I am and have always been a reader. That being said, not every book I have read is life-altering. In fact, the majority of them, despite being very enjoyable, have not affected me beyond their pages. The few that have, have stuck with me over the years. They taught me lessons about life and love that go beyond fiction or mere words on a page.
These authors taught me to step back and look at the whole picture. I found details about people around me that I never took the time to notice before. I found myself analyzing my own thoughts and actions and questioning the effects it had on those around me. They made me cry, and I mean weep over the loss of people I’ll never know, simply because those individuals taught me something I had begun to value.
These works differ in many ways, some are fictional, others memoirs or somewhere in between the two. Some works defy borders themselves and exist in multiple genres. Regardless, each of these authors impacted my life in some way, and I hope they do the same for you.
1. Lurlene McDaniel: This was the first author I read growing up that tugged my heart strings in a way that I will never forget. She turned loss and pain into something that made me strong and beautiful. She helped me understand that the line between physical and mental health is a blurry one, a lesson I’ve come to immensely value in life.
2. Toni Morrison: For those who already know her or have read something written by her, I’m sure you’re currently nodding in agreement to this statement. Toni Morrison is an absolutely incredible author. Her works touch on themes that are crucial to each and every one of our lives. She makes you question who you are as a person and how you see the world. After reading Beloved, I became more and more interested in mental health and the battles happening inside of each of us.
3. Jane Austen: Now, I know Jane Austen is not everyone’s cup of tea. She writes about wealthy white women interacting with other wealthy white people. However, there is something to say about the way she writes. Every social interaction, every touch, and word are carefully placed within her work. The closer you look, the more you learn about the society she lived in and perhaps the more you realize that she is telling a story that goes beyond the surface.
4. Annie Proulx: This is one author that is especially important to read in 2017. After everything the world encountered in 2016, and all that is sure to still come, Proulx tells a story that strikes you hard. That story is Brokeback Mountain. Put aside all the notions you have of the film, and read the short story. Trust me when I say it’s worth your time. She also has many other amazing short stories!
5. J.R.R. Tolkien: This might be the inner nerd in me, but I have always felt that the secret to life is adventure. No one writes a better adventure story than Tolkien. Despite the majority of his characters being male, he does implement creatures of various talents and shapes and sizes. He teaches you to persist, to be intelligent and creative, but most of all, to be curious.
6. Gloria Anzaldua: Last but not least, is an author that took my understanding of written work and blew it to pieces. She crosses borders of language, narration, and genre in her work titled Borderlands: La Frontera, and teaches you what feels like an infinite amount. You don’t even have to read her cover to cover, simply open it up, read a page and feel your mind expand. She is a woman setting an example for all other women to follow, and it’s nothing short of extraordinary.
These six authors have each had an impact on my life. Perhaps the lessons they taught me entered my life at the right moment in time, or maybe I read into their words in a way that no one else will. Regardless, each of them takes the time to word some of the experiences we have in life in a way that is irrevocably relevant and beautiful. If you enter with an open mind, you will exit with a shattered one. However, after collecting all the pieces you will admire the way they fit back together in a new and improved way.
Featured Image via weheartit.