Tuesday, July 28, 2009

15 books

As a writer--and especially a reader--I love the written word, so without any further explanation here is a fun exercise.

The rules: This can be a quick one. Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you've read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. Email 15 friends, including me because I'm interested in seeing what books my friends choose. Only 15...

1. When Worlds Collide by Edwin Balmer and Philip Wylie (this book and its sequel are the ultimate doomsday novels showing mankind at its best... and worst... I love the fact that the writers had the balls to do exactly what most authors would never dare to do... end it all. While the book was written in 1932, it still strikes me as an incredibly emotional read. For years, I have been trying to write a prequel... Let me tell you now, writing a novel is really HARD!!!)

2. After Worlds Collide by Edwin Balmer and Philip Wylie (I first read this book and its first installment when I was in the 4th grade.... I've revisited these two books more times than I can count, even as recent as when I was stationed overseas. I highly recommend them both!)

3. Maurice by E.M. Forster (one of my all time favorite love stories written in 1913-14... The author considered this book so controversial that he refused to allow it to be published while he was alive. He left instructions that it could be published a year after his death, which was in 1970, and the book was released the following year. Oddly enough, the 1987 movie based upon it is remarkably faithful, which almost never happens).

4. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (yeah, yeah Charles Dickens is long-winded. But then the book's roots was a newspaper serial where the author was paid by the word--you do the math! At 39 chapters, this book captured me from page one).

5. Silas Marner by George Eliot (this too, was my mother's favorite novel as a child). I've not read it in years. It is one of the most moving books I've ever read. Most modern readers probably know this, but George Eliot was a woman... but Victorian English society in that time frowned upon female writers... interestingly enough, Charles Dickens once commented he thought the "male" author was a woman... Maybe I should revisit the book?).

6. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle (another book that launched my interest in science fiction... I discovered this book about the same time as #1 and 2 on this list. This highly regarded, esoteric award-winning novel is well worth the read! Like many other books on my list, this popular book launched a series).

7. Trapped in Space by Jack Williamson (books I read in childhood really had a profound affect on my life.. I have often wondered if it would read as good now 40 years later).

8. Revolt on Alpha C by Robert Silverberg (this was a Scholastic Books selection I bought when I was in the 6th grade. This is basically a sci-fi version of the American revolution. It was the author's first book).

9. Fantastic Voyage by Isaac Asimov (I read this long before I had the chance to see the movie... both stand on their own and both are amongst my favorite stories ever committed to paper and film).

10. 2001 A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke (what can I say about this book that hasn't already been said? For some it was the ultimate "trip" (one of my high school friends got high when he saw the movie and totally tripped on it), for me the book was an incredibly good voyage into the unknown--as was the movie).

11. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (I believe this was the author's sole novel. As a former teacher, this and Dickens' Great Expectations should always be required reading).

12. The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov (in more recent years, the trilogy expanded to seven books before the author's untimely death [some written by other sci-fi authors]. The original three, Asimov's way of imagining the rise and the fall of the Roman Empire, were written during the "golden age of sci-fi," it remains one of my favorite series.).

13. Star Trek The Motion Picture by Gene Roddenberry (this was the Star Trek creator's sole work on the written page. It fills in some holes left by the movie and was a quick read. You didn't really think Star Trek wouldn't make the list, did you? BUT with over 700 novels published in the series I really had a hard time picking just one).

14. Star Wars by George Lucas (okay, Alan Dean Foster really wrote it. I read this book a full six months before the original movie came out in 1977. Remembering it now, I could not put the book down, as I read each page I thought, "oh my God, how are they going to put this on film???" To be honest, this book and The Empire Strikes Back shall be the greatest stories of the entire franchise).

15. Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin (this title is a series... seven books so far, but who's counting? It captures the 1970-80s San Francisco's gay culture in a very compelling, humorous and thought-provoking fashion. Who can ever forget the sweet, lovable Michael "Mouse" Tolliver or the antics of 28 Barbary Lane?).

Okay, I am cheating as I am adding an honorable mention: The War Against the Chtorr by David Gerrold (This book was originally intended to be a trilogy, but it has expanded to four completed novels with an additional three planned... that said, the last installment was published in 1993 and frankly, I wish the author would complete the series as it is a superior, psychological science fiction series!).


  1. I enjoyed your list! I also loved Fantastic Voyage, and on the rare occasion I come across it on TV, I always stop to watch it!

  2. Hey there! Thanks for dropping by my blog waaayyyy back in July. I only just noticed. I'm a little slow on the uptake sometimes. I instituted comment moderation on posts over 14 days old, but never followed that up. Only today I accidentally stumbled across eight comment awaiting moderation. Thanks again for coming by.