I love big books + I cannot lie.
I've read a fair few books in my days. From old tomes to classic literature, modern fiction/fantasy/sci-fi, and all the way down to a few self-help books, I've read at least a little bit of everything. And though there've been plenty I haven't enjoyed, there have also been a lot of good ones. A list of all my favorite books would be almost impossible to compile and quite exhaustive. But when people ask what books you liked, they're usually not just grasping for a good book to read themselves: a lot of time, they're trying to get a handle on who you are (or at least, that's what I do to get to know people better). So, prompted in part by these wonderful women, and also just by a few questions I've had from people recently regarding books, here are 3 books that have changed me. They aren't the only books that have changed me, of course, but they are the main ones.
1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This is the first book I remember truly falling in love with, truly and completely relating to. Which is funny, considering that I didn't grow up in a small town by any means, and my life certainly hasn't been as difficult as Scout Finch's. But there's something in the way she handles problems, especially as she gets older, that I can see so much of myself in. Also, Atticus is to date one of my favorite fathers in literature. I relate to him, too, in moments. Overall, I think this book changed the way I look at my own life and my own problems: from the childhood response of making myself the persona dramatis, to, as a young adult, beginning to put them in perspective (both in realizing how small my problems were, and in dealing with them more even-temperedly). It was as much a coming-of-age for me, as the reader, as for the characters in the novel.
2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
I read Jane Eyre two Christmases ago and absolutely fell in love. I had always been more a fan of Jane Austen's books (Pride and Prejudice is a longtime favorite) but I think that was really because I hadn't read any of the Brontes' properly. I like Jane Eyre better than Pride and Prejudice now, if that says anything to you about the moving power of Charlotte Bronte's beautiful, rich writing style, and the masterful nature of the story. I totally connected with Jane - in many ways still, I see myself as a Jane Eyre-type person and/or aspire to be that sort of woman. She's the first literary character (and perhaps still the only) I've seen who strikes a realistic yet beautiful balance between strength and quiet grace. It's exemplary.
3. A Room With A View by E. M. Forster
I just read this over the summer, and strangely, I don't think it's one of my all-time favorite books like the previous two. But I'd still say it's one of the books that changed me. It came into my life at a tender point, and thus naturally was bound to make some impact, but I don't think just any book can do what this one did. It asks questions and studies life in a way I've never really seen an older novel do...definitely ahead of it's time in psychological examinations, if that makes sense. In this case, it was more the author, the underlying themes, and the social questions asked that made me think about things differently, rather than the characters or the story per se. I would definitely recommend it, even if I'm still uncertain how I feel about the book as a whole (and it's been a few months. I'm weird like that.)
4. The Eagle of The Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff
This book has inspired my writing more than any other piece of literature, without a doubt. I've read it three times or more, and each time fall in love even more with Esca and Marcus, sweet Cub, brilliant Cottia and the aching old Etruscan Hills. I know so many people who really don't like this book, but I've never understood why: I love the way Rosemary Sutcliffe so subtly weaves her characters and themes to create a very old world that feels very real and still very alive. If you like anything remotely historical-fiction/fantasy/adventure, read this book. I can only describe it as a beautiful plant that, if you can give it the patience to develop, will blossom and grow and live out miracles while you watch.
Honorable Mention: The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot (poem)
Because if you haven't read T. S. Eliot poetry, you really haven't lived yet.
That ended up being much more of a literature-love ramble than I intended. Oops.
What books have changed/shaped/inspired you?