1. Powka
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    Powka New Member

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    Top 10 books you would read before writing a novel

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Powka, Dec 9, 2012.

    What are your Top 10 books to read before writing a novel if you would've never read anything before. The list can include technical "How To" books and novels of various genres. Basically, what books would you say had a major impact on your style of writing, etc.?
     
  2. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Stephen King's "The Stand"
    Kurt Vonnegut's "Breakfast of Champions"
    Anne Rice's "Interview with a Vampire"
    Henry David Thoreau "Walden"
    JD Salinger "Catcher in the Rye"
    Theodore Dreiser "An American Tragedy"
    Thomas Harris' "Silence of the Lambs"


    I can't think of three more right now, I'll come back and finish this posts!
     
  3. TALLULAH
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    TALLULAH Member

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    "The Elements of Style" - Strunk and White
    "The Prince of Tides" - Pat Conroy
    "Goodnight, Sweet Prince" - Gene Fowler:)
    "The Winds of War" - Herman Wouk
    "Gone, Girl"- Gillian Flynn
    "The Age of Innocence" - Edith Wharton
    "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" - Dave Eggers;)
    "Spoonriver Anthology" - Edgar Lee Masters
    "The Importance of Being Earnest" - Oscar Wilde:p
    "Hamlet" - William Shakespeare
     
  4. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    9 random books from the fiction section and The Writing Life by Annie Dillard.
     
  5. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    No books in particular.
     
  6. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    First, I wouldn't bother with any how-to books. And any list that any writer submits will reflect a number of things that are specific to each writer - age, tastes, areas of interest. Finally, if you'd literally never read anything before (any literature, that is), ten books wouldn't be nearly enough. So, all that said, what follows is my own personal list of works that have been important to me in shaping how and what I write, and that I think would have benefits for an aspiring writer.

    "The Old Man and the Sea" - Earnest Hemingway
    "The Novel" - James A. Michener
    "The Masters" - C.P. Snow (part of the 11 part "Strangers and Brothers" Series, which is recommended in full)
    "Fahrenheit 451" - Ray Bradbury
    "Advise and Consent" - Allan Drury
    "A Passage to India" - E.M. Forster
    "The Alchemist" - Paulo Coelho
    "MacBeth" - William Shakespeare
    "To Kill a Mockingbird" - Harper Lee
    "Tom Sawyer" - Mark Twain
    "To Serve Them All My Days" - R.F. Delderfield
    "War and Peace" - Leo Tolstoy
    "Inherit the Wind" - Lawrence and Lee
    "An Enemy of the People" - Henrik Ibsen
    "Great Expectations" - Charles Dickens
     
  7. Powka
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    Powka New Member

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    Thanks, fellas!

    Obviously, I have read literature before. The reason why I asked is because I'm just curious who's writing impacted everybody's work the most. I will definitely pick some books from these lists, because they might have a meaningful impact on my future as well. Great picks, by the way!
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If you had never read anything before, ten novels would not be enough before writing a novel.

    Removing that condition, whatever novels have PERSONALLY resonated with you are probably worth studying further. Explore what there is about them you find so compelling.
     
  9. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Nights at the circus - Angela Carter
    Short Stories of Vladimir Nabokov
    Moby Dick - Herman Meville
    The Cannibal - John Hawkes
    1984 - George Orwell
    Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
    Poetry collections -

    I also love literature studies - when a book is critiqued or discussed.
    As for how to writing books - I loved - 179 ways to save a novel by Peter Selgen
    and Making Shapely Fiction by Jerome Stern. Right now I'm reading The Art of Fiction.
    The how to books don't help as much as actually reading fiction and
    actually reading critiquing or literature studies books - they really tear
    down a novel and show you how it works.
     
  10. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I would suggest reading more than just 10 before starting. I don't know if it was just the way I was brought up but I feel you should know at least a good amount of the great western canon before starting. The Great Books. There is no education better for a writer.
     
  11. Powka
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    Powka New Member

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    I agree. There's just so many of them, and so little time. And I'm already dying to put my words and ideas into writing... eh.
     
  12. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The Selected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers (I love the rhythms he uses in his shorter lyrics, and the power and almost-horror of his narrative poetry)

    Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman (For his originality of vision and style - writers should be aware that rules can be broken and great art can still result)

    Ulysses, by James Joyce (About as daring as a novel gets. It's full of linguistic and technical innovation, and still beautiful)

    The Collected Short Stories of Edgar Allan Poe (Poe was, perhaps, the first master of the short story form, and he's still a master of prose)

    For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway (Technical mastery of flashback, scene structure, character, and economy of style. A brilliantly-written novel)

    East of Eden, by John Steinbeck (Original and creative imagery, powerful prose, great character development, and a deep story)

    The Hero with a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell (Writers should understand how myth affects literature, and this is a good place to start)

    The Story of Philosophy, by Will Durant (For non-philosophers, this is a great introduction, and very inspiring for a writer. It's also beautifully written.)

    Le Morte D'Arthur, by Sir Thomas Malory (One of the greatest stories in Western literature, told in powerful, if old-fashioned, language)

    The Jungle Books, by Rudyard Kipling (Kipling was a narrative genius with a gift for electrifying imagery, and had a powerful and vivid imagination - inspiring!)
     
  13. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Can I point out something funny? Not a single person has mentioned the Bible. I'm not a religious man myself, but I would have thought someone would.
     
  14. peachalulu
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    I would've added it - but I don't consider it a book, most Christians don't. But if you're going to look at it
    simply for it's literary merit - it's marvelous - pure, powerful poetry. One of the most marvelous
    writing lessons the Bible shows you, is how simple words and language can be more powerful
    than a boatload of long words or adjectives.
     
  15. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    If I could come up with such a list (which I can't), most of them would be books from the past 50 or 60 years. This is because I'd want to study contemporary writing styles and trends. Of course, as others have mentioned, if you've never read a book before, reading ten books isn't going to help very much.
     
  16. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's impossible to answer, because it should be ten books that are in the genre that you want to write. If you want to write sci fi, you should read 10 sci fi books. If you want to write romance, you should read 10 romance novels. If you want to write a coming of age story, you should read ten of those -- books you like and the books that would be on the shelf near your book and would be recommended as similar to yours'.
     
  17. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Sometimes that's true, and sometimes not. Two books that are totally out of my genre of writing, a book about former LSU basketball coach Dale Brown was a great read. It was an inspirational book that peaked my interest as teenager and first pointed me towards becoming a journalist. Another book in the same type of area was a biography by Mick Foley. Foley was a professional wrestler, and his book showed that a fat out of shape kid can gain success if they put their mind to it. Not only did he have success in his profession as a wrestler, but he wrote his own biography and some other books that reached the New York Times best seller list. If he can do it, I'm sure it is possible for me as well.
     
  18. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just to clarify, I did not mean to imply that one should not read as many books as possible, or that one should not read books in different genres and about many different things. I took this particular question to mean where should one focus one's reading when the intent in doing so is to help one write a novel. In that respect, it is most directly helpful to look at books that are similar to that the person wants to write. Of course, reading other types of books can be immensely helpful, just as other life experiences can be immensely helpful.
     
  19. Crystal
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    I would say it really depends on what audience you're aiming for, if you are into sci-fi probably Douglas Adams, Vonnegut, Bradbury, etc. For fiction I'd say Ulysses, the classics, & anything else you can get your hands on to give you a taste of the brilliant minds around.
     
  20. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Its just some people like to pigeon hole themselves into a certain genre instead reading all the books that catch their attention and add their personality to the mixture to create their own style. I'm a realism writer who likes to view the story through first person. It's something that can stretch across several barriers that include, periods of time, places on earth and beyond, and finally any race of person or even creatures. I came up with an idea where myself and several other people work together to write a short story in point of view using the same environment and events, then pull them together to show people how their personalities. I think it would be pretty cool.
     
  21. Vicki LaMotta
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    1.1984-Orwell
    2. Animal Farm-Orwell
    3.A Clockwork Orange-Burgess
    4. The Divine Comedy-Alighieri
    5.The Master and Margarita-Can't Remember
    6. Ovid's Metamorphosis-Ovid
    7.The Luck of Barry Lyndon- Thackery
    8.Watchmen-Moore
    9.A Brave New World-Can't remmeber.
    10. Lolita-Can't Remember
     
  22. Em_Anders
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    That's already being done, by several groups of authors. on Amazon.com. Self-published, but they call them Episodes. If you're interested in this particular style, you should look up "The Scourage". They're only currently on Episode 2, but so far it's pretty brilliant. And- Thoreau's "Walden", aside from providing you with food for thought and/or inspiration, does little more than inspire me with extreme attacks of narcolepsy. But to each their own. I'm sure my list will throw a few for a loop.

    If I had never read anything before but suddenly wanted literary inspiration before setting down and writing a novel, I would be one hopelessly lost, confused, and frustrated individual. Now, since I have read several hundreds of books, and have begun writing (when the mood strikes, not so much with intent to author a novel yet), and I was seeking other literature to warm up my brain, my list would be as follows:

    "Ender's Game", Orson Scott Card
    "Dandelion Wine", Ray Bradbury
    "Something Wicked This Way Comes", Ray Bradbury
    "To Kill a Mockingbird", Harper Lee
    "Pride and Prejudice", Jane Austen
    "Shadowfever", Karen Marie Moning
    "Dreamfever", Karen Marie Moning
    "Game of Thrones", GRR Martin
    *Anything by Nathaniel Hawthorne ecept "Young Goodman Brown" which I found to be frustrating.
    And lastly, "The Red Scarf", Kate Furnival
     
  23. Em_Anders
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    Auldus Huxley. I may have misspelled that. Been a few years since I've read Brave New World.
     
  24. MindTheGap
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    1. Lisey's Story by Stephen King
    2. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffeneger
    3. Wicked by Gregory Maguire
    4. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
    5. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
    6. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
    7. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
    8. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
    9. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
    10. Contact by Carl Sagen

    These have influenced me in many ways ranging from writing styles to POVs to setting/character development. Each author does something I admire and that I find to be helpful whilst crafting my own work.
     
  25. tmrose
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    "On Writing" by Stephen King. It taught me more about writing than any university class.
    "The Importance of Being Earnest" is another good one.
    This is followed closely by any books relevant to the research you need to do for your novel.

    Then I'd go back and re-read the books that inspired you to write. Figure out what you liked about them and what you didn't like.
     

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