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From time to time I like to talk about things that aren’t directly related to photography, especially when they involve passion and inspiration. And I feel very passionate about and gain inspiration from reading, whether it be prose, poetry, graphic works, or non-fiction.
With this in mind, a couple fiction blogs I frequent recently posted lists with a favorite book for each letter of the alphabet. I thought this was a great idea and loved reading through their selections. It got me wondering whether I’ve even read a book for each letter, so I started going through my goodreads lists and my physical book shelves, and below is what I was able to come up with.
If you enjoy this then try to create a list of your own. It’s not easy, but it can be a lot of fun. And check out the lists that inspired my own:
A - Absolution Gap by Alastair Reynolds
I’ve loved Alastair Reynolds’ work since I read his first book, Revelation Space. These are far future stories often set in space but sometimes set on planets. Perhaps the fact he used to work as a space scientist helps him create stories that just blow me away.
B - The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Book Thief was such a moving story. I couldn’t put this book down. Set in Nazi Germany, about a young girl who finds herself drawn to books. Very touching.
C - City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett
This is the second book of a series, and I’ve still not read the first. But this didn’t stop me enjoying this fascinating fantasy story that felt very different from most others I’ve read.
D - Dracula by Bram Stoker
I grew up absolutely loving, and being terrified of, vampires. And for me Dracula is still one of the most compelling stories about them.
E - The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks
This was one of the very first fantasy books I read, and after I finished I couldn’t wait to find and read more. I’ve always had a soft spot for Terry Brooks’ writing, and it all began with the Elfstones.
F - Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Sometimes you can’t beat the classics. Frankenstein, the book, was so very different from the movie versions I’d seen, and in my opinion, a much more compelling story.
G - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
What drew me to this book was the title. I was fascinated to learn what it was all about. And once I started reading I soon found myself reading the second and third books in the series. Very engaging and hard hitting.
H - The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
How could I possibly leave out Douglas Adams? Such a funny, fascinating, and strange story, it will likely always remain a favorite.
I - It by Stephen King
It may be my favorite Stephen King novel. He does such a great job writing kids, I just find myself being sucked into their lives and all the troubles they find. Granted, I was a little disappointed with the ending, but overall It still remains a favorite.
J - Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
Recreating dinosaurs. What could possibly go wrong? The movies were fun, but as is almost always the case, I find myself much preferring the book.
K - Kabuki by David Mack
This is the only graphic work I chose to include in my list. I wanted to keep it just prose works, but Kabuki had such an impact on me I had to include it. David Mack has written a fascinating set of stories, but I’m also drawn to his incredible art, which is very different from anything I’d ever seen in comics. If I were to choose a prose novel instead of these graphic ones it would likely be The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan.
L - The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
I’m treating this as a single novel instead of a trilogy. This is another work that had a tremendous impact on me growing up. After reading Terry Brooks I’d heard about Tolkien so I gave him a try. And I’ve been reading him ever sense, sometimes rereading this series, and sometimes reading from his other works.
M - The Martian by Andy Weir
The Martian was a very personal story with a protagonist I immediately liked. How do you survive on Mars when you’re left there alone with limited resources? Great story.
N - The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Patrick Rothfuss has a way with words, and this is one of my favorite books both for the story and the way in which he tells the story. I look forward to rereading it before the final book in the trilogy is released.
O - The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Such a short and beautiful story. Neil Gaiman is another who has a way with words, and whose works really draw me in. I thoroughly enjoyed this beautifully magical modern fantasy.
P - Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings
Pawn of Prophecy is the first book in a longer series, the first I’d read by David Eddings. I don’t recall much about them now, other than knowing I thoroughly enjoyed them when I was younger.
Q - Quarantine by Greg Egan
Quarantine was the first book I read by Greg Egan, and I loved it. He took science fiction in directions that were new to me. His stories can be very cerebral and full of ideas.
R - Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
I was the perfect audience for Ready Player One, having grown up with the games and movies referenced in the story. A fast paced and fun read. I had a hard time picking just one book for R, and so I’ll also mention Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds, the first book of his I’d read.
S - The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
I was entranced by The Shadow of the Wind and would very much like to reread it soon. I love books about books, and so a book about a hidden library of forgotten books was right up my alley. A magical story. As with R, I had a very difficult time choosing just one book, so I want to mention The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss, a very different and personal sort of tale that has really stayed with me. Both beautiful books.
T - Time Enough for Love by Robert Heinlein
I had to include Heinlein somewhere in the list. I’ve not read one of his books in quite some time, but growing up I loved them, and Time Enough for Love was one of my favorites.
U - The Unreasoning Mask by Philip Jose Farmer
A strange but fascinating story, possibly the first I read by Farmer. I certainly hope it isn’t the last I read by him.
V - The Vagrant by Peter Newman
This book differs from most of the other speculative fiction I read, and it really drew me in. A main protagonist who never speaks? I wouldn’t have thought it would work, but it did. This was the strongest book of the series.
W - A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
I had to include Ursula K. Le Guin in my list somewhere, and where better than A Wizard of Earthsea. Long before Harry Potter, this was my introduction to a school of wizards and the problems kids can cause, both for themselves and others.
X - Xenogenesis by Octavia Butler
I read Xenogenesis as a single book instead of the originally published series. This was my introduction to Butler, and it left me wanting to read more of her works.
Y - A Bad Spell in Yurt by C. Dale Brittain
I didn’t have anything that started with Y so I had to get a little creative. A Bad Spell in Yurt is a simple, fun, fantasy read. It’s perfect when you want an entertaining story that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Z - . . .
I have nothing yet to fill the slot for Z, so I wasn’t quite able to finish the list. I do, however, own a couple Z books that may one day let me complete this. The most likely book to one day fill this spot is Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi. I have, so far, enjoyed everything I’ve read by Scalzi.
And, of course, this being a website mostly about photography, I’m also working on a list of photography books, as well as non-fiction books. I’ll post those in the coming weeks, though they may have more missing letters than did this list.