jsridler (jsridler) wrote,

Your Own Henry Miller 100

Some time ago, I read an article online about Henry Miller. The article included a list of 100 books that Miller believed every writer should read. It was an eclectic collection of non fiction and literature, if I remember, and a very cool point of reference from Miller.

I think examining what you read and why has value. The old saw about the unexamined life not being worth living and all that jazz. So after reading that list, I wondered what 100 books I would consider being important to my own writing life. I did this maybe a year ago, and it was a pretty eye opening experience. It included comic books, history, as well as fiction both high brow and low ball. I told myself that I would be dead honest about my influence, no fudging and ignoring my illiterate teenage years, no pretending I didn't enjoy Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire Star Wars series as much as Jim Thompson's The Grifters. I learned that SF really doesn't thrill me anymore, nor much of celebrated horror writers. But I dug Herman Hesse and Joe Lansdale.

I'm thinking about doing this again. I think such lists should be subject to change, not written in stone. I won't post the whole list or anything, just my thoughts on what I find. If you're interested in doing this (you know, all five of you who read this timesuck LJ), here are some ground rules I used so that the list becomes somewhat manageable. I think Justin Howe came up with some of these, too:

1. If you've read more than five works by an author, you can just list the author's "Collect Work" (Collected works of Shakespeare, Collected works of Stephen King). We get the point. You dig this writer and their oeuvre. Maybe highlight the work that meant the most to you.
2. For comic books, just list the title: Amazing Spider Man, Detective Comics, The Tick, etc.
3. For short story writers, list the collection/anthology that had the stories you loved.
4. Be absolutely honest: no listing of stuff that you think will impress a college English professor or your writing group. For this list to be of value at all, it has to be rooted in honesty. If you think there is a bunch of stuff missing from your literary background, cool, go make a list of stuff you should read. But that is a different list
5. Read and comment on the list, what you discovered, if anything.
6. If you want, report back on what you find. But if you post a list, shove it behind a cut since no one likes MASSIVE LJ LISTS poking them in the eye.

Ok, troops, you have a week to complete your mission. Ready . . . Steady . . . SHANG-GO!




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