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  • Writer's pictureVirginia Kovach

Influences: Books

Updated: Mar 22

It find it satisfying to keep track of favorite things. These books have helped shape my thinking, expanded my aesthetic imagination, or comforted me somehow through the discovery of a kindred spirit.

I am a very slow reader, and it's hard to shift my attention from various screens to the printed page, and to be honest, I like writing more than I do reading so the fact that these have stayed with me is a testament to their quality.

For anyone who wants to know what influences my writing, you may find this list helpful in learning about my point of view. Here are my favorite books:


For the unique personal perspective of the author:
  • This Beautiful Truth by Sarah Clarkson

  • Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

  • Wholehearted Faith by Rachel Held Evans

  • All the Colors We Will See by Patrice Gopo

  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

  • James Herriot's Dog Stories (still reading)

For the discussion of mental health and mental illness:
  • Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence by Anna Lembke

  • Touched With Fire by Kay Redfield Jamison

  • Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison

For their treatment of beauty, nature, and grace:
  • Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

  • Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay

  • The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf

  • On Beauty and Being Just by Elaine Scarry

  • To Bless the Space Between Us by John O'Donohue

For their social criticism:
  • Break the Internet by Olivia Yallop

  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

  • The Struggle for Black Equality by Harvard Sitkoff

  • The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby

  • The Working Poor: Invisible in America by David Shipler

  • Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown

  • Where Am I Wearing? By Kelsey Timmerman

  • Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction by David Sheff

  • Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones

For their illumination of the world of cut flowers:
  • The Florist's Daughter by Patricia Hempl

  • Gilding the Lily: Inside the Cut Flower Industry by Amy Stewart

  • Assembling Flowers and Cultivating Homes: Labor and Gender in Colombia by Greta Friedemann-Sánchez


  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

  • Joy in the Morning by Betty Smith

  • The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck

  • The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

  • Persuasion by Jane Austen

  • The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

  • The Strange Case of Doctor Jeckyll and Mister Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

  • The "Jeeves and Wooster" books by PG Wodehouse


Poetry books:
  • The OCD Poems by Dennis Rhodes

  • Iep Jaltok: Poems from a Marshallese Daughter by Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner

  • The Small Door of Your Death by Sheryl St. Germain

  • The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson (still reading)

  • The Ecopoetry Anthology edited by Ann Fisher Wirth and Laura-Gray Street (still reading)

Other favorite poets:
  • Gerard Manley Hopkins

  • Mary Oliver

  • Joy Harjo

  • Ross Gay

  • Debra Marquart

  • Allison Boyd Justus

Children's Literature:

  • Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery

  • Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

  • Harriet the Spy by Harriet M. Welsch

  • The "Nancy Drew" books

  • Flower Fairies by Cicely Mary Barker

  • Linnea in Monet's Garden by Christina Bjork and Lena Anderson

  • The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter

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