I am a great fan of pulp writer Robert E. Howard. I want to use this blog as a means to become a better writer -- but please don't hold me to that.
Fandoms include (but are not limited to): Ben Whishaw, Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Doctor Who and 00Q (Skyfall). Expect to see a LOT of that stuff here.
I'm originally from Rhode Island, but now live in Florida and I'm only a grown-up when I have to be.
So namasteseven has tagged me in this meme. And I had to stew on it for a day to think of 10 that have so impressed upon my psyche that they are touchstones in my life.
To be honest, this was not easy. Not because SO MANY books have influenced the person I am today, but because I have no idea if there actually are 10 of them. I think there are less. We’ll see.
There aren’t too many books that have “shaped my life” or “altered my perception of the world” because I’ve always read books to enjoy them. They were always a distraction or an escape. I can’t name a whole list of books that made me say: “WHOA! That changes my views on (fill the blank)” or “Oh my god! Now I want to do THAT with my life!” And perhaps that’s a commentary on my taste? I don’t know. I suppose there are just one or two that have affected me thus, but certainly not 10.
I read lists like namasteseven’s and I think: Jesus god… I have no idea what these books are about and they all seem so fucking serious! And then I consider my books and I see nothing but a frivolous pastime. It feels like I haven’t been doing this reading thing the right way ‘round. And to some, this list may be trite. But that’s just it, isn’t it? This is one of the most personal things we can do, so I shall make an effort.
When I was a kid, all I wanted when I cracked open a book… was a STORY. That’s it. So don’t look for heavy or deep meaning here. You won’t find it. The following is simply a list of books that I have never forgotten.
So, for better or worse and in no particular order, here are my books:
1. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson — read it in 4th grade and I’m still affected by its story. If you love how Mr. Green can kill you, then you need to read this.
2. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (collection, vol 1 & 2) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle — The entire collection of the original stories and a must-read for any fan of classic mystery. My well-loved copies were a gift from my parents one Christmas when I was about 9 and I love them still today.
3. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein — The first fantasy I had ever read. The first real cross-country adventure I had ever taken.
4. The Maze Stone by Eileen Dunlop — Scotland and ghosts. Mystery and family ties. Spooky as hell when I was 10.
5. Anything at all by Agatha Christie — My mother loved Christie and she must have had a dozen or so of her novels in our house. I read and re-read all of them. The 1920’s surrounded me. Wonderful stuff.
6. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein — poetry… silly silly poetry
7. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein — hey, when you’ve got one poetry book, you buy the next one, right?
8. Now We Are Six by AA Milne — This was one of a four book collection that I had since before I can remember. One day when I was about 10, I was going through my closet, and I spied it up on the high shelf, took it down, dusted it off, and never regretted a day. All of the books were good, but this one stood out. It’s a book of poetry and the little drawings that were interspersed among the verse have stuck in my mind ever since.
9. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein — I worked at a summer stock theater during the summers when I was on break from college and I was sitting about one of the cast houses one day when I spied this book laying on one of the tables. There were many books that just lived at cast housing as sort of a free library, so I took it, read it, and put it back, never realizing that scenes of it would play and re-play in my head from time to time. The book itself is an excellent commentary on society, xenophobia, and religion.
10. Waterfront Fists and Others by Robert E. Howard — Back in 2006, I got serious about fandom. And here’s where it began. This collection of humorous boxing stories penned by REH affected me so deeply as to make me want to write, make me want to research, make me want to create something on the page that lived and breathed and had a life all its own. I strive every day to come close to a tenth of Bob’s ability. He’s my hero.