I finished reading “The Book of Five Rings” earlier by Miyamoto Musashi, a 17th century samurai known as the “sword saint”, so naturally my brain went to Fire Emblem.
This made me think more about which literary influences I’ve drawn upon, and selfishly, I’m curious if anyone here has any good book recommendations or can share any books (not games, movies, TV, etc.) they either 1) enjoyed or 2) drew inspiration from in their work.
Feel like this doesn’t come up often enough around here and keen to learn more from y’all.
I mostly read non-fiction these days. Would argue I’ve subconsciously been influenced by some of the history books I’ve read, but nothing explicit comes to mind. I’ll update once I reflect more on this.
Journey to the West. That is all.
Have you read “The Water Margin” yet? It’s on my list and I hope to get to it this year.
I recently finished reading The Assassination of Julius Caesar: A People’s History of Ancient Rome by Michael Parenti. As someone who’s had a casual interest in Roman history but never done any detailed study of it, this book was fascinating. It succinctly lays out the historical context behind Caesar’s life and career, placing him within a legacy of popular reformers who struggled against the entrenched oligarchy rather than as some usurper. Part and parcel of that is debunking a lot of the myths about republican Rome that had been mainstream in academia for centuries. Highly recommended if you can find it.
I was reading Victor Hugo’s Les Miserable when I added the Rhine family to Deity Device, which is why Cosette, Marius, and Eponine are all named after characters from the novel.
Marius says “Excuse me Mademoiselles” to get Helen and Arachne’s attention at the start of Chapter 6 to acknowledge he’s named after a character from a French novel.
Before that, I had read Notre Dame de Paris, and the bleakness with which Victor Hugo depicts the Middle Ages, rubs off on the way that I write a Middle Ages setting.
Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment is a classic. Aside from that, my more or less cursory glances to Greek philosophy, as well as to philosophy of Nietzsche and Hegel, resulted in a mishmash of those being in some way presented in my work.
I very much enjoy the Overlord books by Kugane Maruyama.
It’s been adapted into a manga and anime but the books are just so much better, they’re so descriptive and colorful in its writing with beautiful covers.
The story itself is just a really fun read with very likable characters.
Anyone who’s read both my hack’s story and Overlord can probably draw a few loose connections and yeah, those are intentional inspirations.
I have been reading “The Prince” by Machiavelli recently, for an old book its decently paced and the explanations Machiavelli uses to point out how politics from the time works are very simple. I have find that it also explains how modern politics work, interestingly.
Berserk is a great source to draw inspiration from, especially the Golden Age Arc.
And if you look into some of the interviews with Kentaro Miura he provides some very helpful information when it comes to getting the base laid down for creating a good story. One of the things that struck me was how he determined what he needed to write. He wanted the story to be about anger. That is the first step to writing a story. After you know what you want the story to be about you need to figure out how to get to achieve that goal. In this case, how to make Guts angry.
Also, you don’t need a super in depth outline for your story. This is where I fail when I try to write a story. Just write the main things you want in the story. Nothing to specific though. Too many details can make the story boring, or detract from what is happening.
Dune has to be the greatest novel I’ve ever read. I’d highly recommend it, especially if you like science fiction.
I’m sure I get inspiration from some of the things I’ve read/watched, but I have no clue where a lot of it comes from. Aside from those, my religious upbringing shows itself in a lot of my work through many different avenues. Though I’m not gonna come here and tell everyone to read the Bible. I would definitely recommend a webnovel series called The Beginning After the End. It’s one of the most popular novels/manhua in the world atm and is easily in my top 3 of all time. The Beginning After The End for the published ebooks or The Beginning After the End | Tapas for the latest updates. I might as well shill my own writing as well Feather | Royal Road
Not a book but there is a great Chinese show about the water margin called “All men are Brothers” from 2011, that i highly reccomend. You’ll need to have some luck finding it with english subs though. (Keyword here being a word that starts with “Torr” and ends with “nt”)
Otherwise the other 2 chinese epics of “The Romance of the Three Kingdoms” and the Chu-Han Contention come to mind.
History in general has lots of stories to tell and draw inspiration from. Vikings for example were the first people who founded a Russian Kingdom, the german city of Dithmarschen was a peasants republic from the 13th century up to 1559, the Last Samurai’s Battle of Shiroyama against the tide of Technology and guns. And much more, but i don’t wanna derail since i can’t reccomend any specific books on those topics as i mainly read modern History or non fiction.
Oh yeah, almost forgot, i can highly reccomend H.P. Lovecraft, Algernon Blackwood and Robert E. Howard’s works, they might not all totally fit in with most other stories here, but i’m absolutely sure you can find at least some inspiration in them, especially Robert E. Howard’s Solomon Kane series. He also wrote the Conan the Barbarian stories, and while i have heard they’re great, i have not read them yet.
There’s a great channel with amazing audiobooks of the aforementioned called GM Factory, which you can find on YouTube. Although its only in German.
I’ve basically only read them in manga. lol
Oh, but in case you’re wondering, I read Machiavelll’s Il Principe as a novel a long time ago. because it’s short.
Lately, reading manga has become a chore, so I’ve been playing Youtube commentary videos on economics, philosophy, history, and military history in the background while I work.
One channel can be biased, so I try to get information from multiple perspectives.
In recent years, I’ve been impressed by the Taoist philosophy of Lao Zhuang (Epicurean philosophy in the West) and Sun Tzu’s Art of War.
Also, I highly recommend the anime, The Legend of the Galactic Heroes, as it is a very interesting work.
There are 110 episodes plus a lot of gaiden, but if you get into it, you can watch it all at once.
// There are a lot of scenes in FE4 that could be attributed to kaga’s addiction to Legend of the Galactic Heroes. lol
The other day I finished reading Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner. Written in 1968, it’s an interesting look at the bleak future of… 2010. Brunner gives a hypothetical view of how the world deals with overpopulation, having reached a projected seven billion people.
Brunner sets up the world in a way that was much more interesting to me than the events of the book themselves. It jumps around between multiple different styles of chapters, providing disconnected views of the world apart from its main cast.
It’s a bit of a long read, but it’s definitely one of the best books I’ve read in recent history. This is more of a
book I've enjoyed than a
book that will influence my writing, though, and it’d probably be the same for you?
Another book I’d recommend, keeping with sci-fi, is Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. Really good at making the alien feel alien, the unknown feel dangerous. Full of bullshit, pure bad-luck and nothing-you-could-have-done.
It’s the inspiration behind the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series and its influence is found in many other works.
I must recognise that for my ongoing hack I’ve inspired a lot on the Dragonlance novels. It’s a series I really love since I first discovered them.
They offer an interesting perspective about how to portray a war from the point of view of a small group of “heroes” and it’s setting is very detailled.
While most of my hack’s plot is based on scraps of short stories and plays I wrote when I was younger (which in turn were based on terrible YA novels), my humour is mostly based on The Kangaroo Chronicles and Intrigue and Love.
Dune. Just, Dune. I have taken so much inspiration from it. I’ve had NPC’s quote it. I named several or my playable units after it. I am in love with that novel series and it shows.
I really love Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames. It’s centered around members of an old, legendary mercenary band , who are all now in their 30s and 40s, way past their prime, going on one last adventure to save one of them’s daughter. I was really drawn to it by the premise of these characters all being well on in years, and contrasting that with the memories they each have of each other in their twenties makes for a really interesting read. I can’t really describe what’s so good about this book other than just saying it’s good, it’s funny, it’s epic, anyone reading this post should go read the book instead.
I allude to it in my FEE3 video, but Ayn Rand’s philosophy of objectivism has had a huge impact on my writing. Calista’s story arch about being stripped of her humanity to become a tool for the common good was heavily influenced by Rand.
I’ve read pretty much all of her fiction and non-fiction. Atlus Shrugged is considered her opus, but the Fountainhead is my favorite of her novels.
The Romantic Manifesto where she applies objectivism to the arts is my favorite of her nonfiction. Reading it is how I started reading Victor Hugo. The article I mention in my FEE3 video about villains often being more popular than heroes in fiction because the villains live more liberated lifestyles was from the Romantic Manifesto. And Carson was my take on a Randian hero in a fantasy setting.
Interestingly, while Rand herself and the effect she had on the world is a rather contentious subject, most people agree her books are cool (if sometimes boring). I do recall your view on Ike’s role in his story, and from what I’ve read the protagonist of The Fountainhead has much the same journey. What are your thoughts on this? (i never finished the fountainhead because i started skipping school around then)
I’m a weeb through and through to the point you can’t get me to read a regular degular novel unless it’s got some gay in it, so naturally my most recent reads that aren’t animanga-related are… Hesse and Wilde. Unfortunately wlw fiction (which would be more relevant to me) historically is mostly limited to smut and horrible YA books. That said, the sheer volume of works referencing Siddhartha, Demian, and Beneath the Wheel means Hesse’s books are absolutely worth the read.
Among the animanga stuff I’ve read, I Favor the Villainess is extremely basic and kind of dumb but it executes its main story beats with a high degree of competence. Otherside Picnic is a really cool take on immersion into the vast world of Japanese urban legend. So I’m a Spider, So What isn’t exactly a masterpiece unless you’ve been reading narou-kei novels for too long, in which case it’s absolutely transcendent the way it plays with expectations. Bonus on spider isekai is my friend from since I was 12 is the translator and she did a great job.
I can’t read modern Chinese novels because they’re so deeply misogynist and grimdark/edgy, and I can’t read the classics because I refuse to let my childhood watching the '87 Journey to the West be sullied by the actual epic LOL.
I think the biggest influence on my works/ideas setting-wise might be (ugh I hate admitting this these days) the Culture series, as it was the first sci-fi series I’d read with that kind of outlook and creativity behind it. It got my “what if” juices flowing.
As for ideals presented, I only merge the corniest of media possible. One of these days I’m going to actually read Kant and Kropotkin and whatnot instead of being a fake annoying internet leftist.