The most influential books for me

So earlier I mentioned that friends Mike and Kile tagged me on Facebook within minutes of each other, with Mike asking for my ten favorite books while Kile wanted me to list which ten books were most influential to me. Listing my favorites took about 15 minutes, and most of that was writing a small blurb about each one. Suffice it to say that listing ten books that were most influential for me has taken a lot longer. In fact, I could only get to six. Again, in some cases I’ve put the first book of a series to indicate the whole series. So, in no particular order:

“The Hardy Boys” series by many writers under the nom de plume of Franklin W. Dixon. They are what inspired my love of reading. Each one of them was read multiple times, and I’m sure if I thought about it I could come up with the plots of each one. The original series is 58 books and I had over 40 of them. If I ever saw all 58 hardcovers for sale I would be very tempted to buy them.

On a Pale Horse by Piers Anthony, the first in his “Incarnations of Immortality” series was the first fantasy book I can recall reading, and from there I was hooked.

Moby Dick by Herman Melville was the first “classic” I reread after graduating high school after being forced to read them in school. Most of those books read in English class I thought totally sucked, but reading Moby Dick afterword I realized the teacher explaining the book really took away from the book itself. Since then I’ve reread all the ones we had to read in school and enjoyed many of them. For the record, A Tale of Two Cities sucked even when I tried to read it on my own.

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey, the first book in her “Kushiel’s Legacy” series is the first book I can recall reading being written by a woman. It wasn’t like I made a conscious choice before to not read female authors, I just wasn’t. Now I’d bet close to half the books I read are written by women. I suppose I could just click on the “reading lists” tab above and look, but I’m too lazy.

The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy. I overheard a couple people talking about the book one day waiting for the bus, and when I saw it a few days later at the book store I bought it. I’ve been a huge Clancy fan, and of the thriller genre, since.

Well, eagle eyed readers will note that’s only five and I said I had six. The problem is I can’t recall the title of the book that absolutely influenced me the most. It’s not what happened in it that was influential, but what happened to it. When I was very young my family used to spend the entire month of August at a cottage on the shore of a pond in central Massachusetts. As was often the case we would be up very late outside and it wasn’t until one of the adults called us kids in for the night that we would stop playing. One night while I was eight or nine I left a book that I was reading outside on the picnic table, and it rained overnight and the book was ruined. To this day I can remember how upset I was, and just sitting here typing that has actually gotten me down a little. That incident has significantly influenced the way I handle books. I treat them all like gold. For years I have tried to figure out what that book was, with no luck.


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