5 Books That Changed My Life

5 books that changed my life – made me want to be a writer. These are novels that suck you in and cast a spell, make you lose track of time.  Total immersion experiences. Reading each of these was such a powerful experience that I said to myself, “Cool, I want to try to do this too.”
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle. I read this as a kid (9 or 10) and was utterly transported.  I still think about the amazing scene when Meg confronts It. Unforgettable.
The Dead Zone by Stephen King.  I remember reading this through the night and being totally spooked.  I only recently realized, rereading it, that a long chunk of the book’s opening is entirely about the characters, establishing the family and their neighbors — no “suspense,” nothing creepy.  He creates this normal, relatable family.  So by the time weird things start happening, we’re entirely immersed.  We buy it totally.
Red Dragon by Thomas Harris.  The first appearance of Hannibal Lecter. I think I prefer The Silence of the Lambs, but this one was utterly terrifying and really elegantly written. The reveal when we discover why the killer is killing all these women was like a kick in the stomach.
Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow. I was working in a Realtor’s office in Loudonville, New York, with long stretches when the phone didn’t ring and I was the only one there, and she had a lot of good books around.  I picked up Ragtime and started it and didn’t stop until I finished it, in all in one day.  I totally disappeared into it.  And I let the phones ring.

The Matarese Circle by Robert Ludlum.  I was in an a cappella singing group in college, and after graduation we traveled throughout Europe by train.  We had a lot of train rides and down time between gigs, and one of the members had brought several Ludlum novels — these huge doorstop-sized books.  I saw my fellow singers, one by one, reading them and being undisturbable.  They became zombies.  You’d call their name and they wouldn’t answer. I wondered what could possibly hold their attention for so long, and finally picked one up and got it. I loved The Bourne Identity, but especially loved The Matarese Circle.

Joseph Finder

JOSEPH FINDER is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve previous novels, including The Fixer, Suspicion, Vanished, and Buried Secrets. Finder’s international bestseller Killer Instinct won the International Thriller Writers’s Thriller Award for Best Novel of 2006. Other bestselling titles include Paranoia and High Crimes, which both became major motion pictures.  His latest, GUILTY MINDS, came out on July 19th.

He i a founding member of the International Thriller Writers Association, is active in the Boston Book Festival, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Association of Former Intelligence Officers and lives in Boston. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter and his site.