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Top Ten Tuesday: Surprisingly Influential Books

Sometimes you never know how influential a book was on your life until you look back at it years later. For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, as hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, I listed the top ten books that left a surprising impact on me, my writing, and my reading habits. All book covers from Goodreads.

When I think of influential books, an image of a thick classic, probably one that I was forced to read in school that I grew to love anyway, is the first image to pop into my mind. In my experience, the books that have left the largest impact on me often aren’t the ones that I would have expected.

1. If You Can Talk, You Can Write by Joel Saltzman

if you can talk

The first writing guide I read that made me take my writing more seriously. If You Can Talk taught me the simple yet effective advice to write a page a day, regardless of how “inspired” I was feeling, and other useful lessons that strengthened my craft.


2. The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud


This unique YA fantasy series inspired me to use the concept of planes of existence in a lot of my fantasy stories. I also entered a period where demons kept popping up the stories I wrote, to the point where I banned myself from including demons to force myself to be more creative with my invented mythologies.


3. The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy


I can’t honestly say that I really enjoyed this book while I was reading it for English class in high school. However, months later it got me really thinking about my life and whether I was choosing the path that I really wanted or trying to live the “ideal” life that others expect of me.


4. Happy Ever After by Matt Shaw

Happy Ever After

Besides introducing me to one of my favorite authors, Happy Ever After was one of the first books I got on my Kindle. After I explored more of the author’s work and delved further into the sea of indie books published for Kindle, I considered the possibility of using KDP to launch my writing career. A little over a year later, here I am!


5. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell


I thought Cloud Atlas was an excellent example of how diverse one author could be with writing style, as well as a lesson in how to create intersecting narratives. Made me raise the bar on my own writing standards.


6. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

House of Leaves

I have so much love for this book that I barely know where to begin. Similar to what Cloud Atlas did for narrative voice, House of Leaves illustrated how creative and experimental I could get with my writing, and encouraged me to try new forms of storytelling.


7. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Fairies by Anna Franklin


One of the most beautiful books I have ever read. Flipping through its descriptions or pictures of fairy-tale creatures from around the world sparked my imagination and interest in mythology, which would later feed into my creativity when I started writing stories. 


8. Rise of the Machines by Kristen Lamb

Rise of the Machines

This is the book that I read the most recently. Rise of the Machines made me rethink my author platform and how I used social media. I recommend this book to any aspiring or current authors, especially if you’re taking the indie route. I discussed more of the benefits I gleaned from this book in a previous post.


9. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets


Why not start with the Sorcerer’s (or Philosopher’s) Stone? I only got into Harry Potter after I saw the first movie in theaters. From there, I figured that I could jump right into the next book in the series, where I subsequently became obsessed with all things Harry Potter. Plus, JK Rowling continues to inspire me.


10. Sandman by Neil Gaiman


I picked up The Sandman on a whim from my local library, and soon found myself addicted. This beautifully illustrated and written series introduced me to the world of graphic novels.


Which books have left a surprising impact on you? Tell me in the comments!

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