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Ten Influential Books

Sunday, March 21, 2010
There's a meme about telling you to list the 10 most influential books in your life, which I thought was sufficiently intriguing to rouse me from my blogging torpor. So here goes.

1. Imperial Spain, by John H. Elliott
This book changed my life. I literally can't conceive of my intellectual development without it.

2. The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
The first real quality novel I ever read, the meaning of it has changed for me as I've grown older - the sign of a great book.

3. Magician: Apprentice by Raymond E. Feist
The first fantasy novel I ever read - the first of very many - it introduced me to the genre, although I confess nowadays it seems a bit silly.

4. The Power of Iron Man by David Michelinie and Bob Layton
Yes it's technically a graphic novel, but it inspired me to collect comic books for years and to this day Iron Man (or Tony Stark really) is one of my favorite characters in fiction. I think Robert Downey Jr. did a splendid job, BTW.

5. Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, by David Kennedy
I read this book in high school when when I was first developing an interest in politics. It really opened up thinking about public affairs in a whole new way.

6. The Art of War in the Western World, by Archer Jones
The first work on military history I read, I became obsessed with the subject for years.

7. The Prince, by Machiavelli
Don't laugh.

8. Robert Kennedy and His Times, by Arthur Schlesinger
One of the first biographies I remember reading, I became fascinated with the Kennedys.

9. The Federalist Papers, by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay
I read this in college, and it had a profound effect on my thinking about American history and politics, sparked a lifelong interest in Alexander Hamilton, AND got me interested in philosophy. Pivotal.

10. The First Man in Rome, by Colleen McCullough
A fantastic piece of historical fiction, I started reading it at my stepmom's over a holiday break and developed an immediate love affair with the classical world.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 7:43 AM
  • Thanks for sharing your list!

    It's probably time for me to re-read The Count of Monte Cristo. I'm guessing (hoping) the meaning of the book has changed for me, too. I read it more than a dozen times between 7th grade and 12th, I think. At that time, I found its revenge storylines comforting because they gave me hope that the mean girls would get theirs. :)

    By Blogger Leslie M-B, at 2:01 PM  
  • I might be ruining it for you, but when I read it again a few years ago (when I discovered after 20 years that the version I had was expurgated!!) that the story is really about how pointless revenge is. Poor Dantes puts himself through hell to destroy his enemies and makes the people he loved/loves miserable, for NO REASON. The book is actually a pretty clever undermining of a lot of Romantic tropes. Kind of genius, actually.

    By Blogger Arbitrista, at 6:01 PM  
  • All right then--I'm definitely re-reading it!

    By Blogger Leslie M-B, at 6:45 PM  
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