A friend recently posted a list of books that have "stuck with him." It was an interesting list featuring, among other things, Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Disgusting Sneakers. (For those who never read Encyclopedia Brown as a kid - you missed out. Half Choose Your Own Adventure, half Sherlock Holmes each Encyclopedia Brown book required attentive reading so that the reader could solve the mystery along with the heroes.) But the list got me to thinking about books that have stayed with me. What makes a book stick? Maybe the right book has to arrive at the right time, or maybe a book has to articulate something that I was unable to express until the moment I saw the words on the page. Or in the case of some books... they just seem realer than real life. So for what it's worth, here's my list of the top 5 books/book series that have stuck with me.
- Trixie Belden - This teenage sleuth was a tomboy with annoying siblings, and that sounded a lot more like pre-teen me than perfect Nancy Drew with her fancy car and friends.
- The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings - My mother read us these books out loud (reading, it's what people do when they don't have a TV) when we were young. I blame Eowyn for my life long desire to kick ass, take name, and defeat an Orc horde.
- The Ordinary Princess - A little tale about a Princess who is blessed with the gift of being ordinary by her fairy godmother, what could be better than that? Oh, how about the most adorable illustrations penciled by the author herself? From the day I discovered this book, the author, M.M. Kaye, became my inspiration. I don't know if art and novel writing are a rare combination or if author's just aren't allowed to be something else, but what I know is that I want to do both and M.M. Kaye inspired me to reach for that dream.
- Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson - Foisted on me as a birthday present, I didn't read it for years, mostly because the book jacket let me know that the hero's name was Hiro Protagonist. I was put off. I shouldn't have been. Bouncing between religion, language, consumerism, cybernetics, and computer programming, the book honestly made me rethink some of my positions on those topics.
- Pyramids by Terry Pratchett - This was the first book I read in the Discworld series and it was the first "quirky" British style novel I'd ever read. It was also the first time that I'd ever read something that sounded like the inside of my head, with parentheticals, footnotes, strange topic switches, and a loopy plot. I didn't even know you could write like the inside of my head and get away with it. I became a devoted follower of the Discworld and when I learned that Sir Pratchett had been stricken with an early onset Alzheimer's that was robbing of his ability to write, I was absolutely devastated. The fact that he has carried on writing novels with the help of a tape recorder, a stenographer and some new drug treatment inspires me to get off my ass and write more as well.
That's my list. What's on yours?
Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mystery series and Tales from the City of Destiny. You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.