Books That Inspired Me to Write

I’ve been a voratious reader since I learned to read around age five. Here are five books that inspired me to become a writer.

1. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder – Like many people my age, I was first introduced to this series of books through the 80s TV show. I fell in love with this books and even convinced my parents to purchase the complete boxed set. I read all these books over and over again. I was astonished to learn that she was a normal woman who wrote her story. A “writer” wasn’t a special breed of person. If Ingalls Wilder could write, than so could I.

2. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott – I’d been writing a number of years with some success and a lot of rejection, when I finally discovered books about writing. Bird by Bird was one of the first books I read and it is still one of my favourites. Lamott provides funny and very practical advice about writing, life and the writing life. One of her best pieces of advice is to write “shitty first drafts.”

3. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen – I’m not sure how I first heard about this book (it was before the movie with Angelina Jolie came out), but it was one of the first memoirs I ever read. Kaysen spent nearly two years in a mental institution. Her bravery to write about her experience and make it public continues to inspire me to tell my story.

4. A Writer’s Diary by Virginia Woolf – I was lucky to find a 1954 hardcover edition of this book in a used bookstore that was going out of business. The Writer’s Diary brings together entries passages from Woolf’s diary that refer directly to her own writing. It was exciting to read her thoughts as she wrote many of her now-classic works, including The Voyage Out and Orlando. It was inspiring to realize that even a writer as brilliant as Woolf struggled at times.

5. House Rules by Rachel Sontag – I’ve written about this book before, and I continue to be inspired by Sontag’s bravery to write about her psychologically abusive father. She is especially brave because her father is still very much alive and has attached Sontag by writing hostile reviews on Amazon and even launching a website attempting to refute Sontag’s portrayal of him in her memoir. However, he has only managed to make himself look bad and lend credibility to Sontag’s book. Again, Sontag inspires me to continue writing my own memoir.

What books inspired you to write?


2 thoughts on “Books That Inspired Me to Write

  1. A critic begins her review of Girl, Interrupted with the observation//
    “When women are angry at men, they call them heartless. When men are angry at women, they call them crazy” .
    What you think , in what ways is Girl, Interrupted a book about the sexual constructs of madness,what role does the narrator’s gender appear to have played in her diagnosis and treatment??

    • You’ve raised a valid point. I don’t think Kaysen was really mentally ill – she just wasn’t conforming to what was expected of a woman in the late 60s. If she’d been male, she wouldn’t have been committed. A man would have been given time to “sow his wild oats” or “find himself.” Women, apparently, weren’t allowed to do that, and to some extend this is still true.

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