I saw this post on Ruzkins website a while back and never actually did get around to compiling my own top 15 book list. Like he points out, they’re not your top 15 best books or even your most favorite. Just ones that will stick with you.
Being the verbose and wordy person I am, I present my list as well as qualifying them.
1. Neuromancer – William Gibson
‘The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.’ I think that line alone explains its inclusion. It was a long time before I did read it, but like many books on this list, this book introduced me to a genre.
2. Man in the High Castle – Philip K Dick
I’d like to be able to list almost every Philip K Dick book on this list, mostly Ubik and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. This one is one of his best, the story of what America would look like if it had lost WW2. But it’s also a story tied closely to the banned book that tells us what it might have looked like if they had won WW2.
3. Foundling – DM Cornish
Endless reading like a writer and a librarian, this was one of the first books since my younger teen years that restored my boyish wonder of exploration and following things on detailed maps. All good books should have a map in the front …
4. Rats and Gargoyles – Mary Gentle
A fantasy novel whose setting definitely stuck with me, but also the first book that I had to read a few times before I really understood what the hell was going on. All hermetic and obscura.
5. Hagakure – Yamaoto Tsunetomo
Star of the film Ghost Dog, and a nifty little book on how best to live ones life. Quite a number of pieces of advice that perhaps shouldn’t be taken directly in this day and age, but a read that will stick with me.
6. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis
I was young enough to miss all the dry religious allusion, but it might well have been the book that got me reading fantasy. I can’t stand it now though. The recent film version was good, but the story is one that I know far, far too well.
7. Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
A hefty tome for a 13 year old, but I enjoyed it, and somehow, managed to finish it. Another of those good adventure stories with a map in the front.
8. B-Boy Blues, James Earl Hardy
The only thing that could show me that being gay and other ethnicity than white was not only ok, but entirely normal. Even today, this book is one of very few. Also one of the couple of books that I think I’ve read on loan from a friend.
9. Black Juice – Margo Lanagan
Although I’ve endlessly written short stories, Black Juice was one of the first that showed me that short story format could deliver punch and impact like a heavyweight boxer. Here is a collection of very powerful shorts, all different and all wonderful.
10. Dune – Frank Herbert
Somehow I managed to read this book in a matter of days. Like many on this list, it introduced me to something. In this case, sci-fi in all its epic and opera glory.
11. The Adventures of Dunno and his Friends – Nikolay Nosov
One of my first kids books, resplendent with endless illustrations and some cool color plates. And also a rather long book, unlike most kids books I grew up with. Not until later did I investigate this book and find out that it was put out by the Soviet Literature for Children. Probably bares rereading knowing that …
12. The Gunslinger – Stephen King
Curiously, I had never read King until a number of years back, and this was the first of his that I read. Great stuff, and a great length too. Also comes from his early career when editing and him were close friends.
13. The Black Dahlia – James Elroy
I have a bit of a noir streak, to be sure, and the Black Dahlia certainly makes police procedural reading a fun thing. Much better than the hackney movie that came out about five years back. Old books can be great reads too.
14. The Good House – Tananarive Due
A horror novel staring black characters? Not only that, but one that taught me to write nippy and well paced, and always end the chapter with a cliffhanger. This book kept me reading ‘just one more chapter’. Plus, endless props to a book that mentions my favorite Cubano rap group.
15. Tale of the Body Thief – Anne Rice
Anne Rice and I have a love hate relationship, but its this book out of all of hers that I felt hit things right on the nail. One that can be read stand alone too, it showed all the horrors of living forever.