So there this thing that’s been going around on Facebook. Maybe some of you have seen it—people are asked to share ten books that made an impact on them or stuck with them over the years. I hadn’t participated yet, for a couple of reasons: first, I hadn’t been tagged by anyone, and second, I thought I would have trouble thinking up ten books. Regarding the first issue, well, I’m just tagging myself, I guess. And on the second issue, I took some time to think and came up with my list.
Ten books—not my ten favorite, just ten that stayed with me, for better or for worse. Some are books I like a lot, some not so much. A couple I barely remember reading, a couple are only included for a short story they contain, but they all made an impact, left an impression. So, let’s have a look.
The Dead Zone, by Stephen King — The first book that sprang to mind when coming up with my list. Not my favorite King book, but the first one I read. It hooked me and never let me go, and is a big reason why I became the weirdo I am today.
Tales of Mystery and Imagination, by Edgar Allen Poe — A collection of several of Poe’s best known works. My parents made sure to expose me to the masters, buying me this when I was around twelve or thirteen, in part I’m sure to make sure I understood there was more out there than just some guy named King.
The End of Alice, by AH Homes — I just gave my thoughts on this book recently, so I won’t rehash it all again. I’ll just say it’s an exquisitely written, horrifying, disgusting piece of literature that’s actually really good, if you can stomach it. Love it or hate it, you won’t forget it.
Swag, by Elmore Leonard — As with King, my first Elmore Leonard book holds a special place. Up ’til then, everything I read was horror, suspense, etc. Reading Swag, I realized you could write a book with tension and drama, and still have funny bits that made you smile or actually laugh. I still remember the smile that crossed my lips when I read the last line of this book.
Red Dragon, by Thomas Harris — My all-time favorite thriller. I haven’t read Silence of the Lambs yet, it could be even better, but this first Hannibal Lecter book builds tension like I’d never read before.
Ghost Story, by Peter Straub — The first grown up book I remember reading. I honestly don’t remember much about the book—I had to go to wikipedia to look up what the book was even about—but I remember it scaring the bejesus out of me. After I finished it, I told my parents I liked it and they proceeded to buy me a book I’d seen my teacher reading, called The Dead Zone.
Haunted, by Chuck Palahniuk — Taken as a whole, this book of interconnected short stories is just so-so. But I’d be remiss not to include it for the first story in the book, titled Guts. It’s another that’s so disgusting that you’ll never forget it, even if you want to.
Blood and Gristle, by Michael Louis Calvillo — A book of short stories by my late friend. It’s a nice peek inside a deranged mind, one little snippet at a time. Again though, I’m mainly including it for one piece: the non-fiction essay for which the book is named. It’s his thoughts about life, death, and the afterlife, which I found quite interesting and, since I read it soon after his death, quite sad.
Weaveworld, by Clive Barker — I was obsessed with the movie Hellraiser when it came out back in the 80s. That, along with Stephen King’s claim that Clive Barker was “the future of horror” commanded I buy his books and devour them like an animal. Surprisingly, it turns out I’m not the biggest fan of all his stuff. Nothing against it, just not my thing. I didn’t dislike this book, but I wasn’t crazy about it. The thing about it was it showed me how narrow my scope had been when it came to what horror was and what could be scary.
The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne — Forced at virtual gunpoint to read this in the 8th grade, I despised everything about this book. I hated it, hated my English teacher for making me read it, hated Nathaniel Hawthorne for writing it over a hundred years earlier. To be honest, I barely remember anything about it, other than how much I hated it. I think it may be responsible for my dislike of period pieces. Although I didn’t like it, I’ve never forgotten it. Well played, Mrs Roder, if you’re still alive. Well played.
There we have it. Any and all reading this, if you haven’t already, consider yourself tagged. Post it on Facebook and tag me or just put it in the comments. Let me know what books made their mark on you.