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May's FEATURED AUTHOR: James' list...

May 19, 2010
James Rollins, our May Featured Author, swings by today to share some of his favorite books... Come and see what he has to share with us!.

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Let’s talk books! And let’s be specific! As a writer of both fantasies and thrillers, my tastes in reading are more defined by what I don’t read. I love to read across a wide gamut of genres (with an occasional nonfiction book thrown in there…right now, I’m reading Sebastian Junger’s War). But if I had to define a personal taste in genres I’d label it as “speculative fiction.”

While I’ve read lots of straight-laced mysteries over the years, I can’t say they’re my cup of tea. Though I do particularly enjoy Nevada Barr’s series because of the deep naturalism of her stories. I might not get to visit every State Park, but I get to vicariously through the adventures of Anna Pigeon. What I generally prefer are mysteries with a little extra something in them, like the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. Or going back further to Isaac Asimov’s series featuring a human detective and his robot sidekick R. Daneel Olivaw (Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun, etc.).

And speaking of science fiction, I could wax poetic about dozens and dozens of authors from the golden age of scifi to today. Here are a few of my favorites (some classics, some not so much):

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

(and yes, I’m classifying the above 3 as science fiction, though you won’t find those books in the scifi section of a book store.)

Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey

Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny

Dune by Frank Herbert

Ringworld by Larry Niven

The Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov

Link by Walt W. Becker

Moving onto horror, again pretty much any early Stephen King and Dean Koontz are fine by me, but I thought I’d jot down a few that really struck home for me. Again, some are classics, some are a bit more obscure.

Vespers by Jeff Rovin

Salem's Lot by Stephen King (and a close second place, The Shining)

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice

Watchers by Dean Koontz

In the fantasy field, I go old school and new here, from Tolkien to Rothfuss. Here’s the list:

Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R Tolkien

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Lamb, the Gospel according to Biff by Christopher Moore

Watership Down by Richard Adams

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks

Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

As with mysteries, I also prefer my thrillers that are a bit on the “speculative” side, too. Though that said, I’d never miss a Lee Child novel. Here’s again a fast list of some of my all-time favorites:

Temple by Mathew Reilly

Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Ice Reich by William Dietrich

The Romanov Prophecy by Steve Berry

Brotherhood of the Rose by David Morrell

Hooked: A Thriller About Love and Other Addictions by Matt Richtel

Regressing to my childhood, I thought I’d talk middle-school and YA (since I also just started a series in this genre). As a kid, I cut my teeth on the old Jupiter Jones series and Danny Dunn, but there’s some great stuff out there now. I don’t have to mention Harry Potter, do I? Plus a couple of my favorites out now:

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

And going old school, the novel that made me want to be a veterinarian:

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

And I must say I do occasionally sneak off the genre reservation and read the Pulitzer Prize winners for fiction every year. One of the most influential (and a book that made me look at prose in an entirely new light and to this day I think helped turn me into a published author) is The Shipping News by Annie Proulx. What she does with language is breathtaking, frustrating, and mindboggling.

Another such author is Dan Simmons. I’ve been reading his books since he won a horror award for his absolutely disturbing novel, Song of Kali. He’s since gone on to win awards in science fiction (Hyperion) and gained literary accolades for his latest novels (The Terror and Drood). But my favorite book of his remains Carrion Comfort. You want to see how to do vampires really well, read that book.

Lastly, I must also acknowledge the books that made me want to write as a young Midwestern school boy. I devoured truckloads of the old Bantam reprints of the pulp classics from the 30s and 40s. But the best of them all was the Doc Savage series, written by various authors under the pseudonym Kenneth Robeson. I still have all 181 (plus 1) of those novels still sitting on a hallowed place on my library bookshelf.

So that’s it. I’m off to curl up with a good book.

My goodness. Is that a list or what?? Some of 'em are on my list too, and some are new-to-me. I'm off to add them to my library holds. What do you think of James' list?


Cheryl said...

I read The Road and The Hunger Games this year and I really loved both of them!

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