Saturday, March 7, 2015




 “Books are a uniquely portable magic.”
― Stephen King

Everyone knows that reading is important (especially when we read our precious little comic books), but have you ever asked yourself why that is? Through reading, you expose yourself to new things, new information, new ways to solve problems, and new ways to achieve things you desire. Anybody, whether rich or poor, smart or dumb, young or old can access this knowledge at their fingertips simply by opening a book and reading it. No matter what the nationality, the belief or the skill level a person might be at, the playing field is always even when a book is absorbed into their mind's eye. It opens up the world and we begin to understand it more.

When you read, you will begin to have a greater understanding on a topic that interests you; for example: how to build self-confidence, how to make a plan better before taking action, how to memorize things better and how to aspire to greatness (like the superheroes we love). All of these self improvements start from the reading; through reading, you create a structured path towards better actions that you will carry into your future.

Reading increases your understanding of the rules and truths of life, in order for you to adapt, adopt and accommodate into society better. So before you take action on anything, where should you go to seek help and guidance? I would say a library where all that information you crave is absolutely free. There you can find any book on any subject that can be essential to help you with a problem. You will be able to gain the knowledge of someone who may have experienced something similar to you; all their successes and failures.

Through reading, you build a more solid foundation for communication. This is one of the most important tools that we use every day to help us connect with each other. As you communicate through reading, you understand more, and thus you can communicate better with people. Whereas if you don’t read, you can’t even connect with the world and what people are talking about, including understanding what this write up is all about.

By reading, you are exploring a different angle to see things you’ve known, on how different actions lead to different results. Books are beyond imagination showing you nothing is impossible. It’s like a huge interwoven magical web, where you keep linking to more and more things you knew, and things you just learned, structuring new solutions with better answers. So the more you read, the smarter you become. It's that simple and that awesome.

For all these reasons, reading was and continues to be the most important thing I've ever done for myself. It has taught me more than any teacher or class ever did. What most people don't know is that our education system is designed to structure your mind for a 9 to 5 existence which became popularized in the 1950s with the rise of corporations. You go to school, then college, then get a desk job for a corporation until you retire and then you die - that's the idea. Think about all the people you know live this way? Maybe it's you. Maybe it's the reason you're depressed or frustrated with life.

Think I'm wrong? Just look at some of the most successful achievers in life that wanted more: Ted Turner, Ralph Lauren, Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Dell, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Warren Buffet (to name a few). If you know anything about them you'll notice that they refuted that 9 to 5 structure. They all dropped out of school and achieved greatness on their own terms. And the "luck" they all had in common was that they were all voracious readers. The knowledge they learned from books honed their minds to carve out a path for themselves to create their realities. That's not just a coincidence.

Now I don't want to sound like I'm totally against school because it does teach you about math, grammar, and science (which are very important), but does it teach you how to be spiritually full-filled with life? Does it teach you how to turn your lifelong dreams into a reality? How to find your inner peace? Your inner soul? More than at any other time in history, today is the day for the self-made dreamer. The self-made entrepreneur. And constantly reading books will open up the pathways to that better existence.

For me, the greatest teachers and biggest influences in my life came from the books that I've read and the vast knowledge that I absorbed from them. It made me realize that reality is not what people or society shape for me, it's what I shape for me! Through the years I've gathered books, quotes, words and articles that helped me stay on a path of life that works for me (even got a few of them as tattoos). It gave me an understanding of my past, present and future and showed me my paths toward freedom. Books have always done this for me and 10 of the most important ones in my life are listed here. While each book is vastly different from the next in subject and tone, I was inspired by them during different periods of my life. Each one has an important place during my past experiences and shaped me into a whole of who I am today. As I'm still alive and always exploring new avenues through life, I'm constantly reading new books (and rereading old ones) to educate myself so this list can change at any time with new entries. But as of right now here are my top 10 greatest books ever. Who knows, maybe reading some of them can change your perception of the world as they did for me.


Carlo D'Este, a military historian and a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, has written an amazing study of an important charismatic American war hero. You will not only learn about military developments that led to the allied victory, but you will also get a real feel for the amazing personality that was George S. Patton, Jr. While there are many biographies of Patton on the market, none are informative and delve straight into the facts like this one (and I know because I read just about all of them).

When most people think of Patton, they think of the 1970 film starring George C. Scott. D'Este knows this and begins with a chapter setting up this movie as a straw man. The film was extremely powerful, but it was ultimately a work of fiction and Omar Bradley, a general who despised Patton, played a large role in its production. D'Este also asks the simple but difficult questions about: who was Patton? We learn that the harsh, profane image he presented to his troops and the public was just that, an image. He was deeply religious, extremely sensitive, loved poetry, understood what it took to send men into combat and was deeply troubled that soldiers under his command would die because of orders he gave. He was one of the best generals the allied coalition had and it was by no accident. He had ability and worked hard at doing an extremely difficult job: killing.

D'Este covers familiar ground during the war years: the campaign in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, the slapping of two enlisted men, the Knutsford incident, exile, and his drive across France, the Battle of the Bulge, and his removal from command. He also shoots down a number of myths of the Patton legend during the war (which is refreshing). The circumstance of Patton's death and the services honoring him (which are moving). Discussions of Patton's cowardly bull terrier, Willie, along with the relationship he had with the officers and enlisted men on his staff. And D'Este's own military experiences help him with this study. He pays attention to details that might have escaped an author with less expertise: Patton's use of maps, his organizational ability, and how he effectively employed assets such as intelligence. Let's just say, D'Este would have made Patton himself proud with this book.


I was first introduced to the Morigu books in the mid-80s when I was deep into Dungeons and Dragons and fantasy. I would go to stores and buy the fantasy novels that had the best covers on them (also had a bad habit of stealing all the Conan covers that had Frank Ferzetta paintings on them... D'oh!). At this time, I had read close to 50 fantasy novels, including J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy, so I was familiar with what good fantasy was all about. But never was I sucked into a fantasy novel right off the bat like I was with Morigu: The Desecration. From beginning to end this book never let up. With deep multi-layered and complex characters along with the constant flow of drama and death, I couldn't put it down.

Getting the second book years later; Morigu: The Dead was more of the same (I couldn't tell you which book I like better). You would get invested in certain characters and soon enough they would die or become part of some big twist. I was constantly shocked by this and it was something that didn't happen very often in other fantasy novels. It totally added to the experience as you didn't know what was going to happen next. Since then I have let many friends borrow my copies to enjoy the same experiences I had. The majority of them had to buy copies for themselves. Yes, this story is that good!

Even today I consider these books to be the greatest fantasy epic of all time. But what hurts them in the eyes of most readers (and my ranking) is that the story of the Morigu was never finished. Yup, you read that right. The story ends in a major cliffhanger and ends there forever. Period. This adventure was supposed to be 4 novels long, but sadly, the writer, Mark C. Perry only finished 2 of them. To make matters worse, Mark passed away in 2013 so fans are left with only a glimpse of the greatness of what this epic could've been. It's really a tragedy because you will never know how the story ends. While this might detract some of you from giving these novels a try, I completely understand. But if you do give them a chance, be prepared for a fantasy adventure to which you've never known.


This was the first and greatest biography of Jim Morrison, lead singer and lyricist of the L.A. rock band the Doors. Written by journalist Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman who began working as an assistant in the Doors office at the age of 13 and eventually managed them after Morrion's death. Hopkins' first manuscript was rejected by major publishers (a biography on a rock star was a hard sell and very uncommon at the time). It wasn't until Sugerman got involved with "insider" information that sent this book into the rock 'n' roll stratosphere and once released, the legend of Jim Morrison was embraced by the rest of the world.

What most people don't realize is that Jim Morrison wasn't a Counterculture icon before 1980. This book is what helped rekindle interest into "The Lizard King" and all his creative complexity as a poet, rock star, philosopher, shaman, artist and drunken fool. He was a man who tested the bounds of reality and became one of the most iconic and influential singers in rock. Living life by his own rules he leads the Doors down some dangerous and uncharted roads which ultimately consumed and killed him at the age of 27.

Today we can read countless biographies, books and articles that flood the market on the myth and legend of Jim Morrison (some true, but most of them over-hyped, fabricated and fictitious). But all of them have to pay homage to this book which paved their way because honestly, nobody really cared before it came along. It was so influential that it became the main point of reference for Oliver Stone's movie The Doors starring Val Kilmer in 1991 (which was a horrid train-wreck... Ugh!) that continued to spread the legend of Morrison to a new generation. So if you're a fan of the Doors music or want to experience the life of a compelling, tormented, brilliant, kamikaze Dionysus, who wanted to "break on through to the other side," then look no further than this. Will you get out alive? Read the book and embrace your fears to find out.


Sean Howe writes an exhaustive and honest account of Marvel Comic's history that has never been done before. It's all here, with no stone left unturned, an insiders look at the business, the creative personalities, and the making of the comic book characters that took the pop culture world by storm. It's painstakingly researched and written so incredibly well that the story reads like a bunch of little stories that are interwoven together to make a whole. From the beginning when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (along with Steve Ditko and a few others) whom put their ideas together and created the modern pantheon of American superheroes. The constant rotating staff changes and personal quirks that gave Marvel a flavor much different than all their competitors. All the hardships and politics from within that almost ripped the company apart (on a few occasions). Up until the call of Hollywood that made the company what it is today. Yeah, it's almost a half-century worth of history that reads with as much action as any comic book Marvel ever produced.

Being such a crazed fanboy myself for superheroes and comic books, I love how thorough Howe did his homework because nothing is left out. He includes an amazing collection of anecdotes about the artists and writers reflecting about the eras they worked in, whether good or bad (some of these guys are more interesting than the actual superheroes). All the controversial issues about creative rights and intellectual properties, that is still prevalent in today's market. Hell, you come to realize that the comic business is truly a game of "survival of the fittest" inside a tank full of sharks -- just surviving the day to day grind was a chore.

So whether you're a casual fan or comic expert, this book is a fantastic raw look at what it's like behind the scenes of the mighty Marvel bullpen and the comic books we adore... for better or worse...


This amazing book is the personal memoir of the late author and Doors publicist Danny Sugerman (1954-2005), who went on to manage the band after Jim Morrison's death and then Ray Manzarek's solo-career and first album. It is one of several books Sugerman wrote about the Doors including Jim Morrison's first and best biography No One Here Gets Out Alive in 1980 (which ranks on this list at number 8). But in this book, Sugerman recounts his life, beginning with his privileged but troubled childhood in Beverly Hills, which he asserts set the stage for his later self-destructive addictions and behavior. After the premature death of his adolescent friend and "teacher," Jim Morrison, Danny became friends with and then went on to manage Iggy Pop, before they both ended up in a Californian State mental hospital suffering with severely excessive drug and alcohol addiction syndrome.

Sugerman pulls no punches and covers the first eight years of his show business career, commencing with his first job at age 13 opening the Doors' fan mail, and concluding just beyond his 21st birthday, when he is a frail and severely drug-addicted mental patient who has been given less than a week to live. His exposure to the decadent music industry world of parties, groupies, and drugs at such a young age would facilitate a relentless heroin addiction that nearly killed him.

What I love most about this book is Sugerman's close personal friendship throughout his adolescence with Jim Morrison. It really took Morrison out from his "godlike" image that he is perceived as today and we see a real flesh and blood, flawed human that wants to mentor a kid (albeit in his own way) that idolizes him. In all the books I've ever read about Jim Morrison, never had he felt so real (it was quite refreshing). Also Sugerman's activities in L.A. attempting to manage the flagging career (and supervise the behavior of) an increasingly unstable Iggy Pop was hilarious. With all the problems Sugerman had to deal with himself, it was like "the blind leading the blind."

This book was so highly entertaining and truthful that it remains my absolute favorite biography ever (I've reread it more than 20 times). I love how it chronicles, in graphic detail, the decadence of the L.A. rock and roll lifestyle, lived to its most degrading and shocking extremes, in the early to mid-1970s. Danny Sugerman's life started with a dream and once he got that dream (with some lucky breaks in-between) his life went totally out of control, and the funny thing is, he loved every minute of it.

5.) ON THE ROAD (1957)

This is a novel based on the travels of the author Jack Kerouac and his friends across America. 
It is considered a defining work of the postwar "Beat" and "Counterculture" generations, with its 
protagonists living life against a backdrop of jazz, poetry and drug use. Many of the key figures 
in the Beat movement, such as William S. Burroughs (Old Bull Lee) and Allen Ginsberg (Carlo Marx) are represented by characters in the book, including Kerouac himself, as the narrator Sal Paradise.

I got into this book when I became obsessed with Jim Morrison of the Doors. I was eager to read all the books that he did, especially during his formative years. With Morrison being such a voracious reader throughout his life, there were many books to read. But one of the most influential books for him was On the Road. And after I read it, I realized why. It's a story about forgetting what society dictates and living your life on your terms for better or worse. Sure, many people today who read this may think Kerouac's work is self-centered or pretentious. But during the late 1950s when this book was first released you have to understand the impact it made on the dull and shallow world teens lived in. They didn't know how to experience life the way they wanted and it was considered wrong to give into those impulses.

This book brought a whole new perspective to the world teenagers thought they knew and to everything their parents taught them. It opened their minds on an experimental creative level that they wanted to experience but might have been too afraid to ask about. This book got them talking, got them experimenting and got them challenging the system as it was. Living became about dynamism, not passivity. It was about a river of activity, not a stream of consciousness. It was about "white light, white heat" not "white picket fences."

On the Road ultimately meant different things to different people. But it's impact on those who read it (especially during the late '50s) will never forget it. To me, this book was about living life beyond the ephemeral. The attempt to be my own personal cool. And my cool might not be your cool, and that's okay. I'm OK, you're OK. It's all cool.


Set in Manhattan during the Wall Street boom of the late 1980s, American Psycho follows the life of wealthy young investment banker Patrick Bateman. Bateman, in his late 20s when the story begins, narrates his everyday activities, from his recreational life among the Wall Street elite of New York to his forays into murder by nightfall. Through present tense stream-of-consciousness narrative, Bateman describes his daily life, ranging from a series of Friday nights spent in nightclubs with his colleagues -- where they snort cocaine, critique fellow club-goers' clothing, trade fashion advice, and question one another on proper etiquette - to his loveless engagement to fellow yuppie Evelyn and his contentious relationship with his brother and senile mother. Bateman's stream of consciousness is occasionally broken up by chapters in which he directly addresses the reader in order to critique the work of 1980s Pop music artists. The book maintains a high level of ambiguity through mistaken identity and contradictions that introduce the possibility that Bateman is an unreliable narrator. Characters are consistently introduced as people other than themselves, and people argue over the identities of others they can see in restaurants or at parties. Whether any of the crimes depicted in the book actually happened or whether they were simply the fantasies of a delusional psychotic is only perpetuated further by cinematic adaptation.

The first thing I noticed about this book was how well Brent Eston Ellis wrote it. In my opinion, it could be the best written book ever. The words were so perfectly placed together and the narration was flawless that I simply fell into the story and read it in one night without any hope of putting it down. I cannot stress this enough. If you are a wannabe writer and learning the craft, this is a must read! It was like a hypnotic trance that put me so deep into the mind of Patrick Bateman that I could totally understand his every move. I understood his motivations, and at times, I even agreed with them (which I'm not proud to admit). I fell into his world so completely that I found out things about myself that I needed to work on.

After I finished this novel, it stayed in my head for weeks. I wrote down quotes in my notebook. I had dreams about it. I would fantasize about Patrick Bateman during the day and I would reread parts of the book daily just so I could hear or feel his reality (it sometimes even made me cry). I became obsessed. Only a few books during my lifetime impacted me this much.


If I had to choose the one book that I've read more than any other it has to be Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by writer and pilot Richard Bach. It's a story that questions the reader's view of reality, proposing that what we call reality is merely an illusion we create for learning and enjoyment. As I've constantly searched and questioned the meaning of life, nothing has gotten me closer to finding it more so than this book. And when questions and decisions arise today, I still go back to it to find the answers.

Donald P. Shimoda is a messiah who quits his job after deciding that people value the showbiz-like performance of his miracles and want to be entertained by those miracles more than to understand the message behind them. He meets Richard, a fellow pilot and begins to pass on his knowledge of life and the concept that the world they inhabit is an illusion and you are able to get anything you want out of life if you will it so.

The novel features quotes from the "Messiah's Handbook" (which contain some the greatest quotes in the history of literature IMHO), owned by Shimoda, which Richard later takes as his own. A most unusual aspect of this handbook is that it has no page numbers. The reason for this, as Shimoda explains to Richard, is that the book will open to the page on which the reader may find guidance or the answers to doubts and questions in his mind.

What I love about this book is that it doesn't matter what nationality you are, what you believe in or what you do, it gives you a whole new perspective at looking at life. It makes you question your approach to the world and those around you. How you handle situations and how you ultimately can be happy (but of course, it's up to you to choose the path you want to take). This book has a little something for everyone and I consider it an absolute masterpiece.


No other book impacted me the way A People's History of the United States has the first time I read it. I believe everybody has to read it at least once in their lifetime. I think it should be mandatory in grammar school, middle school, high school and college because it simply tells what all the history books we grew up with and learned from never did... the truth!!

First published in 1980 by American historian and political scientist, the late great, Howard Zinn (who happened to live in the next town from where I grew up). In the book, Zinn seeks to present American history through the eyes of the common people rather than political and economic elites. This tells a horribly violent and bloody reality that has been covered up by American historians for years. It's impact has been so great that it has also resulted in a change in the focus of historical work, which now includes stories that previously were ignored. It has been frequently revised, with the most recent edition covering events through 2005.

In July 2007 Seven Stories Press released A Young People's History of the United States, an illustrated, two-volume adaptation of A People's History of the United States for young adult readers (ages 10–14). The new version, adapted from the original text by Rebecca Stefoff, is updated through the end of 2006. This is what I consider to be one of the best things ever done for the youth of America because they need to learn the real history of the formation of their country without anything sugarcoated. In Zinn's introduction to this edition, he writes, "It seems to me it is wrong to treat young readers as if they are not mature enough to look at their nation's policies honestly. I am not worried about disillusioning young people by pointing to the flaws in the traditional heroes." In the afterword, "Rise like lions", he asks young readers to "Imagine the American people united for the first time in a movement for fundamental change." Pure fucking genius if you ask me!!

Zinn passed away in 2010 at the age of 87 from a heart attack. In one of his last interviews he stated how he would like to be remembered:

"I would like to be remembered for introducing a different way of thinking about the world, about war, about human rights, about equality. And for getting more people to realize that the power which rests so far in the hands of people with wealth and guns, that the power ultimately rests in people themselves and that they can use it. At certain points in history, they have used it. Black people in the South used it. People in the women's movement used it. People in the anti-war movement used it. People in other countries who have overthrown tyrannies have used it. I want to be somebody who gave people a feeling of hope and power that they didn't have before."

This book will get you thinking and that's why I love it. Who knows, after you read it, maybe you'll set out to change the world and make it a better place. Zinn sets the blueprint trying to open the eyes of the masses who've been fed false truths all their lives. This masterpiece gives us the hard reality of life without any nonsense or fluff.

(mass market edition 2019)

While the limited to 1000 'deluxe edition' of THE STAN LEE STORY came out on December 5th 2018, and quickly sold out (selling for a whopping 2,500 each), that copy doesn't rank on my list. It's the 'mass market edition' that was released in May of 2019, that is considered the greatest book ever written IMHO.

Now why would that be?

Well, I'll gladly tell you because my love for this book is more than what's written in it.

There are other books on Stan's life available, but this is THE book that Stan Lee SPECIFICALLY wanted Roy Thomas to write about him. And while Roy wrote a great book that was more about celebrating Stan's life than being a fact-driven hardcore biography, it was MY involvement with Roy and Stan that went on behind the scenes that made this book my favorite of all time.

You see, this was the book Roy and I showed him in person less than two days before his death.

Think about this for a second. Stan picks Roy to write a book on his life, Roy finishes it a little more than a year later. Now in late 2018, Stan is sick and doesn't want to see anybody but I manage to set up a meeting between him and his protege, Roy Thomas and Stan makes an exception. When Roy and I show up, we show him the deluxe edition of the book that he wanted Roy to write and he's extremely happy with it. Then literally less than 48 hours later Stan Lee passes away. 

It was bitter sweet and reads like a comicbook; Roy Thomas shows Stan Lee a book he wrote that celebrates his life and shortly after we leave his life ends. Talk about being present and witnessing a magical moment?

But things get better.

While the 'deluxe edition' Roy showed Stan was already released, a 'mass market edition' was scheduled for the summer of 2019 but got bumped up to May instead. Roy was asked by the publisher to add an extra page to this edition of the events we just went through with Stan (with a photo included). So yes, a mere mortal fanboy like myself officially became part of what could be the most important book written on Stan Lee!! Talk about an incredible honor, it's simply mind-boggling! While I've been included in a few books about comic history before, they all pale in comparison to this.

So ladies and gents, I present to you my GREATEST book ever; THE STAN LEE STORY 'mass market edition'!


Last photo ever taken of Stan Lee...

To be continued...

Check out other Hero Envy "Top" Lists:

Top 50 Greatest Marvel Slugfests of All Time (1961-1999)

Top 10 Most Evil Villains in Comics

Top 10 Superhero Capes of All Time

Top 5 Weirdest, Wackiest, Worst and Downright Despicable Cartoons Ever Made

My Top 20 Greatest Hulk Stories Ever

Top 10 Most Badass Heroes Ever
Doctor Who: The Top 5 Greatest Doctors Ever

My Top 30 Greatest Super Heroes of All Time 

The Top 20 Greatest Stretch Figures of All Time 

The Top 5 Greatest Feats of Strength of The Incredible Hulk

John Cimino
John Cimino is a Silver and Bronze Age comic, cartoon and memorabilia expert that runs a business called "Saturday Morning Collectibles." He buys, sells, appraises and gives seminars on everything pop culture, so if you got something special, let him know about it. He contributes articles to ALTER EGO, RETRO FAN, BACK ISSUE and THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR from TwoMorrows Publishing, runs the Roy Thomas Appreciation Board on Facebook and has appeared on the AMC reality show Comic Book Men. He also represents some of comicdoms biggest stars and brings them to a Comic Con near you. John likes to think he's the real Captain Marvel, people just don't have the heart to tell him he's just an obsessed fanboy that loves to play superheroes with his daughter Bryn. Contact him at or follow him on Instagram at megostretchhulk.


  1. Steppenwolf by Hesse
    Fear no Evil by Eva Pierrakos
    Art of War
    The Last Days of Socrates by Plato
    Dracula by Bram Stocker
    Jim Morrison
    Wired: the short life and fast times of John Belushi
    Animal farm by Orwell
    All sorts of books about music and musicians
    and many more

  2. Interesting list.

    There are a few books here that I haven't read and might be checking into.

  3. The Lord of the Ring trilogy is the greatest books ever written. The only problem I would have is deciding which of the three I like from most to least. I just couldn't do it.

  4. What It Takes by Richard Ben Cramer
    The Fifties by David Halberstam
    Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
    The Lives of a Cell by Lewis Thomas
    The Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould
    The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley and Malcolm X
    Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
    Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman by Richard Feynman
    The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
    Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain

    and bonus sports pick:

    The Glory of Their Times by Lawrence Ritter

  5. War and Peace by Tolstoy

    Dragonlance (all 20ish books) by Weis and Hickman

    Lord of the Rings(favorite of 3 is Two towers) by Tolkein

    Crime & Punishment by Dostoyevsky

  6. Total Literature nerd here, so I'm sure my list will be vastly different from most others. With the exception of the first book on my list, I've read each of these at least a half-dozen times in my life. And, in some cases, it's well into double-digits. I'm surprised a number of authors didn't make my list. No Hemingway. No Steinbeck. No Twain. No Dickens. No Salinger. No Shakespeare. Also, no nonfiction.

    1. Ulysses- James Joyce. Read it for a course my senior year in college. To date, I have never read anything this challenging. By the time I was done reading it, for the first time, I felt like I had "done something" while reading a book. I had to read an annotation alongside of it, just to make sense of all the allusions. When all was said and done, I'd spent about 6 weeks diving into this mofo. I don't think I'll attempt it ever again in my lifetime. Maybe when I'm retired, but we'll probably have robots that can read for us at that point.

    2. Where I'm Calling From - Raymond Carver. Not the first book of his I read (Cathedral), but it's an incredible compilation of his best-known works. As a semi-literate dorklord with a casual acquaintance of writing, I'm amazed by Carver's ability to strip a story down to the bare essentials and to slay you with a perfectly placed 5-word sentence. I cannot imagine how much time was spent sweeping away the detritus of most of these stories.

    3. The Things They Carried - Tim O'Brien. I stumbled across the titular short story in an anthology we had had to read for a creative writing course and was blown away by it. When I found the full collection in a book store my junior year in college, I snapped it up instantly and read it probably a dozen or so times over the next 2 years. The way O'Brien walks the reader through a fictionalized Vietnam experience is masterful. He tells much of the same story from multiple points of view like it's a curiosity in an antique shop. He tilts it and spins it and looks at it from every angle, hoping to make some sense of it. I loved it.

    4. How Green Was My Valley - Richard Llewellyn. What an amazing book. I don't know what to say about this one other than it's a masterful examination of conscience. I've read it a number of times, and the more I read it, the more I find myself questioning the narrator, Hugh. Is he reliable? Is his story as "true" as his memory believes it to be? Or, is the story as true as his conscience will let it be? How does that affect the way you read the story? Darnit, now I'm going to have to read it again.

    5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee. Not a day goes by that I don't wish I was a little bit more like Atticus Finch. Heck, I probably need to be more like Boo Radley as well.

  7. 6. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey. One of the greatest final lines I can think of: "I been away a long time." On it's own, it's nothing earth-shattering. But, when you think of Chief, and everything he's been through, just to get to the point where he can finally break free and have that kind of realization, there's so much hope in those 6 words.

    7. Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut. Another book on the atrocities of war from someone who lived through it. Just like O'Brien tries to make sense of war by looking at it from multiple angles, Vonnegut attempts to detach himself and make sense of it by detaching his protagonist from time. Does the bombing make sense when you're looking at it before, during, and after it happened?

    8. The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien. Read this book when I was in 3rd grade. Even though it's not a "grown-up" book, it felt like one at that age. After reading this, all those 3 Investigators, Encyclopedia Brown, and Beverly Cleary books didn't seem quite as interesting any more.

    9. Ransom - Jay McInerney. It's not his best-know book (Bright Lights, Big City), but it's my favorite. I just love the way McInerney's character Ransom is always straddling two worlds - running from one, and hoping to be embraced by another. The book couldn't end any other way.

    10. Different Seasons - Stephen King. 4 stories that changed my way of thinking about popular writers. King does not get the credit he is due. First, as a nuts-and-bolts writer, he has few peers from an accessibility standpoint (and, if you ever wanted to do any writing, you're doing yourself a major disservice by not reading his book, On Writing). Secondly, from a volume standpoint, his output is incredible. Yeah, a lot of that was during his coked-up and drunk years. But, wow, what a list. In a couple decades, I truly believe that his novels are going to be a staple in college courses and part of the literary canon. He still gets dismissed too easily as a "popular" writer. To those folks, I'm more than willing to point out that Dickens earned the same moniker in his time. Patience folks, King will be there eventually. Also, under strong consideration were his books, It, The Shining, Carrie, and On Writing.

  8. It's tough to narrow it down, but these are some of the biggies for me. These are books that moved my life experience ahead by multitudes.

    1. Post Office--Charles Bukowski. No book, ever, has had as monumental an impact on my literary life than the first book I read by Charles Bukowski. It's not his best, but for me it was the start of a life-long love affair with his work.

    2. Krazy Kat and 76 Others--Fielding Dawson. This massive short story collection was my intro to Fielding Dawson, whom I had the honor of publishing in a little lit mag back in the early 2000s. Again, an eye-opening experience by a completely different kind of author than Bukowski (both published by Black Sparrow Press).

    3. Pet Sematary--Stephen King. Not the first King I'd read, and probably not my absolute fave of his, but I have to pick this one because it was the first book of his that came out after I'd discovered him for myself. It was the first hardcover of his I'd bought, and it was a pretty scary read. I could just about fill my list with Bukowski and King, but I'll try not to.

    4. Origins of Marvel Comics--Stan Lee, et al. 'Nuff said.

    5. Catcher in the Rye--J.D. Salinger. Some call it overrated, but damn if this book isn't a kick in the pants to read. So lively and funny. This is a multiple read for me.

    6. Zodiac--Robert Graysmith. Read my share of true-crime books back in the day, and Zodiac is the only one that literally made my hair stand on end. Even though there's been some controversy surrounding this book in recent years, it is still riveting and engrossing. Another one I've read at least 5 times.

    7. Slaughterhouse Five--Vonnegut. Gotta copay Donkey on this one. Masterful work.

    8. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues--Haven't read any Tom Robbins in I don't know how long, but once I read this one, I had to read 'em all. Robbins' wacky literary universe gave me a lot to think about, and they were fun as heck to read.

    9. Ubik--Philip K. Dick. Got into PKD late in life. So far this is the weirdest and most enjoyable books of his I've read. Hope they can make a movie of it some day.

    10. Wonderings--Kenneth Patchen. First collection of Patchen's "painted poems" I'd read, and, again, an obsession was born. Bought and read all I could find. When I finally saw some in person in a little gallery in SF I was surprised to see how colorful they were.

    That's 10. I could probably create a totally different list tomorrow, but this is what struck my mind today.

  9. 1. The Stranger, Albert Camus
    2. Dune, Frank Herbert
    3. A Feast Unknown, Philip Jose Farmer
    4. Tarzan of the Apes, ERB
    5. Moby Dick, Melville
    6. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
    7. Time Enough For Love, Robert Heinlein
    8. Sun and Steel, Yukio Mishima
    9. The Iliad, Homer
    10. The Odyssey, Homer

  10. Nice comment sent to me from the author of Marvel Comics: The Untold Tales (which ranks at number 7 on this list) Sean Howe.

    "Thanks! What a list! And what an honor. I'm really thrilled to be in your pantheon, John."

  11. HORROR books?

    - Dracula
    - Frankenstein
    - Level 7
    - Fail Safe
    - The DAW Year's Best Horror PB series (Wagner, et al., ed.)
    - Weird Tales (Kaye, ed.)
    - Several other vintage PB Horror Anthologies (by Ghidalia, et al., ed.)

    Non-HORROR books

    - The Bible
    - To Kill A Mockingbird
    - Any Robert Benchley collection
    - Doyle's Holmes books
    - Sandburg's Lincoln
    - Life on the Mississippi
    - The Three Musketeers/Twenty Years After/The Man in the Iron Mask
    - The Screwtape Letters (could be on both lists!)

  12. Farseer series by robin hobb

    Elric of melnibone series by Michael moorcock

    Wheel of time when it was written by Robert jordan

    Used to read a ton but not really at all anymore.

  13. the gay science
    twilight of the idols
    beyond good and evil
    the ego and its own
    south of the border, west of the sun
    100 years of solitude
    alice's adventures in wonderland and through the looking glass

  14. 1. David Gemmell's Troy series. Even as a skeptical and jaded 30 something guy, that books made me want to be a hero, grab a sword and roar into battle. The fucking guy rewrote The Iliad! Nobody can ever write Odysseus like Gemmell. Ever. That is THE benchmark of that specific story and era. Even when I watch Troy (the Brad Pitt movie) can I find those characters believable as Gemmell rendered them so masterfully.
    2. Conn Iggulden's Emperor series. Think it's 5 books but I done them all in 2 weeks.
    3. Imperium and Lustrum by Robert Harris. Part of the same 'Cicero' books. A series based on the life of Marcus Tullius Cicero, the great Roman speaker. The last book in the series 'Dictator' comes out this year.
    4. Millennium series by Stieg Larsson. It is pretty good, but haven't read it since nor do I want to.
    5. Long walk to Freedom - Nelson Mandela
    6. A Short History Of Nearly Everything - Bill Bryson
    7. Shantaram - Greg Roberts. Very generic but gave me hope for my own life :p
    8. The Hunderd Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared. Truly LOL stuff
    9. All John Grisham's books.
    10. The Road Home - Rose Tremain. The imagery in that book. The way she describes London in these times. Every paragraph is just perfect. The words are just a guide to rendering the own story in your head. It gently nudges you to create your own images.

  15. Don't know if I can rattle off ten due to the lateness of the hour and the mushiness of my brain, but a few really stand out...

    CHILDHOOD'S END - Arthur C. Clark
    A SEPARATE PEACE - John Knowles
    WATERSHIP DOWN - Richard Adams
    THE STAND - Stephen King
    RENDEZVOUS WITH RAMA - Arthur C. Clarke
    DUNE - Frank Herbert
    RIBSY - Beverly Cleary
    THE PERIPHERAL - William Gibson
    THE STAINLESS STEEL RAT - Harry Harrison

    Just a few, for starters...

  16. 1.)Hamlet- William Shakespeare
    2.)The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich- by William L. Shirer
    3.)A Clockwork Orange- Anthony Burgess
    4.)Tarzan- Edgar Rice Burroughs
    5.)Band of Brothers- Stephen Ambrose
    6.)Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen
    7.)1984- George Orwell
    8.)Othello- William Shakespeare
    9.)The Maltese Falcon- Dashiell Hammett
    10.)Of Mice and Men- John Steinbeck

  17. Wow, everyone is picking a lot of classics. I'm guessing you have never heard of some of my favorite authors and books. Two of my favorite books that I have read countless times are by an author named M.M. Kaye. Both "Shadow of the Moon" and "The Far Pavilions" are historical fiction and involve different periods of the British rule of India. Pavilions starts with the mutiny of 1857 and Shadow occurs just before, during and after it. My favorite author, by far, is Dean Koontz. I was remarking one day MANY years ago how I wanted to like Stephen King, but his books were too bloated and hard to read. Somebody told me, "Well you will like this guy" and gave me the Koontz book "Midnight" and I couldn't put it down. I read it till 4AM and finished it. My favorite Koontz book is "Twilight Eyes". "Lighting", "Watchers", "Strangers". The list goes on. His newer stuff isn't as good as the period he wrote those books, but still an author whose books I buy the day they are released. King's "The Stand" and "Salems Lot" are two of my favorites as well. I just got turned on to Harlen Coben and he is a great thriller, mystery writer. I also really enjoy The Jack Reacher series by Lee Child and the Mitch Rapp series by Vince Flynn. As far as fantasy goes, my favorite author is Piers Anthony. His Apprentice Adept series was pretty darn good.

  18. A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. A book I've read I don't know how many times, both to myself and to my kids. A book that has literally changed toe world since its publication and made ERB -- as Ray Bradbury said -- the most influential writer in American literature.

  19. Does the Holy Bible count? I'm not very deeply religious hardley ever read it, but it just came
    into my mind. I like most Mark Twain stories myself.

  20. No particular order;
    The outsiders
    The gunslinger
    Water ship down
    The survivalist-jerry Ahern
    Conan the barbarian
    Interview with the vampire
    First blood-David morrell

  21. 1 - light in August - William Faulkner
    2 - atlas shrugged - Ayn Rand
    3 - crime and punishment - dostoievski
    4- my father's glory - marcel Pagnol (the film is also awesome )
    5- various book from raymond Aron and Philippe muray.

  22. Outliers

    The Intelligent Investor

    Security Analysis

    The Quants

    More Money Than God

    Market Wizards

    The Alchemy of Finance

    The Millionaire Next Door

    The Millionaire Mind

    Beating The Street

  23. The People's History of the United States and the People's History of the US Supreme Court are pretty impressive reads.

  24. Interesting list. I'll have to check out A People's History of the United States. On The Road and Marvel Comics the Untold Story are a couple of others I'll get to one of these days.

    1. It's a great book and a total eye opener.

  25. A Christmas Carol
    A Course In Miracles
    Lessons In Truth
    The Four Agreements
    The Hobbit
    anything spooky by Washington Irving
    Tom Sawyer
    The Hound of the Baskervilles
    Lewis Carroll's Alice books
    Michael Blake's Lon Chaney books

  26. 1) Dracula
    2) 'Salem's Lot
    3) interview with the Vampire
    4) The List of 7
    5) Anno Dracula
    6) The Haunting of Hill House
    7) The Legend of Hell House
    8 ) Ghost Story
    9) The Turn of the Screw
    10) Frankenstein