The Power Of The Written Word

 Power of the Written Word
Painting, Konstantin Somov – Lovers in the Evening

I don’t know what made me start thinking one night about the books I had read which impacted my thoughts, behavior or life in some way.  Once I started I could not stop.  There aren’t enough hours in a day to write my complete list so here is a quickie.

Stephen King:

The Stand – After reading The Stand, I couldn’t move fast enough from people who were sniffling, sneezing or coughing.  Didn’t want to touch anything in public either.  Dogs and cars? Sometimes I give them a wide berth too (Cujo, Christine).

Salem’s Lot and Desperation – Small towns?  No thank you!  I don’t want to live in them, drive through them or pass relatively close to them.  Airlines have become my best friend.  Yeah, yeah…I know he wrote a book about that too.

Cell – Now you know why I don’t answer my cell phone.

Sol Stein:

The Husband – It taught me to have sympathy and understanding for the supposed bad guy.  Of course when it happened to me, all that empathizing went right out the window.  I tried to dust the floor with the guy!  The novel vaguely reminded me of Henry Miller’s, Sexus.

Elizabeth McNeill:

Nine ½ Weeks – I must have been about fifteen when I read it.  Boy, did it open my eyes to a sexual world I never knew existed.   Of course I had written erotica since the third grade.  So by fifteen I thought I knew it all.  From a writer’s perspective of course, not experience.  My book debut, Light My Fire, inspired by The Doors and Jose Feliciano, was an instant hit but almost an automatic suspension.

Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning:

My Last Duchess, Men and Women, The Love Letters of Elizabeth and Robert Browning, and Sonnets of the Portuguese – It is not so much the books and poems themselves that effected me but the tone and the sentiment that was conveyed in every line.  The love and influence the couple had upon each other is apparent in their writings.  I love poetry, but to this day, never having read those lines since my early high school days, I can still quote “How do I Love Thee” verse for verse.  I wanted a love like that.  Did I get it?  Well…    Their book of love letters also inspired me to write my own;  my first published book, To The One I Love.

Clive Barker:

Books of Blood – Talk about nightmares! This collection of short stories had me screaming in the night but I still came back for more.  Since all his books have the same result, I didn’t bother to list more than one.

Janet Evanovich:

Stephanie Plum Novels –  She taught me you can be destitute, have a broken-down car that probably won’t last more than a few weeks or months, have a ex-ho for a best friend, be resourceful, clueless and still get the job done.  Not to mention have two hot guys chasing after you.

Robin Cook:

Almost everything he’s published:   I learned don’t trust blood banks, organ donors cards, doctors, injections, genetic testing and HMOs.  And for Pete’s sake, never…ever…jog alone, let others breath on you, look at you, or stand next to you!  An ambulance you say?  No thanks, I’ll grab a cab.  His novels gave me “white coat syndrome” for sure.  Unfortunately I don’t regret the introduction.

G.A. McKevett:

Savannah Reid Mysteries – Her books leave no doubt that a curvy girl can have a crazy family, a cheap boyfriend/husband, loyal friends and still kick ass, mentally, intellectually and physically.

John Sandford:

The Lucas Davenport Novels – Don’t get me wrong, I certainly wouldn’t pass up Virgil Flowers, but my ultimate book boyfriend is none other than Lucas Davenport.  He’s large and in charge with a side of nasty.  Rich, intelligent, good-looking; he is a cop that’s not afraid to get his hands dirty or scuff his Ferragamo shoes.  What’s not to love?

Amanda Quick, Emily Bronte, Johanna Lindsey, Emily Dickinson:

Mistress, Jane EyreLove Only Once, The Gorgeous Nothings – What girl or woman who reads romance classics and regency romances hasn’t imagined herself  in flowing gowns of ruffles and lace?  Sometimes I am embroiled in a tryst with a dark domineering hero, at other times my imagination runs along the lines of a more genteel setting of balls, tea rooms and quiet longing.

Robert Frost:

The Road Not Taken – Let’s face it, most of us have, at some point, considered the choice of the road not taken.

James Weldon Johnson:

God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Spirituals in Verse – When James Weldon Johnson is mentioned, one of his works that quickly comes to mind is Lift Every Voice (The Black National Anthem).  My favorite however is God’s Trombones.  I still get caught up in this beautiful portrayal of God in The Creation.  The poem also reminds me of Auguste Rodin’s sculpture The Thinker because of the line, “With his head in his hands, God thought and thought, til he though, ‘I think I’ll make a man’.”

The names and titles above barely scratch the surface.  I read more than four hundred books a year so you can only shudder at the thought of what stimulates my actions and thoughts.

Tell me what novels, short stories and poems move you to live, think and act certain ways.  I’d love to know.

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