So I see more and more on Facebook that people are filling out this “list ten books and tag ten friends” thing. I’ve done it and tagged ten people (and this is pretty much a pain on a phone). I don’t think I gave the full story of some of my choices, so I’m going to expand on that here.
My list will include traditional print media (DeadTreeForm books), light novels, manga, graphic novels and even fan fiction. Never let is be said that all media is equally treated. All lit may be equal, but not all is recognized. This list is in more order than random mixed with “Oh, that reminds me.” This isn’t everything, but a sampling of some of my favorites and the ones that stick with me.
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966) by Robert A. Heinlein
This, as many of my friends can tell you, is my favorite book. I’ve read it many times and feel as if I know it inside and out. This was one of the first Heinlein novels I read and it’s stuck with me for it’s fantastic way of engaging a reader to empathize with an inhuman character. The setting stuns me with every rereading with Heinlein’s rich descriptions of Luna and the cities and homes therein, Terran politics and the affects of one planetary body on another. This book has stuck with me and has changed the way I write my own work in many ways.
Time Enough for Love (1973) by Robert A. Heinlein
Yes, yes. Another Heinlein so placed on the list. If Moon changed my writing in terms of setting and intertwining sociopolitical story, then Time Enough for Love changed my character writing for the better. Lazarus is a man of experience and with each section of the book, you see both the same man and a different type of man. His is a stretched example of how people change with time and this is made easy to see by simply stretching the life span out.
The Boat of a Million Years (1989) by Poul Anderson
From a purely historical standpoint, this novel offers an interesting look at life from period to period – eon to eon. Following the story of a family of sort of ancient (and not so ancient) immortals while the world shifts around them… and the details! Oh, the detailed world. From BC when-ever-the-hell into the far future. Never before had I need a book with description of Roman street life and alien linguistics, and I may never again. Until some smart-ass recommends one to me on the basis of that statement.
The Call of Cthulhu (1926) by H. P. Lovecraft
How do I tell the ways of madness? Honestly, just read the story. It’s online, mostly legally, and is well worth the time to really dig through every word with a fine tooth comb. There is a reason the Lovecraft is considered one of the world’s best, if not the best, horror writer.
Not Simple (2006) by Natsume Ono
From chapter one I knew what I was getting in to, but I kept reading because I wanted to know how Ian got to that diner and why he was sleeping outside. It’s a powerful story that I suggest to anyone who wants to know that there will always be someone worse off. I know that’s a terrible way of looking at it, but it’s the honest truth.
The Vanishment of Suzumiya Haruhi (2004) by Tanigawa Nagaru
This volume of the Suzumiya Haruhi series sticks with me because it breaks from the usual “I’m in an alternate universe” trope by using the nature of the one character who realizes the world changed to point it out. The main character, contrary to the name of the novel series, is openly terrified at the new world and takes any help he can manage (including alternate version of his friends, cheating from the future and a world-ending trust password) to get his way. Causality? We don’t need any stinking causality.
Watchmen (1986) by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
It’s an enigma wrapped in a mystery tied up with a physical god cooked in bacon. The first time through, I never saw the ending coming, let alone how the real villain was perfect. I won’t spoil anything, but his victory was ensured long before the heroes saw it coming. The next time through, and every reading since then, I’ve sought out every trick and red herring, every little clue that something was amiss. And I’m not disappointed.
Pedestal (2009) by Digital Skitty
I’m probably going to enrage any literary critics that happen by this post some day by having fan fiction on my list of favorite and most (personally) influential books. All I can say to them is “you don’t have to read my blog.” This story is unlike the usual “boy gets Pokemon, boy goes on journey” tale from it’s oftentimes masterful prose and ability to play off the terror of the world the Nameless Narrator finds himself in. NamNar is unlucky, a little bitchy and gets screwed over more times than any main character should. But I want to keep reading. There is never a dull moment and it sticks with me because through half a million words (proving that fan fic authors don’t use editors), I am never bored and I am invested in the boatful of named characters.
Questionable Content (2003) by Jeph Jacques
QC has a way with you. Honestly, I find some of the characters annoying, but only because they remind me of so many people around me (and sometimes myself in ways that I’m not going in to). The references go over my head sometimes, but it’s clever in how even the esoteric ones can be explained to laypeople (as I find myself here and there). For its accessibility and fun, versatile story, I can’t praise QC enough.
MegaTokyo (2000) by Fred Gallagher (& Rodney Caston)
I won’t pretend to be able to explain why MegaTokyo is one of my favorites. But the fanbase, myself included, must have the patience of God to be able to wait so long (sometimes months) for a new page. It tells an intense, maddening but relatable story of a couple of guys who move to Japan on a whim and for whom, the best way home is to be deported. Needless to say, it doesn’t happen and life ensues. I’ve read the whole thing through several times and I’m never disappointed. If I had to point out any aspect of my own work it influences, it’s definitely the randomness of life. Sometimes, a Zilla or a Magical Girl just drop in for no readily explained reason, and we just have to deal with that.
Misfile (2004) by Chris Hazelton
If you wanted a fan service filled, NSFW webcomic, you’ve some to the wrong window. If you wanted a well paced, long-terms story, step right up. If this story has changed by style, it’s in how to pace a chapter. Maybe it comes from running for ten-plus years, but the speed at which the story progresses never seemed slow, but never went too fast. And honestly, in today’s religiously PC (politically correct) world, it’s nice to see a story that tells a complex, gender-related topic without falling into H-game territory.
Nobody Dies (2009) by Gregg Landsman
Again, I won’t argue with lit critics. Nobody Dies is an alternate universe Evangelion fan fiction in which several principle characters who are dead (sorta’) in canon, are alive and still working with the Project Evangelion. This piece changed how I treat the multi-universe and how I can treat canon (as not meaning much). A similar change to when I read Number of the Beast (Heinlein) a couple years later.
Double Arts (2008) by Komi Naoshi
This is one of my favorite, short lived manga series ever. Granted, it was cut short just as the main plot was taking off, but it lives on in the hearts of the fans (of which there seems to be at least a few besides me). It’s straight-forward story-telling, to the point characters engage and enthrall. If I had to pick any part that’s changed in my thinking from this work, it would be in character interaction.