The five books that have impacted my life the most. Well, as someone who lives and dies by the written word, that’s going to be a tough one to offer up– but I’m going to make a valiant attempt anyway!
Fruits Basket, by Natsuki Takaya
Can I count a manga series as a book? This is the one that immediately comes to mind when I’m asked about things that have changed my life. It’s just the most amazing book ever– full of wisdom and life lessons behind the amazing stories, and I find some new wisdom that’s applicable to my life every time I read it. The characters go through all kinds of insanity as the story continues, and it affects them all differently– and it’s in watching how it affects them that it becomes okay for our lives to affect us, alongside the insights that offer things to think about.
The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron
This one isn’t fiction, but is a workbook for developing creativity. The odd thing is that it seems to work– I’m not actually all that far into it at the moment and it’s already completely changed my life. The habits that book instilled in me are the reason I’m here blogging for you all now, and the reason I’m starting to actually make progress on my novel again. It’s a book that makes me want to write, want to do, and believe that things really are possible.
Celeste, by K. T. Pinto
This was presented to me as erotica and purchased for me by someone intent on introducing me to the concept. I think he was surprised when I came back with “It’s a great story, but this isn’t erotic!” It’s not a change-my-life in the way of Fruits Basket, though. It’s a lovely, fun story, but it’s not full of great wisdom and it’s not supposed to be. Its impact on my life was as much timing as anything else– here was a book utterly unlike anything I’d ever read before, utterly unlike most mainstream fiction, completely alien to me… and it was the first one in that genre of “weird small-press fantasy” that I ever touched. And it is weird by mainstream standards– but that’s okay. It’s fun, too, and it was my first attempt at broadening my mind and stepping out of my comfort zone.
Bright Lights, Big City, by Jay McInerney
This book is another one that’s weird. And it’s all in second person, so it really gets you into the heads of the characters, or at least the narrator. I think that’s ultimately to its benefit, because it produces some fascinating thought processes. Its impact on me was another round of “this is utterly unlike anything I have ever read.” I think it was also my first attempt at being motivated to go find a book I’d heard about on a TV show– it features in an early episode of CSI: NY. It’s a story of self-destruction, but it also hints that you can come back from that self-destruction at the end, and highlights the importance of spending time around sane, rational people– the real world means something, and it’s easy to lose track. Far too easy.
The Spiral Dance, by Starhawk
This is the book I keep coming back to and beginning again in my study of Wicca, because I’m aware that there is so much power in this book. It has the power to completely change you if you only put the proper time and dedication into doing all the exercises one by one. (Well, I’m skipping the group ones because I don’t have a group, but solitary ones are the majority.) This is as close as I’ve found to a text that you can, with very little preexisting basic knowledge, take up and use to build yourself a craft. Until someone actually produces a proper 201 book, just go through here, reading it and spending three days or so on each exercise when you come to it– longer if that exercise feels right. The book keeps changing me.