This week's blog chain is brought to us by the writer, Kate, who wants to talk about one of the most important things to a writer: Reading.
What books have influenced you? This can be books that influenced you as a writer, or simply books that touched you as a human being. If you want to talk about one book, a top three, ten, or even twenty go right ahead.
Books that have influenced me?
Oh, geez, you've just brought this topic to a girl who memorized "Green Eggs & Ham" when she was eight years old. I mean, gosh, I would read books in a box or with a fox. I would read books on a train and in a tree because I love them. Can't you see?
My dad had a story book from his youth that I think influenced my love for the emotion of storytelling. I remembered the sadness I felt when "Bongo, the Circus Bear" had to sleep on the cold ground.
From there, I was hooked. I spent my childhood with Judy Blume's "Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing" and "Superfudge" on my nightstand. As I got a little older, I ventured into her more grown up stories like "Are You There God. . .?" and "Tiger Eyes." (Tiger Eyes is still one of my favorites.)
When I got into high school, my mother turned me to romance novels by LaVyrle Spencer. I love "Bittersweet" because of the plot twists. (But I never quite understood my mom's fascination with Danielle Steele. I just don't get it.)
Mr. Bivens, my high school English teacher, helped me cultivate a love for classics like "Tom Sawyer" and "To Kill a Mockingbird" and really weird short stories, like "A Rose for Emily." And Miss Rood, my English lit teacher, pointed me toward Shakespeare and Chaucer.
After I became a wife and mom, I found little time to delve into a great book. It seemed once I tried, other priorities pulled me away.
Then I found Alice Sebold's "The Lovely Bones" and the myriad of gems written by Jodi Picoult. ("The Pact" = awesome) and slowly rediscovered my ability to lose myself in a good, emotional story. One of my favorite Christian novels is "Watching the Tree Limbs" by Mary DeMuth (if you like To Kill a Mockingbird, you'd like this story). I want to make my stories sing like these three authors.
But no matter how many books I read, I doubt I will ever find one that has a more profound influence than one that I read when I was only about 9. After watching a Reading Rainbow feature on "Bridge to Terabithia" one afternoon, I rushed to the library to check it out. Reading Rainbow never told us which one of the characters died, but my classmates and I knew either Jess or Leslie wouldn't survive to the end of the book.
I had to know.
Honestly, I've never cried so hard at a book in my entire life. I doubt I ever will again. After reading Katherine Paterson's masterpiece, I decided that someday I wanted to write something as compelling as "Bridge."
Hopefully someday I will.