Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ten Influential Books

Well, you knew I’d have to do this, and you knew it would be a weird list. But here goes, in no order and without overthinking it:

THIS IS IT, MICHAEL SHAYNE by Brett Halliday (Davis Dresser). This made me a fan of the Shayne series, which I continued to read for years. That came in handy later on. Also, it was the first hardboiled private eye novel I ever read, before Hammett, Chandler, Ross Macdonald, Richard S. Prather, and a host of other authors.

HOPALONG CASSIDY by Clarence E. Mulford. The first real Western novel I ever read.

HAVE SPACESUIT WILL TRAVEL by Robert A. Heinlein. The first real science-fiction novel I ever read.

FANTASTIC FOUR #16 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. I’ve told the story before about how a couple of my cousins gave me a stack of comics they didn’t want on Christmas Day, 1963. I loved them all, but this was my favorite, the issue that turned me from a comics reader into a full-fledged comics fan.

BABYSITTER’S GUIDE BY DENNIS THE MENACE by Hank Ketcham. The first paperback book I ever bought, in the pharmacy of the old Medical Arts Building in Fort Worth, sometime in 1961.

BIGGER THAN TEXAS by William R. Cox. The first adult paperback I ever bought, in a drugstore in Goldsmith, Texas, in the summer of 1963. (There’ll be a Forgotten Books post coming up about this one in the relatively near future.)

THE SUN ALSO RISES by Ernest Hemingway. One of the few books I’ve read multiple times.

THE ROCKET’S SHADOW by John Blaine (Hal Goodwin). The first Rick Brant novel. I’ve posted about it before.

CONAN THE USURPER by Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague de Camp. The Lancer edition that I bought brand-new in Barber’s Bookstore in downtown Fort Worth. When I read de Camp’s introduction and realized that a real author came from the same part of the country where I lived, it helped convince me that I could write books, too.

LONGARM by Tabor Evans (Lou Cameron). To bring this full circle, like THIS IS IT, MICHAEL SHAYNE, LONGARM turned me into a fan of a series that has been very important to me. As in, more than two and a half million words important.

I could come up with others, but some of these would remain constant no matter how much the rest of the list changed.


Anonymous said...

Great list.
You know, I'm not a young man and have read a hell of a lot of books, including many a stately tome of high repute back in my days at university studying lit.
And I'm here to tell you that the best, most satisfying final line of any book I've ever read was the one that concludes HAVE SPACESUIT WILL TRAVEL by Robert A. Heinlein.
I remember crowing like a rooster when I first read it.

John Hocking

pattinase (abbott) said...

Only read one of these and you can probably guess which one. I will add the link to mine--for a sense of completion.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

How can you remember when and where you got those books? I can't recall what I had for dinner last night. Amazing.

James Reasoner said...

I'd have to stop and think to tell you what I had for dinner last night.

Suresh Ramasubramanian said...

hell yeah. good list

I'd pick Heinlein's "Starship Troopers" ahead of "Have Spacesuit.."

First real western .. well, Reilly's Luck by Louis L'Amour was probably the first one that I read, about a couple of decades back (and am 34 now). One of his best too.

Calvin and Hobbes beats Dennis The Menace for me

The first Longarm - sure. I first started reading those not more than a couple of years back. And lucky enough for me that the ones I found first were mostly all Lou Camerons. Hooked since then.

James Reasoner said...

I like STARSHIP TROOPERS a lot, SPACESUIT just happened to be the first SF novel I read. I was volunteering at the public library at the time, and somebody donated a copy. The library hadn't been open very long, and all the books we had were donations, in fact.

George said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
George said...

Wonderful list! I eagerly read all of Heinlein's novels when I was a kid. And, Andre Norton. I was shocked (and pleased!) to find that Norton was a woman...and a librarian! I had a copy of FANTASTIC FOUR #1. That, and THE BLACKHAWKS, made me a comic book reader.

James Reasoner said...

I have an Andre Norton novel in the stack to read for Forgotten Books posts. Ought to get to it in a few weeks. Her books were everywhere when I was a kid.

Anonymous said...

Great list. I like EH'S SUN, too. I recently read his TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT and didn't like it as much.

Ed Lynskey

Richard R. said...

Interesting list and narrative.

I'm pretty sure you know I love the Mike Shayne books, though I've not read them all (yet). I'm enjoying my rereading of the Heinlein juveniles, HVAE SPACESUIT is the next on the stack, though there are so many other things I'm pretty overwhelmed just now.

The Hemingway novel I've read the most times is ISLANDS IN THE STREAM, though I've read just about all of them at least two or three times.