John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

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This was by far the hardest of the A to Z lists to compile. In the end, I had to cheat on three different letters. I hope you'll forgive me. As I have done with previous lists, I've included a short sentence about each of the books, and I've also included the first line of each one. The latter idea I stole from someone on my friends list; it might have been shannon_a, but I can't swear to it.

Absolute Truths by Susan Howatch
Howatch's Starbridge novels have had a huge impact on my faith. "What can be more devastating than a catastrophe which arrives out of the blue?"
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
It still makes me cry every time I read it. "Ba-room, ba-room, ba-room, baripity, baripity, baripity, baripity -- Good."
Curse of the Giant Muffins by Michael Kinsley
Michael Kinsley has influenced my writing style more than any other non-fiction writer. "First of all, I don't want any grief about throwing together a bunch of old articles and calling it a book."
Doctor's Orders by Diane Duane
Yeah, it's a Star Trek novel, but an unusually clever and entertaining Star Trek novel. "'Do you remember,' said Leonard McCoy, 'when I stole your cadaver?'"
The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
At one time I owned three copies of this; I'm down to two now. "In the summer of 1957, I wrote a piece for The New Yorker about a textbook I had used when I was a student at Columbia."
Fabula de Petro Cuniculo by Beatricis Potter
I studied Latin in high school and college, so my mom thought this would be a cute gift. "Olim erant quattuor cuniculi parvi, et eorum nomina erant-- Flopsa, Mopsa, Cauda Linea, Petrus."
Gospel by Wilton Barnhardt
My favorite novel, bar none. "I had lost my faith, Josephus."
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
I've loved British humor since I was a child. "Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun."
Indigo Slam by Robert Crais
All the Elvis Cole novels are good, but for some reason I have a special fondness for this one. "At two-fourteen in the morning on the night they left one life to begin their next, the rain thundered down in a raging curtain that thrummed against the house and the porch and the plain white Econoline van that the United States Marshals had brought to whisk them away."
Junk Food by Charles J. Rubin, David Rollert, John Farago, Nick Stark, and Jonathan Etra
This is a collection of essays about junk food in America, and a mock history of the 1983 "Century O' Progress" World's Fair, and one of the weirdest books in my personal library. "They're staring out at the incredible City of Brass, the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair."
Keeper of the Isis Light by Monica Hughes
A fondly remembered YA novel about a girl who mans a navigational beacon on a deserted planet. "It was a day like any other day on Isis, and yet, when it was over, nothing would ever be the same again."
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
If you can get past the chapters in which Hugo rambles on interminably about French history, it's a wonderful story. "In 1815, M. Charles-Francois-Bienvenu Myriel was Bishop of D----."
The Martian Chronicles
Ray Bradbury is a wonderfully evocative writer, even if he does sometimes get carried away with his descriptive language. "One minute it was Ohio winter, with doors closed, windows locked, the panes blind with frost, icicles fringing every roof, children skiing on slopes, housewives lumbering like great black bears in their furs along the icy streets." Yes, we get it, it was cold! Move on, please.
Nathan Heller series by Max Allan Collins
A series of detective novels based around various real historical events. "I was off-duty at the time, sitting in a speak on South Clark Street drinking rum out of a coffee cup."
Oscar A to Z by Charles Matthews
An indispensable reference for the movie fan; I couldn't have finished my movies A to Z without it. "Every year in March, the world turns its attention to a ceremony at which overdressed and overpaid people gather to honor themselves: the Academy Awards."
The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander
Most people didn't like the Disney adaptation of The Black Cauldron, but it led me to this wonderful series of children's adventure novels. "Taran wanted to make a sword; but Coll, charged with the practical side of his education, decided on horseshoes."
Q Clearance by Peter Benchley
An entertaining spy novel, not to mention a wicked satire of White House politics. "'On your knees, America!'"
Return of the Straight Dope by Cecil Adams
Every aspiring know-it-all owes a huge debt of gratitude to Cecil Adams. "What is the origin of Uncle Sam, the cartoon character symbolizing the United States?"
Shelley's Heart by Charles McCarry
One of the most intelligent political thrillers I've ever read. "It had snowed the night before the Chief Justice's funeral, paralyzing the city of Washington and closing down the government."
The Annotated Alice by Lewis Carroll, Martin Gardner, ed.
Alice in Wonderland was a huge influence on me when I was growing up, and the addition of footnotes only makes it more entertaining. "Let it be said at once that there is something preposterous about an annotated Alice"
Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud
An remarkable guide to the art of the comic book, done in the style of a comic book. "My old pal Matt Feazell called the other day."
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Euginides
Very atmospheric. Plus it starts with V. "On the morning the last Lisbon daughter took her turn at suicide -- it was Mary this time, and sleeping pills, like Therese -- the two paramedics arrived at the house knowing exactly where the knife drawer was, and the gas over, and the beam in the basement from which it was possible to tie a rope."
Walden Two by B.F. Skinner
I was so into this book in college, that I gave serious consideration to joining a real commune patterned after Walden Two. "He turned up one day in the doorway of my office."
X Little Indians by Agatha Christie
One of my favorite mystery novels. "In the corner of a first-class smoking carriage, Mr. Justice Wargrave, lately retired from the bench, puffed at a cigar and ran an interested eye through the political news in the Times."
Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss
Who doesn't love Dr. Seuss? "On the far-away Island of Sala-ma-Sond, Yertle the Turtle was king of the pond."
Zot! Book One by Scott McCloud
A collection of the first ten issues of my favorite comic book of the 1980s. "He's fought on a dozen worlds -- rushed headlong into a hundred deadly battles -- and saved the lives of thousands!"

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