Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Books That Feed My Brain

This month's Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog question came from Deb, who asked: What type of book do you read for writing inspiration, and why? Do you read fiction or non-fiction, and what genres? Mysteries and YA, or archeology and astronomy?

Laura's answer is here, and Lydia's is here. Deb will be up next week. As for me ...

I've learned a lot about writing and storytelling from other writers. I've been knocked flat by the beauty and power in their prose, by the intricacy of their plotting, the individuality of their characters. I've gotten hooked by ideas that just wouldn't leave me alone. A few things that have inspired me (to name only a few of many):

The stark rhythms and brittle fragility of Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson.

The lyricism and longing in Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater.

The exploration of identity and loyalty in Camo Girl, by Kekla Magoon.

The flat eeriness and dread of Descent Into Hell, by Charles Williams. 

The conceptualization of the afterlife in The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis.

The frightening ease with which good people become evil in The Lucifer Effect, by Phil Zimbardo.

The phenomenal pacing and timing of The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

I could go on and on, but I'll stop there. How about you? What books have inspired you and why?


  1. Far too many to mention. I love the cover of the first book, and want to read it based just on that.

  2. Aloha Sarah,

    Thanks for the comments on Cassie's blog - and I am following you, too:)

    Super Congrats with your upcoming books, and I wish you all the *very* best:)

  3. Tiny Ladies In Shiny Pants, by Jill Soloway. LOve her humor and it inspires me that there are readers who want a good laugh mixed with a bit of angst.

  4. Oh wow, those are some good ones! My choices are more about the authors than their individual books, because their writing styles and effective use of prose are what inspire me. The first two I think of are Lauren Oliver and Hannah Moskowitz, which is odd, if you're familiar with them. Their styles are completely opposite. But they each inspire me in different ways.

  5. I doubt I could articulate mine as well as yours. I have read a couple of these, though, and I completely agree (Shiver and Hunger Games).

  6. There are far too many to name them all, but Janet Fitch's "Paint it Black" completely blew me away. Quite honestly, I picked it up purely because of the title (one of my favorite songs) without knowing anything at all about the book or the author. The subject matter is startling, and some of the writing is so beautiful, I reread parts of it just to let the words reverberate in my mind. Ditto for just about everything of Jodi Picout's I've ever read.

  7. man, i really need to read wintergirls...
    anyway- so true that there are too many and too varied to just pick one.

    last night i read LIVING DEAD GIRL
    and it was (among many things) so strongly voiced that it pulled the voice of one of my characters out loud and clear....
    not particularly the voice of the one i was working on, but a louder one who refuses to wait to be written... though she's not very vocal- just prominent,i guess. that probably only makes sense to me... coffee?

  8. My favorite C.S. Lewis book is The Screwtape Letters. Classic! The Great Divorce is right beneath it.

  9. Good lord, now my TBR list grows larger...LOL~

    Wintergirls was also a huge book for me. So amazing.

  10. Oh, gosh...the first book to wow me was "The Mistress of Mellyn" by Victoria Holt. I was 10, and ate it up. My first gothic romance! Other books that enthralled me were "Exodus" and "Mila 18" by Leon Uris; "The Winds of War" by Hermon Wouk; "Centennial" by James Michener. I love chick lit for escaping stress (Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books rock) and books about writing by authors I admire (Anne Lamott, Stephen King). Now that I think about it...I read just about anything and everything!

  11. Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger, for voice.

  12. My list is pretty diverse too, but right now I'm into Orson Scott Card. <3 <3 <3 The Hungers Games too.

  13. Relic from the Preston/Chile writing tandem. They inspired me to move forward and write my books.

  14. Awesome!!!! These are great books!

  15. Love the diversity in your list! I wasn't in love with Maggie's writing in SHIVER, but it blew me away in THE SCORPIO RACES. Lady knows how to manipulate mood and atmosphere. It was so real and alive! I also recently finished Brenna Yovanoff's THE SPACE BETWEEN, which reminded me of her incredible ability to write these wistful, melancholy feelings.

    Books that never fail to inspire me: FROM THE DUST RETURNED by Ray Bradbury and THE LAST UNICORN by Peter S. Beagle. Their lyrical words move me!

  16. I've not read any of those. They look interesting.
    Have you tried Patrick Ness' Chaos Walking Trilogy. Awesome! Great pasing, gripping story.

  17. I started Descent into Hell and I liked it, but the writing style was so thick that I didn't make it through. It's still on my to-read list to try it again though.

    For me: Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis, E. Nesbit books especially the Enchanted Castle and The House of Arden, certain books of Terry Pratchett's Discword including Mort, Carpe Jugulum, and I Shall Wear Midnight, Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card (just to name a few).

  18. I feel like I've read Shiver before, but I can't remember when. I'm not sure, for me C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien are definitely some who have inspired me and make me want to write. Along with Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Dragonlance novels. Anything Fantasy, really!