I am both horrified and thrilled that my fellow writer-in-crime, C.A. Floyd, has taken it upon herself to tag me in the Facebook demand of the week. The demand is simple, all I have to do is make a list of ten significant books in my life. I decided not to cheat and therefore left off any of my own manuscripts, although I consider them to be of extreme personal significance.
Instead, I have, over two days, somehow produced such a list. Now, these are not necessarily my favorite works, but they are all extremely memorable. I’ve read more books than i can count (cause I’ve read a lot of books, not because I can’t count very high) and I can’t immediately recall most of them. But the books in this list are the ones that never go away; never fall into the black hole of my memory; the ones that are never far from my consciousness. Now that I look at the list, you can probably plot a decent portion of my personal development through these titles.
Compiling this list was both difficult and amazingly easy. In the end, it really brought a smile to my face to think about all these wonderful books that effected me so profoundly. May you all be half as amused as me.
“Dune” by Frank Herbert
If you ask me my favorite book, if you ask for a recommendation, if science fiction or epics come into the conversation, if I’m awake…then this is the book that is on my mind. It was the book that made me love science fiction. I can still remember how it happened. We were all at the ranch, staying in the less-than-amazing trailer-house there while we gathered and branded and weaned all the calves. A hundred miles from home…I ran out of the books I’d brought with me! So, I picked up the one my Dad was reading. We stole it back from each other for days, until we were through, and the rest is history. I think I’ve read it at least four times now…and I don’t make it a habit to reread. It’s never gotten old or less epic or less amazing. It’s one of those rare works that no matter how many times you’ve read it, it’s full of new stuff every time. It made me the science fiction fan that I am.
“A Wrinkle in Time” b Madeline L’Engle
Wormholes, time and space as a flexible construct, parallel dimensions, and hey, a young girl who was smart and adventurous? Count me in. This book is more than a little responsible for my teenage obsession with astrophysics, string theory, and all the theoretical physics I could get my hands on (literally, as in books, I read tons of them on the subject while I could have been in high-school.)
“The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog” by John R. Erikson
So, I learned to read, but I hated it. Apparently Aesop’s Fables was not my kind of thing. Then, thank goodness, my cousins told my Mom about these books. I got the first two adventures of this brave ranch detective and then my Mom, so pleased to see me enjoy reading, ordered me the rest of the (then 30-something) book series, in hardback. I devoured them, and its still one of my prized collections.
“The Three Musketeers” by Alexandre Dumas
As previously mentioned, I read a lot as a young’un, and so did my Dad, and my Mom the mathematician, had an all too accurate idea of how much money we spent on books… So, anytime i could bargain my way into getting her to buy me more books, I happily did so, even if it meant not getting the books i wanted (sci-fi) and settling for what she thought I should read. In one particular case, we were in a Barnes and Noble and there was a display of BN Edition Classics. I was told that I could have something off that rack. And I possibly argued for “two” off that rack… What I took home was my first Alexandre Dumas novel and “Little Women.” I’ve been a Dumas fan ever since.
“Lone Star Planet” by H. Beam Piper
In amongst the spoils of my library-book-sale deal of legend (Thirty boxes of mostly classic sff for $30, thank you auction bargaining skills), I found this and many other books, but this one tale, that I picked up one day, is still one of my favorite stories. –and I proceeded to happily scour the many boxes for more by Piper and I even more happily found them and read them.
“A Fire Upon The Deep” by Vernor Vinge
Probably my first entry into the harder side of science fiction, this book was a gift from my second cousin (and science fiction fan) when he found out that I liked to read sci-fi. Since it was the norm in my family to read a lot, the few instances when other people decided to reward my reading obsession by going out of their way to give me books are special to me.
“The Dresden Files” by Jim Butcher
Despite it’s newness, this is now one of my favorite series and one of the few variations on Urban Fantasy that I really enjoy. A snarky wizard-detective who likes to carry a .44? How could I not like it? It is also one of the few recommendations that I took from a friend and never looked back. Thanks to her for that. And I’ve done my best to pass it on.
If Madeline L’Engle got me started, then this book cinched the deal. Parallel Dimensions both as scientific theories and as settings for stories are still fascinate me. Even got my Mom to subscribe me to Scientific American, Discover, and Popular Science for years. (and yes I did read them cover to cover.) Sadly, I lost the extra time and energy I needed to read all that reference materiel all the time when I started college. So, I’m no longer up to date on the newest intricacies of theories of everything, but I’m getting back to it, even if I may never be as much of an expert as teenage me.
“The Gunslinger” by Stephen King
Back in the day, before eBooks were cool; before most people even knew that such a thing existed; back when I carried a Palm Pilot *moment of silence* I thought buying digital books was really cool. One of the first was Roland’s inaugural adventure. I remember reading the short online description where it described the novel as a cross between a Sergio Leone film and J.R.R. Tolkien. It occurred to me that if it was true, I had found the perfect story. It was a great story and only later did I realize how famous it already was, but I didn’t read it because of the author or the hype, I read it because I found it and it sounded good. It was a good choice—and I may or may not have fallen in love with dark fantasy then and there.
“The Dirk Pitt Adventures” by Clive Cussler
My first full-size author obsession. When I started getting tired of kid-sized books (and by that I mean I read them all and Mom couldn’t keep enough of them on hand for me) I harassed my Dad until he decided that it would be okay if I read Clive Cussler’s books. I honestly don’t remember which book I read first (it was a long time ago, when I was like seven or eight) but I do remember that I quickly read them all. I’m still a fan of great adventure and thrillers, and I write them too, and I can trace it all back to that day my Dad handed me a Dirk Pitt novel.