Book of Days… (10 Books that Influenced Me)

While not specifically tied to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, the sources of our creative inspiration are VERY relevant to our creative universes. Sharing these sources helps people understand that stories you are likely to create and isn’t a terrible idea to chat with people at your table during those oh so rare digressions and down times.

My friend Craig asked me to do the “10 books thing” and while I don’t generally like going in for viral pressure stuff I actually DO find this one both professionally and personally relevant. Understand that I will NOT be tagging other people in to do this but if you feel the need to share, please do. I do books for a living so picking only 10 is pretty insane (and I might give you a different answer tomorrow) but as close as I can do off the top of my head and only in a vaguely purposeful order I give you:

10 Books That Have Influenced Me… Greatly!

1) THE Player’s Handbook by TSR – Anyone who knows me knows that this was pretty much the most important book I ever came across. It saved my life, taught me to read, made the impossible bearable, and opened the doorway for me to impact hundreds (maybe thousands of other people).’s_Handbook

2) Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan – As a kid the notion that ANYONE could be interested in one epic story long enough to tell it all the way was always something I didn’t really believe in outside of the game table. These books proved that thousands of people had the faith and interest to believe in a really big story. To me it was inspirational and still is.

3) Sunrunner’s Fire (Dragon Prince Trilogy) by Melanie Rawn – Big stories are amazing but this was the first one I remember doing two very important things. 1) Having a fully satisfying ending. 2) Setting up a satisfying and compelling sequel series. It also is a generational fantasy which is rarer than I think the should be. Melanie Rawn also was one of the earliest writers I encountered to eventually reference a romance that I recognized and understood.’s_Fire

4) Worlds of Wonder by David Gerrold – This is one of my favorite books about actually writing about Fantasy and Science Fiction. It helped shape my view points and gave me a frame to discuss and think of science fiction in a way that was beyond “Cool” or “Rad” (I was a kid in the 80s) and helped me begin to move to a more complete appreciation of the genres. I really can’t thank David enough for it.

5) Inferno by Marvel Comics – Working in bookstores as long as I have, you get a pretty broad view of what qualifies as a “book” but as that it was eventually collected and I read it with the same spirit. This was one of the earlier (yes, I am aware of Secret Wars) and most compelling BIG crossover crazy stories out there. It also presented magic and super science mutants in a shared universe and mutually related way. I love connections and “power theory” and I think a lot of that grew from loving these stories. Plus the whole “protecting a world that hates and fears them” has a pretty personal significance to me.

6) Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin – As much as I like the series, I am more excited by a “later” career explosion like this. In a world that often attempts to discount people people that aren’t “made” or “relevant” in their 20s Martin’s successes and failures led up to this current period of massive popularity and it makes me really happy and gives me hope for the world… Which come to think of it is pretty weird considering how awful he is to his characters. He also wrote WildCards and I loved it back when only a few of us cared.

7) Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson – If you took everything I wrote about above represented them in equal well thought out parts and set it to the soundtrack to an action movie, you’d get this series or one very like it. Brandon writes the closest sorts of stories to the kind I come up with. He loves magic systems, crushing doom and character drama in equal parts and isn’t afraid to get into the details. Yet, somehow he makes it flow in a clean, understandable river of awesome. He is also fun to talk to and one of the best authors I have ever got to witness work with a crowd of fans.

8) Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss – If you ever want to see a whole bookstore go quiet and nod in silent appreciation try mentioning this book. Masterful and poetic, profound and heartbreaking I have won more Lit Theory snobs over to fantasy with this book than every other book I have sold, COMBINED. It is also the only book I have seen with more than a dozen different names on its staff recommend plate, IN THREE DIFFERENT STATES. It is something that both inspires and intimidates me as a creator by its very existence. I remember him dropping by to stock sign this book when it was new and he seemed so happy (but in a quiet way) to see that we had him on the front row of our hardback new releases table. I wish I had been able to talk to him more.

9) Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson – Hey look, here is Brandon again! This series is relevant to me because it is one of the few examples of a metaverse/crossover/big concept fantasies out there. Sci-Fi is SO free to run all over the universe yet fantasy seems lucky to even get off a single continent. This series has psychic shadowplanes, worldjumping enigmas and awesome magical weapons…. AND some of the most fascinating fauna presented in the genre. AND ITS STILL COMING OUT WITH MORE!!! Squee.

10) Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis – I really, really hesitated to mention this because of loaded reactions to christian allegory, BUT I have to call it out because of Voyage of the Dawn Treader. You see I read it FIRST because it had a dragon on it and I was six. I had started gaming with my brothers and wanted to know more about dragons. It had a dragon boat and there I was reading it on the floor of the Vernal library. My mom got audio tapes to read it along to me in case I struggled and I waited for her to get off work after school. I was really confused about it not realizing I was in the middle but Eustace DID get turned into a dragon and that was something. It maintains relevance because it was the first (and only) time I “read something wrong” as in out of continuity. I can say I was more than a little scarred by it. Ever since then I have struggled to accept retcons or non-linear time in stories. Thank God for comic books, which after years and years of retcons have made more tolerant of asynchronous events.

HONORABLE MENTION: The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace – I have worked in books for over two decades, and I rarely get to see someone at the beginning. The one exception really before was James Dashner who worked on early drafts of some of his books in my store’s cafe. James is awesome and I have loved working with him later at events, but Becky is someone closer to my world and it is like watching a chrysalis slick with dew at early morning, about to split. I am so excited for her I want to hold my breath.

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