Thursday, 24 July 2014

a twist on summer reading lists ...

Many summer reading lists are published all over the web but a writer I know posed an interesting survey of sorts on his great blog in an attempt to spark a discussion and fuel his own future posts on his influential books.
I found this most enlightening and thought I would answer his questions here on my blog, but invite you to visit his blog of amazing thought provoking writing and if you are so inclined please answer his questions via his blog. Thanks Eugene Stickland for your writings and challenge to creative thought and dialogue. Stickland is an internationally celebrated playwright, poet, writer, a prairie soul and an illustrious Calgary resident.
Visit his blog and call for input on his influential book questions at http://eugenestickland.com/2014/07/02/eugenius-survey/ where you will also find dozens and dozens of great responses in his call which are fascinating reading all in themselves for anyone who reads or writes. Thank you again to Eugene for writing that which makes me pause to think.
Now my (MG) answers to Eugene’s (ES) questions shared here …

ES 1. “Which 5 books do you believe have changed the course of history, or at least the way we perceive the world? Some of these will be so self-evident that no explanation will be necessary, but feel free to comment on your choices if you like. Breifly briefly.”
               MG: I won’t even attempt to speak for ‘the world’ or changing history … but for MY world and MY history here are some (5+) of my personal top game-changers in no particular order (some great works of art, some not so much … but all shook up my simple thoughts and stuck with me) -
Legends of Vancouver by E. Pauline Johnson, The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger, On Writing by Stephen King, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, The Secret World of Og by Pierre Berton, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, Bridges of Madison Country by Robert James Waller, The Hour Before Dawn by Somerset Maugham, Sons by Pearl S Buck

ES 2. Be brutally honest: how many of these have you actually read?
               MG: I have read all, some many times over. For me a story that alters my very thoughts will call to me from the shelf again and again as if begging me to come out and play.  I have many favourite passages which I can be drawn to as if captivated by a magic act or by a bad car accident on the side of the road.

ES 3. How many of these books do you personally believe? Or Believe in?
               MG:  As a writer my first reaction always is to distrust and question everything I read. My second reaction is to suspend all beliefs and to let myself be taken on a journey through the words.

ES 4. Irrespective of the books you listed, what is the one book that you have read that has influenced you personally the most?
               MG: I know this might seem a little lame as the influential book that stands out was hardly a great literary work, but rather a light home-alone Saturday night single-girl read back in the day. It tells me as a writer that the underlying message, the truth of your story, is what you are telling as a writer, and the words, the passages, the scenes, are merely the pod to transport your truth to the reader’s soul. The story that stays with me often and creeps back into my thoughts via the smallest and mundane of everyday scenes connecting me back to the book is Robert Waller’s Bridges of Madison County. When I think about why that story stays with me it is probably because of time and place. Where life is at and from what frame of mind a reader reads is the journey. I read Bridges at a time when the concept of falling in love felt like an elusive fantasy and one of life’s biggest disappointing myths. This book, read in a lonely evening, changed my life. It reminded me that there is everyday good old fashioned love, but yes Virginia there is real knock down life changing crazy-in-love passion … and that it can change your life forever even if it is only for 4 days. The lesson for me in that moment in my life, in that evening home alone reading, was that love does not have to be forever but if done well it will stay with you forever. It changed how I fall in love.

ES 5. Do you believe that a book could still be written, whatever its mode of dissemination, that could wield as much influence as any of the books on your list? If not, why not?
              
MG: As a writer I have to believe, deep in my being each and every time I sit to write, that a life-altering read can still be written. If I did not trust that kernel of personal truth there would be no point in taking pen to paper. I don’t have to change the world with my writing, but I do write with intent to touch at least one soul beyond my own.

THANKS EUGENE …. looking forward to reading your follow up posts to the many many great responses on your blog … but mostly to reading your own personal list of influential writings.


Michelle

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions! I'll do a follow up one of these days. Be well!

    ES

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