Recently, a meme went around facebook asking people to quickly list ten books that have stayed with them over time. My first thought was, only ten books? How could I possibly do that. Many hundreds of books have stayed with me. However, the guidelines also said not to give it a lot of thought so I just jotted down ten. But, as I usually do when it comes to books, I wanted more, and I wanted to say why certain books have stayed with me. On my blog then, I decided to give an expanded version of my list. And I pushed it to twelve. It might take me a couple of blog posts to get through this, but here, in no particular order, are some of those books.
1. A Princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs. This is perhaps the purest “story” I’ve ever read. ERB didn’t waste time justifying things or explaining ‘how’ things happened. He pitched you headlong into adventure and let you sink or swim. I learned to swim, and to this day I find this kind of sword and planet adventure to be my most enjoyable reading experience. Not to mention that this book is a primary influence on much of my writing, particularly the Talera series.
2. To Tame a Land, by Louis L’Amour. Another pure story. This time a western. A youth and his father are crossing the plains with a wagon train when their wagon breaks down. The rest of the train rolls on past, leaving them behind. From this premise, a series of adventures take our youthful character into adulthood. All the boring parts are left out. Ryan Tyler, the character from this book, is my favorite fictional gunfighter.
3. The Sowers of the Thunder, by Robert E. Howard. This is a collection of four short stories by REH, “The Lion of Tiberias,” “The Sowers of the Thunder,” “Lord of Samarcand,” and “The Shadow of the Vulture,” all set against the backdrop of the crusades. I love a good story but I also love good writing. This collection has some simply beautiful poetic writing that ignites my imagination every time I pick it up. In addition, I’m also a fan of archetypal characters and Howard’s crusader tales are the perfect trifecta, from Red Sonya to John Norwald, these characters are bigger than life and cannot be forgotten.
4. Teot’s War, by Heather Gladney. Gladney’s tale is also a fine story, but the writing here is simply exquisite. I often pick this book up just to read her prose. Few stories have so put me “into” a world as this one.