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March 16, 2011 / Chersti Nieveen

books read in 2010

In 2010, I read over 50 books. I think that’s a little low for me, but 2010 I had a lot of required reading for my college classes that I didn’t count, and they just sucked away my reading time. Not that I’m complaining . . . but it does add up.

And as I’ve been thinking about it, out of those books only a few still stick out to me. I can remember each of them, but only a few jump out at me screaming AMAZING! BUY ME NOW!

Some of these titles include The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan, The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson, Impossible by Nancy Werlin, Dragonfly by Julia Golding, Feed by M.T. Anderson, Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, The Dark Divine by Bree Despain, The Hunger Games triology (which I finally caved and read), The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, The Way He Lived by Emily Wing Smith, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Paranormalcy by Kiersten White, Matched by Ally Condie, as well as others. If you HAVE NOT read any of those books I listed, you better get yourself to the bookstore or library right now to clear up this error.

These books stuck with me because some part of them resonated with me. Some part is still with me, and changed me in some small way.

And being a writer, I had to ask myself: why are those books so powerful?

Each book has a different individual and specific reason, but I think it comes down to the power of reading that [1] those books go deeper than your typical story, and the character struggles in such a way that the reader can identify with them and [2] Each of those books carries a certain truth in it that resonates with the reader. Whether it’s a character trait that the reader also portrays or an idea or viewpoint that gives a new and deeper insight, something is there.

Now the second question is: how can I as a writer do that same thing?

That’s something to think about, isn’t it.

So what book has changed you? And do you have any hints of how to create a book just like that?

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8 Comments

  1. Leisha Maw / Mar 16 2011 9:53 am

    That is an awesome list. You are so right, those books changed a part of me, too. I really, really wish I knew how to duplicate that in my own writing. Sigh. Maybe someday. 🙂

  2. Liesl / Mar 16 2011 9:57 am

    Great list! I’ve read most but not all. I’ll try to remedy that.

    It’s a tricky thing, pinpointing why some books work and others don’t. The only answer I’ve come up with is a) the writers have honed their craft in a way to most effectively convey what they mean, and b) they only write stories that truly inspire them, the stories that just won’t go away. A is probably harder than B, but that’s all I got.

  3. Nikki / Mar 16 2011 9:58 am

    So many! The first one that came to mind—besides the ones you already mentioned—is MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD. It was a book that dealt beautifully with complex yet fundamental questions about life. To me a great book has to do that: has to transcend the characters and story to truly mean something to readers in the real world. I think maybe that’s what you mean by “resonate.”

    Thanks for the list! There are a couple on there I haven’t gotten to yet and need to. 🙂

  4. Chersti Nieveen / Mar 16 2011 10:11 am

    Leisha – I think we all sigh and think “someday,” but hopefully that someday is soon for you!

    Liesl – Those are two great points and I’d have to agree. I think there are other things that go into the formula as well, but for a lot of them they take the time to get that book right.

    Nikki – I haven’t read MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD — I’ll have to go check that one out! And you hit it right on the nail with a great definition of what “resonate” entails. Thanks!

  5. Carol Riggs / Mar 16 2011 10:25 am

    I’ve added these to my TBR list! Thanks for the recommendation. I’ve read the HUNGER GAMES and that’s all. Just finished NEVERWHERE by Neil Gaimon and enjoyed it so I’m looking forward to reading THE GRAVEYARD BOOK! 🙂

  6. Rebecca T / Mar 16 2011 10:49 am

    I love so many of the books you mentioned! Hunger Games trilogy was amazing, I love Paranormalcy (and Kiersten White in general), Shiver was so good. Dead Tossed Waves and Impossible are on my TBR pile.

    It really is interesting to think about what makes a story so enjoyable and memorable.

  7. Joel Smith / Mar 16 2011 1:39 pm

    I must admit I didn’t read as much as I would have liked. However there is one book I really had a lot of fun with: Warbreaker, by Brandon Sanderson. While it doesn’t have the same deep thinking aspects as many of the books listed here, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

  8. Chersti Nieveen / Mar 16 2011 1:47 pm

    Carol – Oh I just adored THE GRAVEYARD BOOK and I need to read some of Neil Gaiman’s other books! I’m excited to hear what you think about it.

    Rebecca T – You have great taste in books 🙂 I’m so excited for Carrie Ryan’s book coming out this month, which is the next book in her Forest of Hands and Teeth series.

    Joel – Oh how could I have forgotten Brandon Sanderon’s books on my list!? Agh!! I am so glad you brought it up.

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