So over on his blog, Joe Hill posted his Fifty Favorite Books. Thank god it was fifty favorite, because I doubt I could manage a fifty best list, in that I don’t ever feel I’ve got the education for something like that. Anyway his list was wonderful, and it also took over my head for a bit. Rather than getting any work done, I sat down with a notepad, staring at my bookshelves, and scribbled titles.
In Joe Hill’s list, he left out comics, reasoning that it’s for a different list. I have trouble sifting them out like that, so I’ve kept them in. I’ve also included non-fiction, biography, anthropology. Basically, any of the books that are my favorite, no matter what they are.
So. Alphabetized below for your pleasure, my Top Fifty.
- DICKENS – Peter Ackroyd
- THE HANDMAID’S TALE – Margaret Atwood
- THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG – Muriel Barbery
- BRADBURY STORIES – Ray Bradbury
- ZEN IN THE ART OF WRITING – Ray Bradbury
- LIQUOR – Poppy Z Brite
- CHARLATAN – Pope Brock
- MAMA LOLA – Karen McCarthy Brown
- WAR FOR THE OAKS – Emma Bull
- DON QUIXOTE – Cervantes
- JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL – Susanna Clarke
- THE ESSENTIAL ELLISON – Harlan Ellison
- FRAUDS, MYTHS, AND MYSTERIES – Kenneth Feder
- THE KINDLY ONES – Neil Gaiman
- AMERICAN GODS – Neil Gaiman
- ANANSI BOYS (specifically, the audiobook) – Neil Gaiman
- THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA – Ernest Hemingway
- 20TH CENTURY GHOSTS – Joe Hill
- HEART-SHAPED BOX – Joe Hill
- THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME – Victor Hugo
- THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP – John Irving
- WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE – Shirley Jackson
- ON WRITING – Stephen King
- HEARTS IN ATLANTIS – Stephen King
- MISERY – Stephen King
- DUMA KEY – Stephen King
- LET THE RIGHT ONE IN – John Ajvide Lindqvist
- I AM LEGEND – Richard Matheson
- LIFE OF PI – Yann Martel
- THE ROAD – Cormac McCarthy
- CAGES – Dave McKean
- A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ – Walter M. Miller, Jr.
- ALAN MOORE: STORYTELLER – Gary Spencer Millidge
- THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS OF JACOB DE ZOET – David Mitchell
- BLACK SWAN GREEN – David Mitchell
- STARTING POINT: 1979 – 1996 – Hayao Miyazaki
- PROMETHEA – Alan Moore (a cheat. It’s 5 books. I can’t help it. There’s no picking.)
- WATCHMEN – Alan Moore
- COMPLETE WORKS – Edgar Allan Poe (Joe Hill cheated, list complete Shakespeare. I did Poe.)
- GOING POSTAL – Terry Pratchett
- NIGHT WATCH – Terry Pratchett
- MONSTROUS REGIMENT – Terry Pratchett
- FRANKENSTEIN – Mary Shelley
- DROOD – Dan Simmons
- MAUS – art spiegelman
- OF MICE AND MEN – John Steinbeck
- 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA – Jules Verne
- THE AUTHORITATIVE CALVIN & HOBBES – Bill Watterson
- COMPLETE BOOK OF TERROR – Leonard Wolf
- THE LAST DEFENDER OF CAMELOT – Roger Zelazny
So that’s my list. There are others who could be on it, probably. The problem with these lists is that they kind of mutate as the days and books go by, but I’m pretty happy with this. These are all the sort of books where I can not only read and re-read them time and again, I can open them and dip in and out when I choose.
I so badly wanted to write a paragraph about each book explaining why I loved it and what it did for me (so many either shocked a powerful emotion out of me, or else left me going “I didn’t know you could DO THAT!” at the end, joyful about it the way a person mashing buttons can be joyful). I didn’t, though, because I’d still be writing paragraphs about all these books well into tomorrow.
I also left out a few books that basically turned me into who I am, but which I’ve grown out of. The list is current for me-right-now, not me-up-ahead, or me-in-the-past.
So. There’s mine. Where’s yours?