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  • Writer's picturejdaneway

Influencers: Books That Nudged My Life And Writing

Updated: Jul 9, 2023

These books, in no implied order, helped to shape me as a person. I'm sure you have books that shaped your life or outlook as well. I would be honored if you can find some of these influences in my work.

  1. Dune by Frank Herbert. I studied science at university because of this series. The Bene Gesserits' eugenics program got me interested in genetics, and their ideas of inherited memories led me to one understanding of reincarnation. Kynes, the planetologist, was my first introduction to ecological sciences, which were new at the time the book was published (before my time). The Spacing Guild and their corporate corruption over interstellar travel, got me interested in quantum physics. And the work outlines how religions evolve, perhaps in response to corruption. This book has it all.

  2. Don Quixote by Cervantes. I read this while traveling in Spain. I highly recommend reading relevant books while traveling in the country of origin. I was fortunate to attend a lecture at the University of Salamanca about the medicinal herbs Don Quixote used in the book to cure all manner of injuries and ailments. If you haven't read it, you may be surprised to find the book has many very humorous scenes. The portrayal of Don Quixote's mental illness influenced my work. What is real, anyway, and who is it important to? This book should be required reading, in my opinion.

  3. 1984 by George Orwell. Obviously prophetic. How wrong could things go? How wrong have things gone? If Orwell could have anticipated how our healthcare data are used today, he'd have written a sequel.

  4. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. A hierarchical society based on consumption fueled by hypnotic suggestion. Sound familiar? My outlooks on corporate greed, misuse of genetic engineering, and Psyop experimentation on the population were heavily influenced by this work.

  5. The Giver by Lois Lowry. For me, this book was about what can go wrong when everyone agrees to comply, whether from apathy or blind faith in an idea. Again, this book deals with ideas of inheriting memories. It also, importantly, explores complicated feelings relating to how we see differences and the importance of autonomy.

  6. Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. I hated first person novels before I read this. I didn't want to be the character-- I wanted to escape, to read about someone else. While my own work is not so expertly crafted as Atwood's (one day maybe), this book gave me the courage to dive deep into my character. This novel encouraged me to have a happy(ish) ending. When writing on dystopian topics, it's hard not to be brought down by them. It's hard to create a way out of an impossible situation that is all too real. Resistance is not futile. Offred can teach us all that lesson.

  7. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I read this over and over again when I was a teenager. I can hardly remember it now, it's been so long. But I know it influenced me. As a woman, did I think Elizabeth was a role model? I'm conflicted. She has a certain strength, though. Perhaps what appealed to me, were the portrayals of society at that time. The character is both representative of the society, and also alienated by it at the same time. While not in the same way as Elizabeth, my character, Aline, is willing to sacrifice her reputation and go against the grain.

  8. Mythology by Edith Hamilton. It's true. I was that nerdy. I really did read this a lot as a tween. They didn't have much YA when I was a kid. I still live for mythology. Hamilton, Mary Renault, Gerald Durrell, and Stephen Pressfield's books were our traveling companions in Greece.

  9. Immanuel Kant's works. He has the most reasonable insights on metaphysical perspectives. He is considered the father of medical ethics. I find it almost easier to read dissertations written by others about Kant, than straight-up Kant. Either way, he will change the way you view the world. Recently, it has come to my attention that Kant advanced some controversial, and just plain wrong, ideas about race and ethnicity. I think if he were with us today, he might change his mind. It's unfortunate. I cannot throw out his entire work for that mistake, though. I really do believe he would have corrected it, if given the chance.

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