Challenge: What Books have Inspired You?

What books have inspired you? We’re challenging readers to list 10 books that have had a profound effect upon them. What are the books you’ve never been able to shake off? That have stuck with you throughout the years? Email your list to with “Books Challenge” in the subject line.

Bread ‘n Molasses Editor Kellie Underhill shares her list below:

Judy Blume's Blubber
Judy Blume’s Blubber

1. Blubber by Judy Blume – I was 7 or 8 years old when I read Blubber. Being a big girl myself, I could relate. It was as if she wrote the book about me, or I wrote the book. One time I left a comment for Judy Blume online telling her what she meant to me as a child and she sent me a lovely email. I saved it for years. It was something I won’t forget.

That Was Then, This Is Now
That Was Then, This Is Now

2. That was Then, This is Now by S.E. Hinton – I loved everything she wrote but this was my favourite. Something about the choice of which road to take when you reach a fork, the sadness of the inevitable growing apart with the people you love most, struck a chord with me. I remember thinking that no matter what, me and my best friend, Stacy would always be solid. I was right.

The Chronicles of Narnia
The Chronicles of Narnia

3. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis – I read the complete series from beginning to end like it was one book, loving every moment! My Aunt Valerie gave me the boxed set when I was a kid. From the moment the children stepped through the wardrobe and into the magical kingdom of Narnia I was hooked. This was the series that opened my mind all the way to fantasy and science fiction.

The Diviners by Margaret Laurence
The Diviners by Margaret Laurence

4. The Diviners by Margaret Laurence – This was required reading in my Canadian literature class at university. I didn’t know Canadian literature existed before that class. Oh Morag Gunn! She is a character I relate to on every level. I have reread this novel so much that the pages have disconnected from the book’s spine. I should probably buy another copy.

Nancy Huston's Fault Lines
Nancy Huston’s Fault Lines

5. Fault Lines by Nancy Huston – The author was at Frye Festival in Moncton one year I attended. I saw her in a panel discussion and thought she was arrogant and rude so I dismissed her work. Then I saw her perform, reading parts from her book with live jazz music from a band and a light technician changing hues. She became each character. It was the most amazing thing, so I bought the book. It’s the only book I have read in a single sitting since I was a child. If you read nothing else, read this.

Anne Frank's Diary
Anne Frank’s Diary

6. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank – Did my obsession with the war begin with Anne Frank or did it lead me to her? I can’t recall. I know I was young when I read this and it changed me. Because it was true. I spent a lot of time in my early years trying to figure out how this could this happen. Why do people hate people they don’t even know? It was weighty stuff for a 7 or 8 year old. I suppose I understand it better now. Or at least I understand how really complex an issue it is.

Stephen King's The Stand
Stephen King’s The Stand

7. The Stand by Stephen King – No list of mine would be complete without mention of Mr. King. Salem’s Lot was the first novel of his I ever read. It was the summer between grade 4 and grade 5 when I saw the book in my aunt’s camp and sneaked it away. I knew I wasn’t old enough to read it, so I hid and read in secret. Vampires! I was completely hooked on Stephen King after that. But The Stand is by far my favourite. It’s huge! Filled with many characters and plot lines that intersect, coming together for the end. It’s so complex and simple all at the same time. I just love it!

The Queen of Peace Room by Magie Dominic
The Queen of Peace Room by Magie Dominic

8. The Queen of Peace Room by Magie Dominic – I met Magie years ago and she is a special person. She emanates a sense of inner peace, love, harmony, zen, spirit … and when you read this powerful memoir you wonder how someone who went through all that she has can get to that place where her spirit just shines and reaches out from her little body touching people. It’s an amazing book and she’s an amazing woman that I feel blessed to know. I’m currently reading her second book, Street Angel, and enjoying it immensely. Magie’s work gives me the courage to tell my own stories.

Timothy Findley's Spadework
Timothy Findley’s Spadework

9. Spadework by Timothy Findley – It might seem like an odd choice but this book came to me when I was searching for a path to take in my life. Then through this book I found the world of Stratford, art, artists, the theatre, and Wolf Blass Yellow Label red wine. I wanted to be involved in an artistic community like the one in the book, So I decided to move. This book is the reason why I love red wine and have so many wonderful creative friends I met during my travels. It quite literally changed my life in very real and physical ways.

Classic Steinbeck
Classic Steinbeck

10. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck – This novel enraged me, what a terrible thing! But to be fair I only liked half this book. Steinbeck is known for his descriptions. They are so detailed that every second chapter is just a description, a segue to the real story. The descriptions weighed me down. I read them the first time, but since then I’ve reread it a few times and I skip every second chapter. The editor in me says he didn’t need them. The story is powerful, and it sticks with you.

Now, it’s your turn! Send us your list of 10 great books that have impacted your life in some way. Email