The Authors Who Made Me Who I Am

My favorite authors, and what they taught me about life:

Arthur Conan Doyle – logic and the value of obscure knowledge

Leslie Charteris – adventure, outside the rules if necessary

Spider Robinson – love, community, and imagination

Dorothy Parker – jaded wit

Connie Willis – all of the above

8 Responses to “The Authors Who Made Me Who I Am”

  1. Mark S. Says:

    Sir Arthur also taught me the value of not only seeing, but observing. It’s amazing how many people don’t notice new glasses, a shaved off mustache/beard or a haircut.

    Totally clueless. The nice thing is, it shows that you care about people because you do notice these things. It takes so little to do so as well…

    I think I’m going to snag this for my own use on my LJ, if you’ve no objections.

  2. Rivkah Says:

    Arthur Conan Doyle – logic and the value of obscure knowledge

    I remember reading “The Hound of the Baskervilles” in high school and becoming highly disinterested in his work until stumbling across a massive collection of his short stories for only $10, and picked it up. I read it straight through in about a week. Either the version we read in school is highly edited, or my intellectual capacity just wasn’t mature enough to grasp the complexity and ingenuity (and language) of his work until recently . . . but I’ve learned a new appreciation of crime fiction through the eyes of Watson.

    And the best stories were the ones over seemingly simple and straightforward mysteries. Made me realize why shows like “Columbo” seem to leave more of an impact than all the high-crime shows we’re inundated with today. For some reason . . . somehow . . . trying to figure out where somebody’s pencil disappeared can often turn out more fascinating than why some high-profile politician was murdered.

  3. Rivkah Says:

    And I blame computers with impossible programs and magical science on the loss of purely mental detective work. *grrr*

  4. Johanna Says:

    Mark, sure, start something and pass it around, I don’t mind.

    Rivkah, I too like the stories much more than the novels. Although some of them were darned creepy, like that engineer whose thumbs were cut off!

  5. Rivkah Says:

    Although some of them were darned creepy, like that engineer whose thumbs were cut off!

    !!! I loved that one! Though my favorite by far was the Yellow Face, with the woman who’s hiding from her husband the fact she has a child because she’s afraid he won’t accept her for being half black because of her previous marriage . . . even though the whole time Holmes believes that wife is being blackmailed. Just the dedication of the woman’s husband and her underestimation of his love for him . . . the last few paragraphs when he picks up the little girl and puts his arm around his wife and walks out of the room as his answer actually made me cry. It was so phenomenally touching, especially since the whole time, Holmes asks time and time again if she could possibly be cheating on him and he knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that she never would. As Holmes points out, it’s the people that are the most interesting, not the circumstances.

    And an excellent thing to remember in writing, as well. :)

    It also still amuses me that Holmes did cocaine. I’m pretty sure they cut that out of the book I read in school, as well. :P But it shows he isn’t flawless . . . and at times, downright unlikeable, but that’s what makes him so intriguing. Characters with deep flaws are the most magnetic and interesting of all. I keep that in mind every time I’m tempted to make a character or circumstances too perfect. Sometimes you just have to let them make their mistakes, fail, and pick themselves right back up again. :)

  6. Johanna Says:

    Ah, yes, drugs as a cure from his boredom. That doesn’t seem all that logical.

  7. Ed Sizemore Says:

    Actually, the only author I read in my youth that taught me life lessons was Tolkien. Thinking back over all the books I read in junior high and high school that shocks me. Most of my favorite authors (Poe, R E Howard, Lovecraft, etc.) don’t lend themselves to practical application. They all showed me the power of imagination and taught me to keep the creative channels of my own mind open to new wonders.

    Tolkien taught me that you can only truly find yourself when you surrender to something grander than you. Also, any comprise with evil will only destroy the good you thought you were accomplishing. He was sneaking Biblical morality into my fantasy reading at a time when I wanted nothing to do with God ;-).

  8. Mark S. Says:

    Just so you know what I said…

    Thanks for permission.




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