whim: an odd or capricious notion or desire; a sudden or freakish fancy

Friday, January 3, 2014

challenge: most influential books of my life

One of my dear friends, Shaina, challenged me to come up with a top ten list of the best/most influential books in my life, and I can't help but make an attempt. It's really hard, though. First of all, I've got to figure out what "influential" means in this context. I'm thinking of books that have evoked the strongest emotions, books that have really stayed with me, that were revolutionary in some way. Books I think about a lot. Also, books that have influenced my own writing.

Also, I'm finding it impossible to come up with only ten, so I've broken it up into two lists: most groundbreaking FICTION and most groundbreaking NONFICTION (sorry, poetry and drama. you haven't made it yet).

Here goes:

Top Ten Fiction (in no particular order):

1. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
2. Persuasion, Jane Austen
3. Gilead, Marilynne Robinson
4. Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
5. Fairy Tales of the Brother Grimm
6. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
7. Anne of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
8. The Princess Bride, William Goldman
9. Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
10. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
Bonus: The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath

Top Ten Nonfiction (in no particular order):

1. The Art of the Personal Essay, ed. Phillip Lopate
2. Essays of Elia, Charles Lamb
3. Dreamthorp, Alexander Smith
4. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard
5. Leaping, Brian Doyle
6. Words of the Grey Wind, Chris Arthur
7. Quotidiana, Patrick Madden
8. The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien
9. On Tremendous Trifles, GK Chesterton
10. The Wet Collection, Joni Tevis
Bonus: At Large and at Small: Familiar Essays, Anne Fadiman

(I know, I know, I totally cheated with the bonuses. So, combining the lists and including the bonuses, this is the Top 22 Most Influential Books of My Life. Ah well.)