Books That Inspired Me (To be a writer) by
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You ever meet someone who brags about not reading? Like, it’s some kind of badge of honor? “Yeah I haven’t touched a book since I finished coloring in those dinosaur pictures at school. Turns out, crayons are all the education you really need!”

Reading is not some punishment for getting bad grades, it’s a portal to a million different worlds. You can be a spaceship captain one minute, a knight the next, all without leaving your comfy chair (unless you’re one of those weirdos who reads on the treadmill – seriously, get a life!)

Now, me? I wouldn’t say I’m some bookworm who sleeps with a stack of novels on my nightstand. But I do appreciate a good story, fiction or otherwise. When I was a kid, my mum used to read me these ridiculous fairy tales. Talking animals? Glass slippers? Honestly, the nerve of those princesses expecting a prince to solve all their problems. But hey, they sparked my imagination, even if they did set some unrealistic expectations from and about footwear.

As I got older, I gravitated towards stuff that made me think. Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger In A Strange Land – hilarious, existential, and a healthy dose of cynicism about humanity. Perfect for its time. Then there’s Dorothy Parker. Now, that gal could write circles around most people, even if you disagreed with half her stuff. Point is, she challenged your thinking, which is more than you can say for most of today’s reality TV “stars.”

But here’s the thing: reading isn’t just about Shakespeare or escaping to fictional galaxies. Sometimes it’s about learning something new. A good biography can teach you more about history than a dozen history textbooks. A well-written science book can open your eyes to the wonders of the universe (without all the bad CGI from those nature or science documentaries).

Look, I’m not saying everyone needs to turn into a book hermit. But next time you have a spare hour, ditch the mindless Youtube scrollings and pick up a book. Who knows, you might actually learn something, or at the very least, escape the crushing ennui of our own existence for a while. Consider joining a book club. And hey, if you find yourself completely lost in a good story, don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. Just don’t miss your bus stop because you were busy saving the world with Captain Picard.


Profile photo of Kevin Driscoll Kevin Driscoll
(Mostly) Vegetarian, Politically Progressive, Daily Runner, Spiritual, Helpful, Friendly, Kind, Warm Hearted and Forgiving. Resident of Braintree MA.

Characterizations: been there, right on!, well written


  1. Bravo Kevin, a reader after my own heart!

    The writer Ann Tyler has said, “I read so I can live more than one life in more than one place.”

  2. Jim Willis says:

    Thanks for these spot-on thoughts about reading, Kevin. It was the daily stopover at the town library on my walks home from grade school that turned me into a reader and then a writer. Today I probably do more of the latter than the former, and I have to remind myself that it is my reading that helps fuel improvements in my writing. I tend to go in spurts, and they are often summer spurts, or sometimes around the fall and winter holidays. I get stuck on genres, too, if I start the spurt by reading a well-crafted one. Case in point, last summer when I read a half-dozen westerns in a row, even though I’d seen some of them made into movies. They began with a book called “Telegraph Lady,” then “Tombstone,” then “Doc,” “The Unforgiven,” “The Searchers,” and a couple others. They were all quite good, actually.

  3. Jim Willis says:

    A clarification about my earlier comment: “The Unforgiven” book was not the Eastwood movie. It was written by Alan Le May and was made into a 1960 film starring Burt Lancaster, Audrey Hepburn, and Audie Murphy. Like The Searchers, it dealt with racism in the old west.

  4. Good final advice, Kevin! I have been batting my cell phone and Instagram away as if I was being attacked by a swarm of tse tse flies. And me a writer, as well. Shame on me!

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