15 Authors That Have Influenced Me

1. Vyas/Valmiki – Ramayana and Mahabharata – I guess almost every kid grows up reading abridged versions of these books. From pictorial books (series) to comics and novels, I have read poems and novels based on subplots. Hindi literature is rich with such poems and stories. Dinkar wrote famous poem ‘Kurushetra’ and also, ‘Shakti aur Shama’ from Ramayana. For Mahabharata, even different points of view are available. Most memorable, for me, was Duryodhan’s – well-argued in a book called ‘Mahabharat ki ek saanjh’ by Bharat Bhushan Aggarwal. It was first time I viewed Mahabharat with new eyes. Then, I read Draupadi’s point of view. My most quoted poem at school was from ‘I, Draupadi’:

I, Draupadi

Swayamara was mine

The decision my father’s

My life pledged to a bow and arrow

My life an offering to the shooter of fish…

Years went by….

We started towards our journey’s toward snow-clad Himalayas

I fell first, no Pandava stretched a hand

Towards paradise they walked,

Then I realised heaven too must be for men.

FYI, This poem was written by a man, Kartikeya Sarabhai, son of the scientist Vikram Sarabhai.

More recently, I read another version of Draupadi’s story in ‘Palace of Illusions’ by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. A delightful read, this book tells a racy story with outrageous suggestions and claims (I am deliberately avoiding mentioning other outrageous claims. :D) Bhima was only Pandava who loved Draupadi. I am still to finish Ashok Banker’s Ramayna series and am told Bhima’ s version of story is also available somewhere. I am not tired of reading these epics yet, though I can no longer watch any superficial tv/movie adaptation on the same.

2. Premchand – I feel privileged to have read most of works of this great writer in Hindi. It saddens my heart that not only the write die in penury, unrecognised, but also today, again, his work is being ignored. His stories and characters tell tales from the time when India wasn’t yet an ‘emerging nation’ instead was struggling to be on its own. Yet, his characters have that timeless quality – you can spot them amongst all classes and even in your own family. His ‘Godan’ is much more than Naipaul’s ‘A House for Mr. Biswas’. If you ever want to read poignant as well as light stories, closer to home, about people you know, pick up Premchand.

3. Saadat Hasan Manto/Ismat Chugtai – Most of what I have read from these Urdu authors have been translations. And I am told, I have missed a lot. Yet, I treasure reading their stories. They are ‘bebaak’ (irreverent or impertinent would be the closest English word) writers who were tried for obscenity several times. Believe me, none of their writings are obscene just than they don’t shy away from taboo subjects. Even Ismat Chugtai’s accounts of trials (and how they chose not to plead guilty when people all over simultaneously hated them and wanted to shower them with money if they plead guilty) is funny, a translation is available somewhere online.

Some of the most poignant partition stories also have been written by Manto. I may not remember the names of stories but plots are forever etched in my mind. This is a great deal, considering I am an amnesiac.

4. Charles Dickens – My childhood is incomplete without Dickens. As a kid, I rarely watched movies. But I read a lot, largely unsupervised. Other than comics (I ran a comics racket at school), if I was reading any books that were about children, it was Dickens. I was in love with ‘Oliver Twist’ such an innocent, lovable child – my heart went out to him. ‘Great Expectations’ is a hopeful fairy tale where for the first time the god-fearing child in me felt sympathetic to a convict. David Copperfield, said to be largely autobiographical can still give me creeps if I think of Uriah Heep. Anyone remembers? For long time, I refused to watch movie adaptations of these movies for fear it will ruin my imagination. But I liked the screenplay for ‘Great Expectations’; I am still to watch ‘David Copperfield’ though.

5. George Orwell – I was deeply impacted when I read ‘1984’. I even wrote about it here and here– the concepts of authority, thought crimes, thought police and Room 101 are unforgettable and were hugely foresighted for its time. He is originator of the concept that ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Big Boss’ are minting money on today. Then, I read his ‘Animal Farm’ – though he wrote a fable with animal characters of how even an idealistic system can go wrong with corruption. The allegory ‘pigs’, ‘sheep’, horse’ etc. represent are classic. Though Orwell had written that book, inspired by Russian Revolution, it has relevance even today, especially in countries where socialist, totalitarian governments exist. This reminds me of another classic English novel, Watership Down, by Richard Adams. This book though was written as a story (of rabbits) for kids, is also a short political allegory novel. I have written about it here.

6. Agatha Christie/Arthur Conan Doyle – Both of them are amongst very few writers whom I have reread many times. Holmes and Poirot are my favourite detective. I don’t think I need to elaborate on either of these writers.

7. Sidney Sheldon – Now some may object to his name on this list – but I am someone with a healthy appetite for pulp/popular fiction it will be dishonest not to include him here. But, I fell in love with Sheldon books ever since I read his first – The Naked Face, which IMHO is also one of his best. Soon, his plots became a giveaway – there is a secret, a favourite author ploy, which I believe all regular Sheldon readers know that made the finale apparent. Yet, pleasure of reading and the thrill was never diminished. In fact, I learnt more about world from his books – ambitious corporate honchos, ruthless family patriarchs, nuns, Basque county (Sands of time), artists, businesses – what’s more – first novel I read about MPD (Multiple Personality Disorder) was in ‘Tell Me Your Dreams’. (I refuse to read the derivatives tho, I heard they are out in market at the moment.)

8. Jane Austen/Bronte Sisters (Charlotte/Anne/Emily) – Ms. Austen was original ‘chicklit’ author with her witty, smart, proud memorable heroines. And boy, she did the genre proud. Her books are also notable for being laced with interesting social commentary. Pity, most of her work was published as anonymous in her lifetime.

I was much shaken and in dilemma when I read ‘Wuthering Heights’. I didn’t know who my sympathies should lie with in such a torrid plot, where each character, even the villain Heathcliff, was shaped by their treacherous circumstances. I  discusses this novel a lot with friends/teachers and found peace only when during a discussion, we came to the conclusion: Just because you were once wronged, your own wrongs cannot be justified. These women writers opened the world of classics for me – George Eliot, Anna Sewell, Louisa May Alcott et al came after this.

9. Roald Dahl – Unlike most children, I discovered children’s books much later. I was already a teenager and disdainful of what I thought were ‘kiddie’ books. (In fact, for long time, I avoided watching animation movies since I thought they were kiddie-stuff.) Then one day I chanced on Dahl’s delightful memoir ‘Boyhood Tales’. Intrigued, I got his books from library – I love Matilda, BFG, Charlie and his Chocolate Factory. I realised for the first time even adults can find pleasure in children’s books. And then followed horde of other classic books – ‘Bridge to Terebithia’, ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’, ‘The Wind in the Willows’, ‘The Secret Garden’, ‘Winnie the Pooh’ and ‘Charlotte’s Web’.

10. Paulo Cohelo – This one is no-brainer on this list since my blog ID ‘alchemistpoonam’ is named after his book. But, I must make it clear for the record; I have not liked a single Paulo Cohelo book other than ‘Alchemist’. Somehow his ‘lyrical, magical, inspirational’ prose just doesn’t reach me. Neither does he have any story that would hook my attention. But, Alchemist, also most clichéd book, has a personal meaning. This Santiago’s fable has profound messages for me. One being – whatever I am seeking is perhaps right under my nose, but to be able to see it I need to make that searching journey. Our (life’s) journeys may not lead us to easy answers as we hope for, but they do make us wiser by imparting ability to interpret better. Or, something such.

11. Frank McCourt – His first memoir ‘Angela Ashes’ about a miserable childhood recounted without a trace of self-pity hit some chord. His humorous and charming way of telling biographical story of an ordinary, non-celebrity citizen was path-breaking. His book was not only a bestseller but also won several awards, he could also be credited for popularising the ‘memoir’ genre. He wrote two more sequels, which I am still to read.

12. Khalid Hosseini – His book ‘The Kite Runner’ just blew me away. It had an intense reaction from me, for personal reasons. The book is a man’s journey amidst the chaos around him to find courage to do the right thing. It not only has well-etched characters ( I love how neither Baba nor Aamir are saintly), twists, secrets, but also provides accurate, visual descriptions of changing times of Afghanistan. I couldn’t take to Hosseini’s second book –‘Thousand Splendid Suns’ because of immense pain it brings. Even the memory of some of the descriptions of abuse in his book can cause me unpleasantness and pain. Somehow, it didn’t sit as right as the first one.

13. Pinki Virani – I found Pinki Virani, while my regular gleaning of Khushwant Singh columns. Pinki Virani’s ‘Bitter Chocolate’ is perhaps the first factual book about child sexual abuse (CSA). To say that the book was an eye-opener would be an understatement. It explained what my school friend was going through, an experience that impacted my life as well. I wondered how much of it even my parents know. Do people realise even boys can be abused and sometimes, women can also be perpetrators. Or, that even a six-month old CSA victim can keep a traumatic memory stamp that may have implications as an adult. I summed up few pointers from the book on my blog – The subjects remains close to my heart – someday I hope to create an elearning program for parents on the subject.

14. Azar Nafisi – Most books from Middle East have this reputation of being sob stories. Not that I mean to disbelieve, disregard or undermine their miseries/stories, just that Azar Nafisi’s memoir ‘Reading Lolita in Tehran’ was different. Azar is an independent, educated professor in changing Iran who struggles to keep both her freedom as a woman and her love for literature that is gradually being banned in increasingly totalitarian government. She rebels in a simple manner – starts a secret book club with her students, a risky activity for which both she and her students can be brutally punished. Her students too are women who share same love (for books) and struggle – even though they all have different backgrounds. What I love most about this book is how beautifully they discuss and dissect various English classics – The Great Gatsby, Madame Bovary, Lolita, Daisy Miller (all banned books in Iran) – it takes several readings and deeper understanding to be able to critique classics in such a readable manner.

15. William Dalrymple – His book ‘City of Djinns’ is fantastic travel memoir about his stay in Delhi. Reading this book filled me with regret and shame that why wasn’t I the one to uncover the anecdotes and history of the city (Delhi) I call home and spent most of my adult life in. This foreigner was more curious than us residents that he researched the facts and did it so well that he soon had enough stuff to write his next book. (Regret and shame has long since gone with the realisation that I have made a choice to have a job with regular hours and regular pay to pay off my loans. Till then, my priority remains to enrich and entertain myself with good books and movies. Lame, but truth.) Pico Iyer, Paul Theroux, Bill Bryson and Gerald Durrell are my other favourite travel writers. And while we are at it, do watch Michael Wood’s documentary films, especially ‘The Story of India’.

All the authors that have made to my this list are ones that have struck either stuck personal chord or lead to a (self) discovery. Ask me about writing style, genre or individual books, my list would change.

P.S: You can skip reading this part. Also, it would be unfair not to mention other pleasures such as Mark Twain, Jules Verne, Stevenson, Carroll for adventure; H. G. Wells, Clarke and Adams for sci-fi, Irving Wallace, Erich Segal, Archer, Harold Robbins (this could be a shocker), J.D. Salinger, one-book wonders such as Harper Lee, not to mention Murakami, A.S. Byatt, Margaret Atwood, Capote and some good Indian authors as Shashi Tharoor, Upmanyu Chatterjee (not read his later books), Ruskin Bond. I have also had good time reading mystery and fantasy novels from lesser known (but good) blogger-authors such as J. A. Konrath and Lynn Viehl.

63 Responses to “15 Authors That Have Influenced Me”

  1. 1 Indian Homemaker November 20, 2010 at 7:56 am

    Premchand and Khalid Housseini, and Roald Dahl and Aghatha Christie are amongst my favourites too. Nice collection of favorites.

    • 2 Poonam Sharma November 20, 2010 at 2:03 pm

      How have you been, IHM? What are you reading these days? Memory keeper’s Daughter (I had read your post) is also one of my favorites. Why don’t you do a similar tag – I ‘ll tag you on FB too. I would love to see your complete list.

  2. 3 Praveen November 20, 2010 at 8:08 am

    My favourites too!
    I am a sucker for Indian epics. The number of plots and sub plots in our epics simply blows your mind off! Have you read Yuganta, The Pregnant King, Vishnu At freud’s desk, In Search of Sita: Revisiting Mythology?

    I was lucky to have read several of Premchand short stories in school and college, where my second lang was Hindi. We had his ‘Nirmala’ for 2nd yr degree, but don’t remember much of it now. I remember, my Hindi prof once mentioned that at one point he didn’t have Rs.5/- in his pocket for his wife’s medical expenses.
    Several vernacular writers in this country still continue to live in poverty while we celebrate Chetan Bhagat and others.

    • 4 Poonam Sharma November 20, 2010 at 1:44 pm

      I know Yuganta, it has been on my list. I haven’t bought the book since my best friend had it. I also know In search of SIta, still to read it. I have read Pregnant King.

      I have worked hard to read Premchand after I was out of school. I used to spend hours in dusty Hindi section of this large four story library. Apparently no one went there – no one wanted to read these books. But boy, I found treasure there.

      Thanks for all the links, I’ll look them up.

    • 5 Praveen November 20, 2010 at 1:48 pm

      I think it is high time someone digitizes them and puts them all online, else these gems might be lost in a few years

    • 6 Poonam Sharma November 22, 2010 at 12:31 pm

      That is why I have always defended Google’s effort to digitise all the books. Though I can imagine how hard it is going to be to read complete books online, but they can certainly be handy for reference when needed.

    • 7 Praveen November 22, 2010 at 2:07 pm

      A couple of IT engineers are working towards digitalizing old Tamil literature in Madras. I guess someone is doing this in Kolkata as well. But as you said, quite a task this one.

  3. 8 Nita November 20, 2010 at 8:25 am

    Thanks for tagging me Poonam. It’s nice to know that people still remember even though I gave up blogging so many months ago! This is a beautiful tag but if I have to do it justice it means spending a lot of time on it. This tag strikes a deep chord within me because often I feel I am product entirely of books!! Sounds funny doesn’t it, although my parents always raise their eyebrows when I say that! 🙂 I studied English Literature in college and in in school English was my favourite subject. I read everything under the sun! In the last decade or so my reading has decreased, but I feel my character has been influenced strongly by whom I read in my childhood, teens and even early twenties.
    If I do this tag it means revealing a great deal about myself, and I am not sure I can do it. However I will think about it.

    • 9 Kiran November 20, 2010 at 8:49 am

      None of us can ever forget you. We are all awaiting anxiously for your return (no pressure though)!
      Graet list Poonam, my favorite thus far has to be Kiterunner 🙂

    • 10 Poonam Sharma November 20, 2010 at 1:51 pm

      That’s sweet, Kiran. 🙂

      I too haven’t been writing much. Whatever free time I have, I want to either read books or watch movies. I will try to write more. Maybe another posts about books.

    • 11 Poonam Sharma November 20, 2010 at 1:50 pm

      Nita, how are you? Don’t let the length of my post put you off the tag. The tag was meant for FB, not blog, where you just list 15 authors (and books) that influenced you. Rules say that 15 have to be one from top of your mind and not after you have thought hard. Really, I haven’t analysed much – and most of these authors are ether from childhood or I have found recently. I don’t remember the ones I read in the middle.

      Try doing a brief one (that won’t reveal much either), it would be a shame not to know what you liked. Though, whatever you decide, I understand. 🙂

      P.S: Did you really say, ‘product of books’. hehe

  4. 12 Ava November 20, 2010 at 8:57 am

    That is a great list. Completing this can be both easy and hard. You know what I mean, easy is finding the 15, hard is when you realise later that you left out many others. 🙂

    • 13 Poonam Sharma November 20, 2010 at 1:52 pm

      Yeah, I know I have left many. I would have like to have Amrita Preetan, Emily Dickinson, Odgen Nash – but ones I wrote about were from top of my mind. That was tag rule, first people that come to your mind.

  5. 14 aditrupz November 20, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Nice selection Poonam, we have several in common, wondering how come you havent delved into Science Fiction here, would have added a few like Micheal Crichton, Asimov as well ….. my list probably would have had a Jeffrey Archer than Sidney Sheldon or may be they would have been on a tie, currently I am on a spree of reading Indian Fiction Ashok Banker is next on the list so is Kiran Nagarkar, have you had a chance to read Ravan and Eddie??

    • 15 Poonam Sharma November 20, 2010 at 2:01 pm

      This list, if you note, has had deep personal reactions or lead me to the discovery of a genre. Most books here are first books or very recent ones. Another thing, these are the books I would want to write myself.

      First sci-fi I read was ‘War of the Worlds’ – I remember being underwhelmed since I read that radio version of it had scared people so much that they all went running out. I liked Douglas Adams more for his humour. I read sci-fi just for pleasure knowing none of it is true, don’t remember ever dwelling much on it. I do mention sci-fi authors in postscript, but this list has all the people who might have shaped my writing and perspective. Same for Archer, I have enjoyed his books. Kane and Abel – fr example – I could predict plot even as a kid, but Sheldon totally kicked me out of my existence with the thrills that came from his book. My love for reading have only been boosted by these authors.

  6. 16 Smita November 20, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    That’s a great list and I totally agree with what Ava says!!!

    Lemme try writing this!

  7. 18 arvind November 20, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    this post contains some authors whose books i have never read but have been anxiously waiting to get my hands on …
    kite runner being one such book.. .

  8. 20 praneshachar November 21, 2010 at 7:07 am

    I admire your depth of knowledge and commitment your likings are wonderful and the way you have presented is commendable we all can know a brief sketch of each of authors. It is clear u don’t want to do any things in casual way my hearty congratulation to you for this greatest quality and knowledge sharing. no words
    keep up spirits like this all through poonam

    • 21 Poonam Sharma November 22, 2010 at 11:51 am

      As always, you are very kind, Praneshachar. I wish I were serious though. These days watching movies and some US/BBC TV shows take away considerable part of my free time from reading and writing. Thanks for your comments, always cherished. 🙂

  9. 22 Rakhi Sharma November 21, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    One of my all time favourite writers is William Darylmple..not just because of his simple yet distinct writing style but for the unknown, shocking and interesting facts that he unveils about a place, a religion, a culture and a person. Reading his books seems like a journey of a strange India. I am simply amazed by his keen observations and great enthusiasm to learn new facets of life. I have just finished reading his beautifully written book Nine Lives which is a selection of 9 stories about nine individuals residing in various parts of India and gripped by a divine madness they cannot explain. Some express it through dancing, singing, or making sculptures of exceptional beauty. All of them are on a spiritual quest in their incredible way. and William Dalrymple listens to them patiently. This book will leave an indelible mark on your mind. I thoroughly enjoyed each and every story of this book.

    I am really lucky to have a chance to live in the place where Mr Dalrymple was born and brought up. love him loads 🙂

    • 23 Poonam Sharma November 22, 2010 at 12:07 pm

      Rakhi, I know exactly what you mean about William Darylmple. I used to read this piece on this travel site ( I can’t remember name, he used to be a regular contributer), but it wasn’t until I read his ‘City of Djinns’ – a book about what I consider my home ground that told me so many things I didn’t know about the city.

      I have ‘Nine Lives; reading your recommendation, I can say I need to move it up my reading list. I’ll read and get back. Thanks for commenting. 🙂

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  11. 26 sankarshan November 22, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Hmm…a very interesting list. Being on topic I’d recommend http://www.amazon.com/Teacher-Man-Frank-McCourt-Author/dp/B002NQC6G0/ref=sr_1_2 unless you’ve already read it.

    • 27 Poonam Sharma November 22, 2010 at 11:37 am

      No, I haven’t read ‘Teacher Man’. First, I must read ‘Tis, I own the book and then, ‘Teacher Man’. I vaguely remember buying that too once. That shows that state of my books and reading, no? Why don’t you create your own list too? This was meant to be a tag on FB actually.

  12. 28 Bikram November 22, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    Wow you read all these people.. hats off to you …

    I have read Premchand in school, hindi was the second language so we had Munshi Premchand as one of the authors to read ..

    Agatha christie not read but have seen a few movies ..

    Sdney sheldon HAve read all his books got all his books in my collection

    Roald dahl:- you will be amazed but me too , I read the books much alter in life when i was almost a adult but still they were so good to read

    thsts it have not read the others , i guess i should get toi them sometime ..


  13. 30 vishesh November 23, 2010 at 8:58 am

    My biggest dream- to learn sanskrit and read all those epics 😛

    Haven’t read 1984 yet, but read animal farm. Haven’t read my of Dahl either, always stuck Blyton 😛

    Like the variety 🙂

    • 31 Poonam Sharma November 30, 2010 at 12:03 pm

      I have read a lot of Enid Blyton too. But Dahl was turning point. Learning Sanskrit and then reading epics could take good part of your life – stick to reading in English or your mother tongue. 😛

      Do read 1984, you would love it. 🙂

  14. 32 monikamanchanda November 23, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    oh every author mentioned above is a favorite here too… and pinki virani’s bitter chocolate I think should be a mandatory read for every parent. Most of the parents I speak to about CSA are clueless…

    I loved ur idea of elearning module on CSA,sounds very good… actually lets do it together 🙂

  15. 34 Arpit November 24, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    oh from all the above authors i have read only premchand 😦
    but i guess there is one author who has influenced me the most will be paulo coelho 🙂
    by the way, nice header and how have you been doing? 🙂

    • 35 Poonam Sharma November 30, 2010 at 12:00 pm

      Header was designed by my friend Varun, he tweets at twitter.com/fossiloflife.

      And you will have all the time in the world to read these authors if you want to. How are you and what are you doing these days?

    • 36 Arpit November 30, 2010 at 3:35 pm

      oh i do not follow twitter. didnt find it interesting though i have an account 🙂
      yes, i know and i am still looking out for a good book . in fact i was previously reading “A fine Family” by gurcharan das. nice book.
      i am also fine. i have given CA inter exams 🙂 and now i am waiting to start my internship 😀

    • 37 Poonam Sharma December 1, 2010 at 11:28 am

      Ah, the boy who I thought will do wonders in art and creativity goes to CA. I have no doubt you will do good as CA too. Best of luck. 🙂

      As for Gurcharan Das, I haven’t read any of his books. Do write a review when you are done. And Twitter gets interesting only after you start using it and you follow right set of people. Let me know if you ever want me to help it demystify it for you. 😛

    • 38 Arpit December 2, 2010 at 2:11 pm

      haha! I also never thought of it.But i guess its as good as engaging myself in any work of art or creativity.Thanks so much for your wishes 😀
      will surely write a review of the book.

  16. 39 Jagdeep November 26, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    Paulo Coelho is my favorite for the simplicity of his writings and I have found myself being interested by different authors at different points in life….more so for their thoughts at that point in time rather than their individualistic style of writing. Or, can I not find more than one to name here 🙂

    • 40 Poonam Sharma November 30, 2010 at 11:54 am

      Hi Jagdeep, I have read most of other Paulo Cohelo books – somehow I read them stoically. None of them impacted me like Alchemist. You can name as many you want. Thanks for commenting here.

  17. 41 Sudhamshu November 29, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    This is a really exhaustive list that spans a lot of genres and languages. It is quite surprising to note how much you remember from each book, like names of characters, sub plots and the ilk and yet manage to claim that you are an amnesiac!

    I haven’t read much of the authors mentioned here, but I would agree on your thoughts about George Orwell, Khaled Hosseini and Charles Dickens (to an extent). Excellent analysis. And invariably you have led me to read the links associated with this blog!

    (On the aside, my father is a big fan of Premchand and he got his Ph.D in Hindi literature on a thesis about Premchand’s works.)

    • 42 Poonam Sharma November 30, 2010 at 12:31 pm

      Your comment made me feel very good about myself. My memory, to be precise. I remember only about 10 per cent of what I have read or watched (movies) in my lifetime. These authors are my influences. So yeah, they are what I remember most.

      Why Dickens to an extent, I will confess that I am intrigued. Thanks for reading and sharing your views.

      And scholars like your father are a rarity, thereby I feel they are our National treasure. I hope we can retain them. I regret not reading other Hindi writers as much. And now I can’t find their books nor the time to read. 😦 Have you dabbled in any regional literature?

  18. 43 Nita November 29, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    Poonam, I thought I would do the tag briefly in the comments section as I no longer have a blog where I can do this tag. There are three authors who influenced me greatly and they are Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy and Shakespeare. A lot of the English poets influenced me as well. At one time I felt a little sad that I missed out on Indian authors, because of the education I got. Not now though. All authors speak one language.
    I was very fond of the Iliad by Homer. I thought it great fun to read and was also influenced by the morals in the Greek plays.
    I read Lin Yutang too and was influenced by other books on philosophy but remember only this one name. In fact philosophy was one my favourite topics in my mid-teens. I devoured books on philosophy.
    I read a lot of biographies of famous people when I was a kid, right from the time I was ten or so till my thirties. I had a thick book with character sketches of all famous people from Alexander the Great to Joan of Arc. I was very inspired by the lives of these people, whether they were soldiers or writers. I used to read a lot of non-fiction from a very young age.
    So I can say it wasn’t just authors, but people who inspired me.
    I can write forever on this topic, but this is all I can for now.

    • 44 Poonam Sharma November 30, 2010 at 12:49 pm

      No problem, Nita, Idea was to know who influenced you. I read lot of Thomas Hardy too, I was very saddened by his books. Yet, I would read them. Which English poets were your favorite? Did you read the women poets – Christina Rosseti, Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Barret Browning? Did you like them?

      And yes, biographies can have lasting influence. I have never read philosophy books. Thanks, your comment was very revealing and interesting.

  19. 45 Nita November 30, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    Yes, Thomas Hardy books were terribly sad. Tess was my favourite character.
    About poets, it was basically wordsworth, keats, coleridge and byron. You see I am a die-hard romantic and I used to write prolific poetry when I was younger, all romantic and teary! I was heavily influenced by these poets and my poetry was ofcourse mostly crap! 🙂 But I remain a romantic. In movies too, I love romantic movies, after SF. But never in my life did I read Mills and Boon which all other girls were reading. And I am not being snobbish about it, I just didn’t think they were romantic. When it came to trash, I always preferred JT Edson. I must have read all JT Edson books. But can’t say I was influenced by them. I was always a bit of a tomboy in any case.

    • 46 Poonam Sharma November 30, 2010 at 2:40 pm

      I hadn’t even heard of JT Edson. I read lot of old versions of MBs without knowing that they were MBs while I was at school. I won’t lie; it did evoke reactions from me that I didn’t understand at that age. Few years back, I downloaded the very first one I had read, a very old version. I still liked it, though strangely I never could like any of the newer versions of MB.

      I have lost touch with all poetry, last I read was Emily Dickinson. I have no idea how to include poetry in my so limited reading time.

  20. 47 shruthi January 1, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    You’ve got an amazing taste…thanks for sharing the “I,Draupadi” poem.. i wasnt aware that some one could describe things from her perspective so effecctively..

    Blogjunta.com is organizing the first of its kind ‘Best of Indian Blogosphere 2010’ Polls. Do nominate your blog for it.

    Email us at blogjunta@gmail.com or visit our website blogjunta.com for more details.

  21. 48 sajeev kumar January 7, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Hi – you have a good selection of authors. I too love these books including P G Wodehouse, Ayn Rand etc. nice posts!

  22. 49 Ashwin Baindur January 11, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Very nice reading list for the rest of us. I would have had instead books by Gerald Durrell, Umberto Eco, John Masters as books which touched a personal cord with me!

    • 50 Poonam Sharma January 11, 2011 at 3:39 pm

      I read these books, esp Gerald Durrell – I like his writing style) but I came across these writers much later in my life. So, early influences are those that I mentioned. Why don’t you write a post of your own. I’d love to read that.

  23. 51 md610 January 19, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    I am going to read Pinki Virani. I can’t agree more on the child sexual abuse. Thanks for the valuable recommendation.

  24. 52 raingirl January 28, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Such a lovely post! And so, so many personal favourites..it was like finding friends among a strange crowd… 🙂

  25. 54 The Compulsive Writer March 8, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Great post. I enjoyed reading it.

  26. 56 The Compulsive Writer March 22, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    Bronte Sisters!

  27. 57 Reema Sahay April 12, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Wow, quite a list of authors. I am always ashamed of the fact that I am so down on classics, so many, many more books to go! Anyways, I can certainly tell you one thing that Bhima’s version of Mahabharata is called ‘Second Turn’, and till recently the English translation was untraceable (the original is in Malayalam), then I got it from a1books. I am also a keen Mahabharata follower, love reading different perspectives. You must read ‘Jaya by Devdutt Pattnaik’ if you haven’t already.

  28. 59 Ana May 13, 2011 at 3:26 am

    Nice list, but honestly I have read only City of Djinns :(. I see hw behind im.
    Thanks for this list I will check all authors.

  29. 60 Balakrishna Ganapathy March 22, 2012 at 4:04 am

    When you say “even the villain Heathcliff” – you seem to be way off the mark. I am not sure how you got the idea. Heathcliff in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights is of course the hero, or if you prefer, the anti-hero, but never was considered a “villan” by any of critic of the book.

    Other than that the wide range you have covered here is indeed very fascinating and wonderful.

  30. 62 parang May 18, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    Hey, I am searching for this play/book ‘Mahabharat ki ek saanjh’ by Bharat Bhushan Aggarwal. I see that this is one of the views that has inspired you. I remember reading this book during my 9th standard NCERT. By any chance do you have a copy of this book/play (full version and not the abridged 3 page version which is available online)??


    • 63 Poonam Sharma May 20, 2012 at 11:51 am

      Sorry, I used to have that book. Don’t have it anymore. Prithwi theater bookshop in Bombay had a copy once. I haven’t been back there – I am hopeful they could get it. Which city are you based at? I could make suggestions accordingly.

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