Ten Influential Books

Having been tagged by a few on Facebook, I am posting my ten influential books. I know you weren’t suppose to think about this much, but, as it will happen, as the meme went about Facebook, I of course thought a lot about this.

That being said, I could probably do this five more times with different books. When there are books like “The Hero and the Crown” and “The Last Temptation of Christ”, or “This Perfect Day” and “The Pillars of the Earth” all of which influenced me somehow.

  1. Superman… something, Saves the Day, maybe? This was a kids picture book… more importantly, it was MY picture book. I remember the bad guys had back pack helicopters. It was the first thing I read, first by memorizing all the words, then by actually reading them. Everything else started here.

  2. Raise the Titanic, Clive Cussler – Another milestone. I read this in fourth grade, it was my first full sized, adult novel. I had to ask my mother what damn (dam-en) was. Nerd fact: I read this book before Ballard found the Titanic, spawning years of interest in the subject. (Yes I saw the movie opening night, no I am not ashamed)

  3. The Chronicles of Narnia, C S Lewis – These were the first books I ever read twice. Such a thing seemed foreign to a kid… I mean, I already read them! Voyage of the Dawn Treader is still my favorite of the bunch, and I am still pissed about what happens to Susan.

  4. The Nine Billion Names of God, Arthur C Clark – There were some Sci Fi before this, but this was really my introduction to short stories as well. This collection, sort of a “Greatest Hits” for Clark is just filled with so much great stuff. For anyone wanted to write short stories, of any genre, this book is a valuable resource.

  5. Cosmos, Carl Sagan – What can you say about this book? It had planets in it! We had NatGeos showing us Jupiter and Saturn as I grew up. This book opened my eyes to the solar system, and to the universe beyond.

  6. The Keep, F Paul Wilson – My first horror novel. One of my mother’s favorite books, it has been read quite a few times before I tried it. Around sixth grade at this point, and for the first time became afraid of the dark.

  7. Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Players Handbook, 2nd Edition – I had gotten into fantasy, reading Terry Brooks, Eddings, even getting into Dragonlance books. This book, the rule set for the AD&D game did something else for me. It set me free. Now I wasn’t just reading stories, I was actively participating and creating them. This book brought me friends, adventures and countless hours where my parents had no concern at all about me, because I was playing D&D.

  8. Dune, Frank Herbert – This is my favorite novel. Half fantasy, half sci fi. Throw in some philosophy and big ass worms. I think the thing that got me about this is how rich and alive the whole book feels. Nothing is shallow, each character or clan or house has a history. One of the few books I have read several times. Herbert’s prose is near poetic at times, and has been a bar I’ve strove to rise to.

  9. Carmina Catulli (The Poems of Catullus) – This was my text book for Latin V. I translated poem after poem and fell in love with not only Catullus, but poetry itself. While there had been poetry before, some I still love, no book has had more of an impact on me as a writer than this.

  10. The Afterimage, Phillis Levin – By now I am in college, and there were certainly a pile of books that had gotten into my head up to this point. I was given this book by a teacher in my first poetry composition class. Found out Phillis taught at the college, and wanted to be good enough to be in her class. These poems are beautiful and thick and Phillis’s command of the English language is still something that I admire. If Catullus’s book bore a poet from me, the Afterimage was it’s bearing, it’s guidebook.


Alice in Wonderland – I have never read this book. I own at least 5 copies in various bindings, and yet, I have never traveled front to back between any of their bindings. And yet still, Alice remains one of the most influential stories in my life. I love it. I’ve seen any movie, any cartoon, love video games and artwork, I’ve read re-tellings. Somehow, despite the unmarked spines of the editions I own, this book fascinates me.