I was challenged by one of my former high school teachers, (English III Honors to be precise), to list ten books that have stayed with me. This wasn’t easy because I’m a bookworm. Also, it was a nice reminder that the learning never stops. Narrowing the laser’s beam to highlight only ten books is akin to telling a parent to pick a favorite child from his or her ten offspring. Nigh impossible.
With that caveat out of the way, I’m going to give the wheel a spin. Instead of just listing titles, I will try to give brief explanations along the way to spice things up. What amuses me is that some of these have been on the banned book list which is rather appropriate considering this is Banned book Week.
by J.R.R. Tolkien
What is there to say about this book? The Hobbit got me into the fantasy genre as a youth and I haven’t left since. It was the gateway to Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. I’ve made several friends because of my love of Tolkien’s books. I’ve had the chance to roleplay in his world on the Lord of the Rings Fanatics Plaza which has influenced who I am as a person today. Other genres have been added to the mix over the years; however, at heart, I’m a hobbit prone to laugh often, not take life too seriously, and have a way with words. Plus, the various songs in the book are catchy. I have fond memories of singing several of them in school.
by William Shatner
I read this book when I was a teenager and was hooked (no pun intended). There is some plausible stuff amidst the tropes. A drug spawned by the rise of technology that you must connect to your brain, flying cars, androids, virtual reality communication all make their presences felt. I never got to pick up the rest of the series or watch either the film or television series. Still, this was a book written by one of the captains of the starship Enterprise. I couldn’t put it down when reading it.
The Holy Bible
As someone who identifies as a Christian, this book has been a source of strength for me. While most of the books on this list have value for me from an imaginative or creative perspective, here’s the one I have literally clung to when no other books were available. It has been a light in my darkest moments.
by Scott Siglr
Any of Scott Siglr’s books could go in this space. I fell in love with his writing style ever since I first read Earthcore back in 2005. Memorable characters, vivid descriptions, and scientifically plausible situations are the hallmarks of any Sigler novel. What sets Ancestor apart for me is something Scott did specifically for the audio version of the book. My name was randomly chosen for a minor character. I thought it was the coolest thing at the time when I heard it and it still makes me smile to this day.
The Last Lecture
by Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow
If you don’t recognize this book, you may have heard (or have seen) the YouTube video of the same title. It was a lecture conducted by the late Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University Randy Pausch. It was an inspiring journey that was to show you how to achieve your childhood dreams and how you could help others do the same. This was important because Randy Pausch at the time only had several months to live thanks to pancreatic cancer. He presented himself as upbeat, quick to joke, and even quicker to give a pearl of wisdom or two as he talked. The book expanded upon this lecture and really brought home the idea of how everything has value. It is a book I recommend anyone should read because you will laugh and cry the whole way through.
The Way of Kings
by Brandon Sanderson
If Tolkien’s The Hobbit was my gateway to fantasy, Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings is the book that made me think to myself, Why didn’t I think of that? It’s like swimming in the kids pool and then being tossed into the deep ocean; it is a different world. There are inspirations in his magic systems that has had my imagination active ever since. The level of detail used with characters, the world, and the intricate plot makes my head spin. Like Middle-Earth, there is enough material that actual classes in history, biology, and geography could be taught.
Lord of the Flies
by William Golding
I read this my senior year of high school and all the overt symbolism drew me in to the story being told. I can distinctly remember our teacher being distraught, (rightly so), because of my class’s poor performance when it came time to do essays on the book. She was really passionate about the material and she wanted us to have that same zeal. I wish I could tell her I still have it.
by Justin Cronin
I love a good vampire book. It was very tempting to put Bram Stoker’s Dracula on this list. It was one of those books I carried with me in school and read when I had free moments. However, Justin Cronin’s The Passage gets the nod because it transformed what a novel about vampires could b when allowed to breathe. Cronin’s vampires are vicious, hive-minded creatures. They may glow at night but the reasoning behind this feature is a scientific one as is the explanation for the vampires in the first place. What if our government wanted to turn death row inmates into super weapons; soldiers that could (in theory) never die? Bad things will (and do) happen in this book. There is also multiple layers of humanity peppered throughout. A major feather in my cap was when I got to interview the audio book’s narrator Scott Brick. It is one of those moments I will never forget.
A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L’Engle
I read this book when I was about nine or ten. It was my first taste of science fiction in the written form. It made me go outside the box and earns its place here because of when I read it. I honestly haven’t reread it in twenty years but memories of going through the emotional situations during the book’s chapters are easy to recall.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
by J. K. Rowling
From that first scene on a wall with a cat waiting for an unknown person, I was enthralled. The Harry Potter series, (especially with the first book), has a sense of wonder about it. Each book added another wrinkle to the tapestry. It was the first one, (published in the US with “Sorcerer’s Stone” in the title), that got me into the world of wizards, how the wand chooss you, invisible cloaks etc. What also made this book special for me was that it was the first book I was ever given to keep. Braille books do not come cheap. I was grateful for the teacher at my school, (who never had me as one of her students but knew I liked reading), giving me that book. As with many things, the book is no longer in my possession; however, the memories are still there.
I now throw the challenge out to you. What are ten books that have stayed with you and why? Let us know in the comments. also, feel free to share this post with others.