If there’s one pastime that my generation needs to do more of, its reading (at least in my humble opinion). I remember as a kid, before the smartphone age, I would stay up hours upon hours at night after my bedtime with a little light underneath my covers so I could finish the chapter I was reading without my Dad seeing I was still awake. And for those of you in older generations who were fortunate enough to experience life before the Electronic Age, you undoubtedly have similar memories yourselves.
So in spirit of my desire to rekindle the intake of literature, I’d like to offer up some titles that not only inspired me as a writer, but influenced me as a person on one level or another.
- The Giver, Lois Lowry
- This is probably the most unforgettable book I’ve ever read. My recollection of the day my brother came into my room telling me how cool it was will never escape my memory warehouse. I was in 4th grade (Mrs. Bone’s class), and immediately starting reading it once Stephen had finished. Hollywood actually made a movie adaptation which I’ve still yet to see, but to this day I honestly think The Giver might have contributed to why I view government and the Social Control theory so seriously. If you aren’t familiar with the premise, its a fascinating story about a society that has been augmented into a state of “sameness” – where emotional feeling has been stripped from our culture. The memories of how society functioned previously has been wiped from our thoughts, and known only to “The Receiver of Memory”, a role communally assigned to an individual who knows the truth about our past. If you haven’t read it, you should.
- The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli
- Before you raise an eyebrow at this, hear me out. The reason I like Machiavelli’s writing is because he’s brilliantly strategic with his assertions. Yes, he’s a bit cold-hearted, but you can’t deny the intellect in this manuscript. I like his ability to objectively view things, putting emotion aside. That’s not how I am personally, but I still can’t deny that this is an incredibly well written artwork.
- Lord of the Flies, William Golding
- Of course this would be on the list. I’m sure anyone who’s gone through public school in the past half century is familiar with this book. Golding does an outstanding job of critiquing society via symbolism in LOTF, with the children gradually falling into barbarism in their isolation.
- Harry Potter(s), J.K. Rowling
- I probably don’t need to elaborate here since HP has been a part of pretty much everyone’s life. JK Rowling wrote an absolutely brilliant story, simple as that. One thing I would note though, is that if you haven’t looked into what the underlying themes were, you should. She buried some great messages in the books that probably got overlooked by many.
- Aesop’s Fables
- Classics. These stories compose moral dilemmas and basic ethics. The symbolism within them is fascinating, and the sheer creativity of the writer(s) is incredible. Everyone should read these during their childhood.
- The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown
- I couldn’t not put this on here. Brown achieves a mainstream interpretation on the typically “conspiracy-theorist” topic of alternative religious history. Granted, its all fiction, but its still a very well-told story and extremely thought-provoking. Its predecessor, Angels & Demons, is a good read as well that pokes into the world of the Illuminati.
- Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White
- This book influenced me in that it made me understand how symbolism works. Not only that, but other literary styles as well. Basic personification, which is abundant in this book, rubbed off on me. Not to mention its a great story!
- A Song of Ice and Fire, George R.R. Martin
- Another epic anthology. Martin’s ability to bounce from one character’s perspective to another is amazing, and definitely provided some guidance on how I wrote Continuity. Making sure you stay consistent with characters is important, and this story has been just that. Its a great nod to the fantasy realm.
There are many more books that I could go on and on about, but these are just a few to get started. If you’re ever looking for something to occupy yourself with on an idle weekend, I would suggest checking these out.