I can't believe Rodgers and Hammerstein didn't have a verse about books. At least they got the schnitzel in there. Anyway, today I'm going to attempt to list my top ten favorite fiction books. This is partially in preparation for a panel I'll be on tomorrow at BYU's "Life, the Universe, and Everything" symposium. It's called LTUE for short, so my daughter pronounces it 'Lute' and I pronounced it 'LaTooee'. The panel I'll be on is titled, "What influenced me as a writer." I'll maybe write more on that after the panel, but for now, you will be privileged to read my current top ten list (subject to change without notice, some items may not be available for purchase, contents may settle during shipping, residents of CA and NY add sales tax).
I'm cheating a little and lumping series together as one book, but here we go:
#10. The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazney. Fantasy. I have not read this series in over 20 years, but I remember I really liked it at the time. It's been put back on my "to read" list, which is a mile long. I don't remember enough about it to say why I liked it, all I remember is that it intrigued me and left an impression.
#9 The Belgariad/The Malloreon by David Eddings. Fantasy. I've read this series twice, but it's been 20 years since the last time as well. Eddings probably has had the most impact on me as a writer. I love the lightness of his stories and the interaction of the characters. And even though these are big, thick books, they still have a YA feel to them and are mostly clean.
#8 The Warlock in Spite of Himself and subsequent books by Christopher Stasheff. Sci-fi, in spite of the title. About a man who lands on a medieval style planet and is thought to be a warlock because of his advanced knowledge. I mainly loved the lightness and humor between him and his epileptic robotic horse.
#7 Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Sci-fi/comedy. So this book is a similar genre to my own. The tongue-and-cheek wit of Douglas Adams is a great form of escape.
#6 Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson. Epic fantasy. I mainly picked this series up because he is a local author. Well, it turns out that he is also an extremely talented writer. I also love his Alcatraz books, but I still haven't read books 2 and 3, so they didn't make the list, yet. In Mistborn, Brandon creates an interesting and complex magic system that is believable and characters that are intriguing and lovable. There's also a little tragedy in there, which for some reason also appeals to me. It would be higher on my list, though, if it were a comedy. Like maybe if the allomancers used colored M&Ms instead of metals.
#5 Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan. YA fantasy. I've recently started reading more YA, partially because that is the genre that I write in. It may also be because I'm trying to recapture my youth, I'm not sure. Of course, another nice thing about YA is that it doesn't have all the sex, violence, and language that authors of adult books seem to think everybody wants. Anyway, the Percy Jackson books appealed to me because they were fun but not heavy. I didn't feel down and depressed, like after reading about a character with the initials of 'HP'.
#4 The Mars series by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Sci-fi/Fantasy. Again, I haven't read these for a while, so their rank may change when I do. These were some of the first books I read as a youth (in addition to his Tarzan, Pelucidar, and Venus series). I guess the swashbuckling adventure is why they are still near and dear to my heart.
#3 The Stainless Steel Rat series by Harry Harrison. Sci-fi/comedy. Again, my favorite genre. These are all told in a wacky first-person, tongue-in-cheek style. The humor is what mainly appeals to me, though it's also fun to see how "Slippery Jim" DiGriz pulls off his various heists.
#2 The Lord of the Rings by you-know-who. Epic fantasy. I know, I know, this book is probably on just about every fantasy geek's list. I am no exception. The Hobbit was the first fantasy book I read of any kind, and it pulled me away from the Hardy Boys forever. As far as Tolkien's influence on me as a writer, I think it was actually negative. I loved the world he created and wanted to create my own like it. I got so caught up in "world-building" that I neglected little things like character development and plot. I've since then realized that I am no freakin' Tolkien, so I don't let myself spend too much time on world-building any more. But as far as the man who started it all and fired up my imagination, I still tip my hat to him. Except I don't wear hats, even when it's below zero.
And now (imagine drum roll here) for my favorite book/series of all time: The Elenium/The Tamuli series by David Eddings. I liked it for the same reason as the Belgariad, except I enjoyed having a witty adult main character. As much as I like YA lit, it's nice to be able to read a character that I can relate with age-wise. That's probably one of the reasons why The Incredibles is also my favorite movie.
So, there you have it. I'm probably leaving out something important, but, oh well.