10 Books That Influenced Me...

I follow an agent's blog who linked to a New York Times article where the author answered a question posted on another guy's blog about the ten most influential books. Fun game. I want to play!

1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Okay, it was the movie first, but it made me think of my life as a story and how I would tell that story. It also made me think my life was boring and who would want to read about a girl who has NOTHING happen to her?

2. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The first book to make me think differently about matters of consequence.

3. Catcher in the Rye and Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger. First-person pov can make me want to spend the weekend with some smart-mouthed teenager from New York and not be such a phony.

4. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. Vignettes are a beautiful, nontraditional way to tell a story.

5. Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers and Blu's Hanging by Lois Ann Yamanaka. A truly Asian American story, not about the immigration experience, or about life in China/Japan/Vietnam, it's about being Asian in America.

6. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. This taught me that just because it's part of the traditional canon, I don't have to avoid it and that I'd been ignoring great stories by ignoring the canon.

7. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. Nonfiction can still be about scene, characters, story and exquisite writing.

8. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. A short story collection that shifts and shoves the boundary between fiction and reality in order it tell the truth of a collective war experience.

9. Maus I and II by Art Speigelman. My favorite graphic novel/memoir ever. It made me want to draw my story.

10. Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje. Write memoir as beautifully as you write fiction.

Care to share your list or the most influential one or two books on you as a person, a reader, a writer?


  1. I have been thinking about this - I can't point to anything that has influenced me as a writer since I hate to write, but I think the books that most influenced me as a reader are the Little House on the Prairie books. I think I read them right as I was first able to read independently and they made me feel so grown up and I devoured them and then reread them often as I grew up.

  2. Did you ever eat snow with syrup? I think that was from Little House in the Big Woods.