“The Strand in New York City is the book hunter’s dream. They have everything there, from the hottest bestsellers of the month to vintage copies of Jane Austen. In the spring of 2007, I was deep in the upstairs stacks, the place where they restore and house the rare books. I hadn’t even intended to buy anything; I was quite content touching absolutely everything just to have a passing connection with history.
But then, under a pile of old business texts, I found a slim, unmarked book. Flipping open to the cover page, I felt my breath catch in the back of my throat. It was an original copy of A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the most notorious Pyrates, the canonical piratical text. The author was still listed as Captain Charles Johnson, a pseudonym that was changed in later reprints to the (supposed) actual author, Daniel Defoe (Robinson Cursoe).
They sold it to me for a paltry (PALTRY) $75. It remains the gem of my book collection.”
I have to mention two books.
For the first, I recall my parents going on holiday once when I was little. During the course of their trip they visited my aunt and cousins. And they returned home with “Who’s a Pest?” by Crosby Bonsall – proclaiming it to be my cousin Conan’s favourite book, and he wanted me to enjoy it, too. This from a cousin at the other end of New Zealand, who I saw very rarely. That in itself was special. But, the book is a great little read, even given that I never fully understood it until I read with an adult’s sense of narrative recently (with the birth of my son). Sometimes I wonder how much of my own personality was influenced by that tale…
Second, I am grateful for stumbling upon “The Crow Road” by Iain Banks in my last year of high school (a long, long time ago). It was sitting on a special stand on the end of a shelf of the school library, and the striking black and white cover caught my eye. I borrowed it, read it, and found it extremely enjoyable. And that was my first real foray into the world of “adult” fiction (other than those books assigned by teachers). I remember suddenly feeling that I had not read enough books and that I must do something about it…
Those are both great book memories! I don’t remember what my first ‘adult’ fiction book was, but I remember that feeling as well, that there were so many books that just NEEDED to be read.
I’m late, I know! 😀
But I just wanted to humbly submit the one series that changed my life and outlook forever: Mercedes Lackey’s The Last Herald-Mage trilogy.
Why? Because it was the first time I could read about two male characters falling in love in a way that could be beautiful. And believe me, in my country where “intercourse against the order of nature” is a crime? It made me sit up and open my eyes. Sure, there were parts of the series that were melodramatic, but damn, it made me bawl my eyes out back in the day.
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