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Day 3: A Book

Something else to write.

To say books have influenced me is an understatement. I have a difficult time pinpointing the books which have influenced me the most and keep the reminiscence positive because far more books have influenced me negatively than positively. Overall, the net result was positive since I learned what not to do.

Genres have played a large part in influencing me. Each one brings something significantly different to the table, stimulates a different part of the brain and bears different flavors of fruit.

Romance

I am the single least romantic person ever (at least in the accepted connotation- by definition I am very romantic, but I digress). Romance novels make my eye twitch. If anyone really desires to live in a world so saccharine, it certainly is not me and my artificial-sweetener-challenged self.

The entire genre to me seems alien. I find the sweetness with no real conflict implausible. The three (It was all I could stomach.) romance novels (bodice rippers) were enough to make me write real (hard core) erotica.

Science Fiction

Piers Anthony is a long standing favorite author of mine. Besides being the king of puns, he has a sharp wit. Over the years, I have seen his novels dismissed by many as children’s-book attempts at adult sci-fi. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The realization most of the humor and much of the complexity of his enormously long story lines (and the wherewithal it takes not to require readers read all fourteen books in the series to understand) cleared my vision to the growing number of people in my world who do not understand snark, sarcasm or dry humor. I generally ask them to name their favorite Three Stooges episode to bring levity back to the conversation.

Historical Fiction

crystal cave mary stewartMary Stewart is another author whose foray into the distant past, be it legend or folklore, influenced my ability to enjoy fictionalized history. As a stark historian, rather than a revisionist, I had to learn to disengage from some of the opinion which passes for fact and appreciate the research which goes into making a historical fiction novel not feel like a caricature of a reference book.

Wariner’s

By far, the text book which influenced me more than any other was this series of grammar books. One of the holy texts in the Grammar Nazi genre, along with Strunk’s and Harbrace’s, Wariner’s was the beginning of learning how to use mechanical language consistently to give my reader’s brains enough spare RAM to process what can be any number of complex topics.

True Crime

One of my favorite subjects is serial killers. Chalk it up to my love of psychology. My books span the gamut from cheap novellas promulgated from newspaper clippings (read seventh grade reading level) and Internet searches to well-researched novels with interviews of the offenders, victims and investigators.

herpes virusBesides the psychosis-on-a-slide view, what struck me was even a story this heart-rending and gut-wrenching it can be filled with viable information and useful facts: Neither of which need smash the reader over the head with words like You should…

Encyclopedias

No. I did not grow up with Wikipedia, fortunately. The impractical production costs of encyclopedias is a sad state of affairs to my mind. For me, the encyclopedias (We had more than one set.) were the largest set of flashes and short stories, with the fiction sucked out. Generous with illustrations, they were the cure for rainy day boredom.

Fantasy

Michael Moorcock is one of my all time favorite fantasy writers. Although many people only know of Corum (Swords), Cornelius and Elric, by far, my favorite of his books is The Weird of the White Wolf. His imagination is seemingly boundless, and his body of works is rivaled by very few. (full stop)

Poetry

Poetry Confusion memeI got a few raised eyebrows when I mentioned my love for The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere, which coincided with my outrage at my own poetry being compared to William Shakespeare, shudder. While my friends are enamored with the likes of e.e. cummings, Sylvia Plath, Leonard Cohen, Robert Frost, Maya Angelou, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound and Margaret Atwood, my appreciation predates all of them by a few centuries. While I do not denying having read them, they are far less influential than poetry from before the turn of the 19th century.

The part of poetry which influences me more than the rhymes themselves is the lack of commentary from contemporaries. The complete lack of celebration of poetry outside very small and snotty circles cannot be explained in terms I understand. Perhaps, enough of the world has been convinced they are too illiterate to understand and are content in such a ludicrous assessment.

On the other foot, it may be impetus for me to write another book… of not poems.

Non-fiction

My entire world is a place of discovery and sharing; ergo, it stands to reason self-help would be nestled in my library in significant comfort. Ranging from a plethora of cookbooks (with stories to support the recipes) to scattered repair manuals, I will always be the four-year-old with the eternal Why?

All of them have influenced me in different ways because I have a massive amount of information amassed, which (in my not at all humble opinion) is worth sharing. Long before the coining of the term SEO, I learned how to collate the tidbits into manageable bites: Tender, satisfying, flavorful- even if it was mystery meat before the meal.

What?

RedNo, I cannot answer this question as to one single book which influenced me more than all the others. The reason is, simply, every book is valuable. With more than 8,000 titles in my library ranging from the hundreds of children’s books to the dogeared reference books, I simply love to read.

As luck would have it, it makes me a better author.


What do you read? Why do you read it? Are you up for a challenge?

Hashtags: #30daychallenge #reading #bestbooks

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15 Comments

  1. I’m supposed to have time to read?? I can barely make it through two step directions. Actually, lately it’s more of what am I NOT going to read after glancing the first few sentences.
    Laurie recently posted..Day 3: A Book I LoveMy Profile

    Reply
    • I, too, waste a good deal of time weeding those I will not read. ROFL @ two-step directions.

      Reply
  2. I love reading. I’ve complained for about a year that I don’t have enough time. Almost anything that’s not nailed down is fair game–except romance novels. I got over those when I was a teen. Favourite genres, I have a few: mystery and suspense, true crime, fiction, non-fiction. I’m not partial to fantasy.

    Now I want to go read but I can’t before I finish up here. Maybe before I sleep tonight…
    tess kann recently posted..How’s Yours?My Profile

    Reply
    • Have you just scheduled time to read? When I have something I want to read, I merely schedule it in. If I can schedule time to write, I can certainly schedule time to read. x

      Reply
  3. I don’t believe I’ve ever read any of those. I prefer non-fiction mostly, health, diet… my latest was programming Python.
    Binky recently posted..Need Want WashMy Profile

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    • I read a lot of non-fiction. Every once in a while, I like to escape to a place where I have never been and may want to visit.

      Reply
  4. I’m impressed by the size of your library, Red! I love to read poetry, cookbooks, art books with color plates and text and The Far Side comics. My library has mostly poetics books from when I was teaching and reference books. My favorite book is my large hardbound thesaurus. I collect art books and poetry books of my favorite poets.
    Gail Thornton recently posted..Mantra’s Book of Shadows, Dark Poetry by Red DwyerMy Profile

    Reply
    • I adore Far Side. I collected the individual panels from the newspaper when I was very young and made a mat to hang behind my desk. Everyone needs a thesaurus. xxx

      Reply
  5. You and I share a love for Piers Anthony. I have always adored SciFi and the early forms of Adult Fantasy. What passes today, well that is a much longer discussion. I think there is a new genre that combines the bodic ripper with fantasy and soft porn, it is good for a quick read on the plane but not much else.

    Frank Herbert and Robert Heinlein were always two of my favorites.

    Reference books? Shelves of them spanning rooms.

    We also share a love of Mary Stewart, I could reread that series again, soon. I love historical fiction though I tend to twitch if I know someone got it wrong, not the small stuff but the really large stuff, like battles and who fought in them. If an author wants to write historical fiction, please do the research to do it properly even if all the characters in the story are fictional, the place settings aren’t.

    Being a wonk means I have a library of reference material about political figures, SCOTUS and other strange things. I love reading biographies, authorized and otherwise.

    Philosophy and religion fill my library, all kinds.

    Books, self-help and books about my career surround me.

    I did a purge about five years ago and got my books down to a reasonable number. I keep my favorite authors, many who are currently out of print. But I reduced my library to what I could hold on my shelves (there are lots of them). I think I am now down to around 3,000 books. Most books I don’t keep any more, they have to be special to end on a library shelve.

    Reply
    • I need to expand my philosophy section. I believe I am becoming more staid in my age and could use some other input, especially some time honored ones. I am currently downsizing the books (again). I am getting too old to be toting them in moves.

      Reply
  6. The Hidden Persuaders, Megatrends, The Third Wave, Constantine’s Sword

    Reply
  7. Pat Armstrong

     /  July 23, 2013

    My bookshelves are packed full with old and new science fiction, crime and psychological thrillers, mathematical and plant oddities, gardening reference, herbal remedy reference and cook books that span centuries of cooking styles and methods. We’re facing a possible move after being here for 13 years and I don’t know how I’m going to pare it all down.

    Pimping my niece’s first novel: “The Last Seraph” (Jennifer Rehnay)

    I was surprised that I enjoyed it so much. Reminded me of the humor in “Good Omens.” It is about the ‘devil’ but from a very different perspective. It’s on Amazon

    Reply
    • I would be hard pressed to pare down in my library. The only thing I have let go in the last 15 years was the revised statutes of Louisiana when I left the state and stopped practicing. Now, I just pack them up and drag them along. xxx

      Reply

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