Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Books That Inspire Us by Patricia Forsythe

PBS is rebroadcasting a Ken Burns series from 2001 about Mark Twain.  I watched the first episode which talks about the influence Samuel Clemens had on American and world literature.  A Missouri boy, he grew up in a town with the right mix to fuel his imagination of the good and the bad, the prosperous and the poor, the adventurous and the stick-close-to-home.  He and his friends spent days, and sometimes nights, on the Mississippi River, exploring, fishing, sometimes causing trouble.  Later he became a riverboat pilot and learned the river even better.  He also observed people.  When he wrote The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, he used all of that knowledge and experience to create a story and characters that is historical and yet timeless in the way it tackles the issues of friendship, slavery, racism, and loyalty.  The characters are unforgettable and the story never loses its enjoyment.

As an early and voracious reader, I quickly learned what kinds of books I like – ones in which something happens.   I loved the Nancy Drew books, and any other mysteries or adventure stories I could find.  Getting enough books was always a challenge.  My mother didn’t drive, so visits to the public library were rare.  That meant I had to depend on the school library – where we were allowed to check out only one book a week.  One book!  A week?  I regularly read a book a day which meant I borrowed from my friends, read my mother’s books, reread my favorites.  One of my sisters recently reminded me that the worst punishment I ever received was when our parents wouldn’t allow me to read anything other than textbooks until my grades improved.  Oh, the injustice of it! 
I loved biographies because learning about the lives of real people who had accomplished things, had great adventures, and overcame hardships taught me lessons as valuable as Math or English.  This was inspiring to me. 

When I was twelve, I read To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – and I’ve read it at least four times since then – and much of my view of the world was transformed.  The characters, the situations, and the challenges all made me realize there was a great deal to the world about which I had not a clue.  That book showed me that justice isn’t always served, that good people suffer needlessly, that prejudice is a vile poison, but that the courage and conviction of one person can make a difference.  I’ve never forgotten what I learned from that book.

How about you?  What books have inspired you?


Patricia Forsythe is the author of many romances, both traditionally and electronically published.  Her newest book, Flirting With The Enemy, set in the quirky town of Lucky Break, Arizona is available on Amazon.


  1. I can't imagine not having the use of the public library when I was a kid! I remember one book that inspired some lifestyle choices as an adult. "The Family That Nobody Wanted" by Helen Doss. I probably became a foster parent due to the story of all those unwanted kids. But as a writer, the book that inspired me most was "The Outsiders" by S.E. Hinton, because she was 17 when she wrote it. I started working on my first novel at 12 because I realized I didn't have to wait until I was grown up to write. (I just needed to wait that long to write well, LOL!)

  2. Powrerful post. Thanks for reminding us of the power of good storytelling.

  3. I grew up in the South & was terrified & horrified by the injustices. Reading helped me escape. Thanks for reminding us of the value of books.

  4. I remember struggling through The Count of Monte Cristo in 9th grade and then loving it when I got to the end. It is a powerful book.

  5. I think Samuel Clemens is quite a character. I love it when he is spoofed on television.

    I couldn't read To Kill a Mockingbird.