Thomas Edison was inspired by Thomas Jefferson. Einstein was inspired by Isaac Newton. Everyone in this world has an influence, including the greatest scientist. It is the same for the greatest writers. They have influenced you, but who influenced them? Here are authors and some of their favorite books and authors.
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Vladimir Nabokov, the affluent Russian-American novelist, is famous for the dark and controversial story ‘Lolita.’ In an interview with The Paris Review, he says his childhood was full of Wells’s work. “‘H. G. Wells, a great artist, was my favorite writer when I was a boy… His sociological cogitations can be safely ignored, of course, but his romances and fantasies are superb.”
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Jonathan Franzen, Pulitzer prize winning author and selected as part of Oprah Winfrey’s book club, is famous for the book ‘The Corrections.’ This was a novel about social criticism in the late 1990s about the economic boom caused by technology.
When asked by Entertainment Weekly what book made him a writer, Franzen mentions ‘The Trial’ by Kafka (And ‘Harriet the Spy’). Franzen says ‘What the two have in common is main characters who are at once sympathetic and morally dubious.’
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Stephen King, notorious for pumping out novels quicker than most people can read them, is not able to do so without inspiration.
In an interview with The New York Times, King states his favorite author is Don Robertson, who wrote Paradise Falls, The Ideal, Genuine Man and Miss Margaret Ridpath and the Dismantling of the Universe. “What I appreciate most in novels and novelists,” he says “is generosity, a complete baring of the heart and mind, and Robertson always did that. He also wrote the best single line I’ve ever read in a novel: Of a funeral he wrote, ‘There were that day, o Lord, squadrons of birds.’”
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With late author David Foster Wallace’s suicide, friend D.T. Max wrote a large (as is the style of DFW) memoir called ‘Every Love Story is a Ghost Story.’ In an article by Flavor Wire, he shares the books DFW read, including ‘The Crying Lot of 49’ by Thomas Pynchon.
Max says “Lot 49 was an agile and ironic meta-commentary, and the effect on Wallace cannot be overstated (so much so that in a later letter to one of his editors Wallace, ever nervous of his debt to the other writer, would lie and say he had not read the book). Wallace reading Pynchon was, remembers Costello, ‘like Bob Dylan finding Woody Guthrie.’”
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The Bard was one who inspired the works of many many people. William Shakespeare, however, wasn’t the beginning of literature, he was merely a contributor. One of his favorite authors to borrow plots from was Geoffrey Chaucer. Chaucer is a middle-English writer, famous for the ‘Canterbury Tales.’
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Ray Bradbury’s novels are written like poetry: full of imagery and gorgeous. He is most famous for his sci-fi novel ‘Fahrenheit 451,’ a book about the banning of books. In the novel, the main character is responsible for destroying all books that he finds. It sounds more like a horror story to us.
In an interview with The Paris Review he cites his famous authors in sci-fi. The one he relates to most is Jules Verne, author of ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth.’ Bradbury says “I’ve found that I’m a lot like Verne—a writer of moral fables, an instructor in the humanities. He believes the human being is in a strange situation in a very strange world, and he believes that we can triumph by behaving morally.”
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David Sedaris is witty, hilarious, and one of the most relatable authors to date. Many of his memoirs are self-defacing, but contain truths that are relevant to any reader.
In an interview with The New York times, he says ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Love’ by Raymond Carver left a huge impact on him. Sedaris says “His short, simple sentences and -familiar-seeming characters made writing look, if not exactly easy, then at least possible. That book got me to work harder, but more important it opened the door to other contemporary short story writers like Tobias Wolff and Alice Munro.”
So now you can read what they read and make your own conclusions. Would you have guessed any of these?
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