Monday, December 9, 2013

The Top Ten Most Influential Books in My Life

I have been mulling this question over for a few weeks now. What are the top ten books that have influenced me the most throughout my life? The trouble with this sort of question is always narrowing it down to the required number. Reading is one of my passions, and I’ve stumbled across many influential, wonderful books throughout the years. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the following list may not be entirely accurate, but then, no list would be. Something is always going to get left off or forgotten... but this is the best I could come up with.

The Bible. As a Christian, this book is definitely the most influential in my life in a very present and never-ending sense. Without the living Word of God, I would be a very different person. Perhaps it seems like a cop-out or a cliche, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

He Whistles for the Cricket by Gwen Walker. If you look this book up, you’ll see that it has only been published for about 2 years. However, I got to be the author’s granddaughter, so I grew up reading this book. I probably wouldn’t be an author myself if my grandma had never written this book.

The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. Can I count this as one long book? What can I say? This series sparked my love of Fantasy fiction and set me on a life-long relationship with numerous series of excellent books. It also set the bar pretty high when it comes to what I love to read, and when I realized that there is a paucity of well-written, CLEAN fantasy out there, I realized that I had found the genre I wanted to write in.

Hind’s Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnand. This little book is one of those allegories that just sort of shines a light into my mind every time I read it. I catch something new on every trip through its pages. It is such a beautiful story about what it means to truly follow Christ and trust Him daily.

Mountain Madness by Robert Birkby. This is a recent addition to my list. It is the true story of the life of Scott Fischer, one of the climbers who died on Mount Everest. While it is truly saddening that this man was probably not a Christian, his story is incredibly inspirational. He lived more in forty-one years than most people do in 70. His story reminds me to make the most of every moment, to be courageous, and to persevere in the face of adversity.

Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. Really, I could pick just about anything by C.S. Lewis and throw it on here. But this one stands out as truly influential. Another excellent fictional book that helps highlight and explain various aspects of the Christian walk. Also quite creepy.

Tales of the Kingdom/Tales of the Resistance by David and Karen Mains. A beautiful set of stories about a young man who flees the darkness of the Emperor and the City and finds a life in the beautiful Forest of the true King. Allegories are not my favorite thing, but when they are done as well as this one (and illustrated as beautifully), they can make the soul sing.

Wolf by Albert Payson Terhune. This is turning out to be a rather ecclectic list, isn’t it? Anything by Albert Payson Terhune would suffice for this entry. Wolf is probably my favorite, or Gray Dawn. These books are some of the first ones I ever read or had read to me. They inspired my love of reading and first taught me about self-sacrifice, loyalty, and courage.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. This was the first science-fiction book I ever read, and bears much of the responsibility for my on-going love of the sci-fi/fantasy genre.

Oh, okay, I am gonna have to go with the Chronicles of Narnia for number ten. All of them. Is that cheating? I spent so much of my childhood trying to find an elusive door into Narnia. I was convinced it existed. (I’m not certain I ever stopped believing... but perhaps now I simply believe it only exists on the other side of the curtains of heaven). This series caught my imagination in a way nothing else could. It whisked me off on countless imaginary adventures and stretched my inventiveness and creativity.

So, there you have it. As complete a list as I can come up with right now of the top ten most influential books in my life.

About Jenelle Leanne Schmidt
Jenelle is one of those rare and elusive creatures known as an "author." She enjoys hanging out in darkened corners of coffee shops, sipping hot chocolate and carrying on animated conversations with those strange and invisible beings known as "characters."

If you spot an author in this scenario, it is best to not intrude (unless it appears that the character is winning the argument with the author, in which case your interruption may be most welcome... at least, by the author).

Another place authors like Jenelle enjoy spending their time is out of doors, preferably near a lake or pond, with a notebook and pen in hand. If you happen upon an author in the wild like this, it is best to proceed cautiously. Interrupting at this juncture could be most hazardous to your health.

As most other authors, Jenelle is a bit shy and timid, though her friends would disagree with that statement. Her favorite genres to read and write are fantasy, sci-fi, and fairy tales

You can find out more about Jenelle and her adventures in authoring at her blog: or on facebook:


  1. Doing all the Narnia books can't possibly be cheating. It is hard to love one without the other!
    Wonderful list! I've read most on it. I've been meaning to start A Wrinkle in Time though, I've heard it is really good but I've never got around to reading it myself.

  2. Great list! I really enjoyed Gray Dawn as well, but it seems not too many people (at least in my circles) have read it.

  3. @Leah: I don't know that I've ever met anyone outside of my family Ts even heard of Terhune. Good to know we're not alone!