I'd like to start another meme, in which you actually think about this stuff before hurling a list before the public. Here's the list I actually thought about.
1. Tales of Mystery and Imagination, by Poe.
2. Complete Works of Shakespeare
3. Have Space Suit, Will Travel by Heinlein
4 Lord of Light, by Roger Zelazny.
5. Nova, by Samuel R Delany
6. Lord of the Rings, by Tolkien
7. Take your pick of any Jeeves novel by P.G. Wodehouse
8. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
9. Ulysses by James Joyce
10. Gravity's Rainbow, by Thomas Pynchon
11. Lolita by Nabokov
12. Nostromo by Joseph Conrad
13. Night of the Cooters, by Howard Waldrop
14. House of Niccolo by Dorothy Dunnett
15. Mistress of Mistresses by E.R. Eddison
That last one is a stretch, by the way.
An observation: all of these works influenced the way I look at the world, and the way I choose to depict it in fiction. I don't necessarily like all of them: Ulysses is a book I'll never read again, but on the other hand I strip-mined it for technique, so it may have more influence on my writing than any other item here. (Well, except for the Shakespeare.)
Another observation: except for the Dunnett and the Waldrop, these are all books that I'd read before I was, say, 22. The first few I encountered when I was in grade school. So they all hit me at a time of life when I was ready to soak up influence from the outside world, and I sponged it right up.
Labels: 15 books meme