I’ve been trying to remember all the books which have most influenced my thinking and writing. This week is the writing category and next week is the thinking category. Of course, they overlap and this is only a fraction of the most influential — the ones that at some point in my life I read more than once because I needed them. I’ve tried to put them in chronological order — the order in which I discovered them, that is, not the order of their publication. I also tried to summarize in one phrase what I learned from them.

Half Magic by Edward Eager – I love magic!

Five Children and It by E. Nesbitt – I love English magic!

Bedknob and Broomstick by Mary Norton – I love English magic and history!

The Witches of Karres by James H. Schmitz – I love magic and science fiction!

Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott – Books without magic can be good sometimes.

Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander – Time travel is fun.

The Princess and the Goblin by George Macdonald – Spooky stories can be fun sometimes if they’re not too spooky.

The Compleat Enchanter by L.Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt – Magic is fun for grown-ups, and a little romance can be fun, too.

Ice Crown by Andre Norton – Science fiction can include romance. and some complicated issues.

Madam Will You Talk by Mary StewartRomance can be thrilling.

Desiree by Annemarie Selinko – History can be fascinating.

The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart – Magic can be complicated and historical.

Lord Foul’s Bane  by Stephen Donaldson – Fantasy can be complicated and meaningful.

Booked to Die by John DunningBook collecting can be a fun thing; think I’ll try it.

Timeline by Michael Crichton – Time travel can be frightening and well-researched.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon Best history/ romance/ time travel series ever.


Zola Helen Ross — She wrote mysteries and historical fiction. More importantly, she taught a creative writing course at Lake Washington Vocational Technical School and was extraordinarily kind and encouraging to a teenaged writer.

Elizabeth Peters — What can I say? I love her books. All of them. I love her strong, opinionated female protagonists, her suspenseful plots, and her humorous dialogue.

Connie Willis — Willis is fearless in writing complex stories in complex ways. She inspires me to take risks in my writing.