This is my second blog in the MFRW 52-week blog challenge.
In conversation years ago with one of the executives where I worked, that executive showed me a book and mentioned its importance to her, its influence on her life. "How is that?" I asked. Her answer: "It convinced me to divorce my husband."
I was floored. Until then, I'd not thought any book could have such a dramatic effect on someone's life or could so strongly influence someone's decisions. I'm glad to say I have never been so influenced by any book as to divorce my husband or make another such momentous decision.
However, that doesn't mean books haven't influenced me.
I learned witty repartee and succinct dialogue from Dick Francis and Robert B. Parker. I learned how to write engrossing scenes of intimacy from Nora Roberts, Jayne Ann Krentz, and Christine Feehan. I learned how to inject gently sardonic, wry humor into my characters from Robin McKinley. I learned epic awesomeness from Guy Gavriel Kay, David Eddings, and Robin Hobb. And I learned what not to do from countless other authors whose writing made me cringe.
But to name one specific book that influenced my life? I can't. I can name books that I've read and reread, which obviously means they meant something to me beyond, "Hey, that's a good story." Something about those books moved me. I found something new in them each time I reread one. Their influence did not convince me to make decisions that held great impact on my life; their influence was subtle.
In their unique ways, those books taught me the elements of good writing. Some might dismiss those authors because they write (or wrote, considering some of them are deceased) commercially successful fiction. Success has no bearing on whether the writing is good. A lot of poorly written books hit the bestseller lists. Fifty Shades of Grey, anyone?
So, what book influenced me the most? Those interested in spiritual welfare and character would expect me to name a religious text. Others might think that an instructional guide, such as Stephen King's On Writing or the iconic Elements of Style by E. B. White, deserve that honor--me being a writer and everything. But, if I have to assign a "most influential" award to a single title, I suppose it would have to go to Beauty by Robin McKinley, the most reread book in my personal library.
With deft skill and tact and gentle humor, McKinley breathes new life into an oft-repeated fairy tale that no Disney movie can touch. She imbues her characters with vivid imagery and depth of character without resorting to mind-numbing information dumps or paragraph upon paragraph of boring description. The writing touches upon the lyrical; the reader can almost hear the protagonist speaking. This is the evocative, eloquent level of writing to which I aspire.
I think I came close in The Falcon of Imenotash.
2/2/2018 11:39:55 am
interesting post and collection of books
2/2/2018 01:11:43 pm
Yes, it is. I find many of the participating authors' choices unexpected, which is refreshing.
2/2/2018 03:40:05 pm
Wow, I can't imagine divorcing someone because of a book, but you sure hooked me with that opening, lol. On the other hand, it's pretty cool when someone's writing speaks to you, as Robin McKinley's does to you.
2/2/2018 03:56:00 pm
I've found the blogs on this topic interesting and not at all what I expected. I found comics, 1970s bodice ripper romances, and children's literature.
2/7/2018 11:14:56 am
I've read most of her books, even though they're usually marketed to the YA crowd. Her writing captures me like no other author's.
2/2/2018 05:56:34 pm
I'll have to finally read Beauty.
2/3/2018 01:45:17 pm
Overall, it's a gentle story. Just lovely.
2/2/2018 11:54:53 pm
Like you, I had a hard time choosing one. Reading yours and others' posts, though, I've thought of one that helped me through the confusing years of late adolescence, when I was trying to figure out who I was: Stand on Zanzibar, by John Brunner. At the time, this sci fi book seemed profound. I made the mistake of rereading it as an adult, though, and I couldn't imagine what I ever saw in it.
2/7/2018 11:16:42 am
It amazes me how many of the books that spoke to us so strongly decades ago now have so little appeal. Perhaps we should leave those books in the past so they don't lose their luster.
2/3/2018 07:44:36 pm
I'm finding all types of books that sound intriguing while reading each person's blog. I'm adding Beauty by Robin McKinley to my list. Great post.
2/7/2018 11:13:00 am
Thank you. No matter how many times I read that book, I always find something new.
2/7/2018 11:13:33 am
You could do a lot worse than take King's words to heart.
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