The classics club asks for our personal book canons, which is a topic I love to discuss. I have previously written a bit about my personal book canon and about some of the books that are especially important to me. This time I want to focus not on the best books I have read, but on the ones that I feel have had the greatest influence on me.
These are the books I believe shaped me
Growing up in Sweden it is very hard not to be heavily influenced by Astrid Lindgren. If you haven’t read the books yourself, chances are that someone read them for you, or you watched the TV-series or went to Astrid Lindgrens värld, the nice family park dedicated to her characters. In my case it was all of the above. Somewhat later I discovered the Narnia books, which I read and reread until I almost knew them by heart.
- Findus and the fox (Rävjakten), picture book by Sven Nordqvist.
- Who will comfort Toffle? (Vem ska trösta knyttet?) picture book by Tove Jansson.
- All of Astrid Lindgren’s more famous works but especially Brothers Lionheart and Ronia the Robber’s Daughter.
- Island of the blue dolphins by Scott O’Dell, the first chapter book I read on my own.
- The Moomin series by Tove Jansson.
- The chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.
- Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
- Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
- Momo by Michael Ende
I read lots of Fantasy as a teenager, but little of it has stayed with me. The Harry Potter books came when I was already a teenager, so they had less influence on me than they might have had, but I still remember them fondly.
What did stay with me though was Simon Singh’s Fermat’s Last Theorem, which I was a bit obsessed with. I also read all the Arctic and Antarctic literature in the local library, which certainly influenced me.
- Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
- Fermat’s Last Theorem by Simon Singh
- Shackleton’s incredible voyage by Alfred Lansing
- Antarktisboken describing the Norwegian–British–Swedish Antarctic Expedition 1949–1952, main author John Giæver
- Mot 90 grader syd by Monica Kristensen
- Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman
- 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
- City of My Dreams by Per Anders Fogelström
- Kastanjeallén by Dea Trier Mørch
- Gaudy night by Dorothy Sayers
As a student my hobby reading was mostly crime fiction, much of it enjoyable but little of it memorable. I did however learn more about glaciers, sang a lot of Bellman songs, and discovered both The Summer Book and Jane Austen. Oh, and I wrote a thesis, I guess that technically counts as a book too.
- Under det rosa täcket by Nina Björk
- Glaciers and glaciations by Douglas Benn and David Evans
- The Summer book by Tove Jansson
- Pride and prejudice and Persuasion by Jane Austen
- Fredman’s epistles by Carl Michael Bellman
More recent additions
With more recent reads it is more difficult to identify the ones that made a lasting impact and it was very tempting to just list excellent books I have recently read. However, I have tried to stick to books which I believe have influenced me more than others.
- A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
- The hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll
- How the universe got its spots by Janna Levin
- The Bloody Chamber and other stories by Angela Carter
- Visor och ballader by Dan Andersson
- The Poetic Edda
- Wind, sand and stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
- The Gentle Art of Tramping by Stephen Graham