Five Books Everyone Should Read is a feature we’re running in 2015. We’ve asked some of our favorite authors, readers and bloggers to share five books that touched them or have stayed with them throughout the years.
Today one of our favorite paranormal romance authors, Thea Harrison, is here to share her list of five books everyone should read. She’s included some of my favorites.
I write paranormal romance, but I read widely in a variety of genres, so when Holly asked me to guest in the series, I had a very difficult time narrowing down my choices.
Since the title of this blog post is not One Hundred Books Everyone Should Read (even though in some ways I could write that piece much more easily), the following are the books I finally decided upon. They made such an impact on me when I read them, years later I still think of them.
Stephen King’s apocalyptic vision of a world blasted by plague and tangled in an elemental struggle between good and evil remains as riveting and eerily plausible as when it was first published.
A patient escapes from a biological testing facility, unknowingly carrying a deadly weapon: a mutated strain of super-flu that will wipe out 99 percent of the world’s population within a few weeks. Those who remain are scared, bewildered, and in need of a leader. Two emerge—Mother Abagail, the benevolent 108-year-old woman who urges them to build a peaceful community in Boulder, Colorado; and Randall Flagg, the nefarious “Dark Man,” who delights in chaos and violence. As the dark man and the peaceful woman gather power, the survivors will have to choose between them—and ultimately decide the fate of all humanity.
The world has changed since I read this book, and we’ve seen many apocalyptic narratives, in books, film and in TV series. However, this was MY first apocalyptic story, and perhaps because of it, The Stand has stuck with me. It’s scary, epic, and still plausible in so many ways.
The Princess Bride by William Goldman (romantic, humorous fantasy)
William Goldman’s modern fantasy classic is a simple, exceptional story about quests—for riches, revenge, power, and, of course, true love—that’s thrilling and timeless.
Anyone who lived through the 1980s may find it impossible—inconceivable, even—to equate The Princess Bride with anything other than the sweet, celluloid romance of Westley and Buttercup, but the film is only a fraction of the ingenious storytelling you’ll find in these pages. Rich in character and satire, the novel is set in 1941 and framed cleverly as an “abridged” retelling of a centuries-old tale set in the fabled country of Florin that’s home to “Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passions.”
Everybody knows the funny, adorable movie The Princess Bride, right? When I first picked up the book, I was sixteen years old, it was the seventies, and the movie didn’t exist, so I read this wonderful story with completely fresh eyes. I giggled throughout the whole thing, and I couldn’t put it down. All these years later, the memory of that sparkling, effervescent experience has still stayed with me. If you haven’t read this book, give yourself a treat and pick it up.
Lord of Light by Zoger Zelazny (science fiction)
Lord of Light is a classic tale of the far future from the incomparable Roger Zelazny. Winner of the Hugo Award—one of six Zelazny received over the course of his legendary career, as well as three Nebula Awards and numerous other honors—Lord of Light stands with Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War and Frank Herbert’s Dune as one of the seminal novels that changed the way readers looked at science fiction. Experience it and you will understand why New York Times bestselling sf author Greg Bear says, “Reading Zelazny is like dropping into a Mozart string quartet as played by Thelonius Monk.”
I’ll admit it—I’m a sci-fi/fantasy geek. I love big budget films, and I’ve been reading sci-fi and fantasy my whole life. This book was fascinating to me, because it combines Hindu mythology with sci-fi concepts. If you don’t like hard sci-fi with lots of technical jargon, don’t let that keep you from picking this up – it’s an easy read, and I really enjoyed the protagonist.
The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett (historical)
For the first time Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles are available in the United States in quality paperback editions.
The first book in the legendary Lymond Chronicles, Game of Kings takes place in 1547. Scotland has been humiliated by an English invasion and is threatened by machinations elsewhere beyond its borders, but it is still free. Paradoxically, her freedom may depend on a man who stands accused of treason: Francis Crawford of Lymond.
I think the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett is a must read for anyone who enjoys reading historical sagas. The first book is The Game of Kings, and it’s also my first example of experiencing an anti-hero. I found the character Francis Lymond utterly fascinating, and this series has it all—tragedy, horror, action and adventure, comic moments, and slow building a love story.
Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie (romance)
Sophie Dempsey wants to help her sister film a video and then get out of Temptation, Ohio. Mayor Phin Tucker wants to play pool with the police chief and keep things peaceful. But when Sophie and Phin meet, they both get more than they want. Gossip, blackmail, adultery, murder, vehicular abuse of a corpse, and slightly perverse but excellent sex: all hell breaks loose in Temptation as Sophie and Phin fall deeper and deeper in trouble… and in love.
It’s hard for me to describe how much I loved this book. It came as a total surprise to me. I’d never read Jennifer Crusie before, and I gobbled this book down like a snarfing a box of gourmet chocolates. I giggled the whole time while I read it. That was years ago, but I still vividly remember the pleasure this book brought me. In fact, I think I might have to reread it again.
I hope you find something of interest in these recommendations. Happy reading!
New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Thea Harrison resides in Colorado. She wrote her first book, a romance, when she was nineteen, and had sixteen romances published under the name Amanda Carpenter. She took a break from writing to collect a couple of graduate degrees and a grown child.
Thea writes in a variety of genres, including the award-winning paranormal Elder Races series and the Game of Shadowsnovels, and is currently at work on various new projects in sci-fi fantasy, paranormal and contemporary romance.