(in no particular order of preference)
4. The Man by Irving Wallace. I read this when I was 13 and I think it still stands up today. And when you consider the book is about the first black man becoming President of the United States and covered all sorts of political and social issues, and I was a 13 year old white Canadian girl – you realize he wrote an incredibly interesting novel to hold my attention and make it a favourite.
5. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I just picked up this series last year, and promptly sent hubby out on a mission to find the rest – which he snagged at a used book shop. And I’ve since worn out the original Outlander and Drums of Autumn and had to replace them. I love Jamie, and the premise/world Gabaldon has created … although I must admit that I didn’t like Dragonfly in Amber as much, I don’t like Brianna, and by the time I got to the end of Breath of Snow and Ashes, I don’t like Claire anymore either. Such a pity. But this first one is great and will stay on my ‘keeper’ shelf.
6. Hard Truth by Nevada Barr. A recent discovery recommended by a friend who knew I like Sue Grafton novels. Hard Truth is the latest of Nevada’s Anna Pigeon novels. I’ve gone back and read the first two in the series and they’re equally spectacular — intriguing plot, quirky characters who are ALL suspects. As soon as I’m done the first draft of my story, I’ve promised myself time to read Nevada’s third novel in the series.
7. Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy. They seek him here, they seek him there, those Frenchies seek him everywhere … I adored the Scarlet Pimpernel from the moment I picked up the book on the bus. It was a ‘required reading’ novel in a different English program than the one I was taking, but I was bored on the hour long bus ride home and picked up a friend’s copy and started reading it. Finished it on the way to school the next day. A few years later I saw the 1930’s film version with Leslie Howard and Merle Oberon. And fell in love again! It, and Victoria Holt novels, began my lifelong love of historical romances.
8. Chrysalids by John Wyndham A required reading novel from my grade nine English class, but it really introduced me to a love of fantasy and sci-fi. The ultimate what-if novel, along with a consistent theme with my writing about social interactions with people who are ‘different’ from the norm. I loved it so much when my kids were old enough to read it, I went out and found a copy at the ‘Half Price Books’ store and it’s now on my keeper shelf.
9. Richard III by Shakespeare. Great grade 11 required reading that really inspired my love of Shakespeare. Don’t get me wrong, I like the others I’d read before too, but Richard III introduced the concept to me that ‘History is written by the victor’. I got so inspired by the story that I actually approached my English teacher and asked for extra assignments. Ok, I was a geek, but I loved that tale and all its intrigue.
10. Rising Tides by Nora Roberts. This hasn’t influenced as such, but it’s one of those memorable tales because Nora’s character Ethan could be my hubby! Seriously! I love Nora and how she brings her characters to life and gives them such depth without making them too stereotypical. (Ok, most of her characters, there have been a few duds in her day) But Ethan is so accurate! and sensitive and I just want to hug him. And I like that he’s not a big rich successful ad exec like Philip, he’s a humble fisherman who falls in love with a single mother. In other words, normal despite his horrific background. And yes, they do exist. I have proof.
11. Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss. My first historical romance that I didn’t have to hide — because I was married and had my own apartment so my mother couldn’t criticize what I read. I can’t say I’ve read many romances that begin with a rape and wanted to continue to read (I did a rant on this subject in an earlier blog). But these characters caught my imagination. I look at her style in her later books and I shudder a bit at how florid they are, but then again this was written in the 70’s and purple prose was in. But I still love this story and these characters. I also like her A Rose in Winter, and Shanna … the others, not so much.
12. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis. My favourite book as a child – I SO wanted to find a secret world in a wardrobe. I hated Edmund and wished I could meet Aslan. My parents even had a wardrobe in their bedroom – which was a house called Cherry Cottage built in 1877. I love the opening because my mother has often described how she and her family would have to run to the shelter when the air raid sirens sounded – and how her mother fell into theirs one dark night and broke a vertebrae. I thought, well, if it’s written the same as my mother lived, then the rest must be true too! But their wardrobe never had a secret world as far as I ever found. What a pity!
13. This is a tie — between two non-fiction books. When I was in high school, a girl I thought was a friend spread what she thought was a joke about how whenever she visited me she found me reading the encyclopaedia. It spread like wildfire and I was ostracized for the rest of the year. Unfortunately, as much as I denied it, it was true. I love the encyclopaedia. I love reading about exotic lands and looking at the pictures – remember this is pre-internet days, and where I lived we only got two TV channels, so we were pretty limited for entertainment. So that’s one, the other one that I couldn’t decide from is Stephen King’s On Writing. Which basically made me sit my butt in the chair and write to a specific number of words a day.
By the way, I can’t figure out how to get a list of other ‘Thirteen’ participants here the way I’ve seen on other people’s lists. If anyone can tell me how to do it, or tell me where to find the code, please let me know.