Eleven Books that Changed My Life (really only nine)
Miles told Sean to do this, and Sean told me to do this. “11 books that have stayed with me. Not literary masterpieces or the ‘right’ books, but books that have become a part of me in some way.”
1. The Bible
Obviously the book with the most baggage on my list. This (and teachings from this) helped me find morality, not because I was told what to think, but because it forced me to search. I truly consider it to be one of the greatest books for liberals. It is insanity to follow it literally, and so it forced me to think for myself, while still acknowledging that cultural progress isn’t a new thing. Conversely, The Bible is a horrendous conservative text; I don’t recommend it to anyone whole likes to follow orders.
2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
My favorite book when I was a kid and maybe even funnier now. Its darkness captivated me. I was a very well behaved kid and I think I liked the idea that maybe one day I would be rewarded for it by someone very unwell behaved.
3. The Thief of Always
This almost perfect children’s book was my introduction to Clive Barker in grade school. I fell in love.
4. The Books of Blood (also by Clive Barker)
I went from Goosebumps to this, some of the edgiest horror of its time. Queer themes. Sexual and non-sexual body horror. Evil gods and sympathetic monsters. Horrifying for a kid in junior high, but I knew right away I had found my place. I’m still discovering the depths of the later stories.
5. The Sword of Truth series
I ran the Terry Goodkind fan website until I lost interest sometime during my senior year of high school. It has been fascinating to watch the author become a neo-conservative nut-job over the years as his wealth rose. His writing is now unbelievably repetitive space filler. My theory is that he now just gives an outline to a ghost writer and calls it a day.
6. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (not a book)
I’m including this because it has had such an effect on the way I look at all art, including literature. I didn’t get WB when I was a kid and so I watched Buffy using satellite feeds back before there was such a thing as Internet piracy. Buffy went through high school at the same time I did and I connected. It made me internalize that metaphor brings life to art and that it is okay for art to have meaning.
7. Being Peace
I read this in one sitting on a bus. It made me realize that I was already Buddhist.
8. The liner notes to Moby’s Everything is Wrong (also not a book, but at least it’s text)
It’s mostly just a list of everything that is wrong with the world back in 1995. I read it in 2000. It helped me see the world as a whole and inspired me to become a vegetarian.
My introduction to Chuck Palahniuk. I picked it up from a stack of books in a used bookstore and was immediately drawn in. I had no idea that people could write any way they damn well pleased.
10. Understanding Comics
This made me comic literate.
11. What It Is
This unconventional how-to writing book helped me when I wasn’t sure I could love writing again. I had completed a literary writing program at the University of Oregon and my inner critic had gone haywire. This helped me let go of what was good and bad and just go back to being authentic.