March 21, 2010
In his own blog, Tyler Cowen has listed the ten books that have influenced him most and asked other bloggers to do the same. He is also aggregating other people’s lists. I choose to take the seat-of-the-pants approach and am writing the first ten that I think of rather than poring over this. Not the ones that I think I should say or the ones that necessarily would most influence me today.
Richard Adams: Watership Down
George Eliot: Middlemarch
James Alison: The Joy of Being Wrong
C.S. Lewis: That Hideous Strength
Anthony Trollope: Autobiography
Bruno Montsaingeon: Mademoiselle: Conversations with Nadia Boulanger
Robert Hughes: Barcelona
Oscar Wilde: The Importance of Being Earnest
James Boswell: The Life of Samuel Johnson, Ll.D.
Dorothy Parker: Complete Short Stories
UPDATE: Looking this over one day later, I’m fairly shocked by one fact: Dorothy Parker is the only American writer in the list.
ANOTHER UPDATE: I’ve been asked why the Bible is not on my list. Because I assume that practically everyone in our society has been influenced, if not most influenced, by that book or gathering of separate books. If you ask me my favorite drinks, should I list water? Or must breathing figure in my list of favorite activities? Even the person in our culture most adverse to its teachings is mightily “impacted,” as the cant goes, by that volume.