“The only books that influence us are those for which we are ready…”

by chuckofish

While it’s true that the internet abounds with unnecessary top-ten lists, they persist because they are fun and cause us to reflect a little as we compose our own. Recently I came across one that inspired me to think about the books that influenced me most — the ones that, to finish the quote above, “have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have yet got ourselves.” So here they are — hopefully without repeating too much from earlier posts about books —  in no particular order.

1.  I don’t know how or why my parents (or was it my brother?) had a copy of this book, but as soon as I opened it, I was smitten. In many ways, this book inspired me to become an Assyriologist. I still have it.


2.   I’ve blogged about Seven Pillars before, so won’t add too much here. Suffice it to say that reading this just added to my fascination with the Near East, which was, after all, so much more exotic than St. Louis. And besides, camel-riding sounded like it would be fun.

7 pillars

3. My fourth grade Sunday school teacher was Mrs. Roeder, whom I revered. She was beautiful and oh, so kind. She made me want to go to church and that was also the year we received our Bibles. I read all of the Gospels. It kind of freaked me out (more than once I figured I was headed to hell), but it had a big impact.


4. Sometimes when I couldn’t decide what to read or just didn’t feel like undertaking a whole book, I would just dip into the Oxford Book of English Verse or its American counterpart. Thus, I not only became acquainted with the major poets, but developed some taste (of a decidedly adolescent nature I’m sure, but taste nonetheless).

oxford book of engllsh vers


5. Sometimes I didn’t feel like reading at all, so I just looked at pictures. That’s probably why I picked up the Assyrian Art book in the first place. Looking at pictures gave me an appreciation of art and an abiding love of buildings, especially ruined ones. The last book my mother ever gave me (birthday 1987) was a book on the Chateau of the Loire Valley. She always knew what I would love.


There are many books I’ve  discussed in other posts and still more I should mention, but I think I’ll stop here for now. I hope that you will reflect a little on your own reading history and then share your top most influential books in a comment.

Enjoy your weekend!