the words that shaped me

i read this post a few weeks ago and it stuck with me because whatever your chosen profession or hobby, it’s interesting to step back and think about how you got started and what is was that motivated you to begin and how it all shaped you.

these are the books that set me on my current path.

HARRY POTTER series by j.k. rowling.  i found this series when i was in college right as the third book was about to be released and it made me thank my lucky stars that Sister E was so much younger because it gave me an excuse to read YA. but as i kept reading, i realized rowling had broken down the barriers and made it okay to write YA and admit you loved the YA genre. her attention to detail, her fully developed characters, her humor, and the magic. these books are a tour de force and she deserves every single penny she’s earned.

HUNGER GAMES by suzanne collins. i’m not talking about the series here, i’m just talking about the first book. this book made me forget i was reading and i never remembered turning the pages; i was just there side by side with katniss as she forged her way forward. she’s a tough, solid, resourceful character and not one prone to romance, in short, she’s refreshingly different from most of the other YA heroines. only suzanne collins could turn a premise as grisly as this into a book that’s beloved by all. this is one book i can (and have) confidently recommend(ed) to anyone.

IF I STAY by gayle forman. this book ripped my heart out and then stitched it back together and i never saw it coming. i’d heard about this book, but the original jacket didn’t catch my attention, so never gave it a second thought. i’d browsed through it at the bookstore before, but i always put it back. it wasn’t until about a year later (at the commanding of a librarian friend) that i finally picked it up. i didn’t put it down until i’d finished it + a box of tissues.

THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by jandy nelson. this book is one of the most gorgeous things i’ve ever read. it’s sad and heartbreakingly funny and inappropriate and relatable and awesome. jandy takes normal, everyday language and makes it lush and evocative. this is exactly the kind of writing i want to do.

THE SCORPIO RACES by maggie stiefvater. this is the most recent addition to the list, but it’s a welcome one. this book drips with emotion — good, bad, and ugly — and is stunning in its starkness. at the end of the day, this book is hopeful, which is the best we can ask of ourselves and our lives.

what book or decision or moment set YOU on your way?

12 thoughts on “the words that shaped me”

  1. well, the book that made me want to be a writer was STRANGERS by Dean Koontz. I read it way back in the day (when I was eight) and from that point on, I knew I had to be a writer, but it was a tag-team effort by Sarah Dessen’s JUST LISTEN and Laurie Halse Anderson’s WINTERGIRLS that turned me onto YA, and I really haven’t looked back.

    sidenote: I’ve heard so much about the SCORPIO RACES, but I didn’t much care for theSHIVER/LINGER books, so I’m a little trepidacious about reading it. Was it that good? Should I just get over myself already and read it? Okay. Okay. *adds to TBR list*

    PS…Karla’s a big meanie. pass it on :)

    1. i love hearing which books were the ones that lit the match. thanks for sharing!

      in other news, YES, you should read SCORPIO RACES. it’s nothing like the SHIVER trilogy, which i liked more for their appearance (blue, green, and/or red fonts! yum!) than for their stories.

  2. What a great list! Again, it makes me so glad to see SCORPIO RACES on it :)) I don’t know why I feel so personally responsible for that book :)

    I can’t really answer your question right now… but yay for awesome books that break out hearts in the best way and inspire us to go play with words ourselves!!!

    1. you should feel responsible for me reading THE SCORPIO RACES and for the fact that i’ve read all of maggie’s books. i need to know what you’re always talking about. ;) but TSR is far and away my favorite. i mean, hello, it made the list!

  3. Lots of introspection this week. Honestly YA made me think about my first heroes…and i’d say the list is’t dissimilar: Alexander, Pierce, Lewis, (I just realized those could all be first names too!!)

    1. considering how well read you are in all genres, i’m surprised you were able to narrow your writing down to one genre. but YAY for us in YA. we’re happy to claim you as ours. :)

  4. The book that made me want to write was Charlotte’s Web. I read it when I was eight and wrote my first picture book at nine.

    Since then, there have been so many books that have inspired me, I’ve lost count. But each one has a part in the journey I’m on.

    1. CHARLOTTE’S WEB, oh, what a classic. I love that you wrote a picture book a year later. look at little miss ambitious, jeannie moon. :)

  5. No CHAOS WALKING series? I’m surprised after how much I’ve heard you rave about it, but in other news, I need to get my hands on SCORPIO RACES I’ve heard only good things. *searches for x-mas list In vain* *finds SCORPIO RACES already written down* *smiles*

    1. i did love CHAOS WALKING, but it didn’t inspire me to write, just read more of his work. speaking of patrick ness, he’s got a new book out (A MONSTER CALLS) that i’m dying to read.

      also, yay for you already having your christmas list ready. look at you not procrastinating! i’m so proud. :)

      1. ha, yeah. now i just need to find 11 gifts for everyone else. *looks sadly at empty wallet* wish it was as easy as making a list :(

        1. surprise: it is as easy as making a list! it’s just a different kind of list. we can brainstorm if you’d like. just call. or email.

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