The Dark Phoenix Saga. This story line has everything the X-Men ever were or could be: love, loss, tragedy, betrayal, romance, insane superpowers, and the introduction of Kitty Pryde. It had all my favorite X-men at the time, and my least favorite of all time (I hate Cyclops with a passion). It was Claremont and Byrne. It was great story telling and art that jumped off the page. It was and still is a classic.
It’s fitting that this ends my ten book series as it’s one that I’ve been wanting to reread lately.
My wife hates when I reread Mercedes Lackey because I have to read all the Mercedes Lackey, at least all the Valdemar ones I have. It all started with Magic’s Pawn which I picked up at Walden Books when I was 19. I read the third book in the series and cried all night for Vanyel.
The first several are not the best written ever, and actually Arrows of the Queen and Arrows Flight have several interesting typos, but there’s magic in those pages. These are fun, easy and quick reads, although Lackey does experiment with various dark themes in some of her series, most of them are pretty light, imho of course.
Listen. Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time…
Douglas Adams led me here. Actually a friend who knew I loved Adams introduced me to Vonnegut. I had read a few of his short stories before, but I had not read his novels. What happened was a love affair that’s spanned twenty years and will last until I die. The man nothing short of brilliant. As a writer, his works are awe inspiring and freeing. As a reader, they are equally amazing and entertaining. His asides and illustrations don’t detract from the story, they add to it.
Vonnegut is one of those authors I would short list on those if you could only read the works of five authors again, he would be on it without a doubt.
This is not my first or even third copy of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I have long since worn them out, lost them or loaned them and never received them back. This masterpiece of absurdist science fiction gives the answer to Life, the Universe, & Everything. That answer is 42. It also gives us two great pieces of advice: Don’t Panic and always bring a towel. It is a perennial favorite and reread. This book and the humor in it actually helped me find the eighth book in this list.
So, grab your towel and climb aboard, but don’t forget your Babel fish.
This is probably one of the most controversial books I have on here. In The Killing Joke Joker shoots Barbara Gordon and then takes pictures of her nude, wounded form to drive her dad, Commissioner Jim Gordon, crazy. That’s the crux of the controversy, that wounding of a healthy young girl solely to further the plot. It’s a dark story, and it was never meant to be canon, but someone decided to do away with Babs and her role of Batgirl (Joker of course did not know she was Batgirl, the attack was because of her parentage). She was later reintroduced as one of the best characters ever, Oracle, though they took that away with another reboot.
I’ve read all the theories about the ending, about what Joker and his henchmen did to Barbara, about the women in refrigerators and all of it. I list this book because at the time it left a large impression on me, and one that has evolved over time. I still like this book, but now as an adult, I can appreciate the intended and unintended nuances to it.
Those who know me in real life are probably surprised I didn’t put these first. I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone purely to see what the controversy was about. At that time the fourth book, Goblet of Fire, had just been released and there was talk everywhere about witchcraft and banning books and so forth. Naturally it made me curious. What I did not expect was a life altering experience. I finished the first book the day I had gotten it, I won’t lie, it’s a quick and easy read. However, I was hooked. I needed the next one, but all the stores were closed (the area in which I lived at the time, I think I was 26 or 27, did not have a 24 hour Walmart).
I was working a part time hourly job and living on sheer will power, but I bought the second book the next day. The day after that, I managed to get the third and fourth. After all, these were worth skipping a meal or two for in my opinion. After that I was there at midnight for each subsequent release and stayed up all night to read the new one. I still go back and read them. I read them to my wife when she was pregnant. I read them to my daughter when she was tiny. She just read them herself this past year. You can see the wear on the spines in the picture below. These books are loved and cherished.
I really could not decide on this one. I have had a love for Neil Gaiman since I picked up my first Sandman comic 150 years ago, or the early 90’s if you want to be closer to accurate. One of my most prized possessions is an autographed Sandman trade paperback. I lost the full run, a few busts and statues and a framed Death print in Katrina. My wife found a copy of the first trade that collected the first several issues and gave it to me as a present. That’s what I have signed. It’s one of the first things on my list to pack if we need to evacuate.
Gaiman has a way of speaking to the soul. His writing is both wry and serious. He can insert humor in the most unlikely places, and every time I read something of his, I learn something. If I could be half the writer he is, I would be more than I can dream.