Captain Underpants Changed my Life. You got a Problem with That?

Here's the challenge set to me by Teresa at Dreamers, lovers, and Star Voyagers ; I must pick my FIVE favourite reads and ask 5 friends to do so also.

As if right? I'll never do it. I know that before I begin. I always avoid this question. But! This was a challenge and I like to prove that I can do anything if I try really hard. So I scribbled down a list. Around twenty-five titles I just knew it was impossible. I would never cut this list back. In fact, I kept adding to it throughout the day. So then I thought, maybe I could do this by genre and pick my faves by genre. Still impossible, I like too many genres. And the reasons I like a certain historical are very different than the reasons I like a certain sci-fi. 

By author? Too many. Even picking one author I really like, I couldn't bring it down to five. There is a lot of good writing out there. I even tried by era. Not at all helpful, in fact it added to my list since I'd forgotten lots.

So then I asked myself, well, WHY do I like this book and want it in my pile? The whys were a little different and 5 jumped out at me.

So. Here it is. The 5 books that changed my life and my writing (both) in some way so significant that I just have to share them with you. 
 

THE FIRST BOOK THAT MADE ME WANT TO TELL STORIES:
The Haunting of Hill House By Shirley Jackson

I was probably in grade 7 when my wonderful English teacher pulled this one off the shelf of meager selection for me to try. (SHOUT OUT TO ALL THOSE WONDERFUL LANGUAGE TEACHERS.) I was already an avid reader and enjoyed a variety of books but this one hooked me in a very different way. I remember looking at storytelling with new eyes.

I keep thinking I should reread it now that I'm slightly older, but I'm scared to. What if it doesn't affect me the same way it did over twenty years ago? I'd hate to ruin the magic. I mean, when I put this book down my only thought was that one day, I'd be a storyteller, too.


AND WRITE THEM WELL:

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne, Dave King

This book is one of many that gave me the confidence I needed to turn my quantity into quality. I chose this one because I found it pulled me from my closet and made me think, "I can."

This is my motivation. It is written in easy to follow English. It is fun to read. It works. And it means I can story tell in a way that doesn't make my wonderful English teacher cringe.

YET SAY THINGS MY WAY:

Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn

There were actually LOTS of books that fit this slot. But I picked this one out of the bunch cause it is a shining example of the type of storyteller I want to be. It makes writing look easy. It breaks the rules. It had me so invested I was furious, breathless, frustrated, happy AND THEN.... it left me satisfied.

I don't actually remember putting it down until it was done which is what made me select it over a few others that I consider the best rule breaking fiction out there. It made me think, "Why am I following the rules? Just... tell the story the way it needs to be told."


WITH CHARACTERS WE RELATE TO:
You Can't Lie to Me by Janine Driver
This one changed how I write. It changed how people talk to me. It changed the way I look at people around me. (potential characters... um right?) I don't always like what I see or learn, but the truth hurts and this is a new element that I brought into my writing that adds flavour and nasty evilness

Anyone who was in my life while I read this book must have found me annoying, cause it was all I talked about. I use it all the time. I use it in my writing, in my business, in my life, with my kids. To start conversations... and to end them.
  


AND THAT CHANGE LIVES:
 Captain Underpants- the entire collection by Dav Pilkey 

Is there a child in you life? Heck with the age, the gender, just grab a copy of any of the Captain Underpants and snuggle up to read for a few minutes...

Magic will happen.

I was shocked. I still am. These books changed everything. They reminded me that the audience is the boss who every storyteller must please. WHO do we write for? Now I look at each word I write and ask myself if this is the right word for my target audience. Is it the magical one that will make them giggle, cry, cringe, keep reading. 

 But... it did so much more.
 
It added laughter in my life. Two giggling kids rolling off the bed means we will read this again and again. So far, we read the entire series twice. A book takes us two to three nights to devour. Next time they get to read it to me. We have voices that I can't get wrong. My oldest one quite often added in her two cents, reminding me that she is young enough to enjoy a goofy book, but old enough to know I should have used a much more boring tone when reading that Blah blah blah part. Come on, Mom! 

It brought us together as a family. It got my son to pick up other books in hopes they are THAT good. It got my daughter reading a series she likes to her brother. It made me take a look at what works in a book. It might be a silly book, but it changed my life, my writing, and left a wonderful scar on my children.

So now I'm supposed to pick 5 who I challenge to share 5 of their faves with us.Since I know how hard this is, I'm not going to point the finger. I challenge everyone. Dare you to try and find books that are your favourite and tell us why. Link back to me so I can read your list. Can't wait to see who wins this challenge.

Everyone else, who just isn't up for the challenge, well, what book changed your life and why?    

6 comments:

Richard Hughes said...

Interesting selection. I'm particularly intrigued by "You can't lie to me."

It's wonderful you and your children get so much fun out of reading together.

Valentina Hepburn said...

Swallows and Amazons was a favourite of mine - also the Chronicles of Narnia. I loved Memoirs of a Geisha, although it got some bad press, and Lucia Lucia by Adrian Trigiani. For some reason, the voice of that novel left a big impression on me. Also Pride and Prejudice which I adore. Oh, Tanya its so hard to pick a few when there are so many. Hope you and yours are well.

Suzi said...

Captain Underpants? Have not heard of that one. What's the age level? I've got a 6 & 8 yr old. The 8 yr old being a boy and into boy humor. Then teaching it to his little sister. I might have to check it out.

The Outsiders was my favorite childhood book. I really need to read it again to get my adult perspective.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

What a great list! I have heard of Captain Underpants but never felt motivated to read it. Your post makes me want to. And, like Richard, I'm intrigued, now, by You Can't Lie to Me. (Thank goodness I'm five blocks away from a library, or I would go broke reading. I do go broke reading, anyway, because I live six blocks away from my favorite used book store. Sigh.) But I liked your picks and your reasons for them. Thanks for some good reads. I can see why you had such a hard time picking, though. I can never come up with a "favorite book" or "favorite author". There are so many. But one of my all time favorites was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith. Those characters felt so real to me, I wanted to move in with them. :-)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting. I have felt a bit "out of touch" lately, being so concerned about my dog & my godfather. It's nice to connect again with blog friends.

vbtremper said...

My boys love Captain Underpants! The little one is currently reading #7. He flies through them.

Gosh, books that have influenced me or changed my life...Great Expectations by Dickens, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard, White Cat by Holly Black, The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan, A Midsummer Night's Dream by Shakespeare. Among others.

-Vicki