As sometimes happens on social media, I was called out by a couple of friends to complete a list of the 10 most influential books of all time. Now, I’m not always big on social media challenges, but when someone says “books,” I say, “right on!”
It’s taken me about a week to piece together my list because I guess I am either incredibly indecisive or have a terrible memory for things I’ve read. Without further ado, here are the 10 books that have influenced me more than any others.
The first time I finished reading this book, I opened it back up and started reading it again. At that time in my life, this quote really spoke to me:
I put it down on paper and then the ghost does not ache so much. I write it down and Mango says goodbye sometimes. She does not hold me with both arms. She sets me free. One day I will pack my bags of books and paper. One day I will say goodbye to Mango. I am too strong for her to keep me here forever. One day I will go away.
#2 The Little Prince
An all-time classic, The Little Prince is full of whimsy and encourages self-reflection. I love everything about this book, including the skillful illustrations.
#3 The Good Earth
This novel deserves the Nobel Prize it won back in 1932. The story takes place in China during World War I, showing the struggle of both the starving poor and the decaying rich. It’s one of those books that you finish reading and can barely breathe, it’s so good.
#4 The Giving Tree
This sweet children’s book makes me tear up almost every time I read it. I hope it becomes a favorite of my daughter’s, too.
#5 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
This book should be required reading for each and every student across the U.S. (and world!). Angelou’s autobiography helped me understand so much more about race and growing up. It also prompted moving, insightful discussions with my students when I was teaching in the Dominican Republic, a country full of racial tension (and students with compassionate hearts!).
#6 The Namesake
This hauntingly brilliant book details the lives of a Bengali couple who emigrates to New York. But more than that, it reaches deep into the humanity and touches on love, loss, and everything in between.
#7 On Writing
Every writer should read this beautifully written and painfully honest memoir by Stephen King. And then reread it. And reread it again.
#8 A Moveable Feast
I suppose Hemingway had to make it on this list. This posthumously published memoir has quite a bit of controversy, including questionable edits made by his fourth wife, Mary Hemingway. Yet it was so impactful to me as a developing writer, seeing what life was like for the “greats” way back when.
#9 Lean In
This is a relatively recent read that’s had a big impact on how I view myself as a woman in business and also how I relate to my husband who’s navigating this new world of being a stay-at-home dad. All women should read it.
This multigenerational storyline is so intricate and detailed that you can’t help but feel accomplished just by finishing it. But more than that, it just…I don’t know, speaks to you.
So, that’s my list. What books have impacted you?