We all have them — those books that leave half our hearts inside of paper pages. Those books that, when we finish, we can’t imagine reading anything else. Ever. Those books that somehow turn our emotions into vapored ink.
I wanted to share six books/series (aside from the Bible) that did this to me. Because, if we all share six (or even one!) books/series that affected us in that way, then maybe we’ll spread some deeper emotions and vulnerability into the world.
As a teenager: The Harry Potter Series, by J. K. Rowling
My imagination would still be a dull slab of limited dreams if I hadn’t read the Harry Potter books. They taught me what it was to have an imagination so big, I could create an entire world.
As a christian: The Mark of the Lion Trilogy, by Francine Rivers
These books. Wow…these books. Just read them. They awoke the zeal inside me to be a fiery daughter of Christ. Powerful stories make me want to make them my own. And watching the main character, Hadassah, love and sacrifice in the passionate way God calls us to do, left my jaw on the linoleum. I picked it back up and decided to be serious about my faith.
As a reader who’d never touched christian fantasy before: Blood of Kings Trilogy, by Jill Williamson
Apart from the Narnia books, this was my first taste of Christian speculative fiction. It was powerful. I found myself thinking more about my relationship with God outside of reading. It grew my spiritual intentionality and made me want to write books that might affect others in a similar way.
As a world-building dystopian nerd: Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
Aside from the excessive swearing and long chunks of 80’s trivia, this book blew my mind. It was a great reminder that we need to live the lives we’re given instead of living vicariously through books, virtual worlds, or the lives of others. I understood world-building before this, but not necessarily virtual world building. It’s been two months since I read it, and I still feel like I’m just waiting to put on my gloves and headset to get back into the Oasis.
As a skeptic: Cinder, by Marissa Meyer
Science-fiction dystopian fairytale re-telling in futuristic China. Yeah, that’s what I thought, too, when I first read the description. What? If my sister hadn’t clobbered me over the head with demands, I never would have read this book. It’s incredible. It taught me that even a cliche storyline (i.e. Cinderella) could be done in a unique, emotion-stirring way.
As a bookworm who’d never heard the term dystopian before: The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
Come on, I write dystopian. Of course this was going to be on my list! I picked it up as a favor to my sister (yes, the same one who clobbered me over the head with Cinder. I owe a lot of my good reads to her.) Eight hours later, still in the same fluffy Barnes & Noble chair, I finished it and purchased the entire series.
I never understood a dystopian world or genre before. The Hunger Games made me want to explore worlds like that, seek meaning in them, and find power that motivates active living. So I started writing A Time to Die. It also made me want to live a life that fought for something I believed in. That great adventure that rests inside all of us.
Books are powerful, no matter the genre. They can move you. This is just a portion — mainly the speculative fiction portion — of the books that changed my life, my thinking, my writing, my dreaming. Now it’s your turn.
What books changed you? I want to read them. 🙂