10 books

There’s a lovely little trend floating around Facebook these days asking people to post the titles of 10 books that have “stuck with them” over the years. They don’t have to be great works of literature, uplifting, or even quotable. They just have to stick out.

Well, here’s what sticks out for me:

Blade of Tyshalle – Matthew Stover

I really wanted to put the entire Caine series here, or at least the first book in the series, Heroes Die, but at the end of the day, it’s Blade of Tyshalle that really moved me. Caine is a badass, and the things he does in this novel–and in his other books–will have you cheering, but emotionally/spiritually, there’s no substitute for this novel. Stover takes his cockiest, heaviest hitter and makes him the underdog–and yet Caine doesn’t seem to notice.

The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

Truthfully, this book hasn’t been with me all that long, but when I read it, it changed everything I was looking for in fantasy literature. It’s my go-to example for world-building, magic, and mythology. You will digest it uncontrollably, like a fire, while simultaneously fearing it will end.

A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle

The only book I’ve ever re-read. It is the quintessential YA adventure, and pulls no punches. With characters you actually care about and an adventure bordering on the metaphysical, Wrinkle is the one book that can start with “It was a dark and stormy night” and nobody will ever question it.

Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

This book is a love song to books and mystery. Every page is like that feeling you get when you discover a really great used book store. To describe it in one word: lyrical. You’ll get it when you read it.

Revenge of the Sith – Matthew Stover

You didn’t think I was going to make this list without a Star Wars book, did you? Especially one written by one of my favorite authors of all time. Over the years, I’ve described this book as “written between the cracks” of the Episode III film. It’s really like Stover is writing around the events depicted in the film, filling in gaps, and doing more for the prequel characters in a few sentences than Lucas was able to do in any of the films. It also got me through a tough breakup and has the most hauntingly inspiring quotes you will ever highlight.

Vegas Knights – Matt Forbeck

Probably the most contemporary and recent read on this list, but Vegas Knights will always have a soft spot in my heart. I had more fun reading this book than anything I’ve ever read. It drops you right into the adventure and never looks back. So much fantasy seems to start about a thousand years before it needs to. It definitely inspired Coming of Mage and reminded me to write what I wanted to write, not go by a formula. I didn’t even know I wanted to write about wizards until I read this, then BAM! So imagine my thrill when Matt Forbeck wrote the blurb for Mage that’s proudly displayed on the back cover. Still unreal.


Speaker for the Dead – Orson Scott Card

Orson Scott Card really nails emotion in all his books, but this is the first and only book that actually made me cry. ‘Nuff said.

Golden Compass – Philip Pullman

It took a YA book, which I read after college, to make me see the merit of analyzing symbols and metaphor in literature. This is truly a book to sink your teeth into. Depth like you wouldn’t believe. And, for being written by an atheist, made me weirdly spiritual.

Dragon of the Lost Sea – Laurence Yep

This book really unlocked my imagination. My 4th grade teacher read it to the class over the course of a couple weeks and something about the dragons in it really stuck with me. I’ve never been able to let go of dragons and find myself inserting them into almost everything I write. I have tons of unused concepts lying around in notebooks that have to do with dragons. It’s also got a villain that will make your skin crawl.

Fear Nothing – Dean Koontz

When I read this book, it jump-started my writing style. When I was reading Koontz and trying to mimic his incredibly readable style, I felt free. It was also the first thriller I ever read and really had my blood pumping. Christopher Snow is still one of my favorite protagonists of all time, and the rest of the characters really pop too. Koontz is the master, and don’t you ever forget it.

Honorable mentions: Mortal Coils, The Great Perhaps, Relic, Mamba Point, and My Teacher is an Alien.

I’m glad I got tagged to do this, so I’m going to keep it going and do some tagging of my own. Even if I don’t tag you, take a minute and think of the books that have really stuck with you, guided your decisions, inspired you, terrified you, or have never been absent from your bookshelf. What’s one book you can never let go off, mentally and physically?


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