Here’s the problem with challenging a creative type like myself with making a list about something I’m passionate about. It won’t stop. Limit myself to seven books? I’d rather cut off my good right arm. Like I said at the beginning, the number of books that have influenced me may be closer to seven hundred rather than seven and while paring it down to seven was challenging, there were definitely a few that I left out.
I purposefully left out a number of books that my friends had already posted, even though they meant a lot to me because I didn’t want to dilute their contributions by saying ” Oooh! Oooh! Me too!”. There were also quite a few books that I debated over for various reasons and while they influenced me, and were definitely among my favourites, they have been supplanted by the books that made the list.
This list is by no means comprehensive. I may revisit this theme again in the future and go a little deeper down the rabbit hole of my favourite authors and/or books but in the meantime here is a glimpse of a few more books that orbit the being that is me.
First up, The genius that is Douglas Adams and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
There is something absolutely brilliant about this series. The absurdity. The humour. The pure, devil may care, stream of consciousness attitude that permeates every aspect of it. It was the very first book to have me laugh out loud while reading it. It is also one of a select few books that I can honestly say has shaped my sense of humour. It’s dark, self-deprecating style delivered with deadpan seriousness is a touchstone of how I interact with the world.
The movies never do it justice, but I doubt they ever could. They’re companion pieces to the original.
Next up, The Mystery of the Green Ghost by…. I honestly don’t know (and can’t be bothered to check) This was a Hardy Boys clone, but it was promoted as being tenuously associated with Alfred Hitchcock and so was “better”. I believe the official title is Alfred Hitchcock presents The Three Investigators in The Mystery of the Green Ghost. There are several in the series but being the poor cousin to Hardy Boys meant that they tended to be rarer on my small town library’s shelves
This book has two firsts in it. It was my first novel in the mystery genre and I loved it. I devoured a huge chunk of the Hardy boys catalog after this, though I always tried to find more of this series because it seemed just that little bit darker, edgier and possibly (from a 12 year old perspective) well written.
Speaking of darker. It was also the first book to give me nightmares. I normally stayed up past my bedtime and read by flashlight until the wee hours of the morning and had nary a care about the darkness or the lateness of the hour. However, there was something about the first appearance of the ghost that spooked the fuck out of me and I could not read it without being in the living room with my parents… with all the lights on. I don’t spook easily, so it was a new experience and one that I have rarely repeated with books.
I wonder. I wonder if I find a copy and breeze through it if it will have the same effect on me now as it did then.
I said I loved mysteries didn’t I? Well you can’t get much more mysterious than Sherlock Holmes.
I devoured these stories repeatedly and hated the fact that there weren’t any more being made. I guess that’s part of the problem with loving tales that span multi-episodic arcs. If you pick an author of such works, make sure they’re still around to feed your addiction.
I love the story of why. Mysteries like this give me a chance to answer questions that I have (and trust me, I have a lot).
I’m sure too, that my passion for these stories would only be half as much if it weren’t for the amazing performance of Jeremy Brett as Holmes in the British tv series that was running on PBS at the time.
When I talked of Mary Stewart’s Merlin and the hold historical fiction has on me, it was the precursor to this.
I LOVE this novel. I love this author. Kay is one of the few that spins a tale so elegantly and effortlessly weaves in threads of history into the pages that they come alive. I loved the Fionavar Tapestry and this book’s touchback references to that series made me love it all the more.
It’s a Celtic love story across time, though not a healthy one. It’s dark, violent and doesn’t end well but ultimately has some redemption in it.
Kay’s work in general is amazing but I feel that this novel along with his Sarantium Mosiac duology, and the Norse themed Last Light of The Sun are absolutely stunning works of historical fantasy. (I’m still playing catch up so I haven’t read Under Heaven or River of Stars yet).
Even if you have never read the Fionavar Tapestry, you need to read Ysabel. You won’t regret it.
I had a hard time deciding between this book and the Pawn of Prophecy. I’m still not sure I made the right choice.
I was initially turned off by a friend’s repeated insistence that I read it because it was “AMAZING!”. He also did a piss poor job of explaining it well in his over-eagerness to get me to read it. Based on his shoddy description of the plot along with my own teenage stubborn ignorance, I refused to read it for a couple of years. Fortunately, my friend’s constant nagging wore me down and I eventually capitulated. I definitely regret not reading it sooner.
Feist has a breezy, action packed style that drew me in from the first chapter. It reads like a D&D adventure come to life (Yes, I know it was. Shut up.)
I loved the characters of Pug (though I always, ALWAYS hated the name), Jimmy, Arutha, Tomas and the rest. I loved how quickly the action scenes flowed. I loved the narrative. It too, was a coming of age story, but compared to Pawn of Prophecy, the coming of age was a much harsher reality. It was coming of age into a war zone, with responsibilities of “if you don’t… someone dies and if you do… someone dies”, as opposed to under the tutelage of demi-god like beings. The Belgariad suffers from a world seen through some what rose coloured lenses. The Riftwar Saga does not.
I love this series to pieces. Again. It tells an overarching narrative where I get to grow attached to the characters. It has a fantastical, yet wholly believable world(s), and the magic system isn’t ridiculous. I’ll chalk that as a Win.
I think I’ll stop there. I definitely have some more books that I’d like to discuss and share so I’ll most likely revisit this topic at some point in the future but for now, this will suffice. Until then, have fun. Go read a book or something.