My Ten Defining Books

  1. Green Eggs & Ham - A tale of perserverance, redemption and the triumph of the human spirit as a... thing learns to overcome his deep-seeded prejudices and try new culinary delights. I remember that this is the first book I could read all on my own, and I read it to death.
  2. The Adventures of Robin Hood - First book I ever bought, and the first book I had to work really hard to read. It's written in Early Modern English, heavy with words like thou, yon, verily, and pate. I still remember having to read entire paragraphs over and over to understand the context in order to comprehend a single word or phrase. I still own this book and look forward to reading it with my girls.
  3. The Most Dangerous Game - Found this short story in a collection in my elementary school library. It introduced me to the dark, bestial side of the human condition. I can still picture the island, the soaring mansion, the sinister jungle, the calculating General and the vicious hounds.
  4. It - This still defines terror for me.
  5. Dragons of Autumn Twilight - I was 15. I saw this in the "Newly Released" section at Borders book store. It had Dragons in the title, and seemed to be based on D&D, a game I played, so I bought it. Little did I know that it would pull me headlong into a world that still lives on in my head to this day. I've read the Chronicles trilogy at least 10 times, and the Legends trilogy about 5 times.
  6. Taiko - The story of the rise of Tokugawa Ieyasu from humble servant to the most powerful man in feudal Japan. It showed me how a man could use negotiation, emotion, strategy, daring risks, honesty, and cunning to accomplish anything.
  7. I, Claudius - Introduced me to historical fiction, now my favorite fiction. Incredibly well written as to make you think it truly is an autobiography of the Emperor Claudius.
  8. The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory - I love physics. It was my initial major in college. I have forgotten 99% of the math behind it because, y'know, I haven't used it in 22 years, but learning about new ideas about how our wonderful universe actually works is a constant source of joy and fulfillment for me. This was the first book I read about some of the newer theories in physics and it really captured my imagination and resulted in the purchase of many more since.
  9. Lamb - It's really funny. He takes a highly controvesial topic - religion - and tells a fictitious tale about the adolescent Jesus Christ in a very entertaining way. One of the few books I've ever read where I laughed out loud while reading it.
  10. Self-reliance - IMHO, required reading by every human being on the planet. When I discovered this text, I found out that someone had developed a coherent, passionate work that allowed me to put many thoughts I'd had since I was a child into practical use. This passage still inspires me to this day.

"Fear never but you shall be consistent in whatever variety of actions, so they each be honest and natural in their hour. For of one will, the actions will be harmonious, however unlike they seem. These varieties are lost sight of when seen at a little distance, at a little height of thought. One tendency unites them all. The voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks. This is only microscopic criticism. See the line from a sufficient distance, and it straightens itself to the average tendency. Your genuine action will explain itself and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing."