The Book List:
Man it’s been awhile since I did a What I’ve been Reading. Well I got tagged on Facebook. You know the kind of post I’m talking about: Your friend tags you and then you have to share on a topic and you pass it on to others etc, etc. It’s not the kind of think I generally like to do… but Ice Bucket Challenge and a few other exceptions I sometimes relent my curmudgeon nature. And when it comes to looking back and making a book list full of my favorite and most influential books? I gotta say there’s no time like January 1st to make you take stock of things like that. I won’t just post though, if I’m gonna do this thing? I’m gonna do this old school blog style. YEAH I’m talking Livejournal in the early 2000’s style! I love books… I love so many that I’d just keep listing them on and on forever and never stop but the person before me had a list of 20 so I’ll keep it to 20. (Below I list and link to these books via Amazon, but I’m not an affiliate so don’t feel obligated to buy any of these books there, they aren’t a sponsor and I won’t recieve a kickback by linking to them… although maybe I should think about signing up. Ah well enjoy my nerdy book love.) All right Stephie (my friend from Facebook) here goes nothing!
Here’s the gist: “These books all touched me in some way and shaped me into who I am today. I’m sure I forgot many but here’s what I came up with on the spot.” That doesn’t mean these are the BEST books ever, I’ll even go so far as to say I’ve got some turds on this list but they meant something to me either a long time ago or… yesterday.
- The Holy Bible I was raised Lutheran in a parochial school…. this book has had a profound effect on me. I don’t subscribe blindly to the teachings of this book nor do I claim to be particularly religious but I do value this book greatly.
- Illusions: Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah By Richard Bach This book came along at a time in my life when I needed it pretty badly and as is often the case people find you through the books they give you. This was definitely the case, it rekindled my spiritual side and marked a new understanding in me.
- Red Branch by Morgan Llywelyn This Book is kind of a fun novelization of the Irish Ulster cycle stories of Cuchulain (the Hound of Ulster). I loved this book and between this and “Druids” I found myself reading everything she wrote that I could get my hands on for the better part of 2 years.
- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline Okay press pause on that religious stuff for a minute cuz THIS book is kinda the Antithesis of the first 2 books on my list. Ernest Cline fires humanist shots across the bough in the first chapter of this book but once you get past that? It was the most delightful 80’s nostalgia romp I’ve ever read and reread! Set in the future it’s race against time meets treasure hunt meets sci fi coming of age story meets NOVEL LENGTH GEEK OUT SESSION.
- The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien This book was the one that drew me to Tolkien, not the Lord of the Rings which was of course his masterpiece, but the Hobbit. I always connected more with Bilbo than with Frodo. He was a hero in order to survive, he was flawed, he didn’t make all the right choices. I always found The Hobbit a delightful read.
- The Chronicles of Narnia (Prince Caspian was my fave) by C.S. Lewis This was for me the original series to read, we had the set so I read the set, but the books I read over and over were the books that had to do with the original 4 kids, those were always my favorites. Prince Caspian in particular because it showed exactly how displaced in time things happened in Narnia and I loved that. (Time Travel is a big deal with me.)
- Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu Eventually I went to college and had my good sheltered country boy Lutheran faith good and rattled when in World History the professor objectively and matter of factly defined each of the Christian religious. I’d never been given such a flat matter of fact definition before… it changed me. I needed something Lao Tzu became that something.
- Walt Disney Donald Duck and his Nephews This one feels like cheating because I could do a whole list of just comics that influenced me, this one is unique in that we (my brothers and I) read the cover right off of that book. I read about the exploits of Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge, and The Nephews over and over and over and they never got old. Those ducks has wild adventures that still influence my story telling.
- Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling I was reluctant. I was REAL reluctant to read these books. I did that thing that boys do where I in my brain said these books are for kids and girls. Boy I was wrong, and I’m so glad I got over myself and gave these books a try because Rowling created an incredible world that I never wanted to leave. Haters? Skip the movies and read these books.
- Tao of Jeet Kune Do by Bruce Lee Martial artists are required to read this book. Bruce Lee changed the very way we discuss martial arts in the modern world. He was a true Renaissance man who despite getting some marginal success never really got to see the insane devotion his thoughts have generated. He was an artist and a warrior in every sense of the words.
- Timeline by Michael Crichton TIME TRAVEL! Again forget that crappy movie they tried to make BASED on this book. This book annihilates that movie. If you like time travel stories you should try this book.
- Drinking Midnight Wine by Simon R. Green I like stories with Mythology and pop Culture references. I also like parallel dimensions and other worlds. If you like all this stuff? You’ll like this one.
- American Gods by Neil Gaiman Same as 13 except, wow! Gaiman! What a story teller. Pick up one of his books. Really any of em. Do it!
- Eyes of the Dragon (and the Dark Tower Series) by Stephen King This was my first Stephen King book. I’ve read it and re-read it. I love it. It ultimately brought me into The Gunslinger and the Dark Tower because they crossed over. I’ve read all sorts of Stephen King books since but this book started it off.
- Star Wars Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn This book opened me up to the possibility that the story can ALWAYS continue and still be INCREDIBLE. I thought Star Wars? I loved it but it’s over. No Zahn’s books just really open up the world. If it wasn’t for these books I wouldn’t believe that more films should be made.
- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield As an adult this has been one of those rare kicks in the pants that I’ve needed. If you are a creative person that hits those walls and needs a dose of tough love? Read this book… can’t read it? find an audio copy and listen to it. Hell I’ve done both! It’s exactly the kind of thing I’ve needed to hear from time to time.
- The Vampire Chronicles (The Vampire Lestat) by Anne Rice Anne Rice made vampires cool to me. Some will argue that they were always cool and surely they continued to be cool, but despite her penchant for superfluous language… I love her characters. She sold me on a ensemble cast in a novel and I never wanted to go to New Orleans but then fell in love with the city via long distance due to her writing.
- Dragon’s Gold by Piers Anthony and Robert E. Margroff This one? Just good old cheesy fun. Sci Fi meets Fantasy. Full of Fantasy Monsters and dimension hopping sci fi. I love these books far too much. You can find these books for literally pennies so they probably aren’t the high art I remembered them as but the Kelvin of Rudd series just greatly entertained me.
- The Dark Elf Trilogy by R.A. Salvatore I’m a DnD nerd. I’d start here but I kept going far beyond this trilogy. But this one just sucks you in and gives you an origin of a hero borne out of the most unlikely circumstances.
- The Kingkiller Chronicle (The Name of the Wind) by Patrick Rothfuss I may have saved the best for last, I recently found the books of Patrick Rothfuss and I gotta say it’s got a lot of familiar things but put together to form a world and characters that I am just entranced by. I recommend these books so highly. I couldn’t put them down but lamented every day that I got closer to being at the end of the books that were published. There’s more coming…. I. Can. Not. Wait. MOOOOARRR!
So there you go folks. The books I can think of off the top of my head that really impacted me. I purposely kept away from comics, with that one bizarre exception, because narrowing comics down to 20? That’s just about impossible but maybe a good exercise for another day.
This post originally appeared on Tankmonkeycomic.com