What was the book that most influenced your life -- and why?Read the entire interview.
It's difficult to pick just one, of course. But I will say that while I was writing The Center of Everything, I read Carl Sagan's The Demon Haunted World, and it made a strong impression on me. I only knew about Sagan from watching the Nova Channel when I was a kid, but I happened upon an essay he'd written before he died. I was so impressed I went to the library and checked out some of his books. In The Demon Haunted World, Sagan stresses the importance of skepticism and rational reasoning when considering the mysteries of the universe. It's easy for us today to see the insanity of the witchcraft trials, but Sagan gives a sympathetic account of how frightening the world must have seemed in those times, and how quickly our ability to reason can be dismissed in the face of fear and superstition. Today, Sagan points out, we have crop circles, alien abductions, and religious fundamentalism; the book has a great chapter called "The Baloney Detection Kit," an important tool for any open-minded skeptic. What I like most about Sagan is that he seems skeptical without coming across as cynical. He looks at the vastness of the universe and the intricacy of the natural world with so much wonder and awe, and he's able to translate it to a reader who isn't a scientist, such as myself. I also noticed how he refrains from making fun or putting down his opponents; there's such a generosity of spirit in his writing. I tried to put a bit of Sagan in Evelyn, the narrator of The Center of Everything.
Visit Laura Moriarty's website and learn more about her new novel, The Rest of Her Life.
The Page 99 Test: The Rest of Her Life.