I usually don’t participate in the Facebook “tag you’re it!” games (yes, total party pooper—I know…). But when two different friends tagged me to post ten books that have had an impact on my life or stuck with me in some way, I couldn’t resist.
However, in the Facebook post, I didn’t explain why I posted the books I did, so I thought I’d explain that here.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
I believe my aunt Kina introduced me to the Chronicles of Narnia when I was a young child. It was my first experience with fantasy literature, and I was hooked. Imagine if there are other worlds out there with talking animals and centaurs and evil witches!
I read the whole series multiple times throughout my childhood, getting lost in the stories time and time again. As I got older, I became intrigued by the allegorical qualities of the books. So intrigued, in fact, that I wrote my senior paper on this topic in high school—and won best paper in my class. (True story!)
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emma Orczy
This book has everything you’d want in a great story: action, romance, great dialogue, intrigue, and suspense. I think the reason this book (and the rest of the books in the series) stuck with me is because I loved the unpredictable twists and turns.
It also has a most beautiful love story that you don’t see coming.
Papa’s Wife by Thyra Ferre Bjorn
In this charming book, a young girl convinces her much older employer, a Swedish priest and sworn bachelor, to marry her. It is a beautiful love story set in reality.
It has stuck with me over the years, partially due to the wonderful depiction of life in northern Sweden, but also because the family eventually migrates to the United States—just like me!
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
I don’t know how this book couldn’t have a profound impact on anybody who reads it. It was my introduction to slavery and the abolitionist movement. Reading this book helped me understand the power of the written word to enact change.
I wrote what I did because as a woman, as a mother, I was oppressed and broken-hearted with the sorrows and injustice I saw, because as a Christian I felt the dishonor to Christianity – because as a lover of my county, I trembled at the coming day of wrath. ~Harriet Beecher Stowe
I remember reading an especially sad part of this book as a child and not being able to sleep. The next morning, I was so tired and didn’t want to go to school. My dad’s solution was to offer me coffee…
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
I typically don’t read mystery, but since this book was set in Sweden, I decided to give it a try. And look, here it is on my top ten list! Of course, I love it because it’s set in Sweden and is wonderfully shocking and entertaining.
However, as a writer, I love how the protagonist, Mikael Blomkvist, is able to forget about everything and write. He does find time for exercise and spending time with a handful of friends (lovers), but other than that, he investigates and writes. What a life!
Kulla Gulla by Martha Sandwall-Bergström
Oh boy. How do I even begin to describe… Kulla Gulla is the nickname of an orphan who, in the first few books in the series, slaves away at various farms, but always with a great attitude, until she discovers that she is the long lost grandchild of the richest landowner in the area.
Once in a position of power, Kulla Gulla uses it for good and marries a (gasp!) socialist. While I never picked up on the political undertones as a child, now I appreciate Kulla Gulla’s influence on my own political views and my longing for a just society.
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
I have recently recognized that many of my favorite moves are about writers. Now I’m realizing that many of my favorite books are also about writers. Anne of Green Gables is no exception.
Here’s another series that I read multiple times in my teens and also at least a couple of times as an adult. I am in love with Anne’s free spirit and creativity. She encourages me to keep writing.
Simple Prosperity by David Wann
Switching gears into non-fiction… This book is the first book I read on voluntary simplicity or “simple living.” I remember vividly reading it early in the mornings with my breakfast before hitting the gym. I literally bounced out of bed every day to learn more.
Before I read this book, I never considered that I had the choice to live simply. That I could get off the hamster wheel and make less money and have more quality. Talk about impact!
Anatomy of an Epidemic by Robert Whitaker
A friend lent this book to me and my husband during a time of deep despair. Within its pages we found stories that sounded just like ours, and we realized we were not alone. We also realized the vast influence of the pharmaceutical industry on psychiatry, the mental illness narrative, and our collective mental health.
It’s possible that this book saved our daughter’s life.
On Writing by Stephen King
I have read a number of stellar book on writing and this is one of my favorites (and the one that came to mind during the Facebook game). I actually listened to this book, with Stephen King himself as the narrator. Part memoir and part writing manual, it gave wonderful insight into the writing craft.
But best of all, it made me realize that Stephen King is a pretty smart guy and a marvelous writer—and perhaps I should read some of his other books, even though the horror genre is never at the forefront of my mind. I’ve now read several of is novels, including The Stand, The Green Mile, Carrie, The Shining, Doctor Sleep, and 11/22/63. I’ve yet to be disappointed.
Over to You!
What’s your list? Quick, don’t think about it too much. It’s okay if it isn’t the list.