Goodreads Blog

Inspiring the Artist in Everyone: Writers and Artists Share Handwritten Lists of Their Favorite Influential Books

Posted by Hayley on February 02, 2016
Here at Goodreads we're inspired by stories and essays and art—but what inspires the people who create them? We partnered with ForYourArt and asked writers and artists to share the books that influenced their lives and their careers. The project is called EVERBOOKS. Click the handwritten lists below to explore the recommendations.

And for Los Angeles readers, we have an extra special treat. On February 12, you can attend EVERBOOKS: Artists and Writers Read from Their Favorite Books, moderated by art curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, at the Million Dollar Theater, in conjunction with Printed Matter, Inc.'s LA Art Book Fair. The event is free for ForYourArt and Goodreads readers. (Just use the ticket code "Goodreads" when checking out!) Learn more here.


Miranda July, author of No One Belongs Here More Than You
Janet Fitch, author of White OleanderRodney McMillian, artist

Lisa See, author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Mungo Thomson, artist Catherine Opie, photographer

Eleanor Antin, artist

Aram Saroyan, poet and novelistAna Prvacki, artist



Adriana Ramic, artist William Leavitt, artist

Barbara T. Smith, performance artist

Joseph Mosconi, Fright Catalog artist Mary Weatherford, artist

Jesse Stecklow, artist

Aimee Bender, author Billy Al Bengston, artist

Meg Cranston, artist Piero Golia, artist

Vanessa Place, writer Lisa Anne Auerbach, artist

William E. Jones, artist



What books have inspired and influenced your life? Share them with us in the comments.

Comments (showing 1-50 of 59) (59 new)


message 1: by Meg (new)

Meg Some of the writing is too difficult to read.


message 2: by Carolyn (new)

Carolyn Bayne Invisible man by Ralph Ellison
Clydebourne Park
Perfume by Patrick Suskind
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald


message 3: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Lovejoy Meg wrote: "Some of the writing is too difficult to read."

If you click on the names or photos, you'll find links to each book.


message 4: by Nancy (new)

Nancy Wilson Any and all of May Sarton's writings

Same as above for authors Daniel Silva and Oliver Sacks


message 5: by Janet Coates (new)

Janet Coates Anything written by David Adams Richards -his first gift to me was Mercy Among The Children


message 6: by Clara (new)

Clara Lauber Thank you for commenting about the writing being too difficult to read. My thoughts also. I will try what you said.


message 7: by Larry (new)

Larry Christensen The different graphologies are fascinating!


message 8: by Kristin (new)

Kristin MB In no particular order:
1) Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
2) tiny beautiful things by Cheryl Strayed
3) Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
4) The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
5) We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
6) The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
7) Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquirel
8) & 9) The Poisonwood Bible and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle; both by Barbara Kingsolver
10) White Oleander by Janet Fitch
11) Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood
12) Men Explain Things To Me by Rebecca Solnit
13) The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
14) The Rathbones by Janice Clark
15) Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
16) The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
17) Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
18) Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro


message 9: by George (new)

George M The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie; Anything by Thomas Pynchon, Charles Dickens, Phillip K. Dick, Food of the Gods by Terence McKenna


message 10: by Joan (new)

Joan Anna Karinina - Tolstoy
The Agony and the Ecstasy - Irving Stone
Man's Search for Meaning - Victor e. Frankl
The Profit - Kahlil Gibran


message 11: by Suzanne (last edited Feb 03, 2016 09:38PM) (new)

Suzanne Elberfeld Only one respondent referenced Shakespeare (The Tempest). What about King Lear, Hamlet, As You Like It, Midsummer Night's Dream, Richard II, Henry IV (Pt 1 and 2) and Henry V? Only one mentioned Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice) as well, when so many of hers are significant. I saw that someone who posted a comment earlier mentioned Lewis Carroll, excellent, but I didn't see any AA Milne; how could we forget poor Pooh?


message 12: by James (new)

James Flowers for Algernon Daniel Keyes
To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee
The Stranger Albert Camus
The Raven EA Poe
The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Old Man and the Sea Hemingway
All Quiet on the Western Front Erich Maria Remarque
Cannery Row John Steinbeck
East of Eden John Steinbeck
The Divine Comedy Dante
TChe Exorcist William Peter Blatty
Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad
Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck
The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck
Coma Robin Cook
Lord of the Flies William Golding
The Island of Dr. Moreau H.G. Wells


message 13: by Debra (new)

Debra I remember reading Lord of the Flies by William Golding, in my English class when I was in high school (late 60s). We had an excellent English teacher!


message 14: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Meg wrote: "Some of the writing is too difficult to read."

Almost everyone of them. Why couldn't they print it instead?


message 15: by Roger (new)

Roger Kent While teaching A level General Studies, quite a few years ago now, I gave each student a list of notable books I had read included fiction and non fiction. The list was quite diverse and I told them that the list might help them in their future when, like me, they are 'stuck' for something interesting to read. I explained about some of the books and why I put them on the list for them. I then, asked them to write down their own list of 6 books they would recommend to others. For the following weeks lesson, I typed up their lists and handed them out. Very interesting responses when I asked some of them to give their reasonings for their choices.


message 16: by Masha (new)

Masha Harry Potter got me into reading in the first place, and Percy Jackson, Divergent, Scorched, and Unwind all influenced me, and I can't put them down, just as my friends (or teachers who may not be as enthusiastic about this)!


message 17: by Evelyn (new)

Evelyn Clark [book:Les Misérables Victor Hugo


message 18: by Ili (new)

Ili Anna Meg wrote: "Some of the writing is too difficult to read."

i was thinking the same thing.. i skipped some


message 19: by Carol ꧁꧂ (new)

Carol  ꧁꧂ Ili wrote: "Meg wrote: "Some of the writing is too difficult to read."

i was thinking the same thing.. i skipped some"


+1.


message 20: by Gerd (last edited Feb 04, 2016 10:48AM) (new)

Gerd Interesting question, hard to answer for sure, but I'd say (in no particular Order):

Anything by Arthur C. Clarke, but 2001: A Space Odyssey most.
Ward Greene's Lady and the Tramp
Shakespeare's Hamlet, but which moody youngster couldn't identify with that character, Romeo and Juliet to a lesser extent.
Arthur Conan Doyle: The Complete Sherlock Holmes
Gustav Schwab: Gods and Heroes of Ancient Greece
E.A. Poe (same reason as with Shakespeare and Hamlet)

And turning from the authors I read with more or less comprehension during my teens to authors that fell in my later formative years:
Stephen King, Mary Wollstonecraft Schelley, Lord Byron, William Blake, J.R.R. Tolkien, Daniel Keys...

Last but not least I need to say this:
Every writer I ever read or ever will read, no matter how I may like or dislike him or her, I'm sure has had and will continue to inspire me or other wise have an influence on my life.


message 21: by Jenny (new)

Jenny to all the folks saying the writing is too difficult to read, you can click on each list and it will take you to their goodreads entries.


message 22: by Sydney (new)

Sydney Lyman I love books what really inspired me to start reading was Harry potter and the book thief. I have recently been reading to kill a mocking bird.


message 23: by Sydney (new)

Sydney Lyman Jenny wrote: "to all the folks saying the writing is too difficult to read, you can click on each list and it will take you to their goodreads entries."

Thanks!


message 24: by Richard (new)

Richard I tried to keep my list short.

The Bible
The Book of Mormon
Jesus the Christ - James E. Talmage
The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien
The Door Within - Wayne Thomas Batson
Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
The Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis
Graceling - Kristin Cashore
Man's Search for Meaning - Viktor E. Frankl
How to Win Friends & Influence People - Dale Carnegie
The Iliad - Homer


message 25: by Hayley (new)

Hayley Here's my short list of inspiring books:

Any kids book by Rick Riordan
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
The Breadwinner Trilogy by... I cannot remember
Many others!


message 26: by Ruth (new)

Ruth All the Bright Places for sure. Mental health matters and it is so often neglected in people, especially teens.

All the Bright Places


message 27: by Claudia (new)

Claudia Meg wrote: "Some of the writing is too difficult to read."

Yes, but when you click on the picture it will give you the Goodreads list with the links to the books below the picture with the handwritten list.


message 28: by Rem (new)

Rem I have so many influential books and authors but here are just a few:

1. Joy luck club (or any by Amy tan)
2. The angel on the square: Gloria whelan
3. The kitchen boy: Robert Alexander
4. Night: Eli weisel
5. Number the stars: Lois lowry
6. Redwall series: Brian jacques
7. Harry potter series: j. K. Rowling
8. The hobbit, Lord Of The Rings, etc.
9. Anything of Edgar Allen Poe
10. Shakespeare
11. The mists of avalon: m. Z. Bradley
12. The dark is rising series: Susan cooper
13. Anything by Yoshiko uchida
15. Emily Dickinson
16. Anything by Barbara kingsolver
17. Alice & wonderland: Lewis Carroll
18. Queen's own fool (or any Jane Yolen material)
19. Diary of Anne frank
20. The chronicles of Narnia
21. Infidel: a. H. Ali
22. A tale of love and darkness: Amos oz
23. Left to tell: I. Ilibagiza
24. They poured fire on us from the sky: a. Benjamin
25. Go Ask Alice


message 29: by Yaaresse (new)

Yaaresse So nice to see people writing in cursive, which seems to be a dying art. And is Lisa Anne Auerbach using a fountain pen?
Be still my beating heart!

I don't known whether to laugh or be depressed about all the "but it's so hard to read" comments. When I think of all the primary source documents tucked away in family attics -- letters, diaries, cards, notes, even older wills and deeds -- that are no longer accessible by people because they can't be bothered to learn to read and write cursive....


message 30: by Kaj (new)

Kaj Samuelsson Call of the Wild by Jack London


message 31: by Francesca (new)

Francesca 1) The Color Purple by Alice Walker
2) Carrie by Stephen King
3) Harry Potter Boxset by J.K. Rowling
4) The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
5) Different Seasons by Stephen King

Of course, there are a lot more books that I love but those would be my main 5. Also, apart from The Color Purple in the top slot the rest are in no particular order.


message 32: by Denise (new)

Denise 1. The chronicles of Narnia
2. Emily Dickinson
3. Shakespeare
4. Harry potter series: j. K. Rowling
5. The hobbit
6. The Door Within
7. The Raven EA Poe


message 33: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Francesca wrote: "1) The Color Purple by Alice Walker
2) Carrie by Stephen King
3) Harry Potter Boxset by J.K. Rowling
4) [boo..."


This is how all the recomendations should look like :-)


message 34: by Alexxy (new)

Alexxy Some of those hand writings though. It feels like I'm reading alien


message 35: by Nouf (new)

Nouf 1- The Forty rules of Love Elif Shafak
2- Book of secrets Deepak Chopra
3- Essential Rumi
4- A new Earth Eckhart Tolle
5- Jane Eyer
6- Quiet Susan Cain
7- and other Arab authors such as Ali Alwardi's books, Turki al Hamad, Mohammad Al Ansari, Abid AlJabiri, Taha Abdulrahman.


message 36: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Andrea wrote: "Meg wrote: "Some of the writing is too difficult to read."

Almost everyone of them. Why couldn't they print it instead?"


Click on the photo and it will show you a Goodreads list so you don't have to try to read it :)


message 37: by Sarah (new)

Sarah 1. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
2. The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch
3. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
4. Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
5. Books and short stories by Stephen King
6. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
7. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
and so many more!


message 38: by SL (new)

SL Meg wrote: "Some of the writing is too difficult to read."

When you click on the image, you will get to see the list of the books on Goodreads :)


message 39: by Doug (new)

Doug Walsh Suzanne wrote: "Only one respondent referenced Shakespeare (The Tempest). What about King Lear, Hamlet, As You Like It, Midsummer Night's Dream, Richard II, Henry IV (Pt 1 and 2) and Henry V? Only one mentioned Ja..."

No doubt those books you mention are significant, but not necessarily most significant to everyone. These are personal lists about the books that influences these writers/artists.


message 40: by Barbara (new)

Barbara 1.) Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
2.) Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
3.) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
4.) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
5.) The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

There are many more but this is the top 5.


message 41: by Ainslie (new)

Ainslie All the writing is too difficult to read except one.


message 42: by Matt (new)

Matt Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung- Lester Bangs

Ulysses

Absalom, Absalom!

The Annotated Lolita

Pale Fire

The Selected Poems of Rilke

Infinite Jest

To The Lighthouse


message 43: by Erma (new)

Erma Talamante Pity I don't hae opportunity to head out LA way again this month... I would totally be there!

My two big ones are:

After the King

Wollheim's World's Best SF 9 (1980)

I could list so many more, but these two editions are old, beloved copies that have survived much travel and many re-reads.

The first also boasts a Sir Terry Pratchett story, and the latter opens with a George R.R. Martin short that I haven't seen anywhere else.


message 44: by Cynda (last edited Feb 05, 2016 09:41PM) (new)

Cynda Some of my many, many favorite books include
-The Color Purple- by Alice Walker
-The Tempest- by William Shakespeare
-Urgent Message from Mother : Gather the Women, Save the Earth- by Jean Shinoda Bolen
-What if: A Lifetime of Questions, Speculations, Reasonable Guesses, and a Few Things I Know for Sure- by Shirley McClain


message 45: by Melissa (new)

Melissa This post is beautiful and inspirational.

The one book I borrowed kinds took and kept from my mother many years ago, literally saved me many times over and that is Way of the Peaceful Warrior A Basically True Story by Dan Millman by Dan Millman

I've read it many, many times and when we lost everything the original of that book was one of the casualties so one of the first things on my rebuilding list was to replace this book. I'll never forget how much it changed my mindset and eventually me as a whole.

Right now I'm still referring back to Your Life After Trauma Powerful Practices to Reclaim Your Identity by Michele Rosenthal by Michele Rosenthal

Both of those are personal use.

Fictional and my own writing inspiration will always, always, unfailingly be Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave by Laura Dave

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult by Jodi Picoult

"Jane Eyre" and to be fair in writing this, I have only seen the movie a million times, however I have seven different editions of the book and it is on my list to read because I know it's going to be better than the movie. I'm terrified of reading the classics in fear I won't understand them so I don't know if that one counts here. Jane Eyre is special and powerful on many levels and the one quote not from Jane Eyre which makes me think of "JE" is

"If I find in myself desires which this world cannot satisfy, the only explanation is that I was made for another world" ~ C. S. Lewis

That quote always makes me want to be in the times of Jane Eyre. In love with the movie.

Others which just had a very powerful impact on me are.....

East of Eden by John Steinbeck by John Steinbeck

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett by Ken Follett

The Great Escape by Paul Brickhill by Paul Brickhill

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo by Victor Hugo

Most recent fiction.....

The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth by Sally Hepworth

What Was Mine by Helen Klein Ross by Helen Klein Ross

The Secret Miss Rabbit Kept by Robin Cain by Robin Cain

Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit by Gavriel Savit

War of the Whales A True Story by Joshua Horwitz by Joshua Horwitz

The Soul of an Octopus A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery by Sy Montgomery

My God, I know I'm missing so many. So many more of all genres, fiction and non-fiction.....off the top of my head the above have all stuck with me in powerful ways.


message 46: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Erma wrote: "Pity I don't hae opportunity to head out LA way again this month... I would totally be there!

My two big ones are:

After the King

Wollheim's World's Best SF 9 (1980)

I could list..."


Same, Erma. When I read that I wished so much to be able to attend these amazing events. LA and New York were my dreams. I could have made it to so many. Lol, I almost started typing the lyrics to Sinatra's "New York"...."If I can make it there I'll make it anywhere, it's up to you New York, New Yoork"......*dancing to the beat of the music now*. Awesome song from an extraordinary talent. Now that songs stuck in my head, lol.


message 47: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Andrea wrote: "Francesca wrote: "1) The Color Purple by Alice Walker
2) Carrie by Stephen King
3) Harry Potter Boxset by [author:J.K. Rowlin..."


+1


message 48: by Alan (new)

Alan Suzanne wrote: "Only one respondent referenced Shakespeare (The Tempest). What about King Lear, Hamlet, As You Like It, Midsummer Night's Dream, Richard II, Henry IV (Pt 1 and 2) and Henry V? Only one mentioned Ja..."

Excellent point. Maybe Shakespeare depresses writers who despair of his simplicity and force, "Lo, as a careful housewife runs to catch/ One of her feathered creatures broke away,/ Sets down her babe, and makes all swift despatch/ In pursuit …Whilst her neglected child holds her in chase…"


message 49: by Olga (new)

Olga Ili wrote: "Meg wrote: "Some of the writing is too difficult to read."

i was thinking the same thing.. i skipped some"


you click on the list and you can see it in a goodreads-style list from which you can add the books to your shelves.
Why are people so whiny?


message 50: by Cynda (new)

Cynda Alan wrote: "Suzanne wrote: "Only one respondent referenced Shakespeare (The Tempest). What about King Lear, Hamlet, As You Like It, Midsummer Night's Dream, Richard II, Henry IV (Pt 1 and 2) and Henry V? Only ..."

Plays are meant to be seen, so watching the play on youtube or on dvd helps. When I am learning a new shakespearean play, this is my preferred way to learn it. Hope this helps others to more easily access the plays.


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