Clearly, I’m still very new to this book blogging thing. Although I have always talked extremely volubly about books to pretty well anyone who would listen, and even wrote reviews and thoughts down in my journal, trying to summarise and consolidate my thoughts into a format that is appropriate for strangers on the internet to read is an entirely new thing.
With this in mind, I’ve been reading a lot of blogs and watching a lot of booktube. It was actually discovering booktube that made me consider starting this blog. I can’t start a vlog or participate properly in booktube, because I have a forward-facing job role and I’m therefore not comfortable having my face and opinions all over the internet. However, I still love the idea and wanted to try and participate as best I can. As a teenager (and occasionally now, too) I read and wrote fanfiction and loved being part of a thriving online community that had sprung up around the written word. Booktube is a fantastic celebration of fiction and I have already added about thirty books to my ‘must read’ list as a result of passionate, enthusiastic reviews. (Links of some new favourite youtube channels will be at the bottom of this post).
Whilst perusing booktube, I came across a few tags that were interesting, particularly the ‘10 most influential books’ one. Obviously, no-one is going to tag me because I’m not a booktuber, but I figured it was still a worthwhile thought exercise. The vlog rules were pretty self-explanatory—list 10 books that have been influential in your life without going into details as to why—but I’m not a vlogger, I’m a blogger, so I’ve cheated a bit. Each book will be accompanied by a one sentence description of why it was influential. Even that required oodles of self-control, I assure you! Spoilers for Tenant of Wildfell Hall, no others.
In no particular order:
1. Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding
Made me much less of a snob about rom coms (I’m still a bit of a snob but not as bad as I was).
2. Middlemarch by George Eliot
You can see my thoughts on this in the post ‘Favourites’ so I won’t go into detail here.
3. Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein
Not just because it’s one of my favourite series—this was influential because it was the book that got me started writing (awful) fanfiction and participating in online communities, something that was a source of great pleasure for me during an otherwise pretty unpleasant adolescence.
4. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë
This book showed me that you can leave an abusive partner without being unloving or ungodly. Yeah. It was kind of an important one.
5. P.S. Longer Letter Later by Paula Danziger and Ann M Martin
I have been fascinated with epistolary fiction for years and I think this probably started the obsession off.
6. The Queen and I by Sue Townsend
Showed me that it’s perfectly possible—and commendable—to raise serious issues with the use of excellent humour.
7. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
I never liked whodunnits when I was growing up, but I bought this a few years ago at the urging of a friend and, since my introduction to Agatha Christie, I’ve probably read more crime fiction than any other genre.
8. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
As a small child, I escaped to Narnia every time I was sad. As an adult, I still do this a lot.
9. The Lady of Shalott by Alfred Lord Tennyson
A teacher allowed me to borrow her copy of this when I was eight or so; it was impossibly beautiful, and illustrated, and I loved the way that the words created natural cadence and tempo in my mind as I read them—I think this was when I fell in love with poetry*.
10. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
As a teenager I was painfully, incurably (so it seemed) and indescribably shy—seeing Fanny Price, Austen’s quietly moral, slightly priggish, and highly introverted heroine come out trumps in the end was one of the things that gave me hope.
Okay, those are actually the most influential works of fiction. I left out non-fiction because then you have the debate about whether the Bible counts as one book or 66, not to mention trying to figure out whether Tim Keller’s The Reason for God or C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity deserves to be on the list as ‘best introduction to apologetics’. You’d have to listen to me rambling on about She-Wolves by Helen Castor as well. Maybe that’s a list for another day.
If I reread some of the books on this list now, I might not even like them—but they opened up new avenues for me, whether literary or personal, so they deserve to be on the list even if they make me blush a bit!
*I was a pretty pretentious eight-year-old, I’ll grant you, but it’s a true story. I spilt hot chocolate on the book and my lovely teacher didn’t even tell me off when I returned it.
The video that gave me this idea was:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRIDhwD2i8g by PeruseProject
and the original tag is by
read susie read https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQ7s2ydeFmM
As I explore booktube more thoroughly, I’m sure I’ll have more recommendations!