The Ten Books That Have Stuck With Me

Facebook memes are usually the intellectual equivalent of getting gum stuck in your pubic hair, but any meme that’s about books is probably one that’s okay by me.

So, the meme has sometimes mutated to “ten of my favorite books,” but fuck that. Favorite isn’t that meaningful of a metric. I prefer the original meme I saw going around — books that “stayed with you.” Like a haunting ghost.

1.) Swan Song, Robert McCammon

It was Boy’s Life that made me want to be a writer, and it’s Mister Slaughter that disturbs me the most, but while a lot of folks love epic fantasy, I fell in love with epic horror reading Swan Song. Actually, Swan Song was my gateway into horror — to King, Koontz, Barker, Brite, and beyond. (Also, thanks to my wonderful sister, I have a copy of the illustrated first edition.)

2.) Blackburn, Bradley Denton

Forget Dexter. Go read Blackburn. How does a boy become a serial killer? It’s grim, hilarious, sad, scary, sweet, and back to grim again. It run laps around most other books and is some truly amazing writing. Denton’s a helluva prose-master, good as Lansdale.

3.) Beloved, Toni Morrison

Beloved is at first blush a horror novel. The horror of slavery. The ghost (real or imagined) of a dead child. Elegant, astounding work. (I actually got to meet the author when I was in college.)

4.) Ulysses, James Joyce

It’s a book so big you could use it to kill a man. It’s long and rambling and strange. It also contains playful, powerful prose and moments of mundane bullshit elevated to mythic horseshit. It’s an astounding read. A hard slog, but worth it if you can manage. Finnegan’s Wake is also a book that will stay with you, provided you don’t mind trying to read a book that may or may not just be a cuckoo idea virus scrawled madly onto paper.

5.) The Southern Reach Trilogy, Jeff VanderMeer

Talked about this one last week. Just shut up and go read it.

6.) Exquisite Corpse, Poppy Z. Brite

This book is super-gross. By which I mean — grisly, gory, sex with dead bodies. It’s also written with such beauty, and crafted with such love, that it’s an astounding achievement. A tough book. Worth every word. All of my Brite books are a gift. All her books are horror written in neon, blood, hairspray, lighter fluid, sex juice.

7.) The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood

It feels like we’re living in its prequel at times.

8.) Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets, David Simon

If hard-ass journalism had a baby with Greek tragedy, you’d get this. This is also the book that effectively parented both the television shows Homicide and The Wire.

9.) The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien

Spare, tough like jerky, and a very personal look at Viet Nam and its soldiers.

10.) Pandemonium, Daryl Gregory

Is it even fair to call this a demonic possession book? I dunno. Whatever. It’s amazing. I remember reading this while on a plane (to Hawaii, I think), and it vacuumed this into my eyeballs and it buried its head under my skin like a tick.

Runners-up: Shining Girls (Lauren Beukes), Twelve-Fingered Boy (John Hornor Jacobs — actually, anything by JHJ), All the Rage (Courtney Summers), Heart-Shaped Box (Joe Hill), Dark Tower (Stephen King), Raven (Charles Grant), Sorrow Floats (Tim Sandlin), A Dirty Job (Christopher Moore), The Adventurist (Robert Young Pelton), Pecked to Death by Ducks (Tim Cahill), anything by Joe Lansdale, and probably a whole lot more I’m not remembering because dang, man, I gotta go to bed.

Your Turn

Give me 5 – 10 books that stayed with you.

Talk about why, if you can.


134 responses to “The Ten Books That Have Stuck With Me”

  1. The Ten Books that have stuck with me:
    1) The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle. My mother (A.K.A Santa Claus) got it for me for Christmas when I was eight years old. I LOVED the movie and wanted to read the book. This was the first “grown-up” book I read.
    2) Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon. Of all of his novels, this one spoke to me the most and stuck with me the best. It was his dedication page that drew me in and kept me there.
    3)The Complete Sherlock Holmes. Again, a book I read when I was younger and have returned to over and over again. This was the first Detective I read in a long and winding road of mysteries.
    4) A Bridge Too Far by Cornelius Ryan. This was the book that introduced me to the intricacies of history and kicked the door open for an interest in history.
    5) The Stand by Stephen King. The thought that a superflu can wipe out 98% of the worlds population rather than a nuclear warhead, not to mention the total evil of Randall Flagg made this one to stick with!
    6) The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell. This re-imagining of the King Arthur saga, combined with Arthur as he would have been in all of his barbaric glory, makes this a sticker. Add to thew fact that no one, and I do repeat NO ONE writes a historical battle scene like Bernard Cornwell.
    7) The Devil’s Pitchfork by Mark Terry. What stuck with me the most was when (SPOILER ALERT) the White House was infected with Chimera-13, making it uninhabitable for the rest of time.
    8) JFK’s Last 100 Days by Thurston Clarke. To hear JFK talk about what he plans to achieve in the future, and being the reader that knows he never will makes it heart rending and horrifying at the same time.
    9) Dune by Frank Herbert (hell, lets throw in the entire series on this one) I loved the fact that the politics in the story pushed it along faster than the action.
    10) Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. This is as much a science fiction story as much as it is a commentary on the time it was written in.

  2. The Golden Treasury of Poetry edited by Louis Untermeyer
    It was my introduction to poetry, to the beauty of language, to a whole world beyond and within our prosaic one. It works for young people, it works for adults, it works for the aged. It’s just a lovely collection of beautiful and meaningful words.

    The House of God by Samuel Shem
    Called “the Catch 22 of medicine,” The House of God is a brilliant, biting, and profoundly upsetting account of American medicine. My parents are both physicians, so I’ve always felt connected to medicine. I recommend it to all of my friends who are doctors, but only after they’ve been out of residency for some time. It’s too bitter and too cruel for those with fresh wounds.

    The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
    I read it again every few years, and I always discover some new beauty, heartbreak, and wit. It’s probably my favorite work of speculative fiction.

    And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Shilts
    The basis for a brilliant HBO film as well, ATBPO is a devastating and important work of reportage, one of the first major works covering a dark period in (largely American) public health. I read it around the time I was becoming aware of gay rights and it melded with and bolstered my burgeoning activism.

    A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean
    There are no perfect books, but this one might be close. From its famous first line to it’s haunting conclusion, it’s also a perfect demonstration that how a story is told matters more than the story itself. This one’s about men fly fishing in Montana, but it’s also about the nature of family, of time, of mortality. I’ve read the book more than a dozen times, and I’ve never been able to finish the last page without crying. I will never forgive the Pulitzer Prize Board for not giving it the award. From a writer’s perspective, it’s also wonderful to know that Maclean published this book, his first non-academic work, in his seventies. You’re never too old and it’s never too late.

    Moby Dick by Herman Melville
    The Great American Novel. You could spend a lifetime reading and studying this work and never finish plumbing its depths. At times tedious, at times indulgent, Moby Dick is Literature with a capital “L.” I still can’t bring myself to finish “Cetology,” though, its most painful chapter.

    Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo
    I read this one in an international economics course and it profoundly changed the way I think about growth economics, development, aid, and what we’re doing right & wrong. Whether you’re on the Sacks or Easterly side of the equation, it’s worth a read.

    The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
    My third grade teacher Mrs. Jordan lent me this book, saying “I think you’ll like it.” She was wrong. I fell in love with it. I cried for hours that I couldn’t go to Narnia and pet Aslan. Narnia was for me what Middle-Earth was for so many others, and A Wrinkle in Time for still more. It was a glimpse of new kind of adventure, and a new kind of life. It was the birth of my joy in reading, and it made me the man I am today. It was also my introduction to allegory, to the idea that a thing could be multiple things at once. It was my dawn of critical reading.

    The History of Sexuality Vol. 1: The Will to Knowledge by Michel Foucault
    I read this in high school and it changed the way I understand power, organizations, and public sexuality. It was the first modern philosophical text I read, and I can’t imagine my view of sexuality and power in its absence.

    D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire
    My parents read these stories to me. As I got older, I read them myself. I fell in love with the Greek myths and the worlds they described. They were my first touch of the fantastic, and their influence has woven through my life as tightly as Arachne’s thread. Decades later, I can still close my eyes and picture the gorgeous illustrations.

    • What a great list! So diverse. Not often you see Moby Dick and Foucault’s History of Sexuality in the same list of someone’s top ten. I wonder if Foucault would say that Moby Dick stood as an example of his ‘repressive hypothesis’?

  3. Here’s my list! I blogged my reasoning behind each choice the other day when I first saw this meme: And yeah, I cheated by listing some authors rather than individual books.

    Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
    The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (good choice Chuck!)
    Cosmos, Contact, Pale Blue Dot, and other books by Carl Sagan
    Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson
    Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
    The Dispossessed, The Left Hand of Darkness, etc. by Ursula K. LeGuin
    Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin
    Shogun by James Clavell
    The Scar by China Mieville
    Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon

  4. I’m totally with you on both Cahill and THE THINGS THEY CARRIED.

    My ten would be:

    THE HAWK IS DYING by Harry Crews. This is, to my mind, the most beautiful novel Harry ever wrote. It was made into a horrendous movie, so I strongly advise avoiding that.

    THE SECOND COMING by Walker Percy. This is the only book I’ve ever read more than once, and it amazes and astounds me each time I do.

    THE LOCK ARTIST by Steve Hamilton. I think this is one of the most gorgeous books I’ve ever read. It should have won the National Book Award, but it never would because it’s written by an author known for genre fiction. So it got the Edgar instead.

    AN ETERNAL CURSE ON THE READER OF THESE PAGES by Manuel Puig. A novel written entirely in dialogue. Not a single descriptive passage in it. It blew me away.

    MOON OF THREE RINGS by Andre Norton. One of the first science fiction novels I ever read, and it changed my view of what was possible in a novel. A person’s mind/spirit/whatever is transferred into a dog-like animal to save his life. The book is written from his POV. Made me look at books in a whole new way. (I was 13 at the time.)

    DROWNED HOPE by Donald Westlake. Anyone who has never read a Dortmunder book should. This is my favorite one. My second favorite Dortmunder story is a short story in which Dortmunder is accused of a crime he didn’t commit, and he doesn’t know how to act like an innocent person because he’s never been innocent before!

    AUNT JULIA AND THE SCRIPTWRITER by Mario Vargas Llosa. I adore this man’s work. He and Puig are my favorite South American/Latin American writers. I by far prefer them to the magical realists.

    NIGHTLIFE by Rob Thurman. Nothing delights me more than a woman writing a great male protagonist, and Cal Leandros is a great male protagonist. I love this series.

    HARD EIGHT by Janet Evanovich. Is this a great book? No. Is she the best writer? No. Does it make me laugh my ass off? YES. And this one made me laugh so hard I had tears coming down my face. I will always love it for that.

    JOKER ONE by Donovan Campbell. I read books by soldiers about war. I don’t give a fuck what politicians have to say about war, or what historians have to say about war, or what a journalist has to say about war. The guy whose feet were on the ground with the real dangers facing him? That’s who can tell me what the damn thing was all about.

    • You mentioned Joker One. What do you think about Steven Pressfield? I thought his offering The Lion’s Gate about the Six Day War was a really excellent delivery. I liked his historical offerings as well, but understand that may not be your cup of tea.

  5. Great lists! I wrote my list up a few days ago…

    My list:
    1. The Red Tent Anita Diamant
    2. The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne
    3. First Love, Wild Love Madeline Baker
    4. The Pearl John Steinbeck, Author (This book made me want to be a writer)
    5. Green Eggs and Ham Dr. Seuss
    6. Invisible Man Ralph Ellison
    7. Destined to Witness: Growing Up Black In Nazi Germany Hans Massaquoi
    8. The Glass Castle: A Memoir Jeannette Walls
    9. Short Stories and Poems by Edgar Allan Poe and Ernest Hemingway
    10. The Farseer Trilogy, The Twany Man Trilogy, and the upcoming Fitz and the Fool Trilogy Robin Hobb

    To read the why behind each book

    • Of course, how could I have forgotten Dr Seuss?!?! Horton Hears a Who… I will never ever forget “A person’s a person no matter how small” Thank you for that life lesson, Mr Geisel.

  6. These are not necessarily in order, I just wrote them as they came to mind. They are all important to me for unique reasons, so it is hard to rank them (Other than the first two… those will always be my top 2).

    1.) The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath- I have struggled with depression since I was around 12 years old and the descriptions that Plath uses in this book are some of the most profoundly accurate and gut-wrenching that I have ever encountered. This book made me realize that there were others out there that felt exactly the way I do and shared the same struggle.

    2.) She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb- When I read this book, I remember just being in awe of Mr. Lamb’s writing style in general. I absolutely love him as an author. The thing that stands out most to me, though, is his uncanny ability to force the reader to “put on the skin” of this characters. You feel everything that Dolores feels and although it breaks your heart, you find yourself wishing this book would never end. That being said, in my opinion that is the definition of a great novel.

    3.) Forever by Judy Blume- Yes, I fully realize that this is a young adult novel. Judy Blume was a huge influence in my life as a female coming-of-age, and as a writer. I think that what she does, she does brilliantly. She conveys the beauty and agony of first love in perfect pitch and I admire her ability to remember those youthful emotions and pen them with such poignant detail.

    4.) And I Don’t Want To Live This Life by Deborah Spungeon- This is a book that I randomly chose one day at the library simply because I love biographies and felt it would be an interesting read. I was more than pleasantly surprised when I could not put this book down. This is a biography written by the mother of Nancy Spungeon, who was murdered by her boyfriend Sid Viscious (The Sex Pistols). I have never had any particular interest in either of the two, however, this book is a must-read. This mother describing the downward spiral that she watched her daughter descend on is unbelieveable.

    5.) Go Ask Alice by Anonymous- I read this book when I was very young, probably 9 or 10, and I have re-read it numerous times since then. This book affected me in a way that few have. Maybe it was because I actually believed that it was a young girl’s diary at the time, or maybe it was because it made me realize how easy it was for your life to take a devasting turn because of a poor decision.

    6.) In Cold Blood by Truman Capote- Anyone who has ever read this knows why I chose it. Capote has a way with creating unique visual imagery with words. The novel itself was groundbreaking, as it was non-fiction. What I found even more fascinating was the way that writing it and researching these murders consumed him to the point that it eventually caused his death.

    7.) Ariel and Other Poems by Sylvia Plath- My first love is poetry, so naturally I had to include a poetry volume. Sylvia Plath takes poetry to an entirely different spectrum with her dark, confessional style. She is a literary genius, and if you connect with her poetry, it will consume you. The only other poet that even comes close to affecting me in this way is Anne Sexton. Her volume of poetry is also on my list of must-reads.

    8.) Final Truth: The Autobiography of a Serial Killer- I wrestled with reading this, because I honestly wasn’t sure that I wanted to get that deep inside such a twisted mind. However, my fascination with psychologyand true crime won out, so I read it. It is certainly not for everyone, and there were NUMEROUS times that I was not sure that I could even get through the book. If you have a weak stomach, or are easily shocked, this book is NOT for you. There are actually passages that made me physically ill, and I’ve read about almost every murderer out there. The problem is descerning whether the tales he spins are factual or a grasp at fame and publicity. I will say that from the interviews and research that I have read the murders he describes in the book are accurate with law enforcement findings. He claims to have killed hundreds (which were never linked to him) and it makes you question who in your life or on the street might be a sociopath.

    9.) A Million Little Pieces by James Frey- Yes, I know everyone is all up-in-arms because he lied and pissed off Oprah. I honestly don’t give two shits about any of that. If he embellished what happened to him, fine. He didn’t plagerize someone’s work.I honestly don’t get what the huge ordeal was about. Writers embellish to make a story better. It is what we do. No one wants to read a book that drones on about someone’s day at the office. No doubt, he should have went with the fiction genre, but otherwise…
    I enjoyed this book and couldn’t put it down. It was engaging and a great read.

    10.) The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman- While this is a short story, I felt that it deserved its place on the list. It kept coming to mind over and over and the reason is because it is such a great work of literature. A woman going through post-partum depression while her physician husband sends her into delerium with his “cure” of isolating her in a room “to rest”. The use of irony in this story is fantastic, and it shone a light on mental illness rather than keeping it stigmatized.

    Honorable Mention

    “Boogyman” by Stephan King (a short story)- This utterly terrified me when I read it. I would not walk down my hallway at night for years.

  7. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien – read this about once a year.
    The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis – Read all 7 books in Chronicles of Narnia every 2 years or so. So much packed into such a short book
    The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss – Best book I have read since Lord of the Rings.
    Ulysses, James Joyce – toughest book to read, want to read it again. Maybe will not take as long the next time around.
    Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac – 1st Kerouac I read thanks to my college roommate. another college friend and I quote it still over 20 years later.
    Paper Towns, John Green – related to main character who is a lot like me but he has balls to do things I only keep in my head and never actually do.
    Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury – For me, it is essential summer reading. memoir/scifi/fantasy(?) perhaps.

  8. I love lists. Thanks for letting me indulge.

    1.) Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut
    I read a lot a kid (Goosebumps, Animorphs), but stopped in my late teens. Slaughterhouse-Five brought me back into the world of reading, and especially “classics.” Now I read like it’s my life force. Sirens of Titan is actually my favorite of Vonnegut’s books, but Slaughterhouse had more of an impact to me.

    2.) A Song of Ice and Fire, George R.R. Martin
    So gritty, so realistic (as far as character personalities and motives). Martin really created a special world with this one. I’m not too into deep fantasy, and this series keeps the magical elements in check and almost never uses it as an out.

    3.) To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
    I realized one day that I didn’t read enough female authors, and I wanted to change that. I tried Jane Austen. It wasn’t for me. Then I picked up this book. Virginia Woolf has perhaps the most elegant prose ever. I love every word she writes. She’s also been my gateway to other female writers.

    4.) The Dark Tower Series, Stephen King
    This series has many ups and downs, but for all its faults, it has some of the most creative ideas ever put in a series. Great characters, great metafiction elements (some hated that, but not me), great overall plot.

    5.) Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett
    Nothing happens. And it’s still friggin’ fantastic. Had the wonderful experience of seeing it in NYC last year starring Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan. Made me love the book even more.

    Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski, The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, Sandman by Neil Gaiman, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.

  9. These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer — I was a child and I fell in love with her world. Elegance and wit.

    Wuthering Heights — I don’t know that I’ll ever stop thinking about it, the brilliance of the craft or the profound metaphysical questions it explores.

    Eclipse Bay by Jayne Ann Krentz — I was going thru a dark time and it was an impulse buy that reminded me that I used to love romance novels, and because it gave me both escape and hope when I really, really needed it.

    The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje — stunning, gorgeous language and profound mediations on the personal versus the political, the flow of history, the varieties of love and passion.

    The Gate of Angels by Penelope Fitzgerald — a miracle of compression: a little book that tackles love, class, science, faith — all in pristine prose and terrific subversive wit. This is the book I recommend passionately again and again.

    And, jeez, Possession by A.S. Byatt, A Tale of Two Cities, Young Men and Fire, The Things They Carried . . .

  10. Here’s Horror Buddha’s List of top ten faves:

    1. Dry- Augusten Burroughs

    2. The Road- Cormac McCarthy

    3. Desert Solitaire- Edward Abbey

    4. Drood- Dan Simmons

    5. Ghormenghast Trilogy- Mervyn Peake

    6. Something Wicked This Way Comes- Ray Bradbury

    7. Outliers- Malcom Gladwell

    8. Rush Limbaugh is a Big, Fat Idiot- Al Franken

    9. Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind- C.D.B Bryan

    10. Prey- Michael Chrichton

    No time to write why, just felt the stories grabbed from the start and never let go. In my opinion, these books were author-less. I went on a memorable ride and still think about these books. I’ll take bits and pieces of everybody’s, especially Chuck’s. I have always loved good horror and it sounds like there is a ton there. Thanks from all of us.

  11. 1. The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson

    2. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

    3. American Gods, Neil Gaiman

    4. Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk

    5. The Stand, Stephen King

    6. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. LeGuin

    7. The Stranger, Albert Camus

    8. Altered Carbon, Richard K. Morgan

    9. The Magic Meadow, Alexander Key

    10. The Terror, Dan Simmons

    • I see a wizard of earthsea praised many places but don’t get it myself. To me the book seemed very bland and without detail or character. What about that book did you think was so great? 🙂

  12. I did this a few months ago, so when I was tagged again recently on Facebook, I put a spin on it. !0 Books Which Stuck With Me In A Negative Way (to be fair, I enjoy many of the other works by these authors, just not these):

    1. Fear Nothing by Dean Koontz – flat characters, flat setting, flat prose
    2. Insomnia by Stephen King – loved the Dark Tower references, but that’s about it
    3. The Lurking Fear and Other Stories by H.P. Lovecraft – *Yawn*
    4. The Passage by Justin Cronin – too long by 200 pages
    5. The Twelve by Justin Cronin – see above, except by 300 pages
    6. American Gods by Neil Gaiman – as engaging as a Jerry Lewis telethon
    7. Running Blind by Lee Child – my suspension of disbelief has its limits
    8. Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis – does anything happen in the middle 100 pages?
    9. The Tale of the Body Thief by Anne Rice – does anything happen at all?
    10. World War Z by Max Brooks – sadly, I preferred the movie

  13. 1. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry because McMurtry’s prose is strong and challenging and because I cried when Gus died and I love stories that say something true about life. And I love westerns and horses and all of the funny metaphors McMurtry uses for sex and the penis.

    2. The Effective Father by Gordon McDonald because I grew up fatherless and was too young and ignorant to become a father in 1982. This book helped a lot.

    3. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger because Enger is a poet as well as a great story-teller. It is true ragged and beautiful and gave me hope.

    4. Light in the Forest by Conrad Richter because I read it as a seventh grader after my dad died. All these years later, I still find myself lost in its forest and wishing True Son would get his father back. It was the first book that invited me into another world and held me there.

    5. The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes because I am a chicken-shit and it helped me understand and use fear.

    6. The Pastor by Eugene H. Peterson because he explained so well who I am through telling his own story.

    7. The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard because he taught me that living for God can be more than about “sin management.”

    8. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis because they are brilliant, fun, imaginative, real, and his messages never sacrifice the story.

    9. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien because I too want to create a new world and I too am a small person in a big (sometimes) ugly world.

    10. Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle because Sherlock is one of the most interesting, realistic characters ever drawn in fiction. And because, since reading those stories for 30 minutes before going to bed every night in seminary, I have read something before going to bed (mostly fiction) every day since for the last 30 years.

  14. 1. Invisible Monsters, Chuck Palahniuk: “I’m an invisible monster, and I’m incapable loving anybody.”
    2. The Feast of the Goat, Vargas Llosa: The torture scenes will never leave me
    3. War and Peace, Tolstoy: I thought reading it would be a chore. I was wrong. It made me feel inadequate as a writer for weeks.
    4. The Old man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway: I really felt for Santiago. Poor guy.
    5. The Twelve Kingdoms, Skies of Dawn, Fuyumi Ono: Ruling a magical kingdom’s hard. The ending’s really awesome as well.
    6. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson: Despite some boring navel-gazing, most of the book’s full of frantic energy and sheer awesomeness.

    • 7. The Accursed Kings (series), Maurice Druon: I love history, and this period of France’s history makes for great novels. Read them all like in a week or so.
      8. The forgotten soldier, Guy Sajer: The Eastern Front from the German’s perspective. Really intense, particularly the author’s surrender at the end.
      9. Un dia en la vida, Manlio Argueta: I’m a Salvadorian, so reading about some of the crap that went on during the military dictatorship in my country really affected me.
      10. El Asco, Horacio Castellanos Moya: Another Salvadorian novel, written in the style of Thomas Bernhard, criticizing almost every aspect of Salvadorian society. It was written in 1997, and it still feels relevant today.

  15. 1. The World According to Garp by John Irving: That final line will always, always stay with me
    2. Blue Diary by Alice Hoffman: two faced monsters hiding in plain sight!
    3. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter: retellings so delicious — I wanted to devour them all
    4. Plainsong by Kent Haruf: short and lovely
    5. Bag of Bones by Stephen King: a ghost story on steroids!
    6. The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff: who hasn’t imagined a monster lurking at the bottom of a deep, dark lake?
    7. 1974 by David Peace: so hard to read, but so worth it
    8. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly: fantasy and fairy tales
    9. Kindred by Octavia Butler: historical fiction & time travel. Enough said
    10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: ALWAYS

  16. 1. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
    2. Wind From the Carolinas by Robert Wilder
    3. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
    4. Wuthering Heights by Bronte
    5. Bridges of Madison County
    6. Anne of Green Gables
    7. Rosie and Her Five Baby Buffalo
    8. Mother Goose Fairytales
    9. Gulliver’s Travels/Treasure Island/National Velvet/Tom Sawyer
    10.On Christmas Eve by Margaret Wise Brown

  17. 1. The Gift by Hafiz
    These poems by Hafiz have stayed with me because they are unpretentious and inspire hope.

    2. Sports Slump Busting by Alan S. Goldberg
    Offers eye-opening insights into the effect our minds have over athletic performance.

    3. Poems by Emily Dickinson, Series One
    Like gazing at the Sistine Chapel or a natural wonder.

    4. The Only Answer to Cancer by Dr. Leonard Coldwell
    A brave and important work which gives a new way of looking at healing disease.

    5. Over the Anvil We Stretch by Anis Mojgani
    Poems born of the heart by someone I believe is one of the greatest poets of our time. Anis enters his poems effortlessly and from an unexpected and tender place.

  18. To this day, THE STAND by Stephen King is still my favorite book. I read it when I was 13 and re-read it in college (I rarely re-read books.) Other than that, I can’t narrow my books down to my favorite ten. Maybe someday I’ll try.

  19. I loved doing this, and I love reading all of these lists. I see a load of books I’ve never read that I must find!

    Here’s my list (in no special order):

    1. Little House on the Prairie – the whole series. I read and re-read it.
    2. Harry Potter – the whole thing. I will never stop re-reading this!
    3. The Lord of the Rings – another series I’ve read over & over
    4. James Herriot – everything he wrote.
    5. The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail – fascinating, very thought-provoking
    6. On the Beach, by Neville Shute. I had an unusual English teacher one year with a thing for the end of the world, and we spent a full semester reading about the apocalypse. This one stuck with me.
    7. Stephen King – It, The Shining, and The Stand. 3 books that have stayed with me forever, but I can’t let him take up 3 spaces on this list!
    8. World War Z – just fantastic.
    9. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – I found this when I was young. Laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe.
    10. The Handmaid’s Tale – forced to read it in school, ended up loving it forever.

  20. 1 – The Iliad and The Odyssey (Homer, Robert Fitzgerald translations)…I read a elementary school book on Greek myths in 5th grade. Feeling like I wasn’t getting the whole story I got my hands on a copy of Robert Fitzgerald’s translations of these two classics and read, wide-eyed and wonder struck. I discovered that the past was vibrant and it lead me to a life-long love of classic Greek literature and study.

    2 – Pride & Prejudice (Jane Austen)…Having read all the Greek greats and feeling adrift without new classical lit to lose myself in my high school chemistry teacher handed me her copy of Pride & Prejudice after class one day. I’ve re-read the book nearly every year since. Some complain about Austen’s singular focus on marriage as the final end game, but the magic she wove in character dialogue along the way makes the shortcomings seem worth it. Just as with Homer, Austen brought a sense of timelessness to human interaction and foibles.

    3 – The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien)…Gorgeous, deep, richly compelling and resonant. Tolkien did storytelling in the high old style and yet his characters touch us all. He took the fantastic and built it a world. Elves and orcs, giant eagles and wizards all play their part in the timeless battle of good versus evil. He made fantasy writing a fine art and reveled in its creation. Lucky for us we can revel in it still.

    4 – The Memoirs of Cleopatra (Margaret George)…This book showed me that historical fiction was more than just Regency romances (not that those are bad things) and man did it ever. I went on a historical fiction binge after reading it and still love the genre.

    5 – The Dresden Files (Jim Butcher)…This was one of those genre epiphanies for so-called urban fantasy much the same way Cleopatra was for historical fiction. A working wizard listed in the yellow pages in modern day Chicago? Hell yes, and dinosaurs too. The strength of the series for me has always been the compelling characters. The paranormal setting just keeps those great characters in a constant state of upheaval and isn’t it grand?

    6 – The Harry Potter series (J.K. Rowling)…I was adamantly against reading these books when they came out. I scoffed at them as kids stuff, but I just heard too many good things and saw too many otherwise pretty staid friends fangirling/fanboying to deny it any longer. I started up just before the last two books and have kicked myself continually since then. Say what you want about this series, but it brought magic to so many peoples lives, mine included.

  21. Some books that have stuck with me.
    The Dune series By Frank Herbert I started reading the first book when I was 12. It was being made into a movie and had Sting in it. I enjoyed sci-fi and fantasy at the time and Sting’s music so it was on my must see list. When I realized it was based on a book I grabbed it and started reading it . I recall putting it down because it was too heady for me at that age. I picked it back up after I saw the movie in 1985. When I finished it I went to the next book. I tried to finish Dune Messiah, but wouldn’t until sometime in the early 90’s. Being older, I reread the original, and then didn’t stop until I was done with all 6 books. They had everything. God Emperor of Dune floored me when I read it.

    The Thomas Covenant books (both series) by Stephen R. Donaldson I read these as a teenager. I grew up in a small southern town where I didn’t fit in. These books spoke to me in a way nothing else did in those formative years. I was a weird outcast, and other than the illness and the rape I’ve never identified with a main character more.

    In the mid 90’s I had a job in a Waterstones Bookstore in an airport. This was when I re-learned about reading books other than sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. Here are a few that opened my eyes to the wonderful world of stories beyond genre fiction. and have stuck with me.

    The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

    Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto Love and Death and Food and Beauty. The included novella Moonlight Shadow is, to me, one of the most moving and beautiful stories about love and loss.

    One Hundred Years of Solitude Foreign and beautiful. A cast of unforgettable and characters. Love and loss and insanity. The passage and cyclical nature of time.

    The Handmaid’s Tale I saw the movie and had to read this book. It gave me a love of dystopian tales. A terrifying glimpse into a potential future.

    Snowcrash by Neal Stephenson My first audiobook. I owe my love of audiobooks to this book and Audible. I’ve never read this book. Quite a number of books I have read and listened too. This one, I will never read. The narrator, Jonathon Davis, does such a fantastic job of painting this world with his voice I can’t bring myself to actually read the book.

    The Chronicles of Corum by Michael Moorcock. I own these in paperback because they aren’t available in ebook format. Law versus Chaos. A face of the Eternal Champion.

    There are many more. I remember reading the sonnets of Shakespeare and Spenser (Spenser’s are better). The Faerie Queene by Spenser. Tolkien’s LoTR became an obsession, not only did i read everything he published, I read books about LoTR. In the 80’s as a teen i was the LoTR version of the Harry Potter fan. Horror became an obsession as well – i read King and Koontz. Swan Song by Robert McCammon was so good, decades later i hunted it down to read it again. Stranger in a Strange Land by Heinlein.

  22. I see the olysses a lot of places but doubt it’s a book I’d be able to get through.

    1. The Yaxhiri Series. A Danish series that has never been translated. I went out of my way to get the last seven books that were out of print and bought them directly from the author. This series truly sparked my creativity and showed me that fantasy could be other than dragons.

    2. A much later occurrence: The Kingkiller Chronicle, which is not yet finished. It reawakened my love for books.

    3. The Liveship Series. Another major fantasy series that took twists and turns and wasn’t afraid to get dirty. The development of certain characters was exactly what I had needed to read for a long time.

    4. Pride and Prejudice. Because it is so much more than a love story. It’s about siblinghood and cynicism, about being young and stupid and about doing irredeemable things.

    5. The Vampire Lestat. Because it takes an interesting look at immortality and, through that, the benefits of mortality.

    6. The Old man and the Sea. Because that melancholy at the end of the book made me want to cry and still touches me now and then.

    7. The Hollow Kingdom. Because we all have a guilty pleasure and for once the monster in this romance was an actual, horrific monster.

    8. The Sandman. Whilst a graphic novel I have to say that story still stirs something in me.

    9. Wild Swans. A biography of three women’s lives in China. Wonderful and stirring. It killed a lot of stereotypes and prejudices for me and showed me some horrific details I could never have imagined on my own.

    • When you say The Kingkiller Chronicle are you talking about The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear and the one Patrick Rothfuss has until October 2015 to finish or else? Those are great books! So great I wish he would spend less time going to all these conventions and finish the series. But, who am I but a fan who will probably forget about the series by the time it is finished.

      • The exact one.
        I agree that he should focus on finishing his work but I also know what a humongous work it is to edit such a story and I respect him for trying to make it the best he can. He’s not a very efficient man, that is true.
        A writer must have a life, though, in order to write truly of life and so i think it’s fine he goes to conventions 😉

        • I agree about writers needing to live a life. Hard to believe he started the fans going 7 years ago with the publication of The Name of the Wind. He has some great ideas; sympathy his name for magic, sygaldry to use ruins to make chest freezers, cell phones, etc…
          On the flip side, at his blog, he is living quite the extravagant life. Sometimes 3 conventions a week. A lot of energy use there. Sometimes it seems, maybe it is just me, some writers end up getting fame (meaning having fans) and then shit on us who lifted them up. Guess we deserve it for being beneath them.
          Oh well. Anticipating The Door of Stone regardless, just hope it happens in my lifetime.

  23. 1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak : This book is my all time favorite. It’s about a young orphan girl growing up in Nazi Germany. The characters are amazing and the author writes so beautifully. I love his style and I can’t count how many times I laughed and cried during the reading. This book is VERY quotable and the movie is pretty good too. I absolutely nerd over the fact that DEATH IS THE NARRATOR.

    2. A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini : This story creeped me out to no end and the fact that my tenth grade teacher made us read it didn’t help. I love the feminism in this book and there’s such a huge culture shock because it’s based in the Middle East (can’t remember exactly which country, but I know they’re Muslim). Reading this will make you hate society and pity these fictional women.

    3. Speak – Laurie Halse Anderson : This book is so brutally honest that I just kept poor Melinda’s story with me since I first read the book. It’s such a haunting story and the narrator is so lovable and downright true to the core. I love how she can say so much about high-school and friendship and life without saying much at all.

    4. The Narnia Series – C.S. Lewis : Do I even need to say why? C.S. Lewis is just such a beautiful writer and his Narnia series really clicked with me as a kid. His stories always made my heart thump and my imagination race. I always wanted to be Lucy for some reason and I always just hated Edmund and thought he needed to just go back home and never go back to Narnia. Ever.

    5. The Thin Executioner – Darren Shan : This story was so eerie and I loved how the author created so many different cultures living in one world. He really nails how people think and he does it such a raw and creative way.

    6. I Am The Messenger – Markus Zusak : I love the main character because he’s such a loser, but he’s so easy to relate to because we’re all losers in our own way. I really enjoy how much he changes as a person throughout the book and how he learns how to stand up for himself and others. Such a twisted plot, I really do advise anyone to read the book because I know it’s so easy to love. Big plot twist at the end that rattled me so much that I had to put the book down and make sure that I hadn’t lost my mind or something.

    7. Ella Enchanted – Gail Carson Levine : I read this book when I was in sixth grade and just couldn’t stop reading. I’m such a sucker for fairy-tales and the author is amazing at twisted the classic fairy-tales in such a simple and subtle way. Imagine a Cinderella-esc tomboy with a rebellious streak. Mix in magical creatures and a smidge of teen-angst and there you have it. The book is so much better than the movie. Sorry, Anne Hathaway.

  24. 1. Stand By Me Stephen King. The book that made me want to be a writer. Although some years got away from me since then, this is the book that set me on the course.

    2. Mine Robert McCammon. I read this while I was pregnant. NOT a good idea, lol. It taught me SO much about the lengths one would go to to protect their children. Something that stuck with me years later when I went through my own dark trials.

    3. The Stand Stephen King. Made me LOVE dystopians.

    4. LOTR J.R.R. Tolkien. Everything about it.

    5. Comes the Blind Fury John Saul. The first horror book I read. I still get goosebumps.

  25. My top 5 are the following:

    Your Blues Aint Like Mine by Bebe Moore Campbell: I love this book and this title resonates everyday with me. As I listen to other people troubles and as they hear mine. We all have the blues but it’s not the same. This book is following two women. One white and one black in the Deep South during Segregation up until the 80’s era that include Oprah and bringing the races together. You see the troubles they both face and overcome but both suffered through some pain but just like the title states your blues aint like mine. Great read.

    No Greater Love – Danielle Steel. One of my favorites. A true love story. Starts with a family on the Titanic. The daughter is to marry a well to do gentleman and we all know what happens on the Titanic but the book is not about the Titanic. The daughter loses her mom and dad and her fiancé and left to take care of her siblings and just when you thought she would end up an old maid she meets her prince charming but not without obstacles of being a surrogate parent and just living life in general. They made into a movie with Melissa Gilbert as the lead but the movie was not great. Film did not do the book justice.

    The Coldest Winter – Sister Souljah. Great Read. Coming of age book for young teens. Caution you about the street life and how vicious it can be if you are not smart enough or prepared to handle the good, the bad, and the ugly.

    Harry Potter the Deathly Hallows- J.K. Rowling. Yes I am grown woman that loved Harry Potter and this last book of the series I could not put down it was a page turner. Harry once again facing the challenge and accepting his fate that he may die to save the world from evil. Losing people that are close to him all for the cause of saving good versus evil.

    Invisible Life – E. Lynn Harris – This book takes you into the world of gay Black men and their life style. You see the struggle they face with their identity and before you had a gay Black male come out recently with Mr. Sam there were and are Black gay men on football teams so people stop making it an issue. This book has all of this and more in it. Even the down low men. Great read.

  26. 1) His Dark Materials Series by Philip Pullman

    What can I say? Pullman has a wonderful writing style and when I read this series for the first time when I was 12, it completely enraptured me. I reread it every so often, and every time it gives me something new to think about. I just adore Lyra’s character – she’s still one of the toughest female characters I’ve come across.

    2) The Monstrumologist Series by Rick Yancey

    When I read this series for the first time, I just… it destroyed me, in the best way. I couldn’t read another book for over a month. The prose is so beautiful that at points, I had to put the books down and cry. This series managed to beat out His Dark Materials as my favourite, and that is something I thought would never happen.

    3) Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

    It’s a classic, man, and for good reason.

    4) The Books of Pellinor by Alison Croggon

    Favourite series numero trio. The amount of detail that went into these books is akin to Tolkien, and it’s a world I’d sooner inhabit. There are giant monsters, frightening immortals, and love. Everything is saturated with love.

    5) East of Eden, by John Steinbeck

    There’s a sort of magical quality to Steinbeck’s writing, in that he makes scenery and characters so real, that you feel as if you’re the one in an imaginary world. In this novel, more than any other by Steinbeck, I felt a deep compassion for the characters – even the villains.

    6) And Then There Were None

    This is the first book that ever truly scared me. The first time I read it, alone, in a mostly darkened house, I went through ninja acts to try to turn all the lights on. With an ending as unexpected as this one, there was really very little way to know what was coming and who was orchestrating the whole thing. That sense of suspense still makes me squirm even though now I know how it all turns out.

  27. I wrote about this on my blog (, but I’ll put it in here, too:

    1. Where The Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls – A huge formative book for me as a kid. An adventure story of the finest order about a boy and his two favorite dogs. Growing up around dogs made this book super poignant for me.

    2. Rising Sun by Michael Crichton – I read every single Crichton book in high school. This was the first one that wasn’t really a high-concept sci-fi story, instead it was a tense murder mystery set amongst the clash of American and Japanese cultures. It was basically my introduction to thrillers that didn’t involve dinosaurs or magic.

    3. On A Pale Horse by Piers Anthony – One of two Piers Anthony entries on this list, neither of which involves Xanth. On A Pale Horse was the first sci-fi/fantasy blend I’d ever read, and it’s still one of the best. If you’re wondering why I don’t list the entirety of the Incarnations of Immortality series, it’s because I think On A Pale Horse stands well above the rest.

    4. Neuromancer by William Gibson – I came to this book way late in life, only having read it a couple of years ago. And holy shit. It’s a book that dumps you in the deep end from the get go and explains exactly nothing to you. “Here’s an extremely complex world,” Gibson tells his readers. “Go figure it out.”

    5. The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness – Here’s a series that stuck with me, but not in a good way. The world-building in the The Knife of Never Letting Go was some of the best and most unique I’d ever seen… then all the goodwill built by the first book is just shat away by the sequels. The third book in this trilogy has actually made me wary of all trilogies (well, that and Mockingjay).

    6. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss – I was in the middle of writing my own book when I read this. It simultaneously inspired me to break out of a tough slog in the middle of my novel, and scared the shit out of me. Rothfuss’s prose is the kind of writing I aspire to, and I’m nowhere near there yet.

    7. The Long Price Quartet by Daniel Abraham – One of the most unique fantasy worlds I’ve ever read. The concept of magician poets manifesting physical incarnations of ideas as powerful beings, then trying to reign those beings in for the sake of commerce, is just wildly fascinating to me.

    8. Bio of a Space Tyrant by Piers Anthony – Holy shit, this series. Hard sci-fi with a hyper-realistic bent, following the main character from child refugee to ruler of the known galaxy. One of the most brutal, intense opening books I’ve ever read. Who’d’a thunk the guy that writes punny fantasy would’ve been capable of this?

    9. The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway – An intensely imaginative world and a fantastic, funny story set within it. I’m not sure I have the words to describe it, so just go read it.

    10. The Belgariad by David Eddings – This was the fantasy series that birthed my love of fantasy. I’d read Tolkien prior, and it was fine, but it didn’t hook me. The Belgariad launched me into a love of fantasy that has, ultimately, led me to writing my own. You can try to debate the quality of Eddings’ prose and story all you want, but The Belgariad had a singular formative impact on my life, and is thus pretty much unassailable to me.

  28. Interesting list. Here are some books that stuck with me, no particular order.

    1. DRACULA, by Bram Stoker. A darker, more monstrous yet at the same time human embodiment of evil I’ve never read. Still read it on an almost yearly basis.

    2. HARRY POTTER, by J.K. Rowling. I grew up on these. I doubt I’d be the voracious reader I am today if it weren’t for her. No regrets.

    3. THE ART OF WAR, by Sun Tzu. All those scenes in modern media where business execs will make it sound like the Business Tactics Bible or something is utter shit in my books, but there’s no denying you can learn a lot from it.

    4. INFERNO, by Dante. A darker, horrific, fantastical, cynical journey I’ve never read to date. Don’t particularly care about the rest of The Divine Comedy, but Inferno by itself is something special.

    5. A GAME OF THRONES, by GRRM. My first adult fantasy, and I haven’t stopped reading fantasy since I first picked it up.

    6. THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, by H.G. Wells. Just a plain ol’ fun book. I can’t recall seeing anything or reading anything sci fi since that had the same sort of visceral impact that that did.

    7. THE COMPLETE FICTION, by H.P. Lovecraft. It’s horror and fantasy and weird shit all mixed into one, with one of the strangest, coolest writing styles ever. I’ve read 400 of 1100 pages over the last 2 years and that’s a book I’m just going to start over as soon as I finish it.

    8. EMPEROR: THE GATES OF ROME, by Conn Iggulden. My first taste of historical fiction, and one of the coolest books I’ve ever read. Conn Iggulden is apparently very liberal with his facts, but his characters are unparalleled.

    9. THE WAY OF KINGS, by Brandon Sanderson. That book is an emphatic statement that epic fantasy can be more than Tolkein, and every bit as breathtaking.

    10. AMERICAN GODS, by Neil Gaiman. That book can be seen as an allegory for so many things it’s incredible. My first Neil Gaiman, and definitely wasn’t my last.

  29. Wow, so many great books on these lists. Here’s my 10, with brief explanations (I fleshed it out a little more on my blog

    The Power of One, by Bryce Courtnay – it brings you down, then brings you right back up again; made me want to see the world.

    The Wasp Factory, by Iain Banks – I don’t love this book, but it sticks in my brain like gum on my shoe.

    Slapstick, by Kurt Vonnegut – so weird and wonderful

    In the Woods, by Tana French – gorgeous prose, haunting story… and commercial too! She’s the writer I wish I could be when I grow up.

    IT, by Stephen King – not my fav King book, but a good one that just got right under my skin with that feel of wistful nostalgia for childhood and pure horror

    Self, by Yann Martel – gorgeous, sad, and so so original

    The Sparrow, by Marie Doria Russell – incredible thought provoking literary sci-fi

    The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck – I remember setting this book down and having to just sit for a while and come to terms with it.

    Say You’re One of Them, by Uwem Akpan – my latest discovery, a voice I crave more from, with stories the world really needs to hear

    Maus, by Art Speigelman – have you read it? How can this not burn its images and words onto your soul?

    Loved reading everyone else’s lists… it made me think of several ‘bonus tracks’…

  30. I feel like this blog post could have several different categories: “Books that stayed with me (which I will respond to) but also “Books that Have made me a Better Person” and “Books that Made Me Think” as well.

    “Books that Stayed with Me” in no particular order include:

    “Lolita,” by Vladamir Nabokov
    This book is artfully written, which is why the conflicting emotions that arise in reading the narrative is so compelling. Gorgeous writing about what can only be described as a pedophiles obsessions over an underage girl. I was compelled to read on because the story is interesting, the writing is beautiful while also feeling a bit “icky” for reading it.

    “Don’t Get Too Comfortable,” David Rakoff
    I could include Rakoff’s other two essay books: “Fraud” and “Half Empty” to this list as well but just chose to include this one, I think the best of his three. His sarcastic, dry writing, always made me feel a sense of connection to the author. In fact, when he died in August of 2012 from cancer, I had to sit down when I heard he had passed away. Selfishly, I was sad because I knew would not be reading any more new publications of his intelligent, often dark writing, but also because through his writing, I liked him. I felt as though I had lost a friend.

    “A Modest Proposal,” Jonathan Swift
    I read this in high school and although written in satire, I remember thinking this was for the time, such a brave piece of writing. In college, I had a friend who loved the book Soylent Green and “A Modest Proposal” came to mind again, thinking – Soylent Green (Richard Fleischer) got his idea from reading Swift’s essay.

    “The King James Bible,” Authors largely unknown
    Okay so before you go rolling your eyes at this citation, hear me out. I am an atheist, so I didn’t list this book because of some religious motivation. I include it here, because there has never been a book more inaccurately referenced or simply cited as a rubric for “moral” (not necessarily ethical) behavior than the Bible. Additionally, it is the inspiration for so many other pieces of writing, that failing to ever read the Bible makes you lost in much of the history of literature, contemporary or historical. In fact, one of my favorite authors Christopher Moore, wrote a book called, “Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Best Pal,” which I loved, actually it made me roar with laughter throughout the story. So I recommended it to one of my friends who likes the same kind of humorist books as I but since he had never read the Bible, nor had he had any kind of early exposure to Christianity, he didn’t like it. Not because the writing wasn’t good, but because he didn’t know any of the Biblical references. Thus, knowing the Bible, also allows you to enjoy so much other literature.

    “Atlas Shrugged,” Ayn (pronounced, Ein) Rand
    I confess, I did not actually “read” this book. I listened to it on Audible when Audible first made its appearance and I became a subscriber of the software and the service. I have long commutes to and from work, I use Audible so I can “read” books that I would otherwise never undertake because of the content, topic or the size of the book. This is case in point, “Atlas Shrugged” is easily big enough to serve as foundational brick for a house. I enjoyed listening to the book, but I can’t say I would have probably liked it as a read. The reason though that I list it here, is because Paul Ryan constantly referenced it when he was running with Mitt Romney in the last election. So this book became memorable not necessarily because I thought it was so good, but because conservative politicians seems to dig it…for whatever reason.

    “On the Road,” Jack Kerouac
    This book is memorable only because I hated it and had to force myself to read the winding, uninteresting stream of consciousness that is the Kerouac style. Once I start a book, I have to finish it. I read this book again because it was referenced so much in popular culture, then while I was reading it I kept hoping it would resonate…it did but not in a good way. More like, “please God let just get to the end.”

    “Dry,” Augusten Burroughs
    I love essayists, David Sedaris, David Rakoff, David Foster Wallace (though not his fiction), Maarten J. Troost, etc. This book made me feel better about my own drinking habits.

    “Sex Lives of Cannibals,” Maarten J. Troost
    This book is hilarious and it made me appreciate travel writing.

    “Assassination Vacation,” Sarah Vowell
    If only Sarah taught history and if only, when I took history classes in college, she taught the classes. Enough said.

    “Dracula,” Bram Stoker
    This is a great story and is the foundation for the myth of Vlad the Impaler. Without Bram Stoker, there would be no sparkly, adolescent, Mormon-porn vampires…hmmm, perhaps that’s not really a good thing.

    I could go on here, but that is my first ten. The ones that spring immediately to mind as I write this.

    Thanks Chuck for the distraction from my real job. This was fun.

    • Heideisland,
      Thank God somebody mentioned Dry. Laughed myself sick while bleeding out. Also forgot to mention my love of Bill Bryson.

  31. Ok then. A bit fish out of water here but mine, in no particular order are…

    THE MAGICIAN’S NEPHEW. My parents read all the Narnia books to me and my brother as kids. I thought all books were like that. I didn’t realise there was a special pariah genre for them all.

    FAIR STOOD THE WIND FOR FRANCE H E Bates. H E Bates can describe a summers day and just put you right there. This is just a wonderfully uplifting story and I loved it.

    THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST Frederick Mayerat. Another fantastic book which my parents read to me as a kid. It has people with big hats and swords in it. What more could you want?

    A GENTLEMAN OF FRANCE, Stanley Weyman. More hats and swords, in France this time.

    THE THREE MUSKETEERS Alexander Dumas. Cracking historical novel. More Swords and big hats, with the odd heaving bosom thrown in for good measure.

    THE ASTERIX BOOKS by Goschinny and Uderzo. Yes. All of them. I first read them when I was about five. After that, each year I grew I got more of the jokes. Multi-layered masterful humour. And silly names.

    THE HITCH HIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY Douglas Adams. Because that’s how you do brainy comedy.

    GREEN EGGS AND HAM Dr Seuss. The world of Dr Seuss – particularly Tweetle beetles from Fox in Sox has me completely hooked. That’s where my own fantasy world building started. With the weirder offerings of Dr Deuss. But I like green eggs and ham best.

    WYRD SISTERS and THE NIGHT WATCH by Terry Pratchett. Because Terry writes the most fantastic stuff and I love it.

    ABOUT A BOY Nick Hornby. Poignant, intelligent and laugh out loud funny.

    A SPOT OF BOTHER, Mark Haddon. Ditto.

    WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, Bill Bryson. Bryson makes a history funny. It’s densely written. You can’t read too much at a time because it’s the literary equivalent of an enormous cream cake. Little and often is the way to read this. But it is absolutely fab. Actually, anything Bryson writes is a scream.

    Sorry, no horror and no big American literary heavyweights. But some European of ones if you want to check them out.



  32. Hrm…

    1. NEVER MIND NIRVANA by Mark Lindquist. An honest look at what it’s like to realize you’re not longer a child.

    2. ETHAN FROME by Edith Wharton. The book that made me realize to never settle for less than I deserve.

    3. THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Dark. Deep. Good versus Light. A dark existential piece about the sins of the fathers. Great American Gothic horror.

    4. INVISIBLE MONSTERS by Chuck Palahniuk. Uniquely written. “Because beauty is power the way money power the way a gun is power.”

    5. ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell. So simple yet so powerful.

    6. THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER by Stephen Chbosky. Had me crying in an LA airport like a little frilly school girl who just realized she’ll never be the pretty one.

    7. THE CONTORTIONISTS HANDBOOK by Craig Clevenger. Every sentence is honest. The characters flawed, and the story tight as a frog’s ass.

    8. CARRIE by Stephen King. First book I picked up by him. I was speechless.

    9. COMPANY by Max Barry. One of the funniest books I’ve ever read. Had me laughing out loud in the middle of waiting rooms.

    10. GOD IS DEAD by Ron Currie Jr. God takes human form to help in Africa…and then dies. The world is thrown into chaos and hilarity ensues.

    These are in no particular order, of course. But all have modeled how I want to tell stories. Some have shaped the way I write.

  33. All of the stories about Fafhrd and The Grey Mouser by Fritz Leiber
    The Repairman Jack series by F. Paul Wilson right up to the updated Nightworld (Can’t believe I didn’t see any other F. Paul Wilson fans here. Alright, maybe there are just not in top tens).
    The Edge Series, this is magical beyond belief and so well wrote. More of a young adult series, but I can’t get over the way magic is used in this series. Also love how it was broke up into 3 different time frames using 3 trilogies, and then a book 10 to tie it all together! Amazing series.
    The Stand by Stephen King
    Heart Shaped Box, NAS4A2, and 21st Century Ghost (and anthology) by Joe Hill (Stephen King’s son)
    Anything by H.P. Lovecraft. Here is where atmosphere becomes atmosFEAR. And there puts my top ten into the top 100’s…

  34. Books don’t stick with me because I simply read too many of them. However, Stephen King is my favorite author, and the eight books of “The Dark Tower” series and “The Stand” are my favorites.

  35. I loved Beloved when I read it, and Brite is one of my favorite authors. In fact, Lost Souls tops my list of books that have stayed with me:

    1) Lost Souls – This was my first exposure to a gritty, real world supernatural horror novel. I read it in high school on the recommendation of a friend. There’s something about the tragic, self destructive beauty of the vampires, Ghost’s ethereal charm, Steve’s rage and Christian’s death that sings to me every time I read it. Love that book.

    2) My Side of the Mountain (Jean Craighead George) – I read this book many times growing up, and loved the freedom and adventure in it. There might have been a time when the only thing keeping me from running off and making a home in a tree in the forest was the absence of forests close enough to me to do it.

    3) Swordspoint (Ellen Kushner) – The characters in this book are amazing, as well as their relationships and the world dynamics. Alec might be my favorite, moody protagonist.

    4) Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) – I may have had a bit of an obsession with romance novels growing up. I eventually lost interest in them, but when I read Jane Eyre in adulthood, I was given such a throwback to those days that I think it was pretty much impossible for me to have not loved this book.

    5) Flowers in the Attic (V.C. Andrews) – This book marked my transition into adult literature, probably before I was ready for it. Most of the themes went right over my middle school head, but nonetheless, it’s stuck with me all these years.

    6) The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas) – Betrayal! Adventure! Revenge! Er… not so much on the revenge? Ok… Sort of Revenge! Mwuahaha!

    7) Dragonlance (various) – My first fantasy indeed. These were the books that started me writing, and rocketed my imagination to places it had never been before. It was with these books that I also started my book hoard– I mean, building my sophisticated library. Yes.

    8) Nancy Drew (various) – Nancy Drew is responsible for all my night owl tendencies, and also the reason why I became very skilled at reading by moonlight.

    9) The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars (Steven Brust) – A very beautifully written look into the soul of an artist, any artist, all artists, maybe. I read this book and said again and again, “Yes! It’s true. It’s all true!”

    10) Wizard of the Grove (Tanya Huff) – This book has been secretly influencing me for a long time. It doesn’t always show up on my list of favorite books (Especially when I have to make neat little lists of five or ten) but something about the imagery, the conflicts, and the tenderness of the relationships has kept it with me.

  36. 1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
    2. The Histories by Herodotus
    3. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
    4. Collected Tales, Sketches, Speeches & Essays by Mark Twain
    5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
    6. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
    7. The Stand by Stephen King
    8. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
    9. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
    10. The Complete Tales of Edgar Allen Poe

    • Great works,All! I especially remember the comments from people in the book club regarding the main character’s name in Robert McCammon’s novel (and)
      “Mine”(play on words). Mary Terrell

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