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A list

By Luke FosterPublished 7 months ago 5 min read
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BookMania
Photo by Susan Q Yin on Unsplash

I wish that I could remember which person it was that inspired me to write this. I know that she wrote an excellent piece on her favourite books, and that her taste in literature was spectacular. If you are reading this, please make yourself known again, so I can give you the credit you deserve.

I have a decent number of books. Not as much as those who make their own libraries, I have a child after all, and toys take up space. But I have a couple of floor to ceiling bookshelves that are groaning under the weight. On these shelves are the works of probably about 20 authors, I tend to specialise (or obsess, depending on your point of view) so even though I am a ‘reader’, I could probably tell you everything about a dozen authors and nothing about anyone else.

Even so, I’ll tell you a little bit about what I know, and who knows, maybe someone may take something from this, and the world will be a brighter place. So with that in mind, here are some really good books.

Colony

By Rob Grant

One of the genius minds behind Red Dwarf, Rob Grant, along with Doug Naylor, wrote several novels based on the shows, and since Grant has written further unrelated works. The pick of which is, in my opinion, Colony. The story follows Eddie, the unluckiest man in the world, during the time of a party to celebrate the dying of the planet, and a voyage into the unknown to try and save the human race. The tale is told with the customary wit and misfortune that any fans of the Red Dwarf show would recognise. It truly is a story of misadventure across time and space.

The Portable Door

By Tom Holt

Tom Holt is masterful. I first came across his work before The Portable Door was published, and it didn’t take long for me to realise that he is the king of the twisted fairytale. He has produces stories of characters that you’d easily recognise, such as Snow White, The Elves and the Shoemaker, and Ali Baba and the forty thieves, but it never as you’d expect. The Portable Door is the start of the J. W. Wells series and is about a young man called Paul Carpenter as he starts an intern job for a company that he doesn’t actually know what they do. But he will find out, as he navigates Goblins, Faeries, Giants, and suspicious landlords. But worst of all, office politics.

Rogues

Edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois

Something a little different now, this is a collection of short stories with a central theme. Twenty or so tales, all by different authors, with a rogue somewhere in the tale. It may be unsurprising due to what we do here on Vocal but I am a big fan of the short story. It is a challenge to fit everything you need in such a small space, and the stories are well constructed and small enough to easily digest. Martin and Dozios co-edited quite a few of these anthologies, on topics such as warriors or dangerous women, but Rogues is my favourite. Reading this led me to authors such as Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch. If you read an anthology, not everything will be to your taste, but you’ll find something you like along the way.

Stark

By Ben Elton

Reader you have no idea how often in the course of a regular day, when discussing current events, I’ll say ‘There’s a Ben Elton book about that’. Elton’s books cover subjects as relevant and diverse as Eco-Terrorism, Reality TV or even Gender Identity. Despite the serious themes, Elton approaches them with a satirical eye that will leave you so amused that you don’t notice just how much you’ve learned. Also, for what it’s worth, Elton is one of the only authors of whom I own every book, and I haven’t found a bad one yet. Stark addresses the issue of climate change, and the part that billionaire business owners contribute to it. The rich are trying to leave the mess that they have made, and the only people trying to stop them are an English poser and a couple of old hippies.

White Wolf

By David Gemmell

There could be no doubt as to which book would end this list. Quite simply, this is the greatest book I’ve ever read. I could realistically have filled this list with books written by the big man, but I wanted to try and include something for everyone. My favourite description of David Gemmell is as a fireside mythmonger, and it is perfect. His characters are as those of tales of old. You can easily imagine the epics of Connavar the Demon King, or the ruthless assassin Waylander, and of course the stories of Druss the Legend being told in halls and inns. But none of these move me in the same was as The Damned. I’m not sure why, he is more of an anti-hero, battling the sins of his past, but to me the swordsman seems more real, and just resonates within me. One of the best aspects to this particular book is the scale. Heroic fantasy, Gemmell included, tends to look to grand stakes. Their characters save nations, or even the world, But Skilgannon, along with Druss and a handful of others, storm a citadel to save a young girl. Not a princess, or someone who will change the world, just the daughter of an old soldier who needs their help. The two greatest heroes of the world go to save just one life, and that appeals to me more than any epoch spanning adventure.

These tales may not be your thing, but they are important to me. The stories that move us dictate who we are. There are dozens more that I could have added. But I think that if you want to get to know a person, ask them, what’s your favourite book?

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About the Creator

Luke Foster

Father. New husband. Wannabe writer.

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