I was setting there, reflecting a bit, on the books that have influenced me. I realized that there are a lot of books that have affected my reading interests. There are only a handful of books, however, that I can point out as truly affecting me, as a person. Sometimes I can’t even point out a book, just an author. When I talk to friends, a some of them point out specific books they read, some of them just the other day, that amazed them or brought up some new information they found profound. To tell the truth, that seems a little trite to me. If you read a new book every week that blows your mind and caused you to radically revise your view of the world… well, then your view of the world must be either very simplistic or fundementally flawed.
For me, I can only remember a couple authors whose writing caused me to question my worldview. Both I read in early adulthood and both authors delivered their messages through fiction. Robert A. Heinlein is probably at the forefront. Mark Twain is the other. These two authors had the most profound influence on me, I think, because I read them when I was young. Both authors have, at times, taken deeply satirical stances in their writing. Both have, in various forms, a tendency to preach their stances. As a weird side note, they’re both from Missouri. Something in the water there, I think. With RAH, three books stand out to me: Revolt in 2100, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and Starship Troopers. With Mark Twain, I can’t really point to any one book, perhaps because I tore through almost everything he’d written in a year or so and it all sort of blends together for me.
I’ve also read a lot of the classic philosophers: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle. I’ve also read a variety of other philosophers, from John Stuart Mill toto Nietchie, to Emmanuel Kant. A lot of it I disagreed with, sometimes quite vociferously. Some of it stuck and the influences it’s had are interesting. Still, I think in a lot of ways, seeing such ideas played out in a work of fiction is an excellent medium for visualizing these ideas worked out.
More recent authors have, for whatever reason, not had as great an effect upon me. Perhaps because my inner philosphies were settled or perhaps just because I’m a more aware reader. Newer authors have influenced me, to be certain, but not caused any fundemental shifts in my outlook on life. I deeply enjoy fiction with themes that I agree with, stories about challenging ourselves, freedom, big dreams, personal integrity, and individualism.
So… what authors or stories influenced you? What books shaped your philosopies on life and molded you into the person you are now? Who are you, and what’s your deal, anyway?