If that’s not a controversial topic, I don’t know what is!
My friend Julia did this first. Then, Briane followed up with a post about books which influenced him as a writer. I decided to take them both and smoosh them together. Because that’s totally different. *nods firmly*
So, actually, these are the novels I would nominate as the greatest, as in I’d read them over and over. Ask me again next year because I’m sure that this list will change.
1. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll — To anyone who knows me, or has followed this blog for say… a few months, this is not a surprise. I am an avid Alice collector. I consistently rank it as my favorite book. So, it influences my pocketbook. I think it’s the strength of Alice that appeals to me though. She is a very sensible little girl, who believes in strange things, and even though she is occasionally plagued by emotion, she rallies and overcomes not only a bully but several problems. She isn’t rescued by a prince. She isn’t involved in a love story. She just is a girl who figures out how to survive in a patently insane world. And in the sequel she becomes a queen! Influences: Whimsy, independence, and inner strength.
2. The Death of the Necromancer by Martha Wells – This is one of my favorite alternate history/ fantasy heist novels. In fact, it is my favorite. I need to get a new copy because I’ve read it so often that the pages are falling out. (Actually, this was a very difficult decision. I knew it was going to be *one* of her books.) Her characters aren’t perfect. And they are unexpected comrades in their quest for revenge. I think the fact that each one of the characters is unique is what makes it stand out for me. The story is complex and weaves together tightly. Influences: Well-rounded characters, human imperfections, and swiftly spiraling story
3. Design for a Great-Day by Alan Dean Foster & Eric Frank Russell – Full snaps if you’ve heard of this one. It is about a hive-mind collective which, well, keeps interstellar war at bay, I suppose. They don’t interfere unless the war is impacting more than the planet its on. But it’s the fact that one of his characters is a toff of a bee with fancy hats that sold me. I love the way that this feeling builds off of the idea of spiritual evolution. It covers broad topics from collective conscious to war to the afterlife in its own unique way. I don’t want to spoil it because it’s also a lot of fun. Influences: Humor, spiritual evolution, and striving for world peace.
4. The Dark is Rising Series by Susan Cooper – I am cheating and taking this full series because although they can be read separately, they are much better taken together. The fact that I chose this series and not The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe may surprise some people. It’s just that I think this series is stronger in its individual parts. I read them all out of order. The third book was recommended to me by my 4th grade teacher and I couldn’t get enough. The idea of The Old Ones, reworked Arthurian Legend, and everyday people took hold and never left. Will Stanton and Bran are going to be with me until the day I die and I happily revisit the series. Influences: Pagan theory, new legends, and a deep love for history.
5. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien – The fact that this has actually been published in a single book means that I don’t have to call this a trilogy. My mother first read this to me when I was two. I wanted to change my name to Eowyn. I roleplayed as the dwarves and thought that Gandalf could save me. Then, we read it together again. Then, I read it myself – more than once. The movies came out and I got my own copies. I have read the appendices. I know trivia I shouldn’t. I even know the difference in Elven languages. Something about it made a strong impression on me. It is sweeping and full of so many details that I can lose myself in that I just love it. Influences: Detailed worldbuilding, a love of languages, and an abiding hatred of spiders. (Shelob. *shudders*)
As a bonus: The book I will *never* read again, and yet recommend to everyone in the world because I think it needs to be read: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I loathe this book with every fiber of my being, but it is brilliant. I hate it because it creates a rage so deep in my heart that I can’t conceive of picking it up again. Though I did toy with the idea of making it a more gender even situation with surrogates for men *and* women, but yeah. I hate it. Go read it.
P.S. My new book is out: