Friday, June 7, 2013

What Books Made You A Writer?

What Books Made You A Writer?
By Brad R. Cook

Everyone has a top ten list of favorite books. For some it may only be a top three, but for writers and voracious readers, a top ten list of beloved books is a window into the soul. A glimpse at the weave of our universe. This isn’t a top ten list of the year, or even of my favorite novels – I don’t know if I could have only ten, maybe a top 100 – no, I’m talking about the books that inspired you to be a writer.

This post was inspired by an article on the Top Ten Science Fiction Books that people pretend they’ve read. I had read several, but it got me thinking about how books influence us. Some of the books mentioned were fundamental to me becoming a writer. What we read when we are young directly affects how we write, what we write, and is part of the source of our passion for writing.   

Here’s the article – how many have you read?

10 Science Fiction Novels You Pretend to Have Read (And Why You Should Actually Read Them) by Charlie Jane Anders for

Today what I am focused on are the books that moved you, help mold the person you are, and made you the writer you are today.

10 books… that molded my life and inspired me to write!

Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien
            – Don’t even try to create elvish, it’s been done, but I will never forget when Eowyn rips off her helmet and says, “I am no man.” Best twist ever.

The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
            – Love language and slang. Give an English teacher something to talk about.

Dune by Frank Herbert
            – Epic is good, very epic is awesome!

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

            – Good stories are timeless.

Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobol
            – My first Sherlock. Remember to slip in a few hidden clues.

The Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

            – Kenders teach us that Wanderlust is a good.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hursten
            – Books can move you, fundamentally changing who you are after reading them. Words can paint.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

            – Steampunk has always been cool, and the best stories merge imagination and fact.

Le Morte D’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory
            – Books are timeless, and some of the best fantasy was written over 500 years ago.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

            – Follow your dreams.

I would be remiss if I didn’t include plays; it’s where I got my start.

Top 3 Plays or Musicals
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
            – Several could be here like, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, or the Tempest but Macbeth is my favorite.
Man of La Mancha (based on the book Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra)
            – I think I like the musical better than the book… did I say that out loud?
Noises Off by Michael Frayn
            – Comedy comes in many forms, slapstick, one liners, and more.

And since we are talking about books that formed who we are today, here are a few blasts from my past.

Top 3 Kids Books
The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord
            – Think outside the box, or the sandwich as it were.
Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming
            – Bond, middle grade Bond.
The Choose Your Own Adventure Books
            – I would reread them out-of-order making up my own stories. They are probably directly responsible for me becoming a writer.

Think about the books that inspired you to write. Knowing where you come from and why you are standing where you are today can be invaluable in helping you move forward. Ten might be too much, so…

What three novels inspired you to be a writer?
List them in the comment section below.

Brad R. Cook is a historical fantasy author and President of St. Louis Writers Guild. Please visit , follow me on Twitter @bradrcook , or my tumblr page Thoughts from Midnight


  1. oo fun! books that inspired me to write,

    Ender's Game and The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
    and I'd also add Harry Potter because it led to me reading more which is ultimately what made me want to write.

    1. Oh, you reminded me of The Secrets of NIMH, great book that totally inspired me! I'm seeing a trend, almost all my books have swords. Hmmmm...

  2. Only three? Hmm...The Wheel of Time...The Dark Tower...The Vampire Lestat, Watership Down, Narnia, X-Men Comics, Star Wars extended universe, Dr Seuss-I can't do it-I can't choose. Sorry. Oh yeah, them choose your own adventures used to get me, and I learned my history from the Time Machine ones. But what really got me world building and storytelling was the universe I created that incorporated all my GI Joes, Star Wars, He-Man, and Transformers action figures. I still remember some of those story lines.

    1. I went with three to make it easy, but I like the list! SOOO true about those action figures, and if I mentioned cartoons that inspired me, I'd need another top 100!