Ten Novels that Influenced Me Growing Up

Here are the ten novels that influenced me the most growing up. Note, these aren’t necessarily my favorite novels now or the ones I consider to be the most important or influential novels. Tastes change as we grow older and experience gives us a different perspective on what it important or not important. These are, rather, ten novels I remember reading and rereading throughout my childhood and teen years. They shaped who I am today.

  1. The Hobbit by J. R. Tolkien: I love anything Lord of the Rings, but the Hobbit will always hold a special place in my heart. The opening lines, “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit…” have always been among my favorite opening to any book. I wrote a book report about the Hobbit every single year of school from somewhere in middle school all the way through high school. And I reread it each time.

  2. The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury: I come back to Ray Bradbury regularly. He is one of my all time favorite writers even now, and The Illustrated Man is my favorite work by far.

  3. Dune by Frank Herbert: I was in 8th grade when I discovered Dune at the local library. My mother insisted it was above my reading level. I read it purely to prove her wrong. Looking back on it, I am sure she only said it because she knew that would make me read it. She was that kind of crafty. I loved it and it fueled a love to Science Fiction.

  4. Foundation by Isaac Asimov: Asimov was another writer I read obsessively growing up. I have a long epic fantasy series of my own that I am working on, the Gilded Empire, about a giant magical empire. For a long time my best description of this series was, “I read foundation too many times as a kid and played too much D&D.”

  5. A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony: My sister Mickey got me started reading this book when I was middle school. Throughout high school Xanth was one of those series that I waited impatiently for the next book to come out. I made it through the first nine book before I stopped obsessing. I have read some of the later ones more recently. Either my tastes have changed, or his writing, because I don’t enjoy the series as much anymore.

  6. Dragonriders of Pern by Anne MccAffrey: I got the first one through one of the many book clubs I belonged to and loved it. I read several more in the series throughout high school.

  7. The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin: I have to confess that I saw the movie first on this one. PBS was a big part of my life growing up, watching Doctor Who on Saturday Nights and then other old B science fiction that they showed. Then I saw their original 1980 movie, The Lathe of Heaven. I was entranced and had to read the book.

  8. The Mist of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley: I can still recall getting the thick hardcover copy from a book club and wondering if it was going to be worth the dough I had forked over, all based on a beautiful cover. It was. I read it multiple times. I have reread it as an adult and, sad to say, it’s not nearly as good as I remembered it to be.

  9. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams: Adams is a master of comedy. This series opened my eyes to the lighter side of being a science fiction geek. I read the entire series. I watched the early BBC miniseries. I played the original text based computer game that came on the large floppy disks, back when we had large floppy disks. This was one of my all time favorite series.

  10. The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks: This list is probably dating me pretty bad, but I was around the first paperback release of the Sword of Shannara as well. I loved it and read it several times. I got through the first two trilogies before moving on.


That’s my list. I know there are a lot of really good novels that aren’t on the list. Some I didn’t encounter until later in my life, some hadn’t come out yet. I tried hard not to list only one book per author, though I could have easily put a half dozen Ray Bradbury books down (Or Asimov, Tolkien, or Herbert) but I didn’t want to limit the list that way.

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