Over the past week a number of my Facebook friends have posted the top 10 (sometimes 15) books which have shaped their lives. I have been duly impressed by their lists and have even read (and enjoyed) some of the books on them. I will readily admit that there are some that I have never heard of and some that I have tried to read and stopped. Most are pretty heady stuff.
Observing their exercise made me realize that my own list is not nearly as impressive. The first book that I love is David McPhail's "The Magical Drawings of Mooney B. Finch". Yep, it is a children's book. I find that most of the books on my list of books that have shaped my life are children's books, for most of who I am now is directly due to my childhood.
And despite my mom's best efforts to get me to read the heady stuff, I was drawn to fantasy and science fiction. Nothing against Hemingway and Fitzgerald, I think they are fine fellows, I just didn't make their acquaintance until well into my twenties. The people who shaped my childhood are Piers Anthony and his never ending stream of Xanth novels, Madeline L'Engle and her "A Wrinkle in Time" series, C.S. Lewis and the magic of his wardrobe, David Eddings (The Belgariad), R.A. Salvatore (Drizzt Do'Urden), Robert Jordan (Wheel of Time); my list of fantasy authors is as exhaustive as Anthony's Xanth novels it seems.
Science fiction came a little later with writers such as Isaac Asimov (I, Robot), Larry Niven (Ringworld), and Ray Bradbury (The Martian Chronicles). These powerhouses of sci-fi made their worlds seem so real. The truly fantastic sci-fi writers have a firm grip on physics and the science of what makes their future work. Add in the mix Michael Crichton, who I think did a great job with near future stuff such as cloning (Jurassic Park) and nanotechnology (Prey), and one can find the source of my anxiety in writing sci-fi.