Five Books

Five Books

I’m deep into drafting a new novel, which has gotten me thinking about what draws me into a fictional world. This is tricky business—the worlds that resonate with me often seem to have little in common. My tastes have changed over time, but these are the five novels I read in my teens and early twenties that still stick in my mind now.

The Key to Rebecca by Ken Follett

This was the first grown-up book I read. At the time I was 13 and there wasn’t such a diverse amount of YA novels as there are now. Other than a few scenes a little too erotic for a 13-year-old, it’s a solid spy novel set in Egypt during WW2. It has great action and got me hooked on spy stories. I went on to read all the Ken Follett books out at the time then all the James Bond and Sherlock Holmes books.

Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke

This book was the first adult science fiction novel I ever read. During my undergrad this book found me. I have no idea this book ended up in my hands. An alien spaceship is passing by Earth, so we send out a group to explore it (as it was published in 1973 the explores had the gender balance one would expect for the time). Inside, the spaceship is fantastically alien. I loved following the heroes as they tried to make sense of the place and figure out its purpose.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Don’t tell anyone, but for a while I went on a romance novel reading stint. Even though I was bored with them, I ended up stuck in this rut. Then I stumbled upon Outlander, someone gave it to me as a romance novel, but although there is a lot of romance in it, the novel is so much more. There’s a lot of these books, and I’ve enjoyed them. I’d go back and re-read them, except now there’s a TV series of them that allows me to just flop on the couch and enjoy.

Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein

A military science fiction story about a soldier going through combat training, then heading off to fight bug-like aliens (The unfortunately named movies of the same name I pretend are coincidentally named and completely unrelated to the book). I read this during my army training and loved it. It made me excited to be going out a soldiering, and I really wished I could’ve had their powered armour - my knees would’ve thanked me! Published 1959 it has all the issues one would expect from a novel of the era including sexism I doubt I could stomach now.

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

The Eye of the World and the rest of the Wheel of Time series feature high fantasy with a huge cast of characters and multitudes of sub-plots and it sucked me in. A friend loaned me a stack of these books before I went out on an army exercise back in my soldiering days (I had known upfront, that the exercise would include mostly sitting around for me). For most of two weeks, I sat under a tree or in my command post reading these books. There are fourteen 1000 page books and I’ve read them all at least three times and I'm contemplating reading them again.

And so far, I've enjoyed the TV version as well.

What novels stick out in your mind?

Back to blog