I’ve always been an avid reader and bibliophile. Even from a young age, I was devouring novels and pouring myself into stories of every form. Little Me was learning about loyalty and bravery from Nancy Drew long before I ever willingly picked up a quill to write my own fiction. In fact, jr. high and freshman-in-high-school me absolutely despised writing. I didn’t enjoy writing until God showed me how important and beautiful my unique, and simultaneously disastrous, story ideas could be.
And looking back, I think there was a great reason for that. God allowed me to read and disappear into stories long before I ever wanted to write them. I used to feel bad about becoming a writer so late in the game, but now I can see that it was merely a blessing in disguise. See, if I had started writing before I’d gotten the chance to read so much…I don’t think I would be the same writer that I am right now. I’d probably have more completed novels under my belt, but honestly, I don’t think that I would be as good of a writer as I am in this moment. Sure, I haven’t written hundreds of stories, but I’ve been exposed to countless authors, writing styles, and genres.
So, while sometimes I wish that I’d started writing earlier…if given the chance, I wouldn’t change anything because then I might not have the hunger, passion, and determined, rebellious spark that I have for crafting stories and adventures.
Okay, so I honestly have no idea where that whole introduction came from (that was so not planned), but I kinda like it. So, I’m gonna leave it in it’s unedited form because I think it’s important to be real on here with you guys, even if it gets us a little off track sometimes.
Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
This novel is, and probably always will be, one of my favorites. It’s a rather simple concept, but executing it takes a level of intricacy and complexity that I could only ever dream of reaching. The novel follows Caden Bosch, a teenage boy who struggles to survive in reality. His escape comes when he is designated as the ship’s artist, leaving him to capture and document the journey down to Challenger Deep. I would tell you more, but to do so would ruin your experience. All you need to know is that the way it portrays mental health is better than anything I have ever read.
Challenger Deep has helped shape me as a writer in so many ways. The writing style is so unique and the prose is fluffy and perfect, but Shusterman never overdoes it. The story is told through Caden’s eyes and the fact that he’s such an unreliable narrator just makes it 100% more intriguing. If this novel taught me anything, it’s that mental health is a tricky thing to write. But it inspired me to give it a shot when the time – and novel – are right.
The Scarlet Thread by Francine Rivers
The Scarlet Thread was the first adult fiction novel I ever read. I was in my late teens and let me tell you, this book was an experience. It follows Sierra, a wife and mother, who’s clinging to her crumbling life, helpless and desperate. She finds refuge in the diary of her ancestor, Mary Katherine, who recounts her journey and hardships on the Oregon Trail. A good friend of mine recommended this book and it did not disappoint: I cried, I proabably laughed a little, and I felt way more emotions than I’d anticipated.
This book had such a big impact on me because it showed me how to write Christian themes and religious elements without it feeling forced or too subtle. Francine Rivers’ writing is professional, but still has a simplicity to it that’s hard to come by at times. This novel also taught me how to write romance that isn’t explicit or overtly graphic, but makes sure to show enough that you aren’t left wondering what did or didn’t happen.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Did you think I wasn’t gonna mention this one? Lol, that’s cute. I remember seeing the movie back in my mid-teen years and I absolutely loved it. I knew it was based on a book, but at the time, I wasn’t really mature enough to handle the sexual or profanity content. However, when I got older, I read the novel and I can still remember exactly where I was when my heart broke at the end… This novel follows Hazel Grace, a teenager with lung cancer, as she falls in love and contemplates her own mortality.
The Fault in Our Stars has become a YA romance staple in the bookish community. It’s known and loved by people all around the world and it catapulted John Green into the stratosphere of popularity among YA authors. So, for me, this book is almost like a guide to figuring out what the YA audience likes, loves, and wants in their romance novels.
Unwind by Neal Shusterman
Ah, yes, another Shusterman novel. A good thing to know about me is that I literally never shut up about Neal Shusterman, so if that’s a deal breaker, I apologize. Anyways, this novel falls under my favorite genre, the underrated dystopia. Unwind follows three teenagers: Conner, the reckless and rebellious, wild child; Risa, the ward of the state who plays piano; and Lev, the tithe who willingly surrenders himself to his “destiny”. I do have to warn you though, this novel is not for the faint of heart. It is based on some disturbing ideas and it is somewhat graphic during some scenes.
Unwind was my first Neal Shusterman novel, so that already gives it a special place in my heart. However, his ability to tackle complex and controversial topics in such a respectful way is what really stuck with me.
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
This series is so nostalgic for me, which is funny cause I didn’t read them until I was a teenager. I rarely read fantasy, but these books are one of the rare exceptions. This series follows a young boy, Harry Potter, as he enters the world of magic and a beloved wizarding school, Hogwarts. There’s also a dark overlord that he has to defeat, but like, #details. Also, fun fact: Hermione Granger was instantly, and still is, my favorite character of the entire series. I relate to her on such an intense level that some of my friends actually call me Hermione. 😉
The Harry Potter series impacted my life in more than one way. The biggest would have to be that it introduced me to a world of magic that was unlike anything I’d ever seen. The magic of Harry Potter extends far beyond wands and spells, though. It embodies the kind of real magic that we all have, but sometimes forget; things like hope, faith, love, and friendship.
I could go on for ages about all the novels that have influenced and shaped me into the writer I am today, but for your sake, I decided to just cap it at 5. If you want to know more about some of those other novels, just ask in the comments and I’ll throw some more books at your face…or…laptop/phone screen.
Have you read any of these books? If so, which one was your favorite? Which novels have shaped you as a writer and/or person? Tell me all the things and I’ll drop by and catch up with all you lovely humans. ❤