The Books that Most Influenced Me

2018 is winding down and coming to an end, and like I did at the end of 2017 I thought it would be interesting to revisit some the media I consumed in 2018 and list some of the best bits. That was the plan. Then a friend of mine nominated me for this meme that's going around where people talk about their ten most influential reads. The idea is that those nominated write a couple sentences about the ten most influential books that they have read in their entire life and include a picture of each title. So now we're going to do that instead.

Only we're going to do it a bit differently because I'm complicated and can't behave. The meme has nominees writing a couple sentences about each book, but I want to write more and really delve into what these books mean to me. So I started thinking about and making a list of the ten most influential books I've ever read. It was tough, but I narrowed it down to eleven, because Spinal Tap. They're not all books. One of them is an author and a couple of them are book pairings that compliment each other well. One is a comic books series adapted to a movie.

I often find that these kinds of lists suffer regularly from recentism. Not just this type of list, but lists of best things in general regularly consist of what their authors experienced recently. So I've made a concerted effort to dig into my past and try to remember what books influenced me throughout my life, but limited the list to the post-pubescence me. Sorry Dr. Seuss. The Butter Battle Book was definitely instructive in me becoming the rabid anti-imperialist I remain to this day. But it didn't make the list. On the flip side a key component to this test has been remembrance. If I don't remember a book fondly it either didn't leave that great of an impression on me or I'm just old and forgot about it. Either way it didn't make the list.

Thus, I tried to focus on books I still think about. The ones that stuck with me and on rare occasions I read multiple times. I wanted a list of timeless books, classics. But not classics in the sense that someone with a fancy degree chose them, classics for me. I chose books that I want to tell people about. I have some strange tastes and a tendency to get really into obscure topics before getting bored with them and abandoning them for something else. Sometimes these explorations bear timeless fruit, and sometimes they simply scratch an itch that then stops itching. I ignored textbooks because they're both boring to talk about and go through revisions. If I'm not excited to talk about a book it shouldn't be on this list.

I wanted to avoid is simply providing book reviews. This list is supposed to be about what influenced me and why. This is not a list good books that everyone should go out and read. If something sounds interesting, go check it out. But this is a personal list above all, and something I hope to revisit in the future to better understand my past self and development.