Okay, Kate started this round and has picked a topic I could seriously go on for DAAAAAAYS about. Unfortunately, I'm on a time crunch as I'm getting ready to head out of town. So please forgive me, because I am not going to do this topic the justice it deserves.
This time...I'd like to focus on the flip side of the writing coin - reading. Specifically, what books have influenced you? This can be books that influenced you as a writer, or simply books that touched you as a human being. If you want to talk about one book, a top three, ten, or even twenty go right ahead.
Oh. My. Goodness. I can't think where to begin and I'm telling you now, there is no end to this for me (don't worry, I'll cut it off at some point) ;-)
I could read almost before I could talk. At the age of two, I was sitting on my mother's lap while she read me Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. She skipped a line. And I corrected her. Word for word, I told her what she should have said.
Fairy tales were my first love. Still are. I adore them. I buy the big expensive fairy tale books with the gorgeous pictures and pretend I'm getting them for my daughter :D
I also remember the Amelia Bedelia and Miss Pigglesworth books. Hilarious. I highly recommend.
My mother had most of Victoria Holt's books. Le sigh. Gothic romantic suspense at it's finest. I have every book she wrote under her own name, and I'm working on the books she wrote under Phillipa Carr and Jean Plaidy. Jean Plaidy was the pen name she used for her historical fictions. And I was hooked again. I LOVE historical fiction. One of my current favorite authors is Philippa Gregory. Jean Auel was another one whose books I just devoured. And Celeste de Blasis' Wild Swan series. Just wonderful.
I don't know if Diana Gabaldon is considered historical fiction, general fiction, time travel fiction...but whatever genre she falls under - she is beyond awesome. I read her books and weep into my Cheerios that I will never, ever be able to write like she does. She is made of sheer awesome.
Anne McCaffery's Dragons of Pern books were my first introduction to the fantasy world. I didn't think I'd like them at all. Up until then, I had only read historicals and romances. But I think I had gone through my mother's entire library and needed new material and she had one of these stuck away somewhere. I quickly read the whole series.
And then I found Marion Zimmer Bradley's Mists of Avalon. Holy wow! The King Arthur story from the women's point of view. And they were powerful, mystical, magical women! I quickly went through every book of hers I could find as well.
Anne Rice's vampire series had me hooked. I'm not into ghosts much, just because my overactive imagination has too easy of a time freaking me out with those shady little creatures (although there are exceptions to that rule)...but vampires? Oh yeah. I love 'em! Once I found Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse books and Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake books, life was good.
There have been many, many, MANY other books over the years. But those are the ones that really stand out for me. Lately I have been very much into YA, and have poured through Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely series, the Cast's House of Night series, and Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy series as fast as I can get my hands on them. The Twilight series, of course, I have read multiple times, and, though I fought it for so long (not sure why), I finally broke down and read Harry Potter last year. And read the entire series again a few months ago.
I also read biographies...but usually historical stuff - people like Marie Antoinette, Cleopatra, Lucretia Borgia, Queen Emma (early English queen), Henry VIII and all his various wives and sisters, Queen Elizabeth, Catherine the Great (hmm, do you see a pattern here? :D ) Philippa Gregory and Antonia Fraser are two of my favorite biographers.
I think I am a little influenced by all of these writers. I want to build world's that my readers get so sucked into they can't escape. I want them to fall in love with my characters. I want them to think and dream about the stories I create long after they've read them. And I want them to love my books so much they have to have them on their shelves so they can reread them over and over. Each and every one of these books had that effect on me. And so many more that I can't even begin to name them all.
I am excited to see what kinds of books my fellow writers love. Carolyn is up after me, so be sure to head her way!