February 9, 2021

Discussion: What Did Your Favourite Books Teach You?


Hello, everyone! How have you been? I am finally back, and I know that I've told you so many times before. However, this time I'm back with a post, and so this marks the official end of my hiatus. I'm still in the healing process, but I will try to keep a schedule and post at least once per week. 

First, I would like to thank all of you for helping me choose what I should write about. The discussion topics are always so fun to write, and in the process, I have challenged myself (like when decluttering my TBR list). 

So, the majority of you wanted me to share some personal story about reading, and this is what you are getting! However, I have added a twist - instead of getting one story, you are going to read many of them. 

This week's discussion topic is What did your favourite books teach you? On this post, I wanted to talk about my favourite books and how each one of them influenced me as a person and as a writer. I hope that you enjoy this discussion and share your reading stories with me. I can't wait to read how your favourite books have influenced you!

Number9Dream by David Mitchell

It is no secret that my favourite author is David Mitchell. It is also no secret that Cloud Atlas is probably my favourite book. However, I have talked plenty of times about Cloud Atlas! Here, I wanted to tell you about another David Mitchell novel that holds a special place in my heart.

number9dream is an interesting case of a novel. For this blog, it is special as it is the second novel I have ever reviewed (although right now, I found these early reviews pretty cringy).

Despite the writing style, theme, story, etc. number9dream holds a special place in my heart and my library, because it was the book that made me want to write. And I mean to write interesting novels that are not bound by genre rules. 

The thing about this novel is that it is divided into chapters with different themes that influence the writing style. How did I interpret that as a young write? My first (completed) novella has 14 chapters in total. What I wanted to do is write 14 short stories about the same protagonist that would work perfectly as standalone stories and as a whole. I don't know if the result is 100% what I wanted it to be, but I am very satisfied with it. I will talk about it more later on as there are more books that influenced my writing style. 

Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence

Oh boy, here we come! Women In Love is one of those books that I feel like I have recommended you many times, even though I have never talked extensively about it. Today, you are going to discover why it is such an important book for me.

Before saying anything else, I have to admit that the first time I read it, I was in a very delicate state emotionally. I picked up Women In Love after breaking up with my first boyfriend of 3 years, when I was 21 years old. I was young and devastated, and I believed that I chose this books because of the title. You know, at first glance, I though that it would be a classic like Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, etc. I couldn't be more wrong!

If you are familiar with D.H. Lawrence, then you know that his writing style is rather sensual. In this novel, I didn't get a typical love story, where the protagonists overcome the obstacles and manage to find their happy ever after. Instead, what I got was two very strange relationships that fall in all the places in between. Even now that I'm 30 years old, I believe that what Women In Love taught me about relationships is something that I could never gain from my own experiences. 

Moreover, we have to mention the elephant in the room. We can't talk about a D.H. Lawrence novel and not talk about the sex. This was the first novel that I realized that sex can be a statement. It can mean so many things, and in the hands of a skilful writer, the statement will be powerful. The same thing is even present on Lady Chatterley's Lover, which is another novel that I really love (and also has my favourite sex scene in literature). 

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa

Yes, we have arrived in Japanese literature. You all know it very well that I LOVE Japanese literature, and I especially love the work of Yoko Ogawa. Even though I have reviewed Hotel Iris and The Memory Police, I have never really talked to you about The Housekeeper and the Professor.

Earlier, I mentioned that I would talk about another book that influenced my writing. This book is The Housekeeper and the Professor, which has a more fitting original title (The Professor's Favourite Equation). 

What I have learnt from this novel is that you can express more feelings in a quiet setting, where things seem to be ordinary and mundane. Feelings can be expressed without words in small gestures and everyday phrases. You don't always need grand expressions to be passionate. Tenderness is something that can exist in silence. And this is a thing that I have only found in Japanese literature.

At this point, I have to admit that my own writing style has been very much influenced by this. My novella is written in first-person narrative and I have tried to keep the prose simple and quiet. It fits my protagonist's personality and world view. I have even chosen not to name him, which is another thing that I have seen a lot in Japanese literature.

That's it for today! I hope that you enjoyed my stories. Feel free to let me know what your favourite books have taught you in the comments!

What did your favourite books teach you?