Writers read, and read, and read. It is an important, some might say imperative, part of their craft and their work. In the course of our interview series with published authors, we have noticed a trend – these writers’ book lists are prolific, varied, and tell a story or two itself.
In our recent interview with Mona Houghton, author of two novellas Frottage & Even As We Speak, we asked her what authors and titles have influenced her writing.
I find the question as to authors who have influenced me to be the hardest to answer. The answer changes weekly—and now I that I have been reading for so long I have too many weeks to account for. There are books that left me with ‘feelings’ and those ‘feelings’ drove me to writing. If I write a story that arouses those ‘feelings’ in me I feel I have met my intention as a writer. Here is a list, in no particular order, of some of the writers who come to mind as far as influences go: Alice McDermott (That Night: A Novel), Lisa Alther (Kin-Flicks), Thomas Pynchon (V.), Jayne Ann Phillips (Black Tickets: Stories), all of Alice Munro, many George Saunders stories, many novels and short stories by Annie Proulx, Thomas Keneally (The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith), Vance Marshall (Walkabout), the short stories and novels of Katherine Haake, Rod Val Moore, Yasunari Kawabata, and W.G Sebald. At some point one has to stop.
Mona also shared with us a wonderful list of books and authors that “have certainly deepened my understanding about life and the world.” And, as oft happens in the art of creating lists of favorite things, “picking a few is a daunting task.” Below are selections from Mona’s list and a compelling reason to read the book for the first (or second) time.
Murakami. What a complicated and wonderful mind he shares with his readers. He has opened up doors and given me views I never expected to see.
Cormac McCarthy—Most of his books. The Road. I finished that book and immediately turned back to the first page and began reading it again. I wanted to know, to find out how he made me feel the way that book made me feel. And I wanted to embrace its language, the cadences of the sentences.
Herta Müller — The Appointment. This book certainly deepened my understanding about the world.
Other titles on Mona’s list include:
HHhH: A Novel by Laurent Binet
Middlemarch by George Elliot
The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.
Angel of Oblivion by Maja Haderlap
Missing Person by Patrick Modiano
The Museum of Unconditional Surrender by Dubravka Ugresic
In the interview, Mona also generously shares her favorite books from childhood, her experience as a teacher of Creative Writing, and her writing process. Read the complete interview with Mona Houghton here.