Motivation to write comes from many outlets, but reading is probably the most influential inspiration.
Reading works other writers have created opens our eyes to different styles, techniques and themes. Often our favorite books are the ones that draw us back to our own writing even when we’re hooked on someone else’s story.
Finding books that inspire you requires a little exploration and a willingness to pick up and read stories you’ve never heard of before. But in doing this it is possible to find literary treasures, and pieces of your heart you never knew you were missing.
Here are five books that have inspired us to keep writing as we’ve grown up, grieved and somehow found ourselves in someone else’s pages.
1. Tell the Wolves I’m Home (Carol Rifka Brunt)
A story of love, grief and growth, this book follows 14-year-old June as she and her family, and an unlikely companion, deal with the loss of Finn, and uncle, brother and lover. From beginning to end, our MC and narrator grows up, but not before coming to terms with the difference between make-believe and reality, and how each one fits into her world.
2. Lock and Key (Sarah Dessen)
Ruby has a lot to learn about trust, love and forgiveness. Abandoned by her mother and shipped off to live with the sister that abandoned her long before that, she slowly figures out what it means to be part of a family in more ways than one. And of course, the boy next door opens her eyes, and her heart, to truths even deeper than comfort and truth.
3. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
Josephine “Jo” March handles hardships the way many of us do—by crafting her own stories in the privacy of her family’s attic. With her father away at war and three sisters and a mother left behind, she’s desperate to find her place in the world, and to make a name for herself as a successful writer. Not an easy thing to do in the 1800s, when you’re a woman and lack the higher class status of your neighbor.
4. Paper Towns (John Green)
Mysteries are life’s greatest thrill—at least, that’s the philosophy Margo seems to live by. When she disappears, she becomes the kind of mysteries she always hungered to solve, leaving subtle clues for Q and his friends to (maybe) follow. It’s not your typical mystery novel, but the satisfying combination of infatuation, humor and adventure leads readers on a journey they don’t even realize they’re on until it’s in full swing.
5. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
This classic takes readers through the young lives of Scout and Jem as members of their community deal with social issues most children find it impossible to understand. Through a child’s point of view emerges a truthful glimpse into hardships and injustices we still deal with today, but most importantly, this book reminds us of the conflicts that arise when we judge those around us before we know who they really are.
No matter where you are in life, there is a book out there that resonates with your own real-life story. Take a leap of faith and begin your own journey to find it.
Writing our own stories isn’t always easy. But at this point, plenty of others have overcome their own barriers to write theirs. Read them. Admire them. Allow yourself to be inspired to write yours.
Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.