by @julianeon

Books That Defined Me

I've been a reader for about as long as I can remember.

My Dad was a book collector. Our house was full of books.

The bedrooms, the living room, even the kitchen: all had books.

As a teen, I organized a house project to sell boxes of them - just to free up space.

So, I knew what it was like to grow up surrounded by books.

And I read those books, from a very young age.

But I'll spare you the details, and move on straight to my favorite, most formative, books.


For short & sweet, you can't beat Alice In Wonderland.

For something mid-length, I'd strongly recommend Bolano's The Savage Detectives.

Yet the longest have been some of my favorites. There's something about an epic novel that really gets under your skin.

Moby Dick, War and Peace, the Arabian Nights, the Mahabharata, and In Search of Lost Time.

The Arabian Nights were very soothing, almost rhythmic, in their familiar, repeating, motifs.

The craft that goes into War and Peace, the way the pieces join together, is beautiful in itself.

In Search of Lost Time comes the closest to containing the experiences of an entire lifetime.

It's probably the greatest book series I've ever read - my parting recommendation.


I don't endorse the person behind it, but The Memoirs of Casanova really give you the sense of a different era, almost a different planet.

The way people thought, their passions, their day to day lives: it's all there. It's captivating.

Hugh Thomas's book Conquest: Cortes, Montezuma, and the Fall of Old Mexico was also a great read. The scope of it is almost unimaginable.

I also like Malcolm X's Autobiography, for, among many other things, its portrait of a time now past.

Right now I'm reading Wilson's The Thirty Years War, and will be for months to come - it's very long. Yet it's been worth it.

Lately, I've moved on to sci fi and fantasy.

I've read a few books of Erickson's Malazan series, which I've generally enjoyed.

I've read about as much of Kameron Hurley, who I like too.


If I had to pick a favorite author, it would be: Philip K. Dick.

His books transport you to imaginary worlds that are dreamy but familiar, funny but also unsettling.

My favorite Dick books are the Man in the High Castle and Ubik.

They're both mind-bending in the best way, and challenging on a level that stays with you.

In closing, though, if I had to pick three books, I'd go with these.

Aliette Bodard's Obsidian and Blood series. Set in ancient Mexico, it's breathtaking.

Richard Garfinkle's All In An Instant. I've never read time travel written with so much creativity.

Taipei by Tao Lin, which really captures the moment we live in today.

And those are my favorite books. But as time goes on, I expect to update this list.

Keep checking this page, and most of all - keep reading!