Monday, December 16, 2013

The Top Ten Most Influential Novels Meme

Hello, friends and fans of Heroines of Fantasy!

One of the current memes on Facebook asks writers to list the ten novels that influenced them the most. The topic of inspiration and influence is fitting for the holiday season and closing out of another year, so, without further ado, I bring you my annotated list.

1. The Narnia books by C.S. Lewis, my first entrée into the world of fantasy.

2. Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern. I found Dragonsinger on the shelf of my elementary school library in fifth grade. I read every book thereafter, enthralled by this amazing new world I had discovered. In middle and high school, I even wrote Pern fan fiction for Star-Rise Weyr. On a typewriter! Then I mailed it, and it was published in beautiful booklets that were mailed back quarterly-ish. Good, good times, as both a writer and a fan.

3. The Once and Future King by T.H. White. My 7th grade English teacher assigned this novel, which sparked the love of Arthurian legend that eventually guided my Master’s emphasis (Medieval Literature) and inspired me to become a writer.

4. The Belgariad by David Eddings. Back in 8th grade, I pulled the first novel in the series from my mom’s bookshelf and discovered that epic fantasy could also be romantic and funny. And yes, Eddings is also responsible for my love affair with the apostrophe.

5. Joyce Ballou Gregorian’s Tredana trilogy. I think these novels might have gone out of print minutes after I read them, and it took me years to relocate and collect them all. They were so influential that I have never actually reread the books I hunted down so carefully, out of fear that I wouldn’t love them as much. Special trivia: these books inspired the dream that inspired the very early drafts of Song and the Sorceress. The name of my world—Sildehna—is a shout-out to these books.

6. Cujo, Christine, and Carrie, by Stephen King. I went through an avid King phase in middle school (apparently all I did was read novels in middle school, which my Social Studies and math grades reflect) and particularly enjoyed his early work, which delves much more into the psychology and human element of horror rather than his later, slasher fiction.

7. Chaucer’s Legend of Good Women is a far better, funnier, and more feminist text than The Canterbury Tales, and it is also the subject of my Master’s thesis. I pity those who haven’t discovered Chaucer, especially those who have never read this text. Chaucer and I would have totally gotten along.

8. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien. I came to Tolkien very late; in fact, I read his scholarly work in graduate school long before I ever read a word of his novels (partly due to overexposure to film strip versions of the horrible animated film, shown repeatedly during library time in grade school). Happily, I did read the novels—over and over—and I now own a leaf cloak pin, a tapestry map, and many other tokens as symbols of my extreme geektitude.

9. The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling. Despite the overuse of adverbs, these are pivotal works of fiction that will stand the test of time. If Rowling writes anything else set in the wizarding world, ever, I will read it and love it. And I will continue to wait for my letter from Hogwarts until the day I die.

10. The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, my starter drug for the world of dystopian fiction, which I have been hooked on ever since. Someday, I’m going to write a dystopian novel. Wait for it.

Now I’m tagging all of you: what are your top ten novels? And if it’s something I should read, post links! I’m always looking for the next great read!

See you next year,


Kim Vandervort 

10 comments:

David Hunter said...

The Lord of the Rings

'I will not end here, taken like an old badger in a trap. Snowmane and Hasufel and the horses of my guard are in the inner court. When dawn comes, I will bid men sound Helm's horn, and I will ride forth. Will you ride with me then, son of Arathorn? maybe we shall cleave a road, or make such an end as will be worth a song - if any be left to sing of us hereafter.'

The Children of Hurin

'I rue the day I took you from the orcs. But for your prowess and your pride, I should still have love and life, and Nargothrond should yet stand awhile.'

Treasure Island.

'Take a cutlass, 'im that dares, and I'll see the colour ofn his insides, crutch and all, before that pipe's empty.'

The Surgeon's Mate.

Gothenburg, a melancholy town, most of it quite recently burnt, inhabited by tall spare melancholiacs dressed in grey wool, much given to drinking and self-murder . . .

Farewell, My Lovely.

I was sitting on the side of the bed in my pyjamas, thinking about getting up, but not yet committed. I didn't feel very well, but not as sick as I ought to, not as sick as I would feel if I had a salaried job. My head hurt and felt large and hot and my tongue was dry and had gravel on it and my throat was stiff and my jaw was not untender. But I had had worse mornings.

Use of Weapons.

'I've heard your work.'
'Oh. he looked boyishly pleased and clapped his hands in a gesture he didn't seem to notice himself making, 'Oh. that's very . . . '
'I didn't say I liked it.'

The Princess Bride.

'But I must never love again.'
She never did.'

Augustus.

Marcus Tullius Cicero was the cleverest man I have ever known; yet I outwitted him at every turn . . . as i spoke, I felt him stiffen. He kissed my cheek, and held me a moment in a grip like a vulture's talons.'

The Candlemass Road.

'And what of chastity?' asks my lady, more sidelong than I liked. 'art chaste, rogue?'
'The length o' the border, lady, from annan to Alnwick!' says he . . .

The Prisoner of Zenda.

I believe the man would have mastered me and slain me, and then done his butcher's work, for he was the most skilful swordsman I have ever met; but even as he pressed me hard, the half-mad, wasted, wan creature in the corner leapt high in lunatic mirth, shrieking.

Clint Harris said...

“Do Android Dream of Electric Sheep” Philip K. Dick
“A Game of Thrones” George R.R. Martin
“Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy” Douglas Adams
“From the Dust Returned” Ray Bradbury
"Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind" Hayao Miyazaki
"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" Hunter S. Thompson
“Guerilla Warfare” Enesto “Che” Guevara
“Ceremony” Leslie Marmon Silko
“On Writing” Stephen King
“The Things they Carried” Tim O’Brien
Runners up include: 100 Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez; Labyrinths, by Jorge Luis Borges; The Voice that is Great Within Us, ed. by Hayden Caruth. Dragons Blood by Jane Yolen.

Louise Turner said...

My list runs as follows. And I am taking the word 'influential' very literally, as the works which have shaped me as a reader, as a writer, and as a human being, too:-

1. 'The Eagle of the Ninth' by Rosemary Sutcliff. My first experience of historical fiction - and a book that stayed with me for years. I read it as a child, didn't touch it for 30 years then re-read it again a couple of years ago, and was amazed by how much of it had stayed with me through the - ulp! - decades.
2. 'Night of the Red Horse' by Patricia Leith. Another very early childhood influence. Patricia Leitch wrote pony books with a supernatural edge. Her heroine, Jinny, is an eleven year old red-head with attitude who saves a chestnut Arab horse from a circus and rehabilitates it in typical 'She's a bad horse, but I could change her' mode. After rereading the books last year, I realised that I HAD become like a grown-up Jinny, which was a bit disconcerting. Though I'm not a red-head, and the horse I 'rescued' was in a riding school, and not an Arab. I digress. Her prose is lovely, fast paced, but very efficient and poetic (E.g. 'Jinny umbraged into the room').
3. 'The Dark Is Rising' Series by Susan Cooper. Probably my first introduction to fantasy, full of amazing imagery and ideas.
4. 'Prince Caspian' by C. S. Lewis. My first introduction to the Narnia books, and another early introduction to fantasy.
5. 'The Lord of the Rings'. Need I say more?
6. 'The Small Assassin' by Ray Bradbury. This was the title of a Bradbury short story anthology I read while in my early teens. I've always loved Bradbury's writing style and particularly his descriptions.
7. 'Downbelow Station' by C J Cherryh. This, along with the rest of the Union-Alliance novels, epitomises to me all that is excellent about epic narratives which chronicle vast sweeping historical events. History happens, but it unfolds through the actions of individuals, and at its best tales of this scope can somehow combine the large-scale with the individual and carry the reader along for the ride.
8. 'A Place of Greater Safety' by Hilary Mantel. One of Mantel's earlier works, to me this is still her greatest piece of writing. I read this book when in the middle of writing a historical novel, and I realised pretty early on that this was what history was supposed to be like. Like C J Cherryh, Mantel combines the small scale with the epic in this account of the French Revolution. Danton, Robespierre and Desmoulins willingly embark upon a collective effort to change their world, then find themselves swept along by the events they've unleashed and are ultimately destroyed by them. My favourite work of fiction. Ever. Full stop.
9. 'A Tabernacle for the Sun' by Linda Proud. Proud's Botticelli Trilogy chronicles the life of Lorenzo de Medici, with lyrical writing and beautiful evocations of Florence and the surrounding country.
10. 'The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy' by Douglas Adams. Fast-paced, with some great imagery and humour ('Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so).

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Heroines of Fantasy said...

Mark here:

I'm pleased and interested by how similar Louise's list is with my own.

1. Lord of the Rings/Hobbit/Unfinished Tales/Silmarillion: For me, whenever I sink back into Middle Earth, it is a full on soak. Good times.

2. The Lantern Bearers/Sword at Sunset--Suitcliffe. I, too, fell for Roman Britain with Eagle of the Ninth, The Silver Branch, et al.

3. Downbelow Station by Cherryh, this and the Gate Series, and the Faded Sun novels hooked me big time.

4. Wind in the Willows. Made me want to put about in a punt!

5. The Bruce Trilogy by Nigel Trantor. Gotta love the wars for Scottish Independence!

6. The Hornblower novels by CS Forester. Terse, magical, the age of fighting sail. Awesome.

7. The Narnia Chronicles

8. 1984. I teach it yearly. I think we have begun to live it daily...

9. The Earthsea Novels of LeGuin. These should be #2 above, actually.

10. Startide Rising/The Uplift War: space drama and dolphins! Yes!

Terri-Lynne said...

Kim--so Eddings is responsible for your love of apostrophed names? ME TOO! Hahahahaa! Though I love both the Belgariad and the Mallorean deeply, I can't say they (or Thomas Covenant, which I also read to distraction...and the Dragonlance books--originals, not spinoffs) I can't claim they influenced me in any great way. I do think everything we read, experience, see, whatever, influences us in some way, though. I suppose it all depends upon the extent, and the conscious knowledge of that influence.

I'm going to have to check out Legend of Good Women. I have studied the Canterbury Tales, but never even heard of LoGW!

Dave Bara said...

The 10 Books That Most Influenced My Writing

1. Dune - Frank Herbert - Dune's complex, ultra-layered plot and milieu is still unique in almost all literature, let alone science fiction. Ultimately though, it is the story of betrayal that resonated with me. The Ultimate Space Opera.

2. The Mote In God's Eye - Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle - As far as the setting for my series, this is the source code. It also happens to be the best First Contact novel ever written, and I would be hard pressed to equal it - if I ever write about aliens.
3. The Foundation Series - Issac Asimov - I include the original 3 novels plus the later follow-ons such as "Foundation's Edge" in this series. Terrific scope spanning a millennia and even though some of the technology seems dated, it tells it's tale so well.

4. The Forever War - Joe Haldeman - A great military SF book that tracks the life of a single soldier through hundreds of years of war with an alien race. There are many societal changes as well and the book always keeps you guessing.

5. Dorsai! - Gordon Dickson - This book of Dickson's Childe Cycle follows one Donal Graeme, a young man on the Sparta-like military planet Dorsai, who grows from a young officer to a commanding general, all with the insight of his evolving intuition, which in the end makes him more than a mere man.

6. Tau Zero - Poul Anderson - A great ship-based drama that tracks an intrepid crew of interstellar colonists who lose control of their vessel and end up passing through eternity, literally the end of the universe, and back again, eventually finding a new home billions of years and billions of light years from a long-dead Earth.

7. Ringworld - Larry Niven - Yes, his name appears twice on this list and it should. The story of a lone man and a crew of "Lucky" human Teela Brown and two aliens, the fearsome warrior-cat Kzin "Speaker to Animals" and a Pierson's Puppeteer, a sort of intelligent two-headed camel. Marvelously conceived and stuffed full of great gadgetry, it's a fantastic adventure story.

8. Rendezvous With Rama - Arthur C. Clarke - Also a bit technologically dated, but nonetheless a great tale about a single human ship that encounters a massive alien vessel that comes to life inside as it passes through our solar system, leaving more questions than answers.

9. Tactics of Mistake - Gordon Dickson - Yes another Dickson book in the Childe Cycle, though one placed earlier in the timeline. It tells the story of the development of the Dorsai into a major fighting force, led by Cletus Grahame, and ancestor of Donal Graeme in "Dorsai". This book taught me a lot about military tactics and also delved into esoteric arts such as visualization and politics.

10. The Prince In Waiting - John Christopher - A middle-grade fantasy novel set in a post-apocalyptic England, It tells the story of a young man named Luke Perry who rises to become the Prince In Waiting, heir to the leadership of his city of Winchester. Really just part one of a three book series entitled The Sword of the Spirits. Well worth the read.

Karin Rita Gastreich said...

To list only novels would undermine the importance of works of nonfiction, which I think on the whole have influenced me more than fiction. So allow me to indulge in breaking the meme rule:

1. Cosmos by Carl Sagan
2. The Diversity of Life, by E.O. Wilson
3. The Song of the Dodo, by David Quammen
4. Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne, by David Starkey
5. Eleanor of Aquitaine by Alison Weir
6. Murder of a Medici Princess by Caroline P. Murphy
7. The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
8. The Once and Future King by T.H. White
9. The Origin of Satan, by Elaine Pagels
10. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

Great post as always, Kim! Thanks. :)

Louise Turner said...

Darn it! I was going to sneak two non-fiction works into my list but I chickened out (Narnia and Hitch Hiker slipped through instead). Thanks to Karin's bold move, I'll share them anyway:-

1) 'Fragments from Antiquity' by John Barrett. This book (which focuses mainly upon Bronze Age Wessex) more or encapsulates my undergraduate archaeology lectures in both Later Prehistory and The Archaeology of Religion, Magic and Burial, which had a very profound effect on me and made me want to pursue archaeology as a career in the first place. John Barrett lectured at Glasgow Uni when I studied there, and reading this book is like revisiting his courses. His teaching shaped the way I approach the writing of both archaeology and fiction, and had a BIG influence on me - though he'd probably be really mortified to hear this since I now do strange and uncritical things like writing novels!!!
2) 'James IV' by Norman MacDougall. A brilliant account of James's reign - very gripping and readable. It has definitely shaped my view of this period of Scottish history.

Oh, and Mark... David Brin, C J Cherryh, oh yes, can't wait to get myself a copy of your novels if you count these amongst your influences (I've got your stuff on my To Buy list!!).

But Nigel Tranter? Wow. Never saw that one coming. I love the opening of the 1st Bruce novel - when John Balliol gets defrocked by Edward I. Powerful stuff...

melissamickelsen said...

1. Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Clan of the Cave Bear - Jean M. Auel
3. The Stand - Stephen King
4. Daughter of the Forest - Juliet Marillier
5. Outlander - Diana Gabaldon
6. Tigana - Guy Gavriel Kay
7. The Red Heart - James Alexander Thom
8. Hatchet - Gary Paulsen
9. Shogun - James Clavell
10. Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin