1. Redwall, Brian Jacques (Librarian)
My home librarian suggested this book to me many years ago, and I remember fording the marsh behind my house and finding a quiet place in the woods to read it. As I’ve mentioned before, it was the first time I’d ever read an epic novel, or a work of fantasy, and the idea of exploring this world with its massive history excited me.
2. Sharpe’s Eagle, Bernard Cornwell (Seeking a Little Truth)
While I haven’t yet read most of or even much of the Sharpe series, this book introduced me to Bernard Cornwell. He’s become a favorite of mine the last year: I’m positively wild for his Saxon Stories series which are about politics, friendship, family, and war during the 800s in England, where Anglo-Saxons and Danes fought to rule Britain.
3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J. K. Rowling
This book wasn’t just recommended to me, I had a pack of friends who followed me around like ducks, pecking me on the legs and quacking “Read it!” I avoided it for years because the books were too popular, but in August 2007 I picked up the first novel. I’d read the series through by the end of September, and I re-read them that December. Since then Potterdom has entered into the Holy Trinity of things I am geeky about, along with Star Trek and Star Wars. (Though I guess becoming a Firefly fan has made it a quad…)
4. The Quiet Game, Greg Iles (Sister)
I’ve never read anyone who does thrillers like Greg Iles, and his usual southern gothic setting is a delight. The Quiet Game started me on Iles, and introduced his oft-used character Penn Gage, a lawyer-novelist turned mayor of his hometown. The Penn Gage mysteries tend to involve criminal mysteries and discussion of social and cultural issues set inside the steamy historic town of Natchez, Mississippi.
5. The Destiny Trilogy, David Mack (Everyone at the TrekBBS)
(Mere Mortals, Gods of Night, Lost Souls)
I have heard about these Star Trek novels for years. Ever since their release, every book thread at TrekBBS has mentioned the Destiny trilogy reverently. Last year I picked them up, and I figured — no way will this live up to the hype. I put it off for a few weeks because I dreaded being disappointed, but once I began to read….they’re glorious.
7. Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman (Sociology Professor)
An incredible look at the ever-increasing domination of society by entertainment, and what that is doing to political commentary, the news, and our worldviews.
8. How Few Remain, Harry Turtledove (University Acquaintance)
How Few Remain is the start of a large alternate-history series which begins with the success of the southern rebellion in the United States, and the establishment of a Confederacy protected by Britain and France. Turtledove follows this new geopolitical scheme ’til the end of the second world war. While versions of the Great War and World War 2 both feature prominently, they play out very differently. The two American states are on opposite sides of the conflict, which is why I spent twelve+ books cheering on the Prussians and American socialists in their fight against Confederate Nazis, the Canadian resistance, and Mormon terrorists.
…it’s a fun series.
9. No Ordinary Time, Doris Kearns Goodwin (Friend)
The story of the Roosevelt White House, in which FDR fights the Great Depression, racism, and corporate selfishness in an attempt to righten the American economy, make it a more democratic nation, and fight the Nazi’s
10. Persian Fire, Tom Holland (The Resolute Reader)
The story of the conflict between Greece and Persia. The book is especially helpful for those wishing to understand the Persian mind and that which followed, for Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all have a bloodline that makes them partially related to Persia’s Zoroastrianism.
Honorable Mention: The Know-It-All, A.J. Jacobs…a humorous account of a man who tried to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica.