We spend so much time thinking about the world of literature that we often overlook the simple joy of sitting down and reading. We want to know which books inspire your reading, but in order to facilitate an even trade, we feel that it’s only fair to put ourselves out there first. We polled our office, not just the writers, but all of the amazing, hard-working people who make this website possible.
Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
I developed an interest in Afghani culture and the (then) situation occurring on their land. It made me question my morality and character. Am I one to be courageous in extreme danger? Would I act in altruism? I’d like to think I would.
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
David Sedaris has such an interesting perspective and I envy his the ability to turn mortifying experiences into hilarious stories. Sedaris writes about his childhood, being one of six children, and I found myself (one of seven children) relating to so many of his reflections and insights about being in a large family. MTPOD ultimately opened my eyes to embracing all the oddities and discomforts in life, because really, everyone has them.
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All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
My mom belonged to a Book of the Month club and I loved getting lost in the world of a country veterinarian in Britain — a very different place than my suburban Detroit childhood, but somehow familiar. At the time I read it, I was also working on my college application essays, and was convinced I wanted to be a doctor. I was accepted to my first school of choice, University of Michigan. But in my junior year of college, I realized I wanted to be an author like James Herriot, not a country doctor… Reading about a vet and his care of animals and the people in his community made me think I wanted to do that, when what I finally sorted out is that I wanted to explore and document community from a writer’s perspective.
I tell people that it didn’t matter that I studied Biology for three and half years before I changed my major to English Literature and became a writer; no knowledge is wasted. I was hired on (while still a student) to write for the UM Hospital newspaper, and they hired me on full time when I finished school. I had an edge on other student work-study students because I’d actually studied pre-med AND writing courses, and volunteered at the hospital. For three years, I loved writing about the people who worked at the Hospital, from doctors, nurses, researchers as well as the woman who ran the gift shop, a front desk clerk who was extraordinarily kind, art therapists who worked with kids in the pediatric ICU, and a really cool Vietnam Vet nurse who flew on the Medical Helicopter when UM got its first one.
The Late Shift by Bill Carter
The Late Shift was one of the first “adult” books that I wanted to read again and again. I usually hated reading the books we were assigned in school, but after being allowed to read this one for an assignment, I finished it in 3 days and couldn’t stop talking about it. This book got me excited about reading on a level I had never felt before. Also, it gave me a reason to go into old used bookstores and see if I can find copies of the book because it is out of print.
Modoc by Ralph Helfer
Modoc is a beautiful story about the bond between human and elephant, despite many challenges along the way. One of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever read, it will make you laugh, cry, and most of all, it is a perfect example that love is eternal, no matter the obstacles.
Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann
What made me pick Let the Great World Spin up was the web of life plot revolving around a singular event. What kept me turning its pages was the prose. Colum McCann’s sentences are lyrical, but precise and, in effect, so is this story.
The House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
The House Of Leaves was proof that the traditional novel form is completely unnecessary. The physical changes, text layout, use of color, and celebration of blank pages is just part of the experimentation. Through all the chaos there are three distinct narrations happening, all of which fit together in the most amazing ways. The way I read books was indelibly changed after visiting the House.
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Black Girl Love by Anondra Williams
Have you ever read a book or story that you felt captured your life and experience perfectly? That’s how I felt when I read the book Black Girl Love, a collection of 25 stories and poems by Anondra “Kat” Williams, capturing black girl life and love. I enjoyed reading the stories from this book so much, that I produced my first short film, Purple. “Purple” is the first short story in the book and its a romantic love story which offers a glimpse into the lives of two people who fall in love despite shaky beginnings. I decided to bring the stories from Black Girl Love to life through film because I felt Williams really articulated lesbian love.
Post Office by Charles Bukowski
For fifteen crapulent years, Charles Bukowski clerked and carried for the U.S. Post Office, hating every second. The end result of all that anguish and palliative impurity is his triumphant debut novel, Post Office, which is in turns vulgar, hilarious, pithy, and perceptive. If it weren’t for this book, I may never have started mine.
We want to know which books inspire YOU!