Monday, August 25, 2014

Ten Most Influential Books on My Life

Ten Books which most shaped who I am? In chronological order:

1. My Illustrated Children's Bible Stories
2. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley.
3.Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut
4.Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
5. Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
6. Grandmaster's Book of Ninja Training by Masaaki Hatsumi
7. Invisibles by Grant Morrison
8. Don Quijote by Cervantes
9. Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Doestoyevsky.
10.Power of Intention, Wayne Dyer. Next would be The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck, which fits between nine and ten, and Syzygy by Tau Palamas, which came this year.
Impulsively, I wanted to list Supergods by #GrantMorrison (my present read) as it is at ground zero of my view of the present explosion of my ideas. Lucky 13.

Arguably, Ralph Denyer's Guitar Encyclopedia belongs in that list, and the vast composite of musician biographies and magazine articles cast a spell over it all. That controversial book on the Beatles back in the late '80s was massive to me.

Because it was Essays, I bumped Ralph Waldo Emerson, but reading that on my own was huge at that time in my life; Transcendentalism shaped my freshman year the way Existentialism did my California trip. I can't underestimate the value of Norton Anthology of English Literature but it isn't one single book. Steve Gerber's run of Defenders, which I discovered four years ago, dramatically shaped the way I saw writing superheroes. He was light years away from the comic books of his time, everything he wrote. If you don't read old comic his. I feel that way about Starlin's Warlock, too. Cosmic. Rich with questions and tense adventure...but it was only about ten issues with a cool epilogue. Love and Rockets by the Hernandez Brothers means a lot to me: very femme-centric, funny, and sometimes fantastic and occasionally brilliantly Mexican, but never ever typical mainstream comics. Honestly, Anywhere With You by Cecil Disharoon opened my origins of my adult path in life to me in all its Romantic splendor, and I think that book would open those reflections in anyone, any age, so I recommend it.

The Illiad and Odyssey are huge to me, as are Shakespeare's plays, especially Hamlet. Sometimes a writer like Alan Watts or Poe or Twain matters in a way broader than one book. My view of life and the world was also shaped by Chinua Achebe's Things FAll Apart and The Good EArth by Pearl S. Buck, which came to my hands as I began my life as a #pedicabber surviving by the seat of my pants in #downtownSanDiego. Luigi Pirandello's Enrico Quatro and Six Characters in Search of An Author gave me philosophy-as-drama in a thoroughly modern way. Elaine Pagel's book on the Gnostic Gospels was huge for me, too. Philip K. Dick's key books nearly leap into that mix, especially Divine Invasion. I love Ray Bradbury, Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451, and all those poetic short stories; I think he'll be my next science fiction kick. Dharma Bums nearly made it, as did Heinlein's Stranger and To Sail Beyond The Sunset, but they are markers of things I learned in real life from experiences with my friends in a way more influential than those books, in comparison to the above ten's actual impact, because of what the sheer choice to read those did to shape me, rather than a shared ethos already in play (i.e. I was a Beatnik before I read them; knowing Joe Day was more important than Kerouac's book; knowing Jason Megahee or Eldon Dugan was more important than C.S. Lewis's books; Jamison meant more to me than Heinlein's books). Hatsumi's book would've meant nothing without Johann Balasuriya to explore it with us, and Sensei Robert Geyer.

It's quite nearly true my high school text books mean almost as much to me as these others. Your fundamental education opens the entire world of curiosity! Human From Another Outlook (English from Farsi) is my next book read, and something from my new friends Jesse Kindred and Corella are the next stories.

I could easily write a whole blog on each of these. Maybe I should, through the course of the year. I have been meaning to assemble many of these blogs as a book or two at last, as requested by Paula Hill and others. This is a critical crossroads for my creative work; what a wonderful place to assess what brought me here.

P.S. Love Dracula and Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.

No comments: