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Pens and Feathers

Notes about reading

Ten Most Influential Books

What are the 10 most influential books you've ever read?  I've been seeing this question on Facebook and Goodreads, and I couldn't resist making my own list.  The following books were the most influential to my reading life.


1. Harry Potter and the . . . by JK Rowling

Right off the bat I am cheating by choosing a series.  I have a huge soft spot for Harry - how could I choose just 1?  Finishing the last book felt like saying goodbye to friends. 

2. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. 

Sublime - reading this was pure pleasure.  The politics and manipulations of Henry VIII's court were surprisingly interesting and suspenseful. 

3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This book hits all the bases: interesting characters, great writing, important themes.  Besides that, it's just a flat-out good story.

4. The Midwife's Tale by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

I read this for a college US History class.  It was my first taste of really good non-fiction and a portrayal of history at a personal level.  One of the only classes where I completed - and enjoyed - all of the assigned reading.

5. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Oh how I cried at the end of this book.  I can't actually recall another book that impacted me like that.

6. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

I'd call this book spiritually soothing.  When I was burnt out on thrillers and mysteries, this cleansed my palate in a very good way. 

7. Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller

The writing style took some getting used to, but I really fell for it.  After traveling to Africa, I could not express the wonder and intensity of my experience.  This book showed me that describing Africa can in fact be done.

8. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

The many film adaptations led me back to this book, and gave me new eyes to look at it.  I appreciate the moral dilemmas so much more now than when I first read it years ago. 

9. The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

Probably my most re-read book.  All about finding your place in the world - in a place you never would have expected.  Plus there's a little bit of romance and it's delightful.

10. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

This is the story of one man's attempt to escape from society and the tragedy that followed.  In our high-tech world, where everything seems to be at our civilized fingertips, it's easy to forget that sometime nature will have its way.