As part of my master’s thesis, I had to turn in a list of four books – three fiction and one nonfiction – that I will be reading while I write my first draft. Since I’m getting my MA in English and Creative Writing with a concentration in fiction, my thesis is actually part of a novel (as opposed to the traditional research paper thesis). This prospect is actually terrifying, but I conquered the rest of grad school, so I can do this! (Right?)
You may have caught my post a few weeks ago in which I asked for your help deciding which of my ideas to use for my thesis. Thanks to a lovely reader, I realized that I neglected to read the requirements for said thesis before compiling my ideas (clearly, I’m on top of things – how I have a 3.9 GPA is a mystery). After reading the requirements and the assignments that go along with writing my thesis, I’ve decided to go with idea number one! I know a lot of you preferred the other two ideas (and I’m still planning on using them eventually), but my decision came down to the fact that I had to turn in a full outline this past Sunday and I hadn’t exactly planned out the conflicts or endings or really anything much of the other two ideas. So I decided to play it safe and go with the idea that’s a bit more fleshed out in my mind.
You can head on over to my thesis ideas post for more details, but basically the idea I chose is a novel about a dystopian future society that’s ruled by a new, genetically engineered race of “gods” inspired by the Greek pantheon. Basically, technology + mythology + greed = bad.
Today, I thought I’d share the four books (plus a few extra) that I am planning on reading for my thesis.
- Red Rising by Pierce Brown. This is probably the book that inspired my idea the most, so I think its worth rereading so I can renew that inspiration and make sure my novel isn’t too similar. If I have time, I would also like to reread the second two books in the trilogy, particularly Golden Son, because it’s most similar to what I’m trying to do.
- 1984 by George Orwell. I threw this in for the sake of diversity, because I wanted a classic to influence my style a little bit. I’ve been meaning to reread this one, and this seems like the perfect opportunity. Plus, it’s the original dystopian, and I think it might help me gear my book more towards an adult (rather than young adult) audience.
- Vicious by V. E. Schwab. I decided to read this one because I love the subtle style, and I think my style is somewhere between Schawb and Brown, so this book will kind of help me find a happy medium of my own. I also thought the superhuman aspect was well-done and somewhat similar to the “gods” in my story, so perhaps it will be a positive influence there as well.
- On Writing by Stephen King. For our non-fiction book, we had to choose a book on writing, so I thought this was the perfect choice. I have actually read it before, but I’ve been meaning to reread it anyway because I remember it being really inspiring and helpful in understanding my own writing process.
Those are the books I turned in to my professor as my official reading list. I thought it would be safest to choose books I already read and know I love, because I didn’t want to be stuck working with books I didn’t like, or that don’t really help me figure out my own writing style. However, there are a few other books I am going to try to read over the next few months that I think might be helpful. A kind of supplemental/tentative list. So I thought I’d share those as well, even though I’m not committed:
- Mythology by Edith Hamilton. I bought this book as reference, because it is really detailed about all the Greek gods. I don’t think I’m going to sit down and read the whole thing, but I will most likely be using sections I find useful.
- Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. I strongly considered adding this to my original list, and when I didn’t, a classmate actually suggested it, which made me want to read it more. Because I haven’t read it, I wasn’t sure how helpful it will be, but I’ve still heard great things, so I might just take this opportunity to read it anyway.
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. When I was trying to figure out where my initial idea came from, I realized that my antagonist is kind of an amalgamation of President Snow and Donald Trump (which is weird, because in my head, he looks like Idris Elba). Anyway, I do really admire The Hunger Games and think a reread might be helpful as I write my own dystopian novel.
- Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel. I adored the mythological element in this novel! I particularly love that it blended mythology and technology, which is what I’m attempting to do, so this might be a great additional read (even though the story itself is very different).
Let me know if you have any other reading suggestions! I’m sure there are a lot of great books I could add to my list, but I am also writing part of a novel, so I still need time for that.
Thanks for reading! If you’d like to see more about my thesis writing journey, let me know in the comments!