I’m in a few book clubs and always push for fiction when it comes time to vote on our next book. Fiction improves my writing and storytelling, and inspires everyday creativity.
The following is a list of the top 10 books I’ve read and how they play a part in my professional life.
1. “Still Alice“: Written from the voice of a woman diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, author Lisa Genova takes us on a journey. The writing conveys so well the confusion and anxiety the protagonist feels that it makes me want to be a better storyteller.
2. “The Hunger Games“: Need I say more? The books in this series are easy-to-read page turners. The trilogy, like the new “Chemical Garden” rage, provides a lot of creativity. Just the thought of someone who can create these worlds inspires the reader to push the boundaries.
3. “The Handmaid’s Tale“: This is my sister’s favorite book, and I’ve read it twice. Margaret Atwood mixes old eras with future scenarios in a way that makes you pause to ask yourself how you would react in the different situations.
4. “The Paris Wife“: I’ve always been infatuated with Ernest Hemingway, so when I heard about a book based on one of his lovers, I just had to read it. I’m glad I did. It’s interesting how, in such a dynamic time of drugs, art, sex and mixed culture, the imagery of the writing allows for any woman to relate to the struggles of finding herself.
5. The “Dragon Tattoo“ books: If you haven’t read these yet, it’s not too late. I’ve never been into murder mysteries, but this story drew me in. I didn’t like the first book as much as I did the following two, but what struck me is how well Stieg Larsson helps you visualize everything going on. It’s not the amount of detail as much as it is seeing things through the characters’ eyes.
6. “Little Bee“: I like this book, not just for the storyline of survival, injustice and bravery, but for the way Chris Cleeve switches between different perspectives. With books like this one I usually can’t wait to get back to the point-of-view of one character, but in Little Bee, Cleeve switches from one character to the next so well you don’t even realize you’re jumping around.
7. “Unbroken“: This is by far the best book I have ever read—and yes, I know it’s not fiction. Laura Hillenbrand also wrote “Seabiscuit,” which I did not like, but this time she tells the fascinating story of a World War II prisoner of war. The character development is such that I have never felt closer to a character. Not only is the story compelling, but Hillenbrand tells it in a way that makes the book impossible to put down.
8. “Running with Scissors“: Even though it’s been ages since I’ve read this, there is something troubling about the boy’s optimistic attitude that keeps coming back to me over the years. The way he turns his life into a learning session reminds me not to be so diluted and to let things go.
9. “Me Talk Pretty One Day“: David Sedaris is one of my favorite authors, and this has to be his best book. I’m a young, white woman raised normally in the suburbs of Detroit, so how can I relate to him? I have nothing in common with his life but, when I read his books, I feel like he is a long-time friend.
10. “Are You There Vodka? It’s me, Chelsea“: Chelsea Handler writes in a way that makes you constantly laugh and snicker. Her stories bring me down to earth and remind me that, compared to her, I am not funny and my life is dull.
I will carry these books with me for a long time. The stories’ details may fade, but the ideas have longevity.
What are some of your favorite fiction books, and how do they affect your professional life?