have the time to read, you don’t have the have time or tools to write.” – Stephen King
I love this quote. It is often a convicting statement for me in those times when I have less time to read. How can I possibly grow as a writer if I do not have the time to read? It is just with anything else in life. One has to make time for it. I wish it was something I could do without having to schedule it in as when I was younger. But there it is. I have to schedule this love of mine into my busy life. Just as with everything else.
It also gets me thinking about the books that have infuenced me as a storyteller. Not only books, but films and television shows. Each has taught me valuable lessons on how to tell a great story. And also how to not tell a great story. Some may have thought that I was wasting my time all these years when really I was doing valuable study and research. There is much to learn from all forms of writing. To tell the a story in the proper way.
My teachers have been many, the worlds that were created from imaginations captured mine. I have been taught by many masters the art of story telling. One does not need to have a masters in order to do so. Sit and read. Read the good, and the bad. Read and reread the classics. Redifine what is a classic.
I have been shaped by books. So many books. Without them I just do not know who I am. What follows is a shorlist of books, films and television shows that have greatly influenced. Note I say influenced. These are at most no younger than ten years.
1984 by George Orwell– I read this when I was a teenager. This was my introduction to a dystopian future. Greatly influencing my first novel. The story of Smith first becoming aware that the world he lives in is just wrong and then trying to fight it is fascinating. It still blows my mind at the kind of technology and even thought processes that exist in this fictional landscape, are now a reality. Perhaps not to the full extent portrayed in the book but to some point.
I would also recommend Animal Farm by this author.
Continuing with the theme of a dystopian world, these also greatly influenced me. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and The Giver by Lois Lowry. All of them portraying worlds where the citizenry is either forced to or corereced into following the status quo and when they do not dire consequences follow.
The Stand by Stephen King– This hefty book takes us through the ravages of a plague and how the survivors rally together. There is also a great spiritual battle and also influenced my first novel ( which is still currently a manuscript, more on that on another post.) Check out his short stories, if you enjoy the film The Shawshank Redemption, then read the story it was based on.
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller– This portraly of WWII pilots and the absolute insanity of war, even “a good war” . This helped me to understand the true cruelty of war and how it affects those fighting it and those caught in the middle of it.
I would also recommend Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, Diary of a Young Girl by Ann Frank. These books bring the heroic struggles of everyday citizens and soldiers doing their best to understand the chaos of war. Recently,l when I went to see The Fault in our Our Stars, I teared up during the scene in the Frank Attic not because of the love story but thinking of the people who hide out there during the war.
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee– What else can be said about this masterpiece? Five year old Scout leads us through the tumultuous events of her young life. If you have not read this book, please make it the next one on your to be read list! If it has been a long time, I suggest you reread it. Then watch the film, one of the best adaptations of a book in my opinion.
Persuasion by Jane Austen- While Pride and Prejudice is my next favorite book of hers, this later work shows her growth as a writer. Her strength is in observing people and their behavior in public.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott– This book about a family and the misfit Jo, in a family of misfits discovering who she is meant to be is close to my heart. The film adaptation is wonderful as well.
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Igalls Wilder – When I discovered that she was a real person who actually lived in the frontier I was beyond thrilled! Reading her books brought this world to life for me and lead to me checking out every book I could find about frontier life.
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery– Who could not love dear Anne? This plucky orphan who while she grows up and matures never ceases to speak her mind. That is what I love about her the most. Also how she never let life keep her down for long. Great lessons for anyone. The series on PBS years ago was just like rereading the books.
The House of The Spirits by Isabel Allende– This book tells the tale of a family who has to deal with the consequences of coming to power and the choices they have made in their lives. I also love the Stories of Eva Luna by the same author.
I would also recommend One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
All these books helped me to first dream of worlds outside my reality, sparking my imagination. Then helped me to become a writer. A writer who still needs and loves to read.
There you have it. The books that have influenced me the most. What books come to mind for you?