Okay, well, riding on the coattails of Skulljuggler and Marissa Meyer I thought I would list the ten books that influenced me. It's rather funny because I see a lot of similarities. The numbering is mostly there to look pretty.
1. Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
This was my first foray into chapter books and I adored them. The intertwined stories of the Pevensie children along with Eustace and Jill stuck with me throughout my childhood. Looking back I think I loved it because there wasn't much handholding. Sure Aslan was there when he needed to be but for the most part these kids faced hard situations. War, fear, Aslan 'dying' and they always suffered the consequences of their actions yet the end was always a good one. It taught me to enjoy the bittersweet in life.
2. The Little House on the Prairie Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I loved these books. I loved how Laura got older and I loved reading about her life which wasn't always easy. I enjoyed the descriptions of frontier living as well as the closeness of their family. She was an awesome heroine to me. She was tough but at the same time just an average girl and still this story pulled very few punches. I understand that it was semi-autobiographical but still...her sister goes blind. Show me that in a MG series these days...
3. The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien
I loved the language in this book. This book set in me a sense of wonder. A sense of wanting to travel. Everything was amazing to me, fresh and new. I loved the song of the dwarves and I loved the epicness of the tale and how Bilbo was hardly a conventional hero. He wasn't very strong and his bravery was debatable at points though quite fearless. I love the world building which was rich and detailed. I never quite got into Lord of the Rings the same way for some reason.
4. The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin
Man these books were freaking epic. I loved the idea of Ged and all the adventures he went through and his trials...though most of the trials he had to endure was because he was a little snot who didn't want to listen to anyone. Still he was a great wizard who talked to dragons and all sorts of things. This is the book series that inspired me to write...or at least I started on my first idea for a novel after reading it while blatantly lifting ideas from it. (I was young) and the worldbuilding is awesome. It is richly detailed and elegantly written.
5. The Arrows of the Queen Series by Mercedes Lackey
Here was a heroine who was a scared, oppressed, kind of emo but in love with stories. She was often frightened due to her rigid upbringing but had the courage to runaway and become a Herald (well she was chosen for it but still) I remember she was everything I wanted to be at that age and the trauma of her story moved me appropriately. This is one of the few books I read the covers off of. The worldbuilding is unique and there is always the mystery of what the Companions are really.
6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Oh this story. The pages were thin the writing exploded all over the page and it took me several tries to get through but once I did I loved it. I love Jane herself, quiet, bookish, but with a spine and Mr. Rochester was darkly handsome (with perhaps somewhat questionable taste in women) I loved the psuedo-gothic feel of it. The will they and won't they romance between Jane and Mr. Rochester. And of course I loved hwo they got over themselves and got with each other in the end.
7. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Whoever knew this was going to show up raise your hand! No cookies for being right. :p Harry Potter was the series that freed me. Being raised in a religious household (though not too oppressive though severely anti gay) I read the first book and liked it well enough but then decided it was witchcraft. (or rather everyone else did) and threw it away. I more or less forgot about it for a while until a friend made me read Prisoner of Azkaban. And I fell-in-love. Remus was awesome. He was mysterious, he was warm, there were things HAPPENING. He was wicked cool. And of course I was afraid of Sirius, him being the villain of the piece and then at the end-- just-- all my misconceptions blown out of the water. So I went back to read the first book and plow my way through to the third again and wait on pins and needles for the rest of the damn series. Annd I started to ship Sirius and Remus, like, seriously (haaa) hard and once that door was flung open all the rest were. I realized there was so much more to the world than my narrow confines of my upbringing told me about.
8. Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice
This is the first of Anne Rice's books I'd ever read, let alone vampire books. This was my eras version of Twilight, yo, at least to me and my friends. Lestat would kick Edward's ass. -coff- Anyhow, I had no idea what the hell was going on or who these people were, but I enjoyed Lestat as a hero. He wasn't perfect. He was far from perfect. He was a smarmy arrogant git and really damned proud of it. He was a beautiful narcissist and I loved every minute of it.
9. Star Trek: The Pandora Principle by Carolyn Crowes
Why, yes I am a trekkie. I read this story as a kid (in fact that's when the bulk of my Star Trek reading happened) more than once in fact. It's essentially Saavik's story. For those who aren't familiar, Saavik is Spock's protegee, appearing first in the Wrath of Kahn played by Kirstie Allie and then in Search for Spock by Robin Curtis who does a much better job. Anyhow, Saavik is half Vulcan and Romulan and lived on a planet where Romulans had Vulcan slaves and then...I'm not sure what happened but a bunch of half breed kids were just left there to rot. Anyhow she grows up with them kind of and is really a feral little thing until Spock comes along and saves her and takes her in and teaches her. It was a long, hard process and Saavik is in a constant battle with her emotional v logic, much like Spock though she has an even harder time since Romulans (being a distant cousin to the Vulcan) have the same tendency toward brutal emotion. It was a story about love and being able to make it even though it was hard.
10. The Nightrunner Series by Lynn Flwelling
This is probably the most recent on my list. I admit, on the first few pages of the first book in the series, Luck in the Shadows, I was kind of hesitant. There were all kinds of fantasyish names flung about and hints of a evil overlord and I am kind of annoyed by that trope. I honestly only got the book because the guy on the cover was cute. Then I saw Alec, shivering away in a cell and I was intrigued...especially since he had no idea what was going on and was often tortured. Then some weird bard guy was shoved in with him...who was more than he seemed and I was hooked right on through til the end of that book and the second, and the third. Well not the end of the third yet because I haven't finished it because I didn't want it to end...but now that there are two more books in the series and Skulljuggler will kill me otherwise I figure I'll go ahead and finish. Seregil and Alec are unconventional heroes. They are heroes in their own way and I highly HIGHLY approve of the romance. These books gave me the courage to write characters that were just themselves without worrying if they were too bad or too good, too gay or too straight. I would read them again and again and again.
So there are my top ten influential books, what are yours?