Posted by: Matt Q. McGovern | January 21, 2015

What book influenced you most

I’ve been trying to reduce clutter in my office at home recently, and when going through an old box that was great for attracting more clutter over time, I pulled out a book that I last read when I was a kid.

Overpowering my puzzlement of how this book came to be in the box was the instant feeling of joy the cover of the book brought me, just like it did when I was a kid.


I read the Hardy Boys books over and over again, and it was the first series of books that I did that to. Those book cover images would catch my eye more than any other book and instantly transport me into the world of the book itself.

They were also the first stories to ever influence me into wanting to write, though I didn’t actually know that then. At some point I saw that there were always exactly twenty chapters in each novel and lead me to wondering about the concept of a repeatable pattern in story arcs for the very first time.

I thought that if I could figure it out, I could write my own mystery with me and my friends in it. As long as it was twenty chapters and I followed the pattern. 🙂

My studying of those patterns, tropes, story structures, etc. are never-ending and continue to this day. It’s funny to me to realize now that it was my biggest hang-up in writing my first novel draft.

It occurred to me that since the images of those books are so effective, I should get all of these images together online and make a framed poster out of them.

I can’t think of a more inspirational picture to hang on my wall than that. And a project like that begets others like it.

What were you reading when you first thought about being a writer? And what are the book covers that would instantly bring you back if you saw them now?


  1. I don’t know what book inspired me to write, but seeing the Hardy Boys cover gave me a flashback to Nancy Drew (I think the cover artists were the same). The Hidden Staircase was my favorite. To this day I want a house with a secret staircase. And when I get rich (ha ha), I will build one!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The cover art is very effective. And I definitely want secret passages. Bookshelf doors, etc.


  3. I remember that Hardy Boy book cover, Matt. I think I read every one of them. But it was Steinbeck’s Cannery Row that hooked me. It’s the only book I read more than ten times, and I’ll read it another ten for sure. Cannery Row transports me to another dimension, a world where whores, bums and drunks are saints with redeeming values. Since I read the book decades ago I’ve read just about everything Steinbeck had ever written. I enjoyed your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks! I think I’ll have to check out Cannery Row.


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