Favorite Book

hulk thinkOn a podcast interview the other day I mentioned my favorite of my own books. Rather, I MEANT to mention the title of my favorite of the books I’ve written. I think I instead said “my favorite book,” as though I am even more egotistical than you might suspect. I assure you that while I have a healthy dose of self-respect, I don’t think my favorite book is one that I wrote.

But that got me thinking — among all of those I’ve read over many years, do I still have a favorite book? It was much easier to choose when I was a kid. Certainly I can point to ones that used to be favorites, like Swords Against Death or (perhaps unfairly because it’s actually a series, albeit one about the size of single modern doorstop fantasy novel) the first Chronicles of Amber, narrated by Corwin. But do I re-read those anymore? Not for a long while. So then perhaps the favorite is Hour of the Dragon, or some Robert E. Howard collection, or maybe a Leigh Brackett collection of short stories, or maybe a collection of Harold Lamb tales, or James Stoddard’s The High House, or something by Wade Miller or Ben Haas or Raymond Chandler or one of the Parker novels by Donald Westlake/Richard Stark.

The truth is, I don’t know anymore. I have various favorite writers, and favorite books, but I’m not sure I have ONE favorite to rule them all. There’s no single text that I refer to again and again above all others that’s my end-all and be-all perfect example of the way writing ought to be. I suppose it would be cool if there was.

What about you folks? Is there a favorite, or are you more in my camp where there’s a range of favorites?

11 Comments on “Favorite Book

  1. One book keeps coming back to me when a friend or co-worker asks for a good book to read; Boy’s Life by Robert R MacCammon. I love this book and fairly force it on others at every opportunity. Yet I tend to read swashbuckling historical adventures, sword and sorcery and action oriented adventure novels. But I always come back to this one. Favorite? Not sure. But certainly my favorite to recommend!

      • The story is basically one year in the life of a kid growing up in a smaller town in Alabama in the 60’s. It is filled with the experiences and adventures of a boy on the cusp of becoming a young man. But it also has elements of horror and fantasy and magic. When your dog was your closest companion, and your bicycle could take you anywhere, even to the skies. For me, it triggered so many nostalgic memories from my own youth of the mid 70’s; going to the movies, arguing with buddies over what superhero could win in a fight, noticing girls for the first time, and swearing you and your buddies would be best friends forever. This is that magical time before growing up. Before work, responsibility and day to day drudgery took the magic out of our lives. Some of us still have a link to the magic, people who read and enjoy genre fiction, and the magicians who create the magical stories for us. MacCammon is one of those magicians.

        • Sounds like I might want to give it a look then. I remember when my bicycle seemed the emblem of freedom, and my dog was one of my best friends, and all that…

  2. Off topic a bit (sorry), I just got a book order yesterday that included Lamb’s The Crusades. I did not realize the paperback combined the two books he wrote about the crusades in one thick, dense package. I’m going to savor this one slowly. Also picked up a nice little pulp swashbuckler; The Swordsman by Jefferson Cooper (Gardner Fox). It’s the story of Baibars the Turk, who rose from Mongol slave to Sultan of Egypt, besting the Golden Horde and mighty crusaders from France along the way. 38 pages in, and it’s proving to be great fun!

  3. I used to say The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov was my favorite book, and read it every few years, but it’s been a while. Now, I’d say a I have range of favorite authors. Among them are Tim Powers, James Blaylock, and PC Hodgell. Only the latter writes heroic fantasy and is the only one I’ve read lately.

    • I don’t know PC Hodgell. Can you share a little about his work and the appeal of it?

      • Over nearly 30 years (with substantial breaks for a career as a phd candidate, then professor, all while hopping around publishers until finally be rescued by Baen), she’s crafted an incredibly intricate series centered around Jamethiel Priest-bane. The first book, God Stalk, was written as a deliberate Leiber pastiche, but the ensuing installments have ranged from epic fantasy to Gothic mysteries to military fantasy. Over seven books, the series has grown into one of the most elaborate epic fantasy cycles I’ve ever read.

        I was drawn into God Stalk by the force of Jame’s character. Probably destined to be the destroyer-aspect of her people’s triune god in the upcoming showdown with powers of Chaos, she’s alternately a bad ass, a klutzy teenager, and righter-of-wrongs, and a breaker of icons in need of breaking.

        I’ve reviewed all seven books over at Black Gate (https://www.blackgate.com/?s=p+C+Hodgell). More than REH, Glen Cook, or Charles Saunders, she is my favorite heroic fantasy author. I cannot recommend her work enough.

  4. Favorite book, too hard, next question.

    Favorite books, plural, here are a few off the top of my head.

    Portrait of Jenny by Robert Nathan
    A Brilliant Death by Robin Yocum
    The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
    The Humanoids by Jack Williamson
    The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

    Favorite writers:

    Henry Kuttner, Leigh Brackett, Robert E. Howard, C. L. Moore, Ray Bradbury, Charles Beaumont, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Lawrence Block, Poul Anderson, Eric Frank Russell, Jack Williamson, Frederik Pohl, Larry Niven

    I could go on, but I’ll stop now.

    • I see a heckuva lot of overlap on our favorite writers there, Keith. Hardly a surprise, though. I’ve only read two of your favorite books, though, and I’m completely unfamiliar with both Nathan and Yocum. Can you tell us about them?

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