As someone who has been a reader my entire life, I've ready more books than I can remember. Some of them were light reads for fun, some mandatory for school, and some challenging works that made me think. I can't recall every book I've ever read, but I do remember those who somehow shaped me, whether as a person or as a reader.
Here is my list of the top ten most influential books:
1. The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss
This is the first book that I read all by myself, when I was four-years old, and I had it completely memorized. Even now, at twenty-six, I can still recite the first few pages. It was just so fun, and I read it to anyone I could any time the opportunity presented itself.
2. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (specifically Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)
I am one of the blessed who grew up while the Harry Potter series was being written. I was ten when The Sorcerer's Stone was released, and I had The Deathly Hallows delivered to my college dorm when I was nineteen. I had enjoyed reading before, but Harry Potter was the first series that I was insane for. I remember that impatient anticipation as a book release date drew near, the joy of getting the new book, and the hours curled up on the couch, drinking in every word. When I think of my childhood, I think of Harry Potter.
3. The Green Mile by Stephen King
Stephen King was my first foray into both adult fiction and horror. I felt so rebellious reading his books, but I loved his characters and the way his stories slowly unfold, revealing how interconnected each character and situation is. Til this day, he is one of my favorite authors. And The Green Mile moved me in ways no children's book had previously.
4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I am one of those people who loves to read unless the reading is mandatory. Then I can't stand the book or the act. Pride and Prejudice was the one exception to the rule, and it was the first classic I really enjoyed and connected to. I, like so many other women, fell in love with Darcy and modeled myself after Lizzie. Austen's writing opened me up to so many other classics, as well as romance.
5. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
Any time my life goes through a dramatic change, I pull this book out. I first read this when I was seventeen, and the two main characters search for truth was such a reflection of my inner reality that this book spoke to me in ways no other work had previously. It always reminds me to stop anxiously looking for answers because they always get revealed in God's perfect timing.
6. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange
After I first read this poem, I carried this book around in my purse for months, just pouring over the words and letting new meaning shift to the surface. It connected to me as a woman and as a person of colour. It was one of the first works I read that introduced me to the literature of the minority and made me realize how much I wanted to read multicultural works.
7. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
In my early twenties, I thought Jack Kerouac was my time-crossed soul mate. His words reflected my heart and my thoughts. I wanted to live the way he did and be as free as he seemed. Reading On the Road was like reading my diary of adventures I wanted to have. Even now, when I read his quotes, part of me sets aflame.
8. Silence by Shusaku Endo
During my sophomore year of college, I took an Asian literature class, and this is the first book we read. It was the catalyst for my obsession with Asian lit. Not only did it speak to me on a cultural level, but it challenged my spirituality.
9. A Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George
This is the first Christian book I read after I returned to church. A woman who didn't know me well gave it to me, and it just completely changed the way I viewed my role as a woman and as a wife. It really educated me about the Scriptural woman and helped me to shed my ignorant views of gender roles.
10. The Holy Bible
As an adult, there is no other book that has had more influence on me than the Bible. I've read it four times now, and every time it speaks to me in new ways. I never leave its pages unchanged.
These are the books that have shaped me the most. I'd love to know which books have made you who you are. Please leave your titles in the comments, as well as any other thoughts you may have.