The best fantasy books that have influenced my life so far

The Books I Picked & Why

Peter and Wendy

By James Matthew Barrie

Book cover of Peter and Wendy

Why this book?

The spirit of Peter Pan is something I’ve always admired since I first remember seeing the 1953 Disney film as a boy, and then later reading JM Barrie’s classic novel in young adulthood. He’s a boy that lives every day for adventure, and I feel that is a great way to approach life. The quality of the writing is both poetic and dark for a children’s story, and explores themes that are still relevant today, such as freedom, choice, power, and the innate human desire to overcome circumstances and break free from limiting beliefs. It’s such an incredible world and character, and has greatly inspired my life and career. I love it!

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The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

By C.S. Lewis, Pauline Baynes

Book cover of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Why this book?

The first published book in this classic fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia, was really my first introduction to fantasy fiction by my grandmother as far back as I can remember. It could even be said that this is where my love of fantasy began. I always saw myself as Peter, aiding Aslan and battling the white witch in this magical world. This was a true childhood mind expander, and extremely important to my childhood development. 

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

By J.K. Rowling, Mary Grandpré

Book cover of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Why this book?

It’s typical, and probably on everyone else’s most influential fantasy list, but I’d be lying if I said I was the exception to being completely swept up by this incredibly imaginative series. This story blew my mind as a young adult — literally — to this day I can’t believe J.K. wrote this series. I’ve never obsessed over a book series to the point where I’d pass on sleep and food for days on end in favor of getting a few more hours of reading in. I just couldn’t not find out what happened next. J.K. has an incredible imagination, and through it wrote what is undoubtedly one of the greatest works of fantasy in the modern age.     

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Ready Player One

By Ernest Cline

Book cover of Ready Player One

Why this book?

Another well-known title — and equal parts fantasy and sci-fi — this is a book that has undoubtedly influenced my life. The main thing I find fascinating about this book is the prophetic nature of it. Written in 2011, before social media, blockchain, digital tokens, VR, and overall web 3.0 was what is today, this novel seemed to be one step ahead of the curve. It’s incredible how much of it is coming true, and it’s a fantastical adventure story to boot. It’s original, entertaining, and prophetic — what more could a young mind want? 

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The Little White Bird

By J. M. Barrie

Book cover of The Little White Bird

Why this book?

Having written an evolved installment of the Peter Pan saga myself, I’d be hard-pressed not to have Peter Pan’s first appearance in the literary world not on this list. Often overshadowed by JM Barrie’s second and more popular novel featuring Peter Pan, Peter and Wendy, it was actually in The Little White Bird where Peter first made his boyhood appearance, playing with his imaginary friends in the Kensington Gardens of England. This is a great look at Peter’s early development and documents his early thirst for adventure. The character of Peter was so popular upon the release of this book, in fact, that JM Barrie went on to write his most famous work next. When I read this story, I still have flashbacks of myself as a child, playing in my backyard where my mind would take me on timeless and limitless adventures…  

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