Recently, a discussion group I belong to raised the question: What books have affected me the most as a writer and a person?
I had to think about this. Mostly because I’ve read thousands of books and enjoyed almost all of them. Did I mention I like to read? A lot?
Soon book titles and covers bubbled to my consciousness, like water coming to a boil. Or the La Brea Tar Pits. They would come to the surface, bob there a little bit, and then either drift away or sink back.
Then one book popped out of the water of my memory. Like a dolphin walking on its tail, chittering at me. When I saw it, I was surprised at first, then I knew it was the right one, the one that affected me most.
It was Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Why, you may ask, did I select this book?
I read this book for the first time when I was in sixth grade, if not earlier. I have read it many times since.
In this book I discovered the power of a story, a novel in this case, to reveal truth in a fashion that impacts the reader heart, mind, and soul. I believe it planted the first seed of my dream—my desire—to be a writer. Through the characters of George and Lennie, Steinbeck brings to life the world of the Depression, of homeless men, of the promise of land and a better life dangling just out of their reach.
The setting is a character that grabs your heart as Steinbeck situates the reader not just geographically but culturally as well.
Even with the sense of impending catastrophe, the reader is riveted to the page.
In this book, I learned what it’s like to dream, to love a friend, to make hard choices, and to live with the consequences.
When I finished this book, I said, “I want to write like that.”
Beyond its influence on my dream to be a writer, this book changed me as a person by opening my eyes to the world and how it can affect each of us.
What book, besides the Bible, has affected you the most?