I've been a lifelong avid reader. I have the very strong glasses prescription to prove it. While I sample other genres, the types of books that most often appeal to me are fantasy, science fiction, and novels written for children. I used to be a little shy about admitting the latter, but in these days of Harry Potter madness, it no longer seems so odd.
In the late nineties I joined a children's literature forum on Compuserve, and after much discussion of children's novels there, I put together a reading guide, which you can access in the sidebar. It's a 40-plus page PDF document that you can read online with Adobe Acrobat, or download. This version has been updated to include more recent books. If you have any favorites I've not included, I'd enjoy hearing about them. I'll try some when I have time, and perhaps they'll make it into later versions of the guide. You can email me with your suggestions using the CONTACT tab above.
Here are a few (and it was hard to narrow it down this far) of my favorite books and authors that you'll find in the list. If I absolutely had to pick one above all, I guess it would have to be this first one.
©J.R.R. Tolkien Estate
©The Macmillan Company
©The David McKay Company
©Ernest Benn Ltd.
©Harcourt, Brace and Company, Inc.
©Arthur Ransome Estate
©Oxford University Press
Of course I also enjoy many books not written for children as well. Here are a few favorites that made strong impressions on me.
©J.R.R. Tolkien Estate
As above, if I had to pick one favorite adult book above all, it would be The Lord of the Rings, which I first encountered in this pirated paperback edition, at least the initial volume. I finished reading it for the first time on a sunny day in September, that was made darker for me by the horrible fall of Gandalf. I was desperate to read the rest, but had heard that paperbacks authorized by Tolkien would soon be published by Ballantine, and I decided to wait for them. Then I saw the hardcover edition of The Two Towers in a local bookshop, with its cool map, and really wanted THAT one. My parents agreed to get it for me for Christmas. So, it was months before I found out what happened next. Imagine any kid putting up with that these days...
©Robert A. Heinlein
Right behind Tolkien, my second favorite author is Heinlein, and this book of his really blew my mind when I first read it in my teen years. I had already devoured most of his other books, and still reread them fairly often.
I used to read a lot of science fiction magazines, a great way then to discover up and coming authors. Zelazny was one that I enjoyed from the beginning, and I avidly sought out his novels as they were published. Lord of Light certainly made an impression, but it was this one that I loved the best, and I still think it's one of the finest uses of the alternate world concept ever.
I discovered this book in the late 1970s, and it quickly became a favorite, and perhaps the book that I've most often given to others to read. It really has everything: a terrific time-travel framework, an amazingly well-researched exploration of New York City in the 1880s, a thrilling adventure story, a great love story. If you haven't tried it, you should!
All text and images ©Todd Klein, except as noted. All rights reserved.
Jump to one of these topics in Books:
Use the tabs at the top of the page to move to other areas, such as HOW TO for tips and information on how to do your own lettering.