What follows is a list (everyone loves lists) of ten books that, for whatever reasons, left the longest lasting impressions on me.
In no particular order…
The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
This was my first foray into fantasy fiction. I read this series of books, along with The Hobbit and Silmarillion, when I was about 19 years old. I fell in love with the genre at that point.
The Stand by Stephen King
This was the first King book I ever read. I was about 16 or 17 years old at the time. My mother had borrowed this book from the library. It was just sitting on the coffee table in the living room waiting to be returned when I picked it up and read the first few sentences. I’ve been hooked on King ever since. No, he’s not a “classic” style writer. However, his writing style and awesome imagination appealed to me somehow… and I’m evidently not the only one, judging by his book sales. I’ve since read everything he’s ever written.
Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco
This book touched on my love of history. It’s theme regarding the Templar Knights and their history led me to research the Templars extensively. It’s fascinating stuff.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
I read this book as an adult; just a few years ago, actually. I can’t even quite place my finger on why I love the story so much, but I do. It’s sad and tragic, but with a happy ending. It left me with a warm feeling in my heart; the mark of a very good story.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
I love this little book simply because of its lesson. Life is too short to be a mean and nasty bastard. And while I can often still be described that way, I really am not nearly the misanthrope that I was in younger days.
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer
This book is possibly the finest historical tome ever written about Nazi Germany during WWII. I’ve read many, many military history books regarding WWII. Shirer’s is the best.
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
This book is a history of the strife and struggle of the Native American Indian. It’s the story of how they were lied to, cheated, displaced, slaughtered, and eventually broken. It’s a sad story of a conquering horde destroying a weaker culture; an epic struggle to maintain a culture on one side, and to expand a nation on the other.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
I have to add this book in here because it is a true tragedy. It’s effect on me was manifold. It’s a complex story of love and hate; two emotions that walk hand-in-hand through our lives. I wanted to hate Heathcliff, yet I also understood him; making it impossible to not empathize with him.
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
This is a the story of regular everyday folks trying to survive a horrific experience; thermo-nuclear war. It was written back in the 60s during a time when Cold War tensions were quite high. We were all taught “duck and cover” procedures in school. We saw films of bomb tests and pictures from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was a scary time. This book describes one possible event from that era. I read it in high school and again a decade or so later. It’s one of the few books I’ve read twice.
The Drawing of the Dark by Tim Powers
This is a silly fantasy novel of no great import. However, I really did like it. It’s also one of the few books I’ve read twice. There was just something about it that was appealing to me.
That’s it, folks. Ten. It’s very difficult to stop at just ten. I could probably go on to twenty or fifty or even one hundred. I’ve always been a voracious reader. I’ve read thousands of books in my lifetime. Most were pretty good; some were outstanding. That’s the nature of books and reading. It’s a very personal thing. It’s a melding of the author’s and the reader’s minds, to a certain extent. Some authors/stories just click with the reader; some don’t.
This list is by no means a list of my favorite authors or books. It’s just a list of ten books that made me think more than others I’ve read. A list of favorites would probably have to be much longer. I really couldn’t narrow that category down to ten; a few hundreds might suffice.
Go read a book. It won’t hurt you none. I promise.