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I know everyone has fictional and non-fictional works that left lasting impressions. I reflected about the books that I read through the years. Instead of stock responses (The Bible and books by Conrad, Fitzgerald, Huxley, Joyce, Rand, Steinbeck, Tolkien, etc.), I’ll share with you the ones that left indelible (key word: indelible) imprints on me:
1. Non-fiction: Halberstam’s The Best & The Brightest Brilliant, insightful about JFK’s men and the Viet Nam War.
2. Adventure: Roberts’ Northwest Passage Acton-packed story set during the French & Indian War!
3. Children: Barrie’s Peter Pan Ah, Neverland!
4. Crime: Capote’s In Cold Blood (Non-fiction) Frightening! A journalistic writing style I had neither seen before nor have seen since.
5. Humor: Heller’s Catch 22 Gruesome parts but I never laughed so loud at the rest.
6. Inspirational: Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge Yes, inspirational with forgotten Richard Back’s Illusions up there.
7. Literary fiction: Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises What a writer!
8. Military: Shaara’s The Killer Angels A Civil War buff, I was at Gettysburg as I turned the pages.
9. Mystery: Christie’s Ten Little Indians (And then there were none) Great whodunit!
10. Romance: Michell’s Gone With The Wind Soapy but beautiful picture of a South that is no more.
11. Science Fiction: Orwell’s 1984 Big brother is watching you.
12. Thriller: Benchley’s Jaws Don’t go in the water!
13. Western: Schaefer’s Shane As a boy reading it, I could smell the gunsmoke.
14. Young Adult: Adamson’s Born Free (Non-fiction) I fell in love with an African lioness named Elsa.
This list does not preclude the fact that I read and appreciated many of the novels listed as The 100 Greatest Books, especially Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. As for placing Shakespeare’s works in an appropriate category, he’d say: “Ay, there’s the rub.”
Perhaps I won’t get responses to my list, but below is space for your favorites. no more than one in each category — as possible additions to my bookshelves for winter reading — and perhaps a few comments: