My Fave Books I Reckon You Should Read Too

Moonrat and Josephine have both published their lists of books you should read. Here’s mine. These lists are always highly subjective, so I’m not going to pretend it’s anything other than my own faves. I’m afraid the variation in quality and literary pretension gyrates wildly from ultra-highbrow to stuff an editor would be worried to find in her slush.
  1. The complete plays of Aristophanes. Don’t panic, it’s not all this highbrow. But actually Aristophanes is lowbrow…very lowbrow…and still hilarious to this day. If you don’t believe me, start by reading Lysistrata, in which the women of Athens go on a sex-strike until the men stop making war.

  2. Lord of Light – Roger Zelazny. The best of his work. If you like this, read the first series of Amber stories too, starting with Nine Princes In Amber.

  3. Starship Troopers – Robert Heinlein. Some might not appreciate his point of view, but the writing is smooth, effortless, brilliant.

  4. The English Assassin – Michael Moorcock. The first in the Jerry Cornelius series of stories. Deeply experimental, which normally would make me run away screaming, but these books really work. Also try his stories of Oswald Bastable.

  5. The Void Captain’s Tale – Norman Spinrad. Highly creative use of language, merging English, French and German (mostly) into a future Sprach.

  6. All the Greek stories of Mary Renault. Simply the best Greek historical novels of all time (except, of course, for my own forthcoming series…). She does have a thing about gay guys though.

  7. Master And Commander – Patrick O’Brien. And all the other Aubrey-Maturin novels too. Since there are 20 of these they should take 20 places, but I’m going to list only one and expect you to read the others anyway.

  8. Hamlet, MacBeth, Twelfth Night – William Shakespeare. The guy couldn’t even spell his own name consistently, but he did write rather good plays. Don’t read them; instead, travel to Stratford and watch them played by the Royal Shakespearean Company. That’s the right way to appreciate Shakespeare.

  9. The complete Sherlock Holmes stories – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Yes, every one of them. It’s necessary for the good of your soul.

  10. A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, and The Farthest Shore. The first three of the Earthsea novels by Ursula K. LeGuin. Much better than Rowling’s stories, which are in the same vein. Long after she wrote these three, LeGuin returned to Earthsea to write some politically correct extensions that can be safely ignored. Stick with the first three.

  11. Green Eggs And Ham – Dr Seuss. And everything else he did too, but Green Eggs and Ham is my fave.

  12. Dune – Frank Herbert. Only read this first book in the series! After this, it’s all downhill.

  13. The Gordianus the Finder stories of Steven Saylor. Tales of an honest, sensitive, new age guy, who finds himself mired in the vicious politics of late Republican Rome.

  14. The SPQR stories of John Maddox Roberts. Tales of an aristocratic young trouble-maker, enjoying every moment of the vicious politics of late Republican Rome. It’s a wonder Decius Metellus and Gordianus never met.

  15. The Marcus Didius Falco stories of Lindsey Davis. Tales of the most hard done by gumshoe in Imperial Rome.

  16. The Flanders Panel – Arturo Perez-Reverte. Also The Dumas Club.

  17. The Flashman Papers, edited by George MacDonald Fraser. Brigadier-General Sir Harry Paget Flashman VC KCB KCIE…a hero for our times.

  18. The Histories – Herodotus. Step into an unbelievable world, all the more amazing because it’s true.

  19. History Of The Peloponnesian War – Thucydides. The best book ever written on power politics. Beats any thriller I know of.

  20. The Richard Sharpe stories of Bernard Cornwell. Watch in awe as Sharpe and Harper cut swathes through 30,000 French per battle.

  21. The Adam Dalgleish stories of PD James. I can’t for the life of me work out why all her characters don’t just kill themselves in various orgies of self-indulgent depression, but by God she writes well.

  22. The Roderick Alleyn stories of Ngaio Marsh. Forget Christie and Allingham; for my money Ngaio Marsh’s Alleyn is the best of the Golden Age detectives. Start with the second in the series, Enter A Murderer. Alleyn is very shaky in the first book, but by the second he has a solid voice and Marsh has him under control.

  23. The Epic of Gilgamesh. An epic poem from bronze age Mesopotamia, it’s one of the oldest stories known; it might be the oldest surviving narrative in the world, certainly much older than both Homer and the Bible. It tells the story of Gilgamesh, King of Ur, and his quest for immortality (plus lots of sex and violence). The Epic of Gilgamesh has the original version of the biblical Flood story, a variant of Eden, a serpent who steals the tree of life, and other features that clearly show at least some of the Bible’s early books are retellings of Mesopotamian myths. But before you get to all these pre-biblical references, in the first sections of the epic you have to read piles of erotica and adventure. Bummer.

  24. The Cthulhu Mythos stories of HP Lovecraft. I find Lovecraft’s stories hard to read these days because of their extreme style, but you can’t go to your grave without having read them, especially not if you’re likely to be buried anywhere near Arkham, in which case your corpse may be eaten, reanimated, or parts re-used by some insane scholar who’s glimpsed the darkness behind reality.

  25. The Crying Of Lot 49 - Thomas Pynchon. Gravity's Rainbow is his really famous book, but I think The Crying Of Lot 49 is more fun. I love the conspiracy to subvert the US Postal Service.

  26. Doctor Mirabilis - James Blish. How do you write a for-real genius as a believable character? Blish shows us how with his fictionalized bio of mediaeval scientist Roger Bacon.

  27. Tik Tok - John Sladek. When nice robots go bad.

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