Fiction Books that Changed My Life
I am an avid reader who has devoured thousands of books in my life. In the past, I always thought I had to finish every book I started, no matter how bad it was, but I've grown more selective with age. Many fiction books caught my attention from the very beginning, making me incapable of putting them down. They formed ideas for my own stories and poems, changed my outlook on many topics and helped me through some of the more difficult times in my life. My love of books made me who I am, and these are some of the titles and series that I recommend to everyone.
The Dark Sonata
"The Dark Sonata" by Beatirice Murray is the shortest book on my list at 220 pages. It was the first book in the mystery and suspense genre that I read and it kept me riveted. The story of Chris Hunter's memory loss and gradual recovery that forced her to face unthinkable betrayal and terror led me to several other mystery and suspense authors, including Rae Foley, Mary Higgins Clark, Jonathan Kellerman and James Patterson.
The Flame and the Flower
Having read all the books in the children's section of the library by age 12, I borrowed "The Flame and the Flower" by Kathleen Woodiwiss from my older brother's friend. It was my first foray into historical romance and the first book I read with sex scenes, but it was the characters, Heather and Brandon that kept my reading from cover to cover. I read many historical romance novels after this one but it remains my favorite.
Angelique by Sergeanne Golon
Continuing my tour through historical romance, I was caught up in Sergeanne Golon's "Angelique" series. Angelique's trip through French history and adventures that sent her throughout the world piqued my interest in world history, which became my college major. These books were so engaging I read them over and over.
I have read every book written by Stephen King and loved most of them, but the one that embodied the struggle between good and evil in each character was, in my opinion, "The Stand". King's descriptions of the turmoil in each character drew sympathy even for the bad guys, but that didn't stop this reader from cheering for the good guy throughout the story.
A Song of Ice and Fire
George R R Martin became a household name when his series of books, "A Song of Ice and Fire", became the hit television series on HBO called "Game of Thrones", which was the title of the first book in the series. While the show is wonderful, the books are even better. Watching the evolution of the various would-be royals as they fight for the Iron Throne, readers feel the characters' joy and pain. I can't wait for the release of his next book in the series which is expected in 2016.
The Earth Children's Series
Jean M. Auel's series goes way back to the Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal days, where Ayla is saved as a child and raised by a group of Neanderthals. The series follows Ayla through a series of places, exploring the evolution of people while pointing out that prejudice goes back as far as the dawn of man. Ayla is a lovable character and the reader enjoys her journey and the animals and people who become her family.
Robert McCammon is, hands down, one of my favorite authors. While he's not the most prolific writer out there, the books he has released are full of wonderful characters, fantasy, futuristic drama, and romance. "Swan's Song" is the best of the best. Swan is a child whose ability to make even ravaged plants grow makes her the most important person in a post apocalyptic world. The people who gather around her to protect her are an unlikely group of heroes, but heroes they are. If you have never read a book by Robert McCammon, begin with this one.
Incarnations of Immortality
This fascinating series by Piers Anthony personifies characters such as Death (On a Pale Horse), Time (Bearing an Hourglass), Fate (With a Tangled Skein), War (Wielding a Red Sword), Nature (Being a Green Mother), Evil (For Love of Evil), Good (And Eternity), and Darkness (Under a Velvet Cloak). With the exception of "Under a Velvet Cloak", the other seven books both blend well with each other and stand strongly on their own. The books are imaginative, creative and well worth the reader's time.
Jodi Picoult is a remarkable writer who infuses her books with wonderful characters in horrific situations. The twists and turns in "Nineteen Minutes", the story of a high school mass shooting make this my favorite Jodi Picoult story.
I Will Fear No Evil
One of my favorite science fiction authors is Robert Heinlein. The unique outlook he gives his characters made me think a lot throughout my teens and twenties. It's hard to choose a favorite, but the humor in "I Will Fear No Evil", a story about a wealthy dying man who has his brain transplanted into the body of a donor killed in an accident causes me to recommend this story. The moment when he realizes whose body he has received is surpassed only by the moment he realizes the donors soul still occupies the body he now resides in.
Dean Koontz had published many books under many names before he brought them all under his name. One that was originally published under his name featured his love of dogs that is prominent in most of his novels. "Watchers" is the story of a man's experience with two dogs that have escaped laboratory testing. One has received extraordinary intelligence while retaining the gentle nature of a golden lab. The other is pure evil and out to destroy its lab-mate. Once I read this book I made it my mission to read every book Dean Koontz wrote, and I was rarely disappointed.
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