There is a Facebook tag going around titled "Fifteen writers who have influenced you." You are supposed to quickly list fifteen writers (including poets) who have had an influence in your life. Of course I jumped on that when my friend Marie tagged me, because I love my favorite writers and I love to make lists!
I found that my list of Fifteen Writers was not exactly the same as my theoretical list of "favorite books" or even "books that have influenced me" would be. Most of the writers I picked have written several, or many books, and is in part the sheer volume of these authors' works that have made them so signficant in my life.
Most, also, are authors and books that I read as a child. Perhaps that is because we are most impressionable at that time in our life, and the books we read as children stick with us in a way that they would not in our shallower older age.
So, without further ado..."Fifteen Writers that Have Influenced Me."
Laura Ingalls Wilder. Little House in the Big Woods was the first "real" (full-length) book I read. I then read each and every book in the series many, many times. I could not get enough of Laura's life as her family made their way west. (Ironic, now, that their westernmost destination in the series was South Dakota.) On a family vacation to Minnesota (we have relatives in Minnesota) almost 40 years ago we made a pilgimage to the Banks of Plum Creek. I could tell you all about how to make hay into logs in case you are snowed in during a Long Winter. The courtship of Laura and Almanzo was the first "romance" I ever read. I could go on...but I think it is pretty clear how much of a mark these books made on me.
L.M. Montgomery. Similarly, I have read every Anne of Green Gables book many, many times. (Montgomery, a Canadian icon, has also written books featuring several other heroines, but Anne is her most beloved.) I think I, and every other Anne fan, feels that she is our soulmate. The words "Gilbert Blythe is dying" can still make me choke up. The Anne books were also made into one of the best mini-series ever.
Madeleine L'Engle. Best known for A Wrinkle in Time, L'Engle was a prolific author of novels for children and adults. She also wrote non-fiction works and poetry, and much of her writing (including the children's books) explored faith and spirituality, or allowed the reader to do so. Madeleine L'Engle died in 2007 at the age of 88.
Carolyn Keene. The Nancy Drew books were a youthful favorite. I read all the copies that my mother had as a child (starting with The Secret of the Old Clock), which would include the original 34 books, and probably close to 56 (I'm not sure of the last few). After 56 they starting publishing paperbacks, and I know that I only read the hardback versions. I so wanted to be Nancy Drew, drive a convertible, travel to exciting locations, and solve little mysteries!
J.K. Rowling. The Harry Potter books rocked my world. (Yes, I was an adult!) I pre-ordered each new book as it was published, and cried when I finished number 7. Curiously, though, I have only seen the first of the movies!
Maud Hart Lovelace. I am pretty sure the world is divided into people who have never heard of Maud Hart Lovelace, and those who are devoted Betsy-Tacy fans. Guess which one I am? The Betsy-Tacy books are also set in Minnesota, around the turn of the century through WWI. I think I first developed my yen to travel abroad when I read Betsy and the Great World. Betsy, like the author (and me, as a child) was an aspiring writer and oh, I wanted to be like her, with her pouffed hair and fudge-making and sleigh rides (yes, I wanted to be a turn-of-the-century teenager!). Someday I will make my pilgrimage to Mankato, Minnesota!
Louisa May Alcott. Little Women was the first really long book I read as a young child. My parents had to intervene at the library to get permission for me to check out something from the big kids section (I was in second grade). I think it took me two weeks to finish, and there were some words I didn't know the meaning of--like "bosom" (for some reason I remember that). I think I have read every book she wrote (and almost every one had a tragic death in it). It took me almost 40 years, but a few years ago I finally visited Louisa May Alcott's house in Concord, Massachusetts. It was magical.
Beverly Clearly. An amazingly prolific children's book author from Oregon...her books are classics and still loved today!
Sylvia Plath. As all English majors are, in college I was quite obsessed with Sylvia Plath, her short life, and her writing. (I never shared her suicidal tendencies, fortunately.) Sylvia Plath was also my doppelganger when I was younger!
Jane Austen. Another English major fave.
Mark Twain. Journalist, novelist, the father of American literature.
Harper Lee. Unlike everyone else on my list, she only wrote one book, To Kill a Mockingbird. But that book is perfect.
William Shakespeare. I have not read all of Shakespeare's plays, which I suppose is an embarrassment for an English major. Some, frankly, are not as fun to read as others. But I am pretty sure that all the literature of the world is encapsulated into the works of Shakespeare.
Robert Frost. The poet of American life.
Agatha Christie. The first "mystery writer" I ever read, and the creator of the quintessential English country house murder. Classic.Whew, that was exhausting!