If you hadn't already guessed it, I'm kind of a book fiend. Meaning: I love books! I love collecting them and holding them. I love covers and quotes and back blurbs. I love witty chapter headings and cool pages with the whatever you call them edges. I love writing books. I certainly love reading books. And for the most part, I've been satisfied with my reading. Occasionally, I'll read a book that will make me say... Oh well. It just didn't do it for me. But those occasions are rare. I'd say 80-90% of the time, if I sit down and invest my total focus in a book, working my way to the finish, I end up pleased with the read. Now, on the opposite end of the scale, every now and then I'll find a book that changes my complete way of thinking. And this could be in a number of areas. My views on a controversial topic. My opinion of a particular genre I previously wouldn't have read. And so on, and so on. Also, as a writer, on occasion I'll read a book that changes my views on how to write.
For example: I've grown up in a strict third-person past tense world. That means a narrator, sometimes who sees all in every characters mind, but mostly focuses on one main character, tells a story that happened previously. I liked that. It worked for me and had worked for quite awhile. Harry Potter was written in this manner and the master, JK Rowling, wrote it to perfection. So, I started writing in that way. My first book, The Gothian Box, was written in third person. It's an okay story, but probably needs a major overhaul before it's worth publishing. I wrote the first draft of The Adventures of Hashbrown Winters in third person. That was the law in my opinion. That's how you wrote and everything else was pointless.
Now, I've read many novels since Harry Potter. Most of them in third person past tense. But I believe it was Percy Jackson and the Olympians which opened my eyes to the beauty of writing in First Person past tense. I loved those books. They held me captive and I eagerly awaited the arrival of each next installment in the series. Because of my love for the stories, I changed my way of thinking. First person past tense narratives can work and... work well. I immediately tested it out on my yet to be published Hashbrown Winters and bingo! The story finally came together. I was sold on this way of writing. Allowing the narrator to be the same as your main character helped me to find my voice in writing. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan changed my way of thinking. My next series, The Guardians of the Tebah Stick, is written in first person. In fact, I don't think I can write a book in third-person anymore. Maybe that's me being drastic.
But it goes on... Suddenly I started reading, and sometimes trying to read, a new way of writing. First Person Present Tense. Again the narrator is the main character, but the events and the story happen in real time as you read. Oh man, I struggled with this. I couldn't enjoy it. What the heck was the author trying to do? Confuse me? Well they succeeded and there were several books (they'll remain nameless) I never finished because of this writing style. It was worthless. That type of writing could never work... Until... The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Whoa boy! Hold your horses. That book rocked! And like you probably can guess, my way of thinking changed. First Person Present Tense... what a wonderful idea! Next I started reading the Demonata series by Darren Shan which solidified my positive strong feelings about this style of writing. And now, I'm close to completing a novel using First Person Present Tense.
Change is good.
For me, these are the books that changed my way of thinking with my writing:
For now that will have to do. There are dozens more I plan to highlight in the upcoming weeks and months of books I recommend to change your way of thinking. If you haven't given these a shot yet, you won't go wrong. Just a warning though, The Hunger Games (which includes Catching Fire and Mockingjay in the series) and the Demonata series are darker books intended for older audiences. Great stuff!