Jodi Picoult is the author of 21 best-selling novels, including My Sister’s Keeper. Her new novel, Small Great Things, has just been published by Hodder and Stoughton.

Gone with the Wind

by Margaret Mitchell

I loved to act out the roles of Rhett and Scarlett when I read this at 13 years old. I was amazed that an author could create such a vivid world out of words. I thought, Why couldn’t I do that too?

I credit this as the book that made me want to be a writer. Mitchell was such a trendsetter in creating the strong, feminist Scarlett.

 

Out of Africa

by Isak Dinesen

This memoir might have been written by Hemingway, so spare is the language. I was fascinated by the way Dinesen’s writing became stripped down the closer the tale was to her own life; at the most complicated point, during her relationship with Denys Finch-Hatton, the sentences are almost simplistic.

It was as if words failed her because they couldn’t contain all her emotions. Might what a character doesn’t say tell you more about her than what she does say?

 

The Paper Bag Princess

by Robert Munsch

When my daughter Sammy was young, I read this to her every night. Princess Elizabeth’s town gets ravaged by a dragon that burns everything (including her clothes) and steals away Prince Ronald.

Elizabeth puts on a paper bag and rescues him—not with force, but with intelligence. But when she succeeds, Ronald says she doesn’t look much like a princess.

She tells him that while he may look every inch the prince, he’s a jerk and she leaves him. I love that woman-power message, and I think it resonated deeply with Sammy.

 

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