For what it’s worth: The ten novels that have influenced me the most
10. Moon Death (Rick Hautala) – published in 1980
- Read this as a senior in high school, my first fully read fiction novel. Sad to say, I was a slow starter in the ‘voluntary’ reading of anything outside an English class assignment. That being said, Hautala’s werewolf tale still holds up today. I recall fondly re-reading the more gory passages time and time again.
9. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (Vincent Bugliosi & Curt Gentry) – Published 1974
- Simply the most chilling non-fiction book I’ve ever experienced. Read it first at around age fifteen, but that was mostly just glaring at the true -crime photos and being utterly entranced by their grainy grimness. Years later I practically engulfed the text within. A fascinating, time capsule study in pure evil and those who fall under its malevolent spell.
8. Between Time and Terror – Various authors (Dan Simmons, H.P. Lovecraft, John W.Campbell, Ray Bradbury, F.Paul Wilson, Robert Bloch) - published in 1995
- As an admitted horror/sci-fi anthology connoisseur, I’ve read countless such collections, but none better than this talent-packed effort. Campbell’s ‘Who Goes There’, the inspiration for three film versions of ‘The Thing’ is a highlight, but in truth, there isn’t a single clunker found within, something of a miracle in terms of anthologies in any genre.
7. – The Twilight Zone Companion (Marc Scott Zicree) – published in 1982
- A flawlessly written expose of what is simply one of the best, most influential TV shows in history. Zicree examines not only Serling’s genius but also the man’s flaws, both personal and professional. He also rates each episode individually and, through interviews with cast and crew members, provides priceless behind the scenes nuggets.
6. Blue World (Robert R. McCammon) – published in 1993
- A Birmingham native, McCammon wrote several critically praised best-sellers (Swan Song, Wolf’s Hour, Gone South) that compared favorably to King’s best work. This collection of sci-fi/horror was my introduction to his work, and had me seeking out his earlier works almost immediately afterwards.
5. World War Z (Max Brooks) – published in 2006
- Basically a collection of superlative zombie tales curled within a framework that is equally mesmerizing. Brooks (son of Mel) combines dark humor with gut-wrenching suspense. I can only hope Brad Pitt’s upcoming movie version doesn’t butcher a great read, but I have serious doubts.
4. Shutter Island (Dennis Lehane) – published in 2003
- One of the better suspense mysteries of the past decade. Eerie setting, rich characters, captive dialogue, and an ending I never saw coming, and I’m usually pretty damn adapt at spotting those so-called ‘twists'. Surprisingly, Scorcese’s movie version was up to the challenge.
3. Pet Sematary (Stephen King) – published in 1983
- This was around the seventh King novel I’d read by ’83, and though I’d loved the others, none provided the sense of dread as this nasty little piece. The ending is one of the better downers of all time, an ‘early King’ specialty I truly miss in his more recent writing.
2. Skeleton Crew (Stephen King) –published in 1985
- King’s best collection, hands down (sorry ‘Night Shift’ fans)…two words: SURVIVOR TYPE..’nuff said.
The Stand (Stephen King) – published in 1980/unedited version in 1990
- Over 1,000 pages and not a single boring sentence exists. I’ve read this door-stop classic three times…dude, that’s over 3,000 pages.
The Long Walk (Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman) – published in 1986
- Unbelievably, King wrote this masterpiece at age nineteen. Forget ‘The Hunger Games’, this is THE classic in ‘juvenile competitions to the death’ tales. This one I’ve read at least five times and I plan to revisit it again soon.
Honorable Mention: By Reason of Insanity (Shane Stevens), Swan Song (Robert McCammon), Full Dark, No Stars (King), It (King), I am Legend (Richard Matheson), Silence of the Lambs (Thomas Harris), Red Dragon (Harris), The Keep (F. Paul Wilson), Strangers (Dean Koontz), Phantoms (Koontz), Damnation Game (Clive Barker), Salem’s Lot (King) …Far too many others to mention…please feel free to add to this list!!!