“Writing that Changed My Life”

Many of us have a particular piece, some sort of text that has changed the way we look at literature and writing forever. The members of The Dulcimer have listed their favorites below and described how it has inspired (for good or for worse) what they read, what they write, and even how they live their lives.


Amanda Barrentine (Publicity Manager)

“No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people. Oftentimes, we have no clue. Yet we push it just the same.” –  Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why

This work was a complete masterpiece. It’s about a girl who has committed suicide that leaves behind a set of tapes for thirteen people she has designated as the main reasons why she killed herself. It looks into how bullying is wrong and how much one person can affect another’s life, even in the smallest of ways. This book changed how I look at the world, and its message is so profound. It opened my mind to the idea of being kind instead of persecuting people who are different. Everyone should read this book if they have a chance.

Jennifer Champagne (Editor in Chief)

“When I write, it’s everything that we don’t know we can be that is written out of me, without exclusions, without stipulation, and everything we will be calls us to the unflagging, intoxicating, unappeasable search for love. In one another we will never be lacking.” –  Hélène Cixous, “The Laugh of the Medusa”

I first read “The Laugh of the Medusa” for a literary theory class. And while many students in that library were meandering their way through textbooks or chugging cups of coffee to stay awake, I was having a revelation. Cixous snapped me awake; she pulled me out of my world. I found myself highlighting every sentence, every word. What she said excited me. All of it made me want to write, but not just anything. Cixous made me want to challenge everything that pulled me back, to confront myself and write in ways I never thought I could. For writing is where you can find your freedom, where any barrier can be broken down with the flick of the wrist or the typing of words.

Chelsey Guy (General Staff)

“I like the night. Without the dark, we’d never see the stars.” – Stephenie Meyer, Twilight

I have had a love affair with books since I was three years old. So, I have read a lot of books. Out of all the books that I have read, the one book that truly changed my life had to have been Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Although I hated the way it was written, I was enchantingly mystified by the characters and plot. My hatred of the Twilight’s writing style was what motivated me to write my first novel at the age of 12. I have to thank Twilight for making me the writer and reader that I am.


Monica Hoyle (Publicity Manager)

“The circus comes without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.” – Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

I can’t really say what literary work has changed my life. My favorite book as a child was Little Women. I don’t really know why, perhaps it was because I didn’t have any sisters, so I enjoyed reading about something that I always wondered about. If I had to pick a favorite book now, it would be The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. When I read it, I was immediately taken back into the fantasy world of life behind the circus that I had created in my head as a child.

Hannah Hyde (Copy Editor)

“A sailor chooses the wind that takes the ship from a safe port. Ah, yes, but once you’re abroad, as you have seen, winds have a mind of their own. Be careful, Charlotte, careful of the wind you choose.” – Avi, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

I’ve always had a weakness for stories, so choosing just one that impacted my life is incredibly difficult. But, aside from the dreadful math books that forever turned me away from a career in the sciences, I’d have to say The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi is one book that has stuck with me since my childhood. I think I was about 10 years old when I first read it and, among Charlotte’s adventures on the high seas, I felt the beginnings of a greater awareness of the forces within the world and their impact on individual lives. I find it eerily poignant that, as I’m finishing my undergraduate career and having to choose my next move, outside forces (read: my editor-in-chief) would bring me back to that lesson I first discovered over a decade ago.

Allison Kim (Art Editor)

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked. “Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.” “How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice. “You must be,” said the Cat, “otherwise you wouldn’t have come here.” – Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass appears in many forms in art and pop culture. The aspect of it that attracts me the most is the very concept of a world built on absurdity that does not collapse on itself. I grew up creating fanciful worlds and embracing the innate madness in them and I still do. I don’t control the characters or mechanics in them. Instead, my worlds become independent universes of their own, constantly growing and developing with or without me. I also enjoy a mad tea party every now and then.


Avery Lewis (General Staff)

“Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost.” –Hiromu Arakawa, “Fullmetal Alchemist”

“Fullmetal Alchemist,” a manga series by Hiromu Arakawa, boasts the most compelling plot into which I have ever been drawn, and it also introduced me to a multitude of lovable characters whom I miss dearly now that the series has concluded. Mixing steampunk, fantasy, and both religious and scientific lore, Arakawa crafted a masterpiece which inspired me to try and match her level of writing. I decided I want my audience to have the same emotional connection I had to “Fullmetal Alchemist”. I want them to cry, laugh, and cheer alongside the characters as they complete their journey, just as I did with Edward and Alphonse Elric as they searched for a way to restore their physical bodies after a disastrous attempt to resurrect their deceased mother using alchemy.

Katie Montgomery (Design Editor)

“And I have known them all already, known them all. / Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, / I have measured out my live with coffee spoons; / I know the voices dying with a dying fall / Beneath the music from a farther room. / So how should I presume?” –T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

I was a junior in high school when I first read “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot. The poem is so beautiful, so bizarre, like nothing I had ever read. From that moment, I knew I was going to major in English Literature in college. No one else in my class showed interest, and my teacher seemed like she was just repeating the explanation in her teacher’s edition of our textbook. I had so many questions and ideas that I wanted to discuss about the poem rather than just reading it aloud in class. I haven’t been able to talk about Prufrock in a classroom setting, but majoring in English has equipped me with the skills to make my own interpretations about Eliot’s iconic poem.

Farah Rafi (General Staff)

“I feel like a wet seed wild in the hot blind earth.” – William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying

In my AP Literature class in high school, I read the book As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. I wouldn’t say this book changed my life except for maybe that I wouldn’t pick it up and read it again.  The interesting thing about this novel is that it is a stream of consciousness, so most of it is really the author’s narration of the novel through the voice of the characters. On top of that, the book is written in first person with several different characters; the most prominent one, Darl, is sent to a mental asylum after he tries to set his mother’s coffin on fire. Throughout the whole novel, Darl was the one narrating most of the chapters and being sent to a mental asylum made me wonder whether or not he was a reliable narrator and that what he had explained in the chapters was true or just a figment of his imagination. Although I would not read the novel again, I definitely learned how an author can mess with a reader’s mind which is something I like to incorporate in some of my pieces.


CJ Triplett (Submissions Editor)

“Being in a minority, even a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.” – George Orwell, 1984

Orwell’s 1984 changed me in a number of ways, I think. For one, it was a very grim but compelling look at a world that our own is in danger of becoming, which gave me insight into a lot of different aspects about our reality. I learned to never trust what was being said, but to understand what was not being said. I learned that the truth, much like the quote says, is not always the truth, and it is not always the one people want you to believe. There are so many ideas and themes present in this novel.