Everyone was doing this about a month ago, but I never got around to it.
It’s a fun meme: list the 10 books that have most influenced you, the 10 that first come to mind, not the list of 10 you might carefully craft to show the world. Unfortunately, taking the meme as it suggests, I’m feeling a little bit embarrassed right now. Ah well. It would seem I’m influenced entirely by what I read up till about 23.
1. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Can’t really get past this one. Mum had an audiobook and it was played on long trips as kids. Living quite far from the nearest city, we took a lot of long trips.
2. Dragonsong/Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey
Again, handed to me as a bored child on a holiday. I hated swimming (the primary activity when your summers involve going to beaches). McCaffrey has her terrible moments, but she created fascinating worlds.
3. The Word for World is Forest by Ursula Le Guin
Addictive. Beautiful in the way Le Guin’s writing is. I’ve heard it described as what Avatar should have been, which is right, but that undersells it horribly.
4. The Book of Earth (The Dragon Quartet) by Marjorie Kellogg
This one is utterly terrible and awful in pretty much every way by my standards now.
The reason it’s on this list is entirely that when I was about 13, I read this book in the school library, and promptly forgot what it was called or where I’d grabbed it. And it very, very obviously lead into a sequel.
So it’s on the list because it kinda stuck in the back of my mind til I was about 25, when I was at a secondhand book sale and found another copy of it. It did not live up to expectations, but at least I learned what happened.
5. Deverry Cycle series by Katherine Kerr
I chewed through these in high school. They’re still quite high fantasy in the sense of Tolkien, but Kerr showed me that stories could centre around women as well as men. With an introduction to the ideas of reincarnation and magic, it matched the little New Age Hippie I was at the time.
Also I really really liked the elves.
6. How To Suppress Women’s Writing by Joanna Russ
It was a toss up between The Female Man and this. I chose this book. It’s not the one that made me cry, but it’s the one that helped me understand and conceptualise a lot of points I’d kind of been aware of, noticed, but had not been able to express or clarify to myself.
Also, omg powerful book jesus christ.
7. The Queen Of Erewhon by Lucy Sussex
A short story rather than a book, but one that was incredibly powerful and a huge influence on me. I nag everyone on the planet to read it whenever given the chance.
8. Secret Six by Gail Simone
Fucking hilarious, and full of characters I just love. It also introduced me to Simone’s amazing writing and made me fall in love with characters I never thought for the life of me I could be interested in.
9. The Authority by Warren Ellis
I still really really really want to be Jenny Sparks when I grow up. Nothing really deep here, just Jenny is amazing.
10. The Hiketeia by Greg Rucka
The first comic I ever read that made me appreciate how Wonder Woman could be awesome and cut through bullshit rather than being the stuck-up bitch I was used to seeing as a side character in other comics.
The art is shitty but I have to love it for that.