I’ve received multiple versions of the following request on Facebook this month:
“In your status, list 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes and do not think too hard. They do not have to be the “right” books, or great works of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way. Tag 10 reader (friends) including me …so I can see your list.”
In response I came up with ten books, started to post… then held back. The titles seemed to beg explanation, and the result was too long to fit a Facebook update. So I present the list here.
Caveats: please recall that this is an affective, not analytical list. I didn’t select them to impress, nor to outline major books in my current professional life. I infer that the list should include books from childhood, so the result really is autobiographical, almost confessional.
1. H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds, illustrated by Edward Gorey. This was one of the first novels I ever read, circa fourth grade, and it terrified me. Partly that’s due to the subject matter, and partly due to the gorgeous, creepy Gorey artwork. In fact, the book scared me so much I hid it in a closet and tried to forget the whole thing. Since it was a library book, it then became my first seriously overdue book.
I read some other science fiction in elementary school, including Jules Verne. They all opened my mind to science fictional possibilities. But WotW did all of that, and also haunted me. I had bad dreams about the tripods off and on over the years. And when I ran into the very same edition two decades later, across the counter of a used book store, it still spooked me.
It went on to become a family favorite. My wife and children listen to the Jeff Wayne musical version. My son rereads the book, and we created a game of the Martian invasion of Britain.