After seeing my article, “A Book Reviewer’s Lexicon,” where I mentioned that I’d read 20,000 books, author Ken Coffman asked what books stuck out in my mind as premier ones, what authors consistently pleased me, and which books I’ve read more than once. Off the top of my head, I posted a list of books. Premier? I don’t know that they are, but for some reason, I remember the title and author years — sometimes decades — after finishing them:
Sakkara by Noel Barber
Sarum by Edward Rutherford
The River God by Wilbur Smith
The Left Hand of God by William Barrett
The Balance Wheel by Taylor Caldwell (for many reasons, both good and bad)
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (because of the irony)
The Creature From Jekyll Island by G. Edward Griffin (non-fiction)
The Gods of Eden by William Bramley (non-fiction)
The Twelfth Planet by Zeccharia Sitchen (non-fiction)
Story by Robert McKee (non-fiction)
most books written by Antony Sutton (non-fiction)
most books written by Stephen J. Gould (non-fiction)
a few books written by Hank Messick (non-fiction)
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend any of these books. I read them so long ago, I was a different person. That I remembered titles and authors shows what an impact they had at the time. In recent years, the only book that had any impact on me was Duma Key by Stephen King. I’m ashamed to admit it, but he did get me with that one. During the past couple of decades, the only other books that have completely pulled me in are The River God and Sarum, both of which I intend to reread. The River God is a story based on scrolls found in an Egyptian tomb, and Sarum is a Michener-type book about the Salisbury Plain in England. I don’t agree with a lot of Rutherford’s history, but the book fascinated me. I want to reread Sakkara if I can ever get it again, though I don’t remember much about it except that it’s a sort of North African Gone With the Wind. (Interestingly, I don’t like Gone With the Wind, though I did when I was very young. I tried rereading it a while back, and got bored.) I did reread Tanamera, (also by Noel Barber, and a sort of Singapore Gone With the Wind) and liked it the second time, too. In fact, I will reread all of Noel Barber’s books some day. Maybe even some of Nevil Shute’s books. And David Westheimer’s.
I read The Balance Wheel during the Vietnam era. Now THAT made an impact — reading a book about the war-to-end-all-wars during a later war. If I ever come across a copy of the book, I’ll reread it. (I lent it to someone who promised — actually swore — that she’d return it but never did.)
One book that got left off the above list is The Killing Gift by Bari Wood. I read it many years ago, and always remembered it. Reread it a few years ago, and it still had the same impact. It’s one of the few I’ve kept to re-reread.
I’ve also kept a copy of The Proteus Operation by James P. Hogan, so I can reread it someday.
One author who consistently pleased me was Kate Wilhelm until she stopped writing science fiction. On my wish list would be a newly written Kate Wilhelm science fiction novel (Are you listening, Kate?), but so far she’s sticking with mysteries. (They’re mostly published by Mira, which seems like hiding a diamond in the mud.)
Interestingly, I started rereading some of the classics, and couldn’t do it. Nicholas Nickleby, Sense and Sensibilty, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. AAGGHH!!!
For about fifteen years I got so sick of the pap put out by the major publishers that I stuck with non-fiction. Read everything — history, quantum mechanics, string theory, health, archeology, etc, etc, but that got old (or I did) so now I’m back to fiction.
I’ve decided I need to get rich so I can start buying indie books. I feel like the man who kept shrinking and shrinking until finally he shrunk so much he ended up in an entirely different universe, a microscopic one. For me, the publishing world has shrunk so much that the only hope for finding the sort of books that interests me is to find another world. Which I have. The indie world. I guess I’ll just have to get people to send me books to “review.” Yes, that’s it. I’ll tell people I’ll do a review if they send me their book.
I thought that it would bother me posting this for anyone to see — it does say something about me, though I don’t know what — and I half-intended to delete it, but then it dawned on me: this is the eve of my becoming a published author. I’ve approved the proofs, so More Deaths Than One and A Spark of Heavenly Fire will soon show up on Amazon. (They are already listed on the Second Wind Publishing site.) If a list of books I’ve read exposes me, then the books I’ve written will expose me even more.
So, here I am.
For what it’s worth.