They say you can tell a lot by a person by what’s on their bookshelf. They also say you can tell a lot about a person by the cleanliness of their car and how they treat their server at the local Outback Steakhouse, but since my car is an absolute disaster and I rarely go to sit-down restaurants, allow me to introduce myself through my bookshelf. Below you will find a smattering of the books and detritus overflowing my shelves and you can form an opinion of me based on that.
Jurassic Park/The Lost World
I was never much of a reader as a kid. Reading was always something that school made me do and I just wasn’t going to waste my precious free time on it. That changed in the summer of 1992 when Jurassic Park hit theaters. I was so enamored with the movie that I wanted more, and at that time the only way to get more was to read the book it was based on. It blew me away and changed my life. After Jurassic Park, I followed it up with The Lost World and eventually moved on to other Crichton novels, like Congo and Sphere, neither of which I still have but seem to remember enjoying.
His Dark Materials/The Book of Dust trilogies
It took a recommendation from a friend to read His Dark Materials, and this was not long before the subpar movie with Daniel Craig came out, so it wasn’t that long ago. But once I finally did, I loved it. It’s a YA adventure tale but the world Philip Pullman created is wondrous and fantastic, enough to make me wish that I had a daemon of my own. When I learned about the follow up trilogy, The Book of Dust (which was released just a few years ago), I was stoked. I still haven’t dived into The Secret Commonwealth yet but when I do I have a feeling I’m going to be awestruck.
Oh, my. How did that get there? That name looks kind of familiar, doesn’t it? Well, this is embarrassing. (Available in paperback and ebook from Amazon.)
Forensics for Dummies
It takes a lot of research to be an effective writer. Sure, you can skimp on a few of the details and still create a compelling and interesting story, but to really be regarded as a high quality and engaging writer, you gotta get the details right. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend years learning about a specific subject!
My novel Imperfect Recall is about a private detective and who often finds herself in the midst of a murder mystery so I needed a quick reference guide to understand the science behind death, such as rigor mortis, lividity and how to determine PMI (that’s the “post mortem interval” or “time of death.”) This book is perfect for things like that. It allows me to look up a certain subject and gives me a couple of pages of explanation about it. Now I can sound like I know what I’m talking about, all without needing a medical degree!
The Screenwriter’s Problem Solver
I don’t just write novels; I also write screenplays. Though no one has ever read a screenplay I’ve written, I still want to get it right. That’s where books like The Screenwriter’s Problem Solver come in. This book is chock full of useful information for anyone looking to craft a great screenplay. Syd Field is highly regarded as one of the best teachers of the craft (with his book Screenplay hailed as a must-reader for aspiring screenwriters) so it’s no surprise that this has been one of the most helpful books I could have read. I, of course, have a few other screenwriting books that I’ll maybe share with you at some point in the future, wink wink.
Ron Swanson and Leslie Knope
I don’t just collect books; I also collect Funko Pop!s. And the shelves on which I put all of my Pop!s were overflowing. Then one day I looked at my bookcase, saw the four inches of space in front of all the spines that was just underutilized and realized that it would be a perfect place to keep my Parks and Recreation Pop!s. Yes, it can be a little tedious shifting the toys to get a book but look how cute Ron’s grumpy little face is. (Not pictured: Andy Dwyer, April Ludgate and Lil’ Sebastian. Yes, I have all of them.)
“The Great Outdoor Fight”
I’ve been a fan of the webcomic Achewood since around 2003 and this is one of the few books I have containing the strips. “The Great Outdoor Fight” was, at the time, the longest arcing Achewood story and it’s collected here in hardcover beauty. I reread this book every few years just to draw inspiration from how a writer can create well-rounded characters with distinct voices despite the fact that they’re cats. Even though the entire run of Achewood is soon to be collected in a multi-volume set from Oni Press and I fully intend to buy every last volume, I doubt I will part with this copy of “The Great Outdoor Fight,” I love it that much.
Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite writers and Good Omens is one of my favorite books. It’s hilariously written, it’s entertaining and it contains a few of the best characters I’ve ever read. Gaiman’s partnership with Terry Pratchett on this book is hands-down some of his finest. This was the first book by Gaiman that I’ve read and led me to his other works, like Anansi Boys and Neverwhere, as well as some of his non-fiction like The View from the Cheap Seats (where I also cleverly got the title for this blog post). If you haven’t read Good Omens, I highly recommend it (and don’t just watch the Amazon Prime series [even though that’s really good too and worth your time.])
When I decided to make this list I had planned on only grabbing pictures of four or five items to share with you, but when I finally went over to my bookshelf I realized there was so much there that I was excited about that it went a little longer than I’d intended. And isn’t that what a bookshelf is supposed to be? A home for all of your enjoyments, your joys, the things you get excited about?
Anyway, I hope this list doesn’t cloud your judgment of who I am as a person and that you had as much fun looking at these things as I had collecting them. Feel free to share some of your favorite items on your bookshelf with us as well! Drop a comment below or you can tweet us at @JoesWritersClub. And if you want to see more of what’s on my bookshelf, just yell at me over on Twitter, where you can find me at @CrankyRaconteur.