Books that Matter: your lists!

So, you may remember that quite a while ago I wrote this post… and promised to share YOUR ‘Books that Matter’… but I forgot. But it’s not too late! Here are some of your responses!

“Important to me personally:
The Front Runner by Patricia Nell Warren
Punainen Erokirja by Pirkko Saisio
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
Moonwalk by Michael Jackson.

Writing related:
On Writing by Stephen King
The Diary of Virginia Woolf, Part 1 by Virginia Woolf.”
Katja, writer.

“Books that have influenced my writing:
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald // The Boy From The Chemist Is Here To See You by Paul Farley // The Harbour Beyond The Movie by Luke Kennard // Selected Poems of T. S. Eliot // Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys // Ariel by Sylvia Plath (though sometimes I wouldn’t like to admit it…) // Beowulf // Sir Gawain and the Green Knight // A Shropshire Lad by A. E. Housman // Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis by Wendy Cope
Probably lots more, but basically I have realised I am a plagiarist! “Influence” is a very forgiving word!”
Charlotte Runcie, Editor of Pomegranate

“1. Poetry Collections that are important to me:
Harmonium - Wallace Stevens
Collected Poems - James Schuyler
New Collected Poems - Tomas Transtromer
New Collected Poems - W.S. Graham
The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly - Denis Johnson
Collected Poems - T.S. Eliot
View with a Grain of Sand - Wislawa Szymborska
Collected Poems - Edwin Morgan
Selected Poems and Prose - Gerard Manley Hopkins

2. Books about poetry that are important to me:
The Truth of Poetry - Michael Hamburger
20th Century Pleasures - Robert Hass
Lives of the Poets - Michael Schmidt
Best Words, Best Order - Stephen Dobyns
After Confession - Kate Sontag and David Graham
The Sounds of Poetry - Robert Pinsky”
Rob Mackenzie, poet and critic.

Which books have influenced you? Which are your all-time favourites? What is it that makes a book matter?

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5 Responses to “Books that Matter: your lists!”

  1. Crafty Green Poet Says:

    In terms of single poet collections - Margaret Attwood’s Collected poems is essential, she manages to get to the centre of existence in every poem and Edwin Morgan’s collected too for the sheer inventiveness and liveliness of his writing. In terms of anthologies, anything edited by Neil Astley because he really understands poetry and chooses poems that are lyrical and have something to say.

  2. Col Says:

    The first thing that really influenced me, back when I was still a teenager was ‘Signal To Noise’ written by Neil Gaiman drawn by Dave Mckean. I was doing an art foundation course at the time, and picked it because of the Mckean connection. The book itself (graphic novel if you will) also has writing connection in that the main character is a famous screen writer who is dying, and writing a script that he will never get to see be produced.
    It was the first time as an adult (just) that writing had any ral effect on me. It also spiralled into other medium when I contacted Gaiman about it, and he let on that the character was in part loosely based on Andrei Tarkovsky a great Russian film director. A love his films lead to me writing my dissertation on him when I was at art school proper.
    Since then it really has been the beat generation. Kerouac’s Dharma Bums was the really the push into this movement for me. I realise that to alot of people it is a weaker novel, but it lead to Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, and outward. I’m currently reading The Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan (thanks to a great Christmas present) Which is highly recommended. Berrigan who was a second generation New York school poet ( if you really need to compartmentalise him, though somewhat unfairly) Who himself was influenced by the Beat Generation.
    Plenty of other books, of course, but first and last seems the way to go.

  3. H. Says:

    Anything by Cormac McCarthy. Which, after the movie “No Country For Old Men,” seems like I am a movie-book-sell-out, but the funny part is that I randomly picked up The Road one day and fell in love and then started reading all his books and shortly after they announced NCFOM was becoming a movie and I just got so happy! I tend towards “odd grammar/syntax/wordings/spellings” when I fall in love with a book, which I have discovered really rattles a lot of readers and makes them hate the books. But hey. Get over it.

    I also always loved A Clockwork Orange, which was the most innovative and beautiful thing I read in high school (again, I love language creativeness, obviously). I also like Requiem for a Dream for the same reason as well as A Million Little Pieces, which James Frey got a lot of flack for, sure it should not have been a memoir, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t kick your head in as a writer.

    This is starting to sound like I only read modern writers. Oh, it’s kind of true. Something else I just recently fell in love with was the collected works of Amy Hempel. She is a GOD. Lorrie Moore also. They give you a certain level of quirkiness. Take the quirkiness to a whole new level and read some Miranda July, but she is definitely not for everyone. Lorrie Moore’s short story “How” was really what pushed me towards writing confessional short stories that are mixed up with lies and fruitlessness and sadness and anger about men. She is a huge inspiration of mine.

    Lastly, I will say Palahniuk, even though everyone seems to hate him lately (he also doesn’t seem to give two shits about grammar, but in a way where you know he doesn’t realize it haha) but he is also an amazing story teller so I forgive him. I love love love horror and weird psychological gross stuff, so there ya go.


  4. H. Says:

    Hahaha everyone else has like, TS Eliot and Tolstoy and other such things that make you sound like a genius and I can’t think of any classics.

    As for poetry, I read way too much Anne Carson. Which has never influenced my work even a lick, in my opinion, but I LOVE that she is continually changing and you pick up a book of hers and I swear to God you have not seen anything like it before. Ever. I wish I was Anne Carson. If I was Anne Carson I would make people’s heads fall off.

    I also always liked Paul Celan, Jorie Graham (when I am feeling surreal and sad and sleepy), Sam Pink, Frank O’Hara, and Ryan Lamon. Haha, Ryan Lamon! I seriously think he should be famous. Plus he looks like the guy from ‘Into The Wild’ (the movie) so he then gets instant points.


  5. Claire Says:

    H — I freaking LOVE James Frey. I just finished Bright Shiny Morning and it made me really itch to write a novel. That really, really doesn’t happen often — in fact I think the only other writer who does that is James Kelman. Both of them say ‘you know what? Everyone’s life is interesting in some way.’ James Kelman just says it in a Scottish accent…