Some people with some time on their hands searched Facebook for everyone’s lists of ten influential books/books that stayed with them, then compiled the top twenty. I’m pleased to say that not a single one of my ten books of influence made the top list. I’ve read most of the books on the list (16/20) but none is in my books of influence list.
Are you one of the mob? Or do you stand alone?
Ten Influential Books:
My friend Slick tagged me on her list of 10 influential books. Slick managed to squeeze in 12 or so by using letters with some numbers. I have kept it to ten. I’m not sure these are THE ten, but they are the ten that I can think of right now. I’ve avoided putting the Bible first; take that as underlying the rest – possibly it is the zeroth entry. I am, after all, a PK who could recite Luke 2 (King James Version) from a very early age. (The recitation of Luke 2 is an excellent Christmas party trick. My RABrother pulls it out from time to time.)
- The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis: Gateway Narnia book for me.
- The Gauntlet by Ronald Welch: Time travel is a (fictional) possibility. Time Travel!
- And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie: First grown-up mystery book I read, assigned reading in Grade 10, got me hooked on mysteries for good.
- Loving God by Charles Colson: First venture into reading Christian theology-type books.
- Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood: Hmm, literary fiction is interesting – Canadian literary fiction no less.
- The Call of Stories by Robert Coles: Pulled together a theory I had lurking in my head about teaching and stories. I’d tried something with science fiction when teaching high school physics, and reading Coles convinced me I was on to something.
- The Book of Margery Kempe by Margery Kempe: Writing a paper on Kempe convinced me that I could be a scholar. It also got me into the women.
- Possession by A.S. Byatt: I connect with this book. It is the Best Book Ever – IMHO, of course.
- Mystical Paths by Susan Howatch: I also connect with this book, in a different way than Possession, but definitely there are connections.
- Room by Emma Donoghue: This book is so interesting and suspenseful and it was also the first book 1Mom passed me to read. We both thought it was great.
What are your ten influential books? What do you mean by influence?
I have been pondering the world-changing nature of the Harry Potter books, thus the way their author has changed the world. Fifteen years ago none of us had ever heard of Hogwarts, Diagon Alley, Quidditch, Potter, or Voldemort. Now these are a part of our culture in a way which is rare for things that come from a children’s book series. Three pieces of evidence for the way all things Potter are embedded in our culture:
1. I have seen a bumper sticker in my neighbourhood on a car with South Carolina plates that says “Republicans for Voldemort.”
2. Yesterday afternoon I saw a Quidditch practice outside Trinity College on the University of Toronto campus. Yes, university students were running around holding broomsticks between their legs.
3. The Thursday Next novel I am reading is set in Bookworld where everyone is a fictional character, so it isn’t too surprising that Potter is mentioned. It made me laugh though, so I will share. Thursday describes the way reader feedback shapes the way characters look in Bookworld. Harry Potter was annoyed that he had to spend the rest of his life looking like Daniel Radcliffe. Out here in the Real World, I am pretty sure the reverse is also true!
I can’t think of another set of fiction books which is so influential over a variety of aspects of our current culture. Can you?
On the Fourth of July I saw a list of 88 books that shaped America from the Library of Congress. I think the librarians of Congress have got a good list going here. I appreciate the inclusion of books for all ages (Where the Wild Things Are is on the list), and books from the past and the present. There are cookbooks too, a reminder of the many ways books influence us. I count 20 women authors on the list – of course I counted, what did you expect? – which is quite respectable.
What are your thoughts on the list?