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ScottC’s Top 10 Favorite Books of All Time

(in alphabetical order, by author)

Dindrane’s post in the Gabfest and Widge’s own list like this got me thinking about the books that meant a lot of me. No, not those kind of books. So here’s what I came up with and I thought I’d share the list with my adoring public. But in a pinch, all of you will do.

Book cover art for Midnight in the Garden Of Good and Evil Book cover art for Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold Book cover art for D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths Book cover art for Transmetropolitan, Vol. 1

John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden Of Good and Evil. When I was a small child, I lived in Savannah. But I had no idea of the unique flavor of Southern weirdness that existed there. Ostensibly a story of Jim Williams and his four, yes four, trials for murders, it is really a study of Savannah and the characters that reside in her squares. (Buy it from Amazon)

Lois McMaster Bujold’s Memory. Bujold has penned many fine adventures with Miles Vorkosigan: soldier, spy, noble, and an all around smart ass who overcame his deformities and the prejudices against them to achieve much. And like all good authors, she takes it all away from the character. Kicked out of the Imperial Army, Miles must look inside himself and reinvent his life. Probably the best in a fine series. (Buy it from Amazon)

Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire’s D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths. You have to just look at the illustrations to see why this book is extraordinary. And of course the stories have maintained themselves for centuries. I still have my copy I got when I was a small child. It led to so many things in my life I cannot begin to say. (Buy it from Amazon) US, UK, CAN)

Warren Ellis’s Transmetropolitan . I have to thank Widge for this. Like many, I was intimidated by the variety of comics and I didn’t know where to start. Widge was kind enough to take me under his wing and expose me to Spider Jerusalem. I soon learned that comics didn’t need tights and capes, that they can be vulgar and literate, and to love Warren Ellis. Seriously, I want to be the man’s cabana boy. Thank you, Widge. (Buy it from Amazon) US, UK, CAN)

Book cover art for Neuromancer Book cover art for C is for Corpse Book Book cover art for Perdido Street Station

William Gibson’s Neuromancer. The novel that made modern nihilism and computer science sexy. The language is almost like prose poetry reminiscent of Ray Bradbury yet the style is harder edged and evokes the feral megalopolis, not the bucolic small town. I like how there are the general trappings of science fiction: space stations, domed cities, AIs, but we see it from society’s underside. I’ve read this book several times over the years and have gotten something new out of it every time. (Buy it from Amazon)

Sue Grafton’s C is for Corpse . For a long time, I sampled various mystery books, never really liking an author enough to bother following up on their other works. Then I picked up this at the used book store by my grandparents’ place. I was then exposed to Kinsey Millhone, a private detective and modern eccentric. Gratfon’s abrasive style and monumental stubbornness made me a fan. I know the title (and the others in the series) is kinda jokey, there are worthy. (Buy it from Amazon)

Mark Kurlansky’s Salt: A World History I like unusual history. Not the stuff you get in class being lectured at, but the nooks and crannies that have always been there, but hide in plain sight. Like salt. Who knew the power salt had? Even during the Civil War, there were articles telling people how to extract salt from waste and supposedly acceptable substitutes. This will banish that boring lecturer’s voice forever. (Buy it from Amazon)

China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station. I generally don’t like fantasy. I guess I have a natural resistance to the Tolkien meme. But when read I this, I was blown away. An obscene mix of magic, steampunk, and urban fantasy. None of that Lord of the Rings bucolic bullshit, it’s gritty, dirty, and absolutely wonderful. And not a dwarf or elf in sight. (Buy it from Amazon)

Book cover art for Ringworld

Larry Niven’s Ringworld. An artifact so big it encircles a sun and has more livable surface area than the entire galaxy. Filled with mysteries and strangeness. How can you not love that? Ringworld is ambitious and awe inspiring. You read and go “Whoa.” And not in that stupid Keanu way. (Buy it from Amazon)

Tim Powers’s Last Call. My first real experience with “hidden history.” Where Bugsy Siegel attained the status of the Fisher King of the West but a mage using a game of poker based on the Tarot plans to take the crown. As Ringworld is Big but Obvious, Last Call is Big but Under the Surface. So maybe magic can exist right under your nose. (Buy it from Amazon)