TEN BOOKS THAT I LOVE

THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS

 -- Albert Camus

I was in a place in my life where despite firm belief in God, and hard work and trying to be honorable, absolutely nothing worked.  I was constantly losing, failing, in pain, and had no hope, despite possessing a world view that was hopeful, a lifestyle that was moral, and things and people surrounding me who were more than great.   Life was absurd.   Reading this book allowed me to place within a framework and life context where I was, and what I could do to go on.   Like Sisyphus pushing the boulder, I had to conceive of the work, itself, as being satisfying, and that with life being absurd it was my duty to make it have worth and meaning.

THE LITTLE PRINCE 

 -- Antoine Marie Jean-Baptiste Roger, comte de Saint Exupéry

The Little Prince was my introduction into a world of meaning beyond faith, and beyond American values.   I was more religious then than spiritual, and reading the book showed me how life is bigger than I could see, while proving that small was good.   We are actors upon a stage, and have to make that play worth while.  We have roles that are important, whatever the big picture...



THE PERSIAN EXPEDITION

-- Xenophon

The story here, of Greeks recruited to fight for a Persian leader, only to be betrayed deep within the Empire is brilliant.   The writing is not as archaic as some might fear, and the story talks about what is important in society, not just behavior amongst men in war.   Democracy rose from Greece because of the brilliance of their ways, and this book is evidence of it.



 

BEOWULF

-- Author unknown  (With Seamus Heaney)

This is the book that taught me that poetry was more than words on a page.  This story is epic, life changing, and beyond important.  It shows that great events are not reserved for modernity, that story telling is an art that is ever present in humanity, and that we all have dragons we must face of our own.



BETWEEN PAST AND PRESENT

-- Neil Asher Silberman

This book is particularly important right now.   The control over ideas, and beliefs starts with controlling how the past is perceived.   Do you trust in reason, or in the myth.   Both might be important, and neither should cancel the other out, necessarily.   But people seek power, and control, and the memories of the past get clouded by such people.




ALEXANDER OF MACEDON


-- Peter Green

This book was proof to me that whatever our perceptions of a character of the past are, they can be understood with new eyes.   Was Alexander the Great a murderer?  Yes.  Was he brilliant? Yes.  Was he gay?  I think he loved men, but also had sex with women.  Was he insane?  Perhaps.   Peter Green really brought  Alexander the Great to life here, and I return to the book often.


RED NAILS

-- Robert E. Howard

The purity of how Robert E. Howard tells a story is in full bloom here.   Through Howard's directness of story, the writing brilliance of the scenes and action, the dialogue flows perfectly, Conan comes alive.   There is beauty in the violence here, which to me was eye opening.   The red blur of blood and hate and violence are woven to tell a story that is disturbing, but great.


AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS

-- H.P. Lovecraft

Don’t let the style of his writing get in your way of what Lovecraft is doing here.  He is expressing through story how a person, educated and thoughtful, would understand and relate the unrelatable.  I loved it, and it is one of the few stories of horror that gave me the spooks.   The impenetrable cold, the abject fear, and the knowledge that this world bears secrets we should not discover, is all worth the time to explore.


THE KING OF ELFLAND’S DAUGHTER

-- Lord Dunsany

However much the characters and events are great here the grand beauty of this work is in the language.   Any time I read it I am awash in beauty, and the story itself flows from that.   Magic is reality here, and the world and characters are part of this immensely fantastic vision.   To me if one asks what is beautiful, they only need to read Dunsany to see what it is.

MAD AMOS

--  Alan Dean Foster

You might look at MAD AMOS as series of simple and short fantasy stories, but you’d miss why it is so good if you limit it to that.   Alan Dean Foster tells new folk tales, generally in the American West, and he doesn’t fail to create something as perfect and joyous as the original tales of folk lore.  The point here isn't that each tale isn't great on its own, or that it is not fantasy, but rather, Foster creates something that seamlessly fits into the previous era that he writes about.

MORE BOOKS I HAVE LOVED


I love the Icerigger trilogy.  I feel like it is comfort food, and I need that some days and nights.  The experience of a lifetime happens, and a meek work a day guy crash lands on a frozen planet, where there is intelligent life.



King Arthur and associated legends moved me far more than other legends or myths.  And the work The Discovery of King Arthur is magnificently interesting.


The birth of the weapon of the Kamikaze struck fear in the hearts of Allied sailors.  The use of trained pilots in aircraft sent on a one way mission is often said to be a waste of the human potential, and last reserves of war materials for Japan by historians.  The adoption of Kamikaze, I think, would in any other similar situation, would have come earlier than it did in WWII.  The reason for this is the pilots were often considered to be modern samurai.  And samurai have codes that they follow.  “Bushido is realized in the presence of death. This means choosing death whenever there is a choice between life and death. There is no other reasoning.”
― Tsunetomo Yamamoto, Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai


I love the works found in these books, and I find their physical look to be quite appealing.  Since I talk about all of the writers and works here quite often, I'll be even more brief than normal.   Machen was a dark genius.  Ovid was a brilliant poet.  William Hope Hodgson scared the shit out of me.  H.P. Lovecraft rarely scares me, but The Colour Out of Space is just fricking scary stuff.