Ever since Christi threw down the gauntlet, I've been thinking about the books that changed me, whether as a person, a reader, or a writer. The list is longer than I can post here, but I'm going to try and give it a little justice.
I'd say it all started in 1974 with Where The Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls--a book that I would go on to read once a year throughout my childhood. But the reason it's on the list is because of the author and the visit he made to an elementary school in Vancouver, WA. It was the first time I actually heard a "real" writer speak or tell about his process. I was in sixth grade and after listening to him, I knew I wanted to be a writer. And because he told a story about how he burned all his old manuscripts when he thought he'd never make it as a writer, I have never willingly destroyed or thrown out a partial--I have files and files to prove it.
In the seventies, when I grew up for the most part, YA wasn't exactly a book category until I discovered The Outsiders by S.E.Hinton and The Pigman by Paul Zindel. They were the first books that made feel like someone was writing for me at that age. I believe they are a couple of the pioneers of what would become my go-to genre, YA.
Lord Valentine's Castle by Robert Silverberg was the first adult fantasy that I ever picked up. I think books that introduce you to a new genre always hold a special place in your heart and I still get nostalgic when I see the cover for this book.
Magic Kingdom for Sale (Sold) by Terry Brooks is another one of those "firsts". My first forray into fantasy via real world, now more commonly known as magic realism. And eight years ago I had the privilege to share a lunch table with Mr. Brooks at the Surrey International Writer's Conference. Not only a great writer, but a good man.
Other books along my life's road:
The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown made me reevaluate my faith and my belief system. Some people (my sisters) would say this is a bad thing, but I think any book that makes you think and study is a good thing.
The Firm by John Grisham and The Relic by Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston--books that kept me up into the wee hours because I couldn't put them down.
Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux--my first time travel and mid-evil romance. I came to love both genres thanks to that book.
Fletch by Gregory McDonald and The Princess Bride by William Goldman--I know, you're going huh? But, both of those books taught me out to write humor in a book and still tell a good story.
There are many more but since this has become a hodge-podge of books that influenced me along my life's road, I'm going to end with the queen, J.K. Rowling--who blew the ceiling off children's and YA market. I hope to one day be a surfer riding along her wave.