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.

Later…

~Eric

*Informational links courtesy of Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia If you can afford it, please help.

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About V. T. Eric Layton

vtel57, Nocturnal Slacker

6 responses »

  1. Great list Eric!!

    There are a few of those I have not read but not plan to.

    Thanks

  2. PsiCop says:

    One of the books that made a lasting impression on me was Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory, the first English novel. I read Tolkien when I was 8 and loved medieval-fantasy after that; but I read LMdA at 15, and was inspired to actually study the Middle Ages, later.

    Reference link, online reading link, on Google Books, or Amazon link.

    • You know, Psi, La Morte… almost made this list. I read it around the time I read LOTR. I have a beautiful leather-bound edition that I still peruse occasionally. No one’s book list can be all inclusive. We always tend to forget one or two hundred that should have been on the list. La Morte… had the same effect on me, by the way. It initiated a decade of off and on medieval history study; heraldry and military history of that era included. I still dabble in it from time to time.

      Thanks for the reminder! 🙂

  3. Great list, Eric! Interesting to see you have two novels by the Brontes in your Top Ten: admit it – you’re a Romantic at heart, aren’t you? (Mind you – “Wuthering Heights” is more horror than romance: that scene where teh ghost of Cathy appearsat Mr lockwoood’s window, begging to be let in, has been re-used in teh Hammerfilm “Dracula Prince of Darkness”, and also in “Salem’s Lot”.)

    I love “A Christmas Carol” as well: it is the greatest of modern myths. Yes, the ending is joyous, but it is not sentimental because teh joy has been hard won: on the way to this ending, we have glimpsed into the abyss. That moment at the end of the episode with the Ghost of Christmas Present, the appearance of those two hungry & outcast children still chills; and the next episode, which presents a world devoid of even the most basic human feelings, is frightening.

    One thing that impresses me is that Scrooge isn’t reformed by the thought of what will happen to his soul after his death: what reforms him is his growing awareness of what his legacy will be in *this* world, amongst the living.

    This basic storyline of an elderly man revisiting his past and taking stock of it has reappeared in all sorts of forms – from Tolstoy’s “The Death of Ivan Illych” to the Ingmar Bergman film “Wild Strawberries”. It is just *such* a good story!

    (By the way, my favourite film adaptation is the one with George C Scott as Scrooge.)

    • We were discussing the different movie versions of A Christmas Carol at Out of the Woods recently. The Geo. C. Scott version has always been my favorite, too. I just requested the DVD from the library a couple days ago. I’m going to sit back and enjoy it sometime soon.

      And yes… Wuthering Heights was definitely a horror story in some respects. Me? A romantic? HAHA! Er… shhhhhh! Don’t let that get around. It’ll really ruin my burly-biker image. 😉

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