A Blog by International Students at Leiden University

10 Books That Have Influenced Me the Most

When Ice Bucket Challenge became a virus on the Internet, I absolutely hated it. People watch celebrities get wet like watching porn, and both sides are addicted. What’s the point in wasting water to show your determination in charity work? You know there are other charity organizations such as Wateraid to help water-deprived areas throughout the world?

But recently a new trend has started on the Internet. It might be a little nerdy, but as a literature student, I can’t help wanting to do it. To answer this challenge, you share the 10 books that have influenced you the most with other people.

So here’s my list. 

1. My Childhood – Maxim Gorky

This is my favorite book when I was a child. I read it again and again when I was bored. It’s basically an autobiography of Gorky himself, and it’s just adventurous and sad. 

2. Franny and Zooey – J.D. Salinger

This is my favorite book at the moment, in my 20s. Strangely, I don’t relate to The Catcher in the Rye like most young adults who like Salinger. But I do deeply love this book and the Glass family saga. For years, I’ve been meeting people who like different characters of this family, Seymour Glass as the most intriguing one. I also know a guy who relates to Buddy Glass on a spiritual level. For me, I relate to Franny (as an English major student in her 20s), but my favorite one is Zooey. Zooey is the only one of the family who really tries to approach Franny and talk to her. It’s simply a book that has gotten me through hard times. 

3. Sputnik Sweetheart – Haruki Murakami 

I’ve read this on the Guardian: “when you start reading Murakami novels, life starts being like them”. I feel a weird relation to Murakami – our Asian backgrounds click, but I read the English translations of his books, and it feels just right. Murakami novels have definitely changed the way my life has been on. 

4. Here Is Where We Meet – John Berger

I’ve never read a book about me until I read this book (even though it’s not about me or anyone). The chapter of Islington struck me as “about me”. Berger used to study painting, and he is an art critic as well. You cannot imagine how beautiful his writing is. 

5. Ghost World – Daniel Clowes

Coolest comic ever. 

6. Nine Stories – J.D. Salinger

Part of the Glass family saga, Nine Stories includes nine short stories, describing different people in different lives. This book is what I like about short stories – like the sea, calm on the surface, but turbulent deep under. 

7. The Vagina Monologues – Eve Ensler 

Everyone should read it or watch the eponymous film. I don’t see how anyone can not be a feminist???

8. The Red Notebook – Paul Auster

This is my little superstitious book. I believe in signs and coincidences too much (sorry), and it’s a whole book of coincidences! Everyone has some coincidences to tell, and how can you say they are just random events happened in the universe?

9. The Paris Review: Interviews I 

This first volume includes many writers that I genuinely adore – Hemingway, Eco, Capote, etc,. I read it to get to know how they work and live. Read it slowly. 

10. The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barbery

I don’t really like this book. It’s precocious and pretentious enough. But I admire one of its characters so much. She thinks and reads like a philosopher, but works as a concierge. Few people can do this, if you think about it. It is indeed difficult for true literati to remain humble and small. 

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This entry was posted on September 10, 2014 by in Culture, Student Life, Xiaowei and tagged , .

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