In honour of World Book Day (yesterday), I thought I’d write up a special blog post about five of the most influential books I have read. This is completely subjective. I’m not stating these are the top five influential books of all time, only that of all the books I have read these five have made the biggest impact on MY life. I have read a number of books in my 21 years and all stories have their own small impacts regarding how I see people and the world. So, in making this list, you might gain a bit of knowledge of who I am and how I live my life.
I would like to try and avoid making this sound like a Creative writing journey post, so I will focus on how these books have influenced my life in general rather than write too much about their impact in my writing. However, one of the books listed here will be the subject of a Creative writing journey post. Therefore, I'll have to dabble in it a little bit. Nonetheless, I want this to focus purely on the books because we are celebrating World Book Day! Also, before I begin going through my list, I want to emphasise that although these books have been the most influential they are not my 'favourite' books. That's another blog post in itself (although you'll be disappointed to know that I don't really have a favourite book).
Anyway, let's countdown my top 5 most influential books!
5. Mage's Blood by David Hair (from The Moontide Quartet series)
When I first started reading this book, I fell in love with the way it was written and how it was structured. I immediately felt connected with the range of characters and I never felt bored by any perspective. I'll be honest, the whole series was very influential for me because within the perspectives came different ideas, issues and opinions that I hadn't considered regarding certain topics. I still can't believe how many social issues this book highlights to the reader and I'd like to think that anyone who reads this series is left with a lot to think about regarding their life choices and opinions.
All in all, this book began a wonderful journey that opened me up to different opinions and educated me on topics more than I could have imagined. It's odd to think that a story based around fantasy could have such an impact in that was but if you read it, you'll understand (I hope!).
4. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
I read this book back in Year 12 as part of an assignment where I had to compare and contrast it to 1984 by George Orwell. Both books are powerful pieces of literature. However, Burgess's text really stuck with me. I've always been fascinated by language and the power it has in every day life (hence my study in linguistics). This book really highlighted this power and how it can change the way you perceive something. The use of the fictional language Nadsat blending together with English (or any other language you read the book in) blocks how devastating the characters actions are.
You are too busy trying to translate that you become unaware of the gruesome violence that is occurring. Then, as you get further in you start to feel pretty chuffed with yourself because you're getting the hang of it... and yet you feel that way in the midst of a character being tortured and brainwashed.
Yeah, it really shows how powerful language can be. Therefore, it really influenced me getting into linguistics as I have.
3. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
This book was the first classic I read. I couldn't believe how beautifully written it was and how it stole my heart. I was inspired by Elizabeth's sharp mind and independence, which really shaped me in high school. I read this book when I was in Year 10, so I was right in the middle of my secondary schooling and my journey of self-discovery. It was a difficult book to read because of the language, tone and structure. However, I did get used to it and pushed through. I am glad I did. The portrayal of the characters and the passion, tradition, love and strength resonated with me.
Elizabeth became a character I aspired to be. Her ability to stand her ground and not bend to the will of tradition shaped me to who I am today.
2. Best Loved Bear by Diana Noonan
You probably didn't expect a children's picture book on this list! However, this is such a beautiful tale. It think it's still my mum's favourite book! A story of a boy who is ashamed of putting his favourite teddy bear up in a competition for the best loved bear but is rewarded the top prize because the worn-out qualities of this bear show how evidently loved it is. My eyes are welling up with tears thinking about it! This book has always had a special place in my heart because of the messages it taught me. 1) Appearance doesn't matter and 2) even when it seems like you won't get what you want or win the top prize, you never know what is going to happen!
And here it comes, the number one most influential book in my life... drum roll...
1. Into the Wild by Erin Hunter (from the Warriors series)
Another book classified as children's fiction! This book really kicked off a lot for me. I discovered this book on accident in primary school and my whole life has been rocked since then. If it wasn't for the fateful day where I noticed a cute picture along the spine of the book that was slightly hidden on a shelf, I don't think I'd be sitting here running this very blog! Into the Wild and the whole Warriors series became an obsession of mine. It was so hard for me to get my hands on them in Adelaide. However, after all these years, I now have most of them (one day, I will have ALL of them).
No matter how old I am, I will always love this series. However, this book is particularly influential not just because it kicked off my obsession and addiction to reading and writing (more on that in another post) but because of the themes and topics that arise in it that are so important for people to learn! This story is about a house cat who is drawn into the wild where it is rumoured stray cats live together in clans, hunt for food and fight with other clans for territory and power. Without getting into too much detail, he becomes part of a clan but is ridiculed and segregated because he is what they call a 'kittypet'. All because of where he is born and raised, he will never be truly accepted unless he goes above and beyond for his clan mates.
This lesson to persevere no matter how much of a struggle it is to do so has always been my mantra through life. I am always determined to do my best and work hard to get to where I want to be. Then, there are the lessons in acceptance, recognising love and the pain of sacrifice. For a children's series, it hits you hard!
And that's it! My top 5 most influential books. I'm sure you've learnt a bit more about who I am as a person after reading this!
What book/s would you count as most influential to you? Let me know as I'm curious to see!
and finally, Happy World Book Day!
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Charlotte is a reading and writing lover who has completed a creative writing intensive course at the University of Oxford and is a current university student studying a double degree in journalism and creative writing. If you are curious to learn more, check out the 'About' page.