I love to read. Always have. Stories are the fabric that make up the gestalt mind of humanity and I love 'em all. Fiction, non-fiction, technical manuals, scientific journals, instructional textbooks, if it can be read I'll read it as long as I find it interesting. Much of what I have read in my life has had some shaping of the person that I am.
I also love the time I've grown up in. As a huge Sci-fi fan I've read about the future and possibilities of human existence, particularly technology. I've seen some forms of the things I read, dreamed, and speculated about as a child actually come to reality. Cell phones, tablet computers, the world wide web, etc. I love reading a book or magazine on my Thrive, or having nearly my whole music library on a little device smaller than the average wallet, or having the ability to call, surf the web, or play a game on one little machine that fits in the palm of my hand.
And yet...I was born in an older time before all of these things, so, I have a very special affinity for real, tangible books. I love books! The way they feel, look, and smell is just wonderful. I love walking into bookstores and libraries just to be in the midst of so much knowledge and imagination. I especially love the feel and smell of a used bookstore. It is simply heavenly. I've found some literary treasures. I've been reading nearly all my life and so I have quite the collection as well. You can check it out here if you so desire. I'm sure there's a few I'm missing but that's most of them. And I've said all of this to get to the point of this blog: The 5 books that had the most influence on my life.
My Book of Bible Stories
This is the first book I remember reading in my life. At first I just looked at the very detailed and awesome illustrations in it but it didn't take me long to learn to read the words that explained the wonderful pictures I loved to look at. This book right here is responsible for my love of fantasy stories. (Didn't expect that did ya.) I'm not going to get into a religious conversation here because you can find my stance on religion elsewhere on my blog. This is simply a really good book that simplified the stories in the bible so that anyone could understand them clearly. And the artwork was/is phenomenal. I am very glad that I was not made to believe these stories were supposed to be true but left to my own devices of interpretation. I did not understand the "importance" of the bible when I first began reading this and that was a blessing indeed.
I have some of my fondest childhood memories of Aesop's Fables. As a very young child my father read them to my brother and I as bedtime stories. Every story was a lesson and my father made sure that we understood each one. He had a beautiful large hardcover copy with some of the most beautiful illustrations I have ever had the pleasure to see of these fables. The reason I do not have a pic for this entry is I do not have the book any longer because a teacher, Gerianne F. Scott, stole it from me a long time ago and I'm still very upset about it. I also cannot find a copy or pic online.
Glory Lane by Alan Dean Foster
This book right here is absolutely responsible for my lifelong love of Science Fiction! My mother brought this for me when I was about ten or eleven. Still my favorite book ever. An adventure that begins on the third planet from our sun and blasts off into the far reaches of the universe. Three humans get mixed up with an alien hiding out on our planet. The ultimate lesson of the story is doing the right thing because it is the right thing instead of the advantageous thing. Alan Dean Foster is still one of my most favorite authors in SF to this day. I have collected almost all of his published books. This is also one of my favorite book covers EVAR! It is a wrap around cover with all of these very interesting and far-out aliens all over and the three humans looking out like, "Whoa!" The book covers in my youth were the best. Great artistry that went missing for quite a while but I notice is making a comeback. Just another reason I love the genre of speculative fiction. Thanks Ma!
Street Lethal by Steven Barnes
This is my very favorite book next to Glory Lane. Street Lethal was the first book I read where the main character was someone I could literally see myself as without stretching the imagination too far. It was also the first SF book I read by a Black author. The awesomeness of this for me is without bounds. I've written elsewhere on my blog about why such a thing is so important to me so I won't delve into that here. Just know that Aubry Knight is still my favorite character ever and I would really, really, really, really, really, really love to see this on the big screen one day. And again, I love the cover of this one. This cover is a reprint but I am so glad it is the one that introduced me to Steven. The original cover didn't reflect what was inside as much as this one does. LOVE IT!!!! This book was also the first of a trilogy of stories centered on Aubry Knight and Promise, Aubry's lady love. The other two books "Gorgon Child" and "Firedance" are wonderful books as well. I've met Steven and he is an awesome person. I look forward to the next meeting.
Futureland: Nine Stories of an Imminent World - by Walter Mosley
This book here blew my mind. This here is not the future I was accustomed to reading about in most science fiction and thank the higher powers (and Walter Mosley) that it was written and given to the world to read! Gritty, unpleasant, gripping, hopeful, plus a whole lot of other adjectives cannot do this book justice. The plays of power, belief, social status, love, family, and friendship are just phenomenal. This book literally changed how I want to write and encouraged me to want to write the future I see in my mind. And the format of the story is also something that I had never had the experience of reading before. It's a novel told through nine interrelated and interlinking stories. Each story is phenomenal enough to stand on it's own and yet, the sum FAR outweighs the parts in this here tale. If/when I ever get to meet Mr. Mosley the first thing I will say to him is Thank You for Futureland! The scariest thing about this story is I can see this happening, in many ways, in our real timeline. I love it! Walter Mosley became a well known writer for his mysteries, particularly the Easy Rawlins novels, that begins with "Devil in a Blue Dress," which was turned into a film, where a particularly famous and excellent actor by the name of Denzel played the title character. Who would have guessed his mind encompassed so much more? Futureland definitely made him one of my favorite writers.
And there you go. The 5 most influential books in my life so far. I cannot wait to read them all again! There are so many other books that are high on my importance list and yet it wasn't hard to pick these 5. That should tell you something. I hope you enjoyed reading and I really hope you go out and check these out. Which books have been an influence in your life? Let me know in the comments or if you are so inclined write your own blog and let me know. You might just give me something interesting to read next!
Also, my best friend The Bimillennial Man did his own list. Check him out.