My Favorite Books

October 4, 2013 at 6:08 pm

Tick-Tock-9780553582925After slogging through more than a decade’s worth of textbooks and required readings, I had taken on what could only be described as a moderate to severe repulsion of the written word. Oh, I remember how in grade school and high school I had been forced to read the “classic” books of American and English literature; unfortunately, the school system at the time was apparently more interested in the fact that these books were in the curriculum without acknowledging the fact that most of its students are too young to truly appreciate them. The fact that these stories needed to be “taught” in order to be understood by the student body was not, in my opinion, a representation of the difficulty in the work as much as the complete and total apathy of the reader.



For example, and let’s face it, how many fourteen-year-old boys are going to care about the trials and tribulations of an adulterous puritan woman in the seventeenth century? Or how can a collection of kids living in a concrete metropolis relate to the trials and tribulations of a farming family trying to find their way to stability in the “Dust Bowl” during the Great Depression?



Now before you think I am bashing The Scarlet Letter or The Grapes of Wrath, my point here is that I believe it is only with age and life experience that the true genius, complexity, beauty and triumph of these and many other literary masterpieces can be appreciated… Or perhaps as a teenager I was just a literary heathen.



In any case I came out of school with really no idea that reading could be fun. I hadn’t the slightest inkling that a good book could be an escape to far off places or times of adventure, mystery, romance, and discovery. It had never happened that way for me in school, instead reading had always been a chore and a pressure-laden requirement to maintain my grade point average.



It wasn’t until I found myself traveling by train for an extended period of time that I broke down and cracked the cover on a book for no other purpose than entertainment. Begrudgingly, and certain of the misery that would follow, my eyes fell upon the first page and before I had reached the second chapter, I was hooked. Years of prejudice melted away and, twelve hours later when the train finally arrived at its destination, I disembarked at a run to get to the station bookstore to buy another book.



So what are my five favorite books of all time? It seems impossible to say for sure, so here are the top five that first come to mind:



5. The Brotherhood of the Rose, by David Morrel.


This was the book that broke through my mind’s barrier on that train ride. Truthfully, I think some of David Morrel’s later work might be even better, but this story has its own particular sentiment to me.



4. Of Saints and Shadows, by Christopher Golden.


This was a book I picked up for no other reason than because I had just finished the Ann Rice novel, “The Vampire Lestat” and wanted another story in the genre. The way the author pieced the story together and the manner in which he shifted the roles of the hero and the monster had a huge influence on my own story Blood Harvest and the characters I created.



3. Lamb, by Christopher Moore.


This is hands down, the funniest damn book I have ever read in my life. I never would have imagined the fits of hysterical laughter that the written word could cause, but there were so many moments of “side-splitting, tears-falling, can’t breathe” laughter this story produced that it more than changed my mind.



2. The collected work of Jim Butcher’s, Dresden Files and Furies of Calderon series.


Okay, maybe it is unfair to list entire series, two in fact, in the place reserved for individual works, but to do otherwise would have taken up all the spots on the list with no room for any other authors or even the individual books within the series. Admittedly, both series start slow as the first books of each can be difficult to get through, but the author soon hits his stride and by the second book you’re going to be hooked and eagerly waiting for the next book to be released.



1. Tick Tock, by Dean Koontz.


The author would probably want to strike me dead for choosing this book over the other works in his library as it was written more as a panacea to what he suffered after writing his novel “Intensity” (if you’ve read Intensity, then you understand). In an interview, the author said the story was almost an afterthought as it was the shortest book he had ever written and the furthest from his usual modus operandi. Despite these facts, the book was every bit the thriller the author was famous for writing, interposed with a relationship story that produced the most laugh out loud humor I had ever read (until I read the #3 book “Lamb” by Christopher Moore). If you are able to find it I’d strongly recommend the abridged audio book read by B.D. Wong as it may be the greatest pairing of story to narrator ever created.



I realize that this list is not a collection from the masters of modern literature, and may even be viewed as having little literary merit, but I do not read books to have my social consciousness raised, nor do I read books that will teach me about the harsh realities of life and the world. I read for fun. I read what interests me. I read to enrich my life, to experience wonder and to find myself laughing, crying, cowering or cheering as the tales unfold before me. When it comes to the books that I have written this is what I try to impart to the reader. I am not expecting Pulitzer prizes for my stories, but if I can give a small measure of the experience that I had on that train ride to someone else through my writings, then I feel I will have achieved my goal as an author.