Monday, June 15, 2009

Following the lead of Livejournal's wendigomountain and selfavowedgeek, I'm listing 15 books that have had a huge impact. Tough to whittle it down, and some major influences have been left off. The more interesting part, I'd say, is explaining each of these (not that I'll be doing that just now). In general, it strikes me that each book does something that, until I read that book, I didn't realize you could do.

In no order:

The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson
The Endurance, Caroline Alexander (non-fiction)
Middlemarcha, George Eliot
Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquz
The Hamlet, William Faulkner
Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce
A Good Man is Hard to Find, Flannery O'Connor (stories)
Dr. Fischer of Geneva; or, The Bomb Party, Graham Greene
Nickel Mountain, John Gardner
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard (non-fiction)
Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Plague, Albert Camus
Fun House, Alison Bechdel (graphic novel)
The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury
The Long Goodbye, Raymond Chandler

. . . rather absurdly leaving out any Shakespeare (Hamlet) or a book of the Bible (Gospel of Luke) or a book of poetry (maybe Louise Glück's Wild Iris).


Anonymous said...

In fact, you have room to add Luke or whotsnot, since Faulkner's on your list twice. Or is that on purpose?

William Preston said...

Fixed it, reinserting the Marquez. Also, I had mislabeled Chronicles as being by Magnus Mills (who wrote the wonderful Explorers of the New Century, but who doesn't make that top 15 for having an impact on me).

Anonymous said...

I have to say, that particular Marquez would not make my top 15. Can you verbalize how, specifically, it met your "impact" criterion?

William Preston said...

Its combination of place and people--the way in which the culture so saturated the descriptions as well as the way people behaved--felt lush in a way other books hadn't. It was similar to the Faulkner in that respect, though with Faulkner you get the opposite effect, where landscape and culture together form an ordeal that shapes character. I haven't read One Hundred Years of Solitude, so I can't compare.