The idea for this blog post comes from the blog of another freelance social media/web designer and fellow book lover Kim Woodbridge of Anti-Social Development. She did a blog by this name and I was inspired to write my own list.
My goal is to read 50 books a year, that’s about 1 book a week. I read a little bit of everything, but most of it is fiction of some sort or another. I make a point of reading at least 1 classic, 1 book of poetry, 1 Greek tragedy, at least 1 non-fiction title and to re-read a book that been on the shelf for a while. At the end of every year I give each book a score and write a review. You can see from 2006-2010 under book reviews on my page.
There are a few authors that I keep coming back to and that I enjoy immensely.
1. Stephen R. Lawhead– When I turned 14 my dad took me to the Christian book store and basically let me pick anything I wanted. I left with a cassette tape by Steve Greene and The Sword and the Flame by Lawhead. During my teen years I devoured his books, reading and re-reading some of them.
Most of his books are fantasy. Lawhead is well known for the Pendragon Cycle an Arthurian re-telling and the Song of Albion book. One of his newer series is a retelling of the Robin Hood myth called the King Raven trilogy and I highly recommend them. Despite being best known for fantasy he does have a few sci-fi books, including my favorite sci-fi book of all time Dream Thief.
I am eagerly awaiting the next book in his new Bright Empires series, The Bone House (which while checking Amazon I see is out now. I had heard that it wasn’t coming out until Oct.) My mom bought my the first book The Skin Map for Christmas. It’s a very interesting sci-fi-fantasy-time-traveling-alternate dimensions mix.
2. Frank Peretti– Is the predominate name in Christian thrillers. Most of his books focus on spiritual warfare spilling over into the physical realm. His first two books This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness are considered modern classics of Christian literature. All of Peretti’s book are fast-paced, action packed and many deal with deep issues of modern life such as abortion, abuse, belonging, bullying, small town values, etc. He is a little like the Christian literary equivalent of James Cameron.
He also has a series for Young Adults called the Cooper Kid Adventures. It follows Jay and Lila Cooper as they join their father Dr. Cooper the Biblical archeologist on adventures. The stories are a little bit like if Indian Jones married Nancy Drew and their kid went to Bible camp and started telling scary stories around the campfire; adventure, mystery, a couple of good scares and a life lesson at the end.
3. Philip K. Dick– PK Dick is just about the biggest modern influence in science fiction. His stories have inspired dozens of movies, from Blade Runner to Minority Report to Total Recall.
Pretty much all of his stuff falls into the “weird sh**” category that my one literature professor said was necessary to be true “Science Fiction”. He wrote hundreds of short stories, and many novels. They are so popular that it is very rare for us to find them in any used book store, much less Goodwill or St. Vinnies. Simply put people buy his books and keep them for life. Even though he passed away in 1982 all of his books have been in continuous print.
His short story collection starts with The Short Happy Life of the Brown Oxford and ends five volumes and 2,00 and some pages later. My favorite novel by Dick is Deus Irae, a strange book about a crippled artist living in a post apocalyptic America who goes on a quest to find an image of the man who triggered the world wide disaster, the god of their new religion. Many start reading Dick with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep the book that was the inspiration for Blade Runner.
4. Edgar Egar– I remembered these books from my childhood. As an adult I have been working on collecting them all, and re-reading them as I do. They are surprisingly sweet, innocent and truly delightful. The books let children be children. It remind me of running barefoot in the grass, enjoying summer with friends, playing outdoors until the sun goes down, and all the other uncomplicated joys of childhood.
As it says in his book Seven Day Magic “All books are magic, but some are more magical than others.” The Egar books are certainly magic for both children and adults. Also of note are Half Magic and Magic or Not.
My drawing based on a picture in a Christopher Hart book.
5. Christopher Hart– This may not fit into a normal reading list, because Christopher Hart writes How-to-draw books. One of my other hobbies is drawing cartoons and Hart’s books are the best for learning how to draw comics, comic books, or manga for book adults and kids.
I checked out Manga Mania from the library several years ago and was an immediate fan. I use his Kids Draw series often in my after school program. Now whenever I see one of his books on sale I grab it. I have a good collection going; including Manga Mania Shouju which has been a major influence in my technique.