Thursday, December 26, 2013

All-Time Favorites

It’s the time of year when everyone is making lists. Top ten’s. Best of’s. Well, it’s been a good reading year for me, but as I considered writing about my favorites, it wasn’t long before my mind was permanently fixed upon books that have impacted my life over time. I decided that since it’s my blog, I could write about my “best of’s” any way I wanted, so here are some books that have stuck with me long after I’ve read them.

The Bible. Forgive me, God, but some of the Bible is terribly boring. If anyone enjoys Leviticus, Numbers, and Jeremiah, I’d like to know why. However, after reading it many, many times, it has clearly impacted my view of life, my values, my purpose for living, and my heart.

Heaven by John McArthur. There’s a lot to not understand about God and His workings in the world, but to have the hope of Heaven makes it a lot easier to deal with. This book presented Heaven in such a way that not only do I have something to look forward to, but I have a better perspective on my purpose for being on earth as well.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. My dad made me read this book. Crusoe was a guy who wasn’t an outdoorsman, wasn’t handy, and wasn’t equipped to live on an island alone for nearly thirty years, yet he did it. He never gave up hope. He learned how to do everything he needed to do. He was an inspiration to me that I also can do whatever I put my mind to do.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I’m often proclaiming that this is my favorite book. I connected with it. I learned from it. I was captivated by it. I’ve read it numerous times, and each time I finish I say, “That’s the best book I’ve ever read.” It’s one of only two novels that I choose to read over and over again.

This Present Darkness/Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti. As a young adult, it was these books that got me interested in fantasy. I was also fascinated by the dual, intertwined stories of people on earth and also angels and demons on a different realm, an element which I included in Jumper.

Holes by Louis Sachar and The Colorado Kid by Stephen King. The books have nothing in common except for the fact that each had such a unique plot, written so superbly, that when I was finished, I wished I had written them. These two books had a lot to do with my decision to write books of my own—especially the mysteries in Skeleton Key and Bulletproof.

The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton. This book has my favorite character—a bad guy protagonist. Crichton took a true story from the 1850’s and retold it as a novel, a novel which is the other book that I read over and over. I received another new copy for Christmas because I gave away my best copy and my used replacement was in terrible condition. What a fascinating story, mixing history with mystery and adventure. It should be a movie.

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Again, these books have nothing to do with each other, but I read one this year and one ages ago and both brought me to tears. Books can do that, you know? Books can be written so well and be so captivating that I can cry. It’s good to read books like that once in a while.

Loving the Rain by Jeff LaFerney. Yep, I egotistically chose my own book. But why not? I wrote a book! I sat down with an idea and the ideas kept coming and the plot and characters came alive. And I even made myself cry during one of the scenes. I woke up in the middle of the night with the ending. I got it published and people liked it. This book means the world to me because it was a risk I took, and I typed out a part of me that I didn’t know existed.

The World According to Garp and A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. John Irving is a fantastic story-teller. His books ramble on and on in direction after direction. Characters are weird; their lives are weirder. His stories stick in my head and I can’t put his books down, and then somehow—miraculously—the whole story comes together—sometimes shockingly. These two books did it best. If I could write like someone, I’d choose John Irving.

Wish You Well by David Baldacci and A Painted House by John Grisham. These two well-known authors write thrillers and I’ve read many, many books by each, but these two novels divert from the norm. They’re historical, literary fiction. The stories are fabulous, showing a diversity and talent that impressed me. As a writer, I appreciate both of these stories immensely.

Emma vs. the Tech Guy by Lia Fairchild, The Last Great Wizard of Yden by S.G. Rogers, Blue Bells of Scotland by Laura Vosika, Long Live the King by Guy Cote, Embers at Galdrilene by A.D. Trosper, The Lie by Ashley Fontainne, The Conduit by Stacey Rourke, Warrior of the Ages by S.R. Karfelt, Golden Blood by Melissa Pearl, The Jewel Box by C. Michelle McCarty, and Deja Blue by Julie Cassar. These are indie authors all, and they’ve written very good books (I only listed one for each). These authors are my supportive, talented, funny, generous, intelligent, diverse friends whose books I treasure.

So that’s my year-end “best of” list. Choose any of those books to read and enjoy yourself. I hope you had a Merry Christmas and may the New Year bring you lots of stories to read and write.