I wanted to write about some of my favourite books, and start the post with the idea that by knowing what someone loves, you learn something about them as a person… and then Verena stole my idea. And it’s hard to do something about it when you’re part of the same symbiosis. But I can grumble. Ha!
Obviously, anyone who takes top tens or similar lists seriously has some pretty severe flaws in his or her thinking. (Harold Bloom and his Western Canon would be a good example) But if they’re not taken too seriously they make for an excellent intellectual exercise, a way of recalling and comparing things you read or saw that can lead to interesting thoughts and discussions. And it’s fun. Just don’t think that it’s even remotely possible to achieve some sort of accuracy or deeper truth.
So, here’s a list of ten books that have deeply affected me and my writing. I’ve not counted nonfiction, because that would make the list impossible, but I did count a book of Blake’s that’s not really a novel and still belongs on this list. This is my list, so I can cheat.
- The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, J. R. R. Tolkien
- The Dark Tower, Stephen King
- The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, William Blake
- The Gap Series, Stephen Donaldson
- Star Maker, Olaf Stapledon
- Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling
- Duma Key, Stephen King
- I See By My Outfit, Peter S. Beagle
- The Riddle-Master’s Game, Patricia McKillip
- Belgarath the Sorcerer, David and Leigh Eddings
Of course this list is ridiculous. It’s missing The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson, It by Stephen King, The Liar by Stephen Fry, (what is it with all the Stephens?), The Beach by Alex Garland, the novels of Isaac Asimov, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip, The Innkeeper’s Song and The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, Childhood’s End and Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke, various books by Paul Auster, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon, To Kivotio (The Box) by Aris Alexandrou and a whole lot more. Perhaps I should make a longer list one of these days.
It’s all absolutely worth reading, though.