“Appendix N” is an addendum to the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Gamemaster’s Guide; it provides a list of “inspirational reading” according to Gary Gygax. For as long as I’ve heard of it, Appendix N has had a quasi-mystical status, as if manna from heaven. Now, I understand that Gygax is considered the progenitor of roleplaying games as we know them today, and I don’t intend to argue about that. However, I’d say that, “that’s just his opinion, man” to paraphrase The Big Lebowski.
In my humble opinion, everyone—and especially any aspiring writer like myself—ought to have her own Appendix N. There are several reasons: first, one will only rarely run short of book suggestions having prepared such a list; second, one may track one’s own writing influences through the list, using this both to help pitch works to publishers or agents and to find out where you might continue your study of great reads; third, it provides a shorthand to others—if you’re forming a writer’s group with others about whose writing you know little, seeing their Appendix N will probably give you some idea of both what their influences are and where their interests lie.
In that spirit, I’m going to start my own Appendix N here. I don’t have time now to completely fill it out, but I’ll be adding to it as I think of things that should be on here. If you’re so inclined, send me yours and let’s start a conversation!