Identify ten books that have meant the most to you over your reading lifetime. These are not necessarily great literature or important or best-selling, just the one’s that have stuck in your mind and won’t let go. Mine are (in no particular order):
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel
The Misplaced Legion by Harry Turtledove
The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie
My Sweet Audrina by Virginia Andrews
Jerusalem Fire by R M Meluch
A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin (technically this is a series)
The Hammer and the Cross by Harry Harrison
Posession by A S Byatt
Elric of Melnibone by Michael Moorcock
There are others that might have made it on to this list: The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M Auel; The Player of Games by Iain M Banks; The Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman (another series where it’s hard to say a single book had an impact on me that the others didn’t); A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens; The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter; and The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell. They didn’t but it was a hard choice. And there are many, many other books that I’ve loved.
Most of these books (not all) I read when I was a teenager and I have wondered if their hold on me was because I read them at such an emotionally charged time. However I’ve re-read Wuthering Heights and Elric of Melnibone recently, and their power is not rooted in time. It is in the books themselves. I fell in love with them all over again.
This is an exercise from the excellent Novelist’s Essential Guide to Creating Plot by J Madison Davis. The point is to see what the plots of these books might have in common and thus discover what kind of plot you might be good at writing. While I go off to do that, what are the books that are most important to you?