10 Books that Burrowed into my Brain

Posted By on April 29, 2017


I read a lot of books, but frankly I forget about most not long after I’ve finished them. While I may well have enjoyed the reads, only a select few titles have managed to stick with me to this day, years later. Below is my Top Ten list of these. They’re not all classics, and I wouldn’t recommend them all to everyone. However, they’re the ones I remember — their plots, characters, even lines of dialogue or prose. Your mileage may vary, but I think they’re at least worth a test drive.

Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon
Zephyr, Alabama, is an idyllic hometown for eleven-year-old Cory Mackenson — a place where monsters swim the river deep and friends are forever. Then, one cold spring morning, Cory and his father witness a car plunge into a lake — and a desperate rescue attempt brings his father face-to-face with a terrible, haunting vision of death. As Cory struggles to understand his father’s pain, his eyes are slowly opened to the forces of good and evil that surround him. From an ancient mystic who can hear the dead and bewitch the living, to a violent clan of moonshiners, Cory must confront the secrets that hide in the shadows of his hometown — for his father’s sanity and his own life hang in the balance.

Callisto by Torsten Krol
Odell Deefus, who’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, has one goal: to “try my hardest to be a good soldier against the mad dog Islamites.” But while driving to an army enlistment office in Callisto, Kansas, his ’78 Chevy breaks down on the side of a country road, and it’s only the beginning of his troubles. When he accepts a local’s offer of shelter until the car is repaired, things go from bad to worse — worse as in murder, drug dealers, tenacious televangelists . . . and finding himself a prime target of the FBI, which thinks he’s a member of a terrorist sleeper cell. And none of it bodes well for his unrequited crush on Condoleezza Rice. But fear, rash judgments, and extreme reactions are simply the norm in a post-9/11 world. Odell will just have to deal with it.

Cold Skin by Albert Sanchez Pinol
Shortly after World War I, a troubled man accepts a solitary assignment as a “weather official” on a tiny, remote island on the edges of the Antarctic. When he arrives, the predecessor he is meant to replace is missing and a deeply disturbed stranger is barricaded in a heavily fortified lighthouse. At first adversaries, the two find that their tenuous partnership may be the only way they survive the unspeakably horrific reptilian creatures that ravage the island at night, attacking the lighthouse in their organized effort to find warm-blooded food. Armed with a battery of ammunition and explosives, the weather official and his new ally must confront their increasingly murderous mentality, and, when the possibility of a kind of truce presents itself, decide what kind of island they will inhabit.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow. This is the improbable story of Christopher’s quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog.

The Drive-In by Joe R. Lansdale
When a group of friends decided to spend a day at the world’s largest Drive-In theater horror fest, they expected to see tons of bloody murders, rampaging madmen, and mayhem—but only on the screen. As a mysterious force traps all the patrons inside the Drive-In, the worst in humanity comes out.

Island by Richard Laymon
When eight people go on a cruise in the Bahamas, they plan to swim, sunbathe and relax. Getting shipwrecked is definitely not in the script. But after the yacht blows up they’re stranded on a deserted island, and there’s a maniac on the loose.

Lamb by Christopher Moore
The birth of Jesus has been well chronicled, as have his glorious teachings, acts, and divine sacrifice after his thirtieth birthday. But no one knows about the early life of the Son of God, the missing years — except Biff, the Messiah’s best bud, who has been resurrected to tell the story. Verily, the story Biff has to tell is a miraculous one, filled with remarkable journeys, magic, healings, kung fu, corpse reanimations, demons, and hot babes. Even the considerable wiles and devotion of the Savior’s pal may not be enough to divert Joshua from his tragic destiny. But there’s no one who loves Josh more — except maybe “Maggie,” Mary of Magdala — and Biff isn’t about to let his extraordinary pal suffer and ascend without a fight.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Awe and exhilaration — along with heartbreak and mordant wit — abound in Lolita, Nabokov’s most famous and controversial novel, which tells the story of the aging Humbert Humbert’s obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. Lolita is also the story of a hypercivilized European colliding with the cheerful barbarism of postwar America. Most of all, it is a meditation on love — love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.

The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh
Following the death of a friend, the poet and pets’ mortician Dennis Barlow finds himself entering the artificial Hollywood paradise of the Whispering Glades Memorial Park. Within its golden gates, death, American-style, is wrapped up and sold like a package holiday, and Dennis gets drawn into a bizarre love triangle with Aimée Thanatogenos, a naïve Californian corpse beautician, and Mr. Joyboy, a master of the embalmer’s art. Waugh’s dark and savage satire on the Anglo-American cultural divide depicts a world where reputation, love, and death cost a very great deal.

Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban
Set in a remote future in a post-nuclear holocaust England (Inland), Hoban has imagined a humanity regressed to an iron-age, semi-literate state — and invented a language to represent it. Riddley is at once the Huck Finn and the Stephen Dedalus of his culture: rebel, change agent, and artist.

About the author

Sawney Hatton is the author of the Dark Comedy novel DEAD SIZE, the YA novella UGLYVILLE, and the offbeat short story collection DARK SPACES, and the editor of the Sci-Fi Horror anthology WHAT HAS TWO HEADS, TEN EYES, AND TERRIFYING TABLE MANNERS?

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