November 20, 2012 by Julia
I happened to stumble onto The Broke and the Bookish, which appears to be a blog by a bunch of book geeks who review the same kind of books I love to read–so, score! In general, I don’t put any stock in the media opinions of people whom I don’t know, because of how much effect taste has on the whole process. Here’s an example: I love The Happening. Pretty much everyone else hates The Happening. Therefore, their reviews of other movies are useless to me, since clearly I may like the things they hate and vice versa. But, if I know someone else generally enjoys the same kind of books I do, I am willing to put more stock in their opinions, hence my appreciation for The Broke and the Bookish and their apparently similar tastes. It’s a great blog, you should check it out.
They do this thing called Top Ten Tuesday; I won’t be doing it every week, probably, but when a topic interests me, you get a list. Yay! This week is books or authors for which I am thankful (I am focusing on authors, to narrow the scope), in no particular order. Or, rather, the order is the order in which they occur to me.
(“Julia, why don’t you just start a book blog?” Because I’m too busy to separate all of my blogging into a million different blogs that each get updated twice a month, that’s why)
- Takeuchi Naoko, the mangaka behind Sailor Moon. This manga literally changed my life: if I hadn’t seen the anime based on the manga, I wouldn’t have discovered anime, geek culture, or a whole bunch of friends (including Ish, actually). Even if I had discovered anime later on, I would have missed out on having something to hold on to during high school so I didn’t lose myself.
- L.J. Smith. IMO, she is basically responsible for the current YA urban fantasy trend. I read The Vampire Diaries, Forbidden Game, and her entire library in the 90s (I still own a copy of everything published under her name, except the Stefan Diaries, because I hate Stefan), and her work is expressly the reason I love urban fantasy so much now. Also, I am in love with Damon Salvatore, and have been in love with him since before today’s tween tv show fans were even born. So there.
- Diana Wynne Jones. Howl’s Moving Castle is my all-time favorite book, and I think Diana Wynne Jones was one of the best writers to ever live. Her work was magical, and written for children without talking down to them; anyone can enjoy her books. I cried when she died.
- Janet Evanovich. After I decided I was done with romance novels and moved on to urban fantasies, someone recommended the Stephanie Plum books to me–and I love them to this day. I wouldn’t know that I even like “normal people” books anymore, and probably wouldn’t read comedies, if I didn’t enjoy Janet Evanovich’s work so much.
- Tamora Pierce. I can still remember being fairly young, sitting in a restaurant, reading one of the Song of the Lioness books while my parents talked to my grandparents. Tamora’s Pierce’s books introduced me to fantasy and strong heroines. I continue to read her books to this day; my favorite series is Protector of the Small, although I also especially loved the Trickster books.
- J.R.R. Tolkien. Yes, yes, I have a hard time reading the Lord of the Rings because of his writing style, but he is pretty much responsible for 1. role-playing games and 2. the Lord of the Rings movies, which are the only time you will hear me say that the movies are better than the books (see above re: writing style). The movies also started to make it cool to be a geek, which Harry Potter finished up. While I’m not always thrilled about geekdom being mainstream, at least it made it easier to find geek merch.
- Aldous Huxley. Brave New World was the first dystopian-future book I ever read, and it had a profound impact on my thinking that endures to this day. I trust neither pharmaceuticals nor the government because of Aldous Huxley.
- George Orwell. You may be surprised to learn that I never read 1984 until this year. Seriously. I was never specifically assigned it in school (it would appear on lists from which I could pick a book, but I never chose it; I did read Animal Farm, though, and loved it), so I decided to read it because everyone in the conservative blogosphere makes at least one 1984 reference per week (I think it’s a law). Even though Orwell was a socialist simply annoyed at Soviet totalitarianism, his work has given the right wing an entire language through which to interpret the actions of the left.
- Alan Booth. His book The Roads to Sata was the first travel narrative I ever read, and it got me hooked. I highly recommend it.
- Jan Wong. If it weren’t for Red China Blues, I would have no idea that there is an entire genre of books out there containing first-hand accounts of life in communist China. It’s still my favorite book in the genre (A Mother’s Ordeal by Steven Mosher is my second-favorite).
(note: yes, I thoroughly enjoyed Harry Potter and the Hunger Games. They’re not on the list because I had to limit it in some way, and I went with “authors who had an actual impact on me.” As much as Harry Potter and the Hunger Games are brilliantly-written series that well deserve the praise they get and I am indeed thankful they were written, they did not necessarily impact my life. Otherwise, this would just be a list of authors I like, which is not really the purpose)