For those that have followed this page now know that I write about Entertainment. I write about movies, music, TV, and of course Pro Wrestling. I also love reading and have been reading ever since grade school. I went to Kent State University and got a B.A. in English. I thought I’d do a list of books that had an influence on me. The list is non wrestling and non music (I will probably write another time on those two topics). Also, I am not listing The Bible in my list, just because it’s a given that that’s made an impact on me. Now here is a list of some books that have made an impact on me and are my favorites, in no particular order.
1. “The Wizard of Oz” Collection by L.Frank Baum. Not only is the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz” one of my favorite movies of all time, but as a kid I read the entire Oz books. One of my earliest memories of reading was going to my local library in Columbiana, Ohio and checking out all of the Oz books and re-reading them over and over. Most people do not know that there are 14 books of the original cannon. These books are not just great storytelling, but they also featured things such as televisions, wireless phones, and computers years before they were considered (the first book was written in 1900). We all know Dorothy’s trip to Oz (as in the first book, where the movie takes its inspiration), but characters such as Jack Pumpkinhead and a boy named Tip are lesser known. (Also in the 6th book, “The Emerald City of Oz,” Dorothy, Aunt Em, and Uncle Henry move and live in Oz, where the original movie ends with it all being a dream) Some of the characters appear in the dark sequel movie “Return to Oz,” but I encourage you to check out the books, especially with the Fantasy Genre in books (thanks to Harry Potter and other series) being popular again.
2. “Little House on the Prairie” collection by Laura Ingalls Wilder. These series of books were published from 1932-1943. These were another set of books I would enjoy early in my youth while visiting the library. I remember they were big printed books and were my first encounter with books with a female as the narrator. These books described the early history of our country as well, with settler life. The television show would also bring the tales to life. There were 8 books in the series that described farming life and the book “The Long Winter” (the 6th book in the collection) uses one of the worst winters in history (the winter of 1880-1881) as its premise.
3. “13 Reasons Why” by Jay Asher. This book was released in 2007 and was a #1 Best Seller about a girl Hannah Baker who commits suicide. A few days after, the main character Clay (who had a crush on her) receives cassette tapes and a map that describes how 12 people played a role in her death. Once the person finished the tapes, they were to pass it on to the next name in the order they are mentioned. I can’t remember how I came across the book, but I could not put it down. I had to know how Clay was related to her death. This book is not just suspenseful, but for a Young Adult book it was well written and had a moral. The book has been used for anti bullying in schools, and will be Netflix series produced by Selena Gomez’s company (she is not starring in it, although originally there was talk of her doing it as a big screen film). This is one fairly recent book that I absolutely loved. Asher has another book that I like, called “The Future of Us,” and has a new one coming out this year, but I really liked this one the best of his work so far.
4. “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel. I bought this book at my local library book sale last year, and knew of the book, but never read it until late last year after seeing the movie “God’s Not Dead.” The book is used by the main character to prove to his professor the existence of God. I could relate to the movie (I took a class at Kent where the professor failed students if they believed in God), and when I realized I still had the book, I dug into it. The 1998 book is about a newspaper journalist from Chicago (an Atheist) who decides to investigate and interview several scholars about their belief in the existence of Jesus, and if he was truly who he claimed he was. The book is written as if the reader is sitting in a room listening to two people logically debate the topics. The book is deep with thoughts and information that makes the reader think about what they believe. The book also informed me on interviewing skills, since the author was a journalist. This is a book that every Christian should read.
5. “Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie. The book was also called “Ten Little Indians.” The U.S. Version of the book was released in 1939 after having to change the title from a previous title. I first read the book at Kent State, and I remember liking it , but forgot about it until last year when I decided to read Agatha’s books as a goal. The book got me hooked on reading more of her works, in which she has become one of my favorite authors. The plot involves 8 people in England accused of a murder but they all escaped justice. When they arrive at a house, a record accuses them of the crimes, and they have been brought to the house on an island to pay for their crimes. One by one they start to get murdered. Christie is not only the top selling mystery writer in history, but according to Wikipedia, the book is the #5 best-selling books ever (The #1 is the Bible, so think about that). This is my favorite book of Christie and keeps the reader engaged all the way through with no dull parts to it. This is the book that I would recommend to introduce the reader to her work. There has been several television films and movies made of this work, including a recent BBC production.
6. “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This is my favorite book of all time. No matter how many times I read it, I get something new out of it. This 1925 novel is considered The Greatest American Novel by many, and I agree. I read this book every semester in college (and stupid me kept selling it back to the college bookstore. I finally received a copy years after I graduated for Christmas). I taught the book when I was an English Teacher at a Christian school during my two-year tenure. The themes about a lost love, The American Dream, and what it is to people, and the idea of changing a person’s past are universal. Another reason I love the book is that it is a short book at 180 pages. This, to me, is the book every writer wants to write, with characters that the reader remembers, does not have dull fillers to make the novel longer, and is relatable years after it was released. My girlfriend even got me a T-shirt of the cover of the book because I love the book so much. I have yet to see a movie version that captures the soul of the story. As much as I like Robert Redford, his version did not really do it for me, although most of it was the supporting cast, and the 2013 Leonardo DeCaprio version was awful in my opinion. I try to read this book once a year.
Great books not only keep you engaged while reading, but just like a great song, it transport you to where you were and the times you were living when you were reading the book. This is why I think reading is lost on today’s generation of social media-they do not have the patience or the attention to sit down and be taken away to another time and place. Hopefully this list may encourage you to discover, or rediscover these books. I’d be happy to hear what books have influenced you as well. Until then, happy reading!!!