5 Books that changed my Life: Laura Benedict

Five Books that Changed My Life* by Laura Benedict

*in no particular order

Beowulf, translation by Seamus Heaney

Like so many kids who went to high school in the seventies, I was tortured with a dull translation of this epic poem. Thank goodness Seamus Heaney rescued it  from ignominy. It was through Beowulf that I discovered my true, kick-ass, blonde chick Viking heritage. I read it to both of my kids. It speaks to my soul.

The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood

The Robber Bride isn’t one of Atwood’s better-known novels, but it should be. It’s the story of three women drawn to one another through the machinations of a sociopathic (my interpretation) femme fatale. I first read it when I was writing my second practice novel (lost in a move somewhere). This is the book I turn to when I get all knotted up in my work and forget how a sentence is supposed to look. I’ve stopped counting the number of times I’ve read it in bits.

The Bible

I’m an unapologetic Christian, but my Roman Catholic upbringing was very short on bible reading. In my twenties, I actually began to pay attention to the stories, the language, and the spiritual message. As a writer’s resource, it’s limitless–the Old Testament alone has enough plots for a thousand writers’ careers.

Laurie and the Yellow Curtains

My aunt gave me this book when I was about seven, probably because my family called  Laurie. Little Laurie is desperate for curtains for her treehouse, and (surprise!) she gets yellow ones. When I got this book, it was the first time I saw my name in print. For many years I assumed I’d be a librarian, but I think imagining my whole name on a book of my own was just too big a temptation.

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

My first McCarthy novel was this story of unbridled brutality set in the American West. All the other books I’d read in the first twenty-seven years of my life quickly faded away as I fell into it. I relish its boldness: of plot, language, the way it slices up humans (literally and figuratively) to expose their vices, desires, vulnerabilities, and deep capacity to do evil unto others. Gorgeous and timeless. I learn from every page.

Laura Benedict’s latest novel is Devil’s Oven, a modern Frankenstein tale set in Appalachia. She’s also the author of the dark suspense novels, Isabella Moon and Calling Mr. Lonely Hearts. Viking Barbie is her totem. Check out her work at www.laurabenedict.com, or catch her on Twitter.