I should subtitle this: "10 books that make me want to write." Because I cannot separate "books I cannot live without" from books that influence me as a writer: The two activities, for me, are irrevocably intertwined.
These are books that use language, plot and/or character in delightful and astonishing ways, that engross me even upon multiple readings, that make me gloriously happy and terribly humbled over the human capacity for language. The +2 are books that I loved as a young reader. In some way, these books touched my core and spoke some truth. I hope, too, that I have many books left to add to my list.
This is for Kailana, who asked the provocative question in the first place. (No particular order).
1. Jane Eyre
2. Pride and Prejudice
3. Swann’s Way
4. Shakespearean Sonnets (or, to really cheat, Collected Works of Shakespeare)
5. On the Road
6. Collected Poems by Sylvia Plath
7. Bleak House
8. To the Lighthouse
9. Anna Karenina
10. Crime & Punishment
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn