Ten Books that Changed Our Lives

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Post by Katie and Andrew Wall. This post contains affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, we will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain our own.

For this week's post we thought we'd share some books that have changed our lives!

I (Katie) love to read, though there were a few years during high school and college when I didn't read much at all except the books that were assigned for school. I'm so happy to have found my way back to the world of fiction, and even happier to have become a book coach.

Here are five books that have made a huge impact on me as a writer, reader, and person:

  1. The Liveship Trader's Trilogy by Robin Hobb. This trilogy weaves together seemingly disparate threads beautifully and rekindled my love of writing. (Book 1, Book 2, Book 3.)
  2. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. This book played with point of view in such an interesting way, has excellent world-building, and made me cry. I'm still learning from it as the story and writing continues to settle in my brain months later.
  3. Breathless by Jennifer Niven. The emotion conveyed in this book was amazing to experience as a reader, and something I aspire to as a writer.
  4. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi. I read this as a child and have periodically reread it ever since. This story made me fall in love with strong female protagonists as well as stories told on the sea.
  5. The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel. This book, along with others in the Earth's Children series, opened my eyes to the potential in building societies and cultures in fiction and how depicting prejudice and "other"-ness in a nuanced way can add to a story.

Honestly, I (Andrew) was not even sure how to pick which books to include! So many books have impacted me in a myriad of ways. In order to narrow down this list, I added the following parameter: books that represent distinct shifts in my own view of what was possible in world-building. The result is these five books, which ultimately began and grew my obsession with world-building and my desire to help others with world-building.

  1. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. With Mistborn, Sanderson not only captured my imagination with a fascinating world, he showed me that magic can be so much more than wizards and spells. The alomancy he depicted shocked me at first, yet has thoroughly shaped how I think about any and all magic systems in books. Sanderson’s clear delineation of the costs of magic, of its limits, of who can and cannot do it has really stuck with me. (Book 1, Book 2, Book 3.)

  2. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. The world-building in this book is so seamless, so immaculate, so comprehensive and enthralling, that every time I read it I find some new detail. Rothfuss demonstrates the power of creating a world with depth and that functions beyond the scope of what is shown to the reader.

  3. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. Where to even start with this one? Jemisin’s world-building pushed the boundaries of everything I could have imagined. Everything was so earthy (literally), intricately connected, and seamlessly thought out. Not to mention her storytelling ability is to die for.

  4. Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. A thrilling hard science fiction, Stephenson’s Seveneves showed me world-building on a much smaller scale. Reading his book was like watching him answer a series of “what if…” questions. The book also includes an extraordinary timeshift that results in a colorfully-imagined future which carries through the consequences of choices made many many years prior.

  5. The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson. Ok, so The Malazan Book of the Fallen is actually a ten-book series… but it is a unified story, so I can’t separate it out! Not only is this my single favorite epic fantasy series of all time, but it takes world-building to the next level. Worlds are layered upon worlds. Magic is derived of the essences of these worlds. The worlds themselves are domains carved out in a living elder god’s blood. The societies within the world are complex, the motivations of the large cast of characters are mixed and often at cross-purposes with each other, and the story arc binding the series together and the myriad of character arcs within it is powerful. (Book 1, Book 2, Book 3, Book 4, Book 5, Book 6, Book 7, Book 8, Book 9, Book 10.)

While we're sure our top five impactful books will change over time, these books will always be a part of our stories. As a writer, who do you hope to impact with your stories? What do you think you need to do to make your story that compelling? We would love to support you in that journey. Book a free consultation today!


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