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Most Influential Books

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  • Most Influential Books

    A couple of weeks ago I was roped into doing a list of the 10 books that most influenced my reading habits on Facebook.

    I thought it worth repeating here to see if anyone else wants to join in and provide some reading inspiration. I may also do something on the Music and Films pages too.

    In no particular order (although the top of the list sort of creates itself):

    1. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
    2. Stormbringer - Michael Moorcock
    3. The Colour of Magic - Terry Pratchett
    4. Notes from a Small Island - Bill Bryson
    5. High Rise - JG Ballard
    6. Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
    7. Into The Glassroom - Roger McGough
    8. Adolf Hitler, My Part In His Downfall - Spike Milligan
    9. Doctor Who and the Genesis of the Daleks - Terrance Dicks
    10. The Weirdstone of Brisingamen - Alan Garner

  • #2
    I like your list PV! We definitely have similar tastes and I'm with you on the first one as it was the book that fueled my lifelong love of science fiction so many years ago. Here's mine and like the albums list I'm going with what jumps to mind first...

    1. The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy - Douglas Adams
    2. The Bane Of The Black Sword - Michael Moorcock
    3. No Brother, No Friend - Richard C. Meredith
    4. A Spell For Chameleon - Piers Anthony
    5. The Integral Trees - Larry Niven
    6. Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos - H.P. Lovecraft And Others
    7. The Vampire Lestat - Anne Rice
    8. Neuromancer - William Gibson
    9. The Satanic Verses - Salman Rushdie
    10. The White Mountains - John Christopher

    Like the albums list, the more I begin to reflect on it and think about it I wish it was more than 10 because others begin to spring to mind, but these are what came to mind first so I just went with it.
    "He found a coin in his pocket, flipped it. She called: 'Incubus!'
    'Succubus,' he said. 'Lucky old me.'" - Michael Moorcock The Final Programme


    • #3
      There is only one, from which all else springs:

      1. Conan of Cimmeria

      I didn't really like reading books before that. It was something teachers were always flogging. Since then, especially once the obsessions of the teen years were done, taste is an amorphous, ever changing, beast.
      Last edited by Heresiologist; 05-30-2020, 02:55 PM.


      • #4
        I no particular order

        1/ C S Lewis Prince Caspian - The Return to Narnia. A gift from an aunt. The first book (apart from Commando books) I can remember reading by myself. Haven't stopped since.
        2/ Ian Fleming James Bond. Probably Casino Royale though I'm vague. Again I remember reading the Bond books and getting carried away. There's something energetic about Fleming's prose. It isn't perfect - and I think in some way that's why. You rattle through the story in a rush - and it is a jolly good story. Bond is an entertainment - ephemeral - and I don't think Fleming pretends otherwise.
        3/ Jack Kerouac - On the Road. I was teaching abroad when I read this and travelling across Europe by train. Again, there's an energy in the prose. Sal zooms from one part of the country to the other and is amazed at what he finds. Reading it gives you itchy feet - and "digging" the scene in a local café, train station of backstreet bar is part of the charm. Coming back to it, after twenty years - there's a different take on the drinking, attitudes and the naivety of the narrator - could he really be that innocent/stupid?
        4/ Bukowski - Love is a Dog from Hell. My first Bukowski book. Could poetry be so start, so matter of fact and brutal? Yes, it can.
        5 Allen Ginsberg Howl & other poems. A slap in the face - this was different to the poetry I'd read before. It wasn't Wordsworth or any of the Romantics with a whole bunch of faux medievalism. And then the re was this exclamatory I slap bang in the middle. it was everything English poetry wasn't - with a vibrancy that still reverberates today.
        6/ Lord Byron - Don Juan. Byron is different from the other Romantics. His poems are about people, and their motivations - rather than manipulating scenery into symbols of lasting love, hate and devotion. Don Juan is complex - and the unreliable narrator who tells the story - undercutting the narrative with a tongue in cheek and gossipy tone is masterful. There's many levels to this - and the honesty is at times stark.
        7/ Azimov - I, Robot - the book that got me into reading Science Fiction. It was intelligent, and the fact that it was dramatized by BBC Radio helped.
        8/ J R R Tolkien Lord of the Rings - gripping fantasy trilogy - again the BBC4 dramatization did it justice too. I remember cheering on the Riders of Rohan at some point, as the charged down upon an orc horde.
        9/ William Burroughs - Naked Lunch. It took me a couple of goes to get into this one. The I saw a DVD of Burrough's reading a passage from the text. His laconic drawl suddenly made the humour become more apparent. However, this book fractured the linear narrative. Novels were not going to be the same again.
        10/ Dario Fo - Accidental Death of an Anarchist. A political satire that got inside the workings of the state. Based upon a real life event - and the absurdity of it all makes you question - what is reality? Is it really what the TV or the organs of the state tell you. makes you realise in some ways that power is an absurd fiction. A gateway to anarchism - and questioning what the authorities or anyone tells you.


        • #5
          I have tried to capture the books that have had the biggest influence on my world view and on my reading itself, not neccessarily my favorites (athough there is a lot of overlap). In more-or-less the order I read them through life:
          • East of the Sun and West of the Moon - Mercer Mayer
          • Jurassic Park - Michael Crichton
          • The Dragonbone Chair - Tad WIlliams
          • Dragons of Autumn Twilight - Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
          • Dune - Frank Herbert
          • The Civil War: A Narrative - Shelby Foote
          • Stormbringer - Michael Moorock
          • The War Hound and the World's Pain - Michael Moorcock
          • The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco
          • Blood: A Southern Fantasy - Michael Moorock

          "In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro"
          --Thomas a Kempis


          • #6

            Childhood's End: Arthur C Clarke, which virtually put me reading science fiction back in 1987 or 1986. Today I dislike the book but back then it was the bomb for me.
            The Left Hand Of Darkness: Ursula LeGuin, which has been a favorite ever since 1987.
            Lord of The Rings: I saw the animation 6 times and it only went half the book and I thought the book had never been translated to Portuguese back in 1984 but it ended up that my uncle had it. In 1990 I read the first book then I had to take the book back to my uncle. In 1994 there has been a new edition which I own in 3 formats: hardcover, paperback, and omnibus. There is a new reissue but I could not afford it.
            Dune: Big big fan of the film, just found the book at the student libraries when I was in college. I knew the story of the book but the book was such an experience.
            Warlord of The Air: Seriously, I sometimes don't agree with things in the book but the story is fascinating.
            Book of the new sun: Gene Wolfe's masterpiece made me a huge fan of his works.
            Jack Vance: Mazirian the magician, the short story, which is still to this date the only dying earth story translated to Portuguese. I later read the whole book ( actually the whole DE )
            Speaker for the Dead: Orson Scott Card.
            P.K Dick: a small short-stories book which has been released here in 1991 after the Total Recall film.
            American Gods: Neil Gaiman. I love Sandman, I love his comics. But when I read this book It amazed me.
            Tim Powers Anubis Gates: First time I read I thought it was good but pedant so some years later I read it again and could not find anything pedantic and I loved it
            "From time to time I demonstrate the inconceivable, or mock the innocent, or give truth to liars, or shred the poses of virtue.(...) Now I am silent; this is my mood." From Sundrun's Garden, Jack Vance.
            "As the Greeks have created the Olympus based upon their own image and resemblance, we have created Gotham City and Metropolis and all these galaxies so similar to the corporate world, manipulative, ruthless and well paid, that conceived them." Braulio Tavares.


            • #7
              Originally posted by sandy View Post
              10/ Dario Fo - Accidental Death of an Anarchist. A political satire that got inside the workings of the state. Based upon a real life event - and the absurdity of it all makes you question - what is reality? Is it really what the TV or the organs of the state tell you. makes you realise in some ways that power is an absurd fiction. A gateway to anarchism - and questioning what the authorities or anyone tells you.
              This is relevant to my interests. Since book shopping is somewhat off limits for the time being, I may watch a performance of the play on Youtube. At any rate, thanks for the tip!


              • #8
                Channel 4's 1983 production is very good.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by sandy View Post
                  Channel 4's 1983 production is very good.
                  That fine actor, Gavin Richards, adapted, directed & starred in that one. It's a blazing performance!


                  • #10
                    Yes, it's genius.

                    TV (in the UK) is not doing as much theatre as before. In the past productions from Pinter, Fo, Beckett and so on made it onto the small screen. Doesn't happen so much, now. Whilst the live broadcasts into the cinema are good (and a few of them do make it onto the TV) I think Lucy Kirkwood's Children & Butterworth's Jerusalem would be god on the telly.

                    Not all theatre on TV worked, but stuff like Harold Pinter's No Man's Land and Betrayal are worth a watch (and the recent minimalist production with Tom Hiddleston was excellent).


                    • #11
                      I'm a Pulp guy, so the first things that come to mind are 'The Shadow' by Walter B. Gibson, which is really the first of the 'pulp avenger' characters (the first superheroes)... and one that Bill Finger and Bob Kane basically stole for the creation of Batman... and something like 'The Big Sleep' by Raymond Chandler. There's an entire generation of mystery writers who wouldn't exist without those early Chandler stories. And likely the entire Film Noir movement, as well.