Although we are having a little fun here thinking about the books that matter to us, there are many who have recently lost everything, most prominently in Haiti and Japan. If you can, we would appreciate you donating to the relief efforts of the Red Cross or other disaster relief organizations. Additionally, all sales income gained through the Amazon links in this post (the book titles and cover images) will be given to the Red Cross.
If you’ve been watching or reading the news, you may be aware that a large portion of Central Florida was in flames not long ago. I live but a few miles from the epicenter of the inferno, and waited with baited breath for that knock on the door that said I must evacuate. Which led me to my query for this irregular Grasping for the Wind feature:
If you had to leave your house in a hurry, and you could only grab five volumes off your shelf, which five would they be and why?
Adam @ Sensawunda: A few factors influence this decision. One, I’m a big guy so large volumes aren’t a problem to lug out of the house. Two, I want to balance quantity, quality, and variety. That being said, my five volumes would be.
The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe. The four volumes composing this work were collected in an omnibus edition back in the 90s, so I don’t have to waste two picks on one series. These books were the single greatest reading experience I’ve ever had. Wolfe shows what writing without any constraints can do.
The Complete Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I get five books for one pick here. Although the later books in the series don’t compare to the first two, they still have good jokes and solid irony sprinkles throughout. These were the books that originally inspired me to become a writer.
The Complete Stories of J. G. Ballard by JG Ballard. The stories contained within this 1200 page retrospective are invaluable to anyone who wants to write SF shorts. Ballard is a master of this form and needs to be recognized as such by more modern readers.
The Essential Ellison: A 50 Year Retrospective by Harlan Ellison. It took me two years to find a copy of this book for under a hundred bucks and I’m not letting it go now. Ellison, like Wolfe, writes without boundaries, but in a very different, and important, way.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. When I was just about to call it quits with writing, I picked up this book and it literally changed my life.
Rose Fox @ Genreville: If I happened to be near the bookcase, I’d grab the copy of The Jungle Book that my father’s father inscribed to me. Everything else is replaceable. I’m sure I’d be far more focused on getting the cats in their carriers.
Let this also be an excellent reminder to those of us who live in apartments: get apartment insurance, and document your book collections!
Rob Weber @ Val’s Random Comments: Well… assuming I could find them in my bookcase which triple stacked and perpetually on the verge of collapse, I’d probably pick a number of books which I either have fond memories of or are hard to replace.
I’m a fan of Frank Herbert’s work and I own a fine first edition hardcover of his novel 1972 Soul Catcher. It hasn’t seen print in several decades and it wasn’t easy to dig up such a fine copy. That one would be going with me for sure. For similar reasons I would also take my copy of the The Dune Encyclopedia by Willis E. McNelly. Given the approach of the Herbert estate to this work, it is extremely unlikely to be reprinted. I own a hardcover in good condition, it would be expensive to replace.
The three others are books that are not particularly difficult to get hold of, but have good memories attached to them. I own a signed copy of The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. My girlfriend won a meet and greet with him on his visit here to the Netherlands in 2007. It was the first time I actually spotted an author in the wild and it was a very good meeting. Scott Lynch is a great guy. I understand he’s been struggling with depressions in the last couple of years, I hope he manages to find that cheerful side of his personality again.
Another book I own a signed copy of is The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I had it signed at an event organized in Amsterdam in May 2009. It’s pretty rare for a US author to do a signing in the Netherlands so when it does happen I try to be there. If you do have the chance to attend one of Rothfuss I recommend that you seize the opportunity. It was great fun. Rothfuss has a very relaxed way of communicating with his fans. After several years of it, I think he’s still slightly bemused that all those people are actually showing up to see him.
The last book I’d probably take is my copy of Tuf Voyaging by George R.R. Martin. I love Martin’s work, everything form his short fiction to A Song of Ice and Fire. My copy of Tuf is one of the nice hardcovers published by Meisha Merlin. It went belly-up shortly after the release in 2003 and Martin bought part of the remaining stock, I think you can still get them at his website. My girl-friend got me a copy for my thirty first birthday and had it signed by Martin. It’s a lovely edition with some great interior artwork and I love the Tuf stories themselves as well. I know the whole world wants him to finish A Song of Ice and Fire but if he took some time out and wrote a Tuf novel you wouldn’t hear me complain.
Five books is not nearly enough of course, but if I had to pick, those might well be what I’d take.
Gareth/Drosdelnoch @ Falcata Times: A very worrying and dangerous question and at times like that I’d have to think that perhaps an ebook might be the way to go, that way you can save your entire collection in one foul swoop. Other than that if you’re a traditionalist like me it’s going to be tough and the odds are I’d get burnt before I could pick my titles. However given the time to think, I’d save:
- My 1986 Autographed Hardback Edition of Legend by David Gemmell
- The Bitter Seed of Magic by Suzanne McLeod
- The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen
- Ravenheart by David Gemmell
- Dresden File 1: Storm Front by Jim Butcher
Each of these books have a personal sentimental connection for me whether it was a link to a time when I was feeling low and they cheered me up or whether it was something as simple as they made me think and entertained me for a while or even that there was special gift within that means more than gold.
mari Adkins @ mariadkins.com: only five? you wound me, man. …
do my kindle and my laptop count? ROFL
Steve Davidson/The Crotchety Old Fan @ The Crotchety Old Fan: If I could only take five volumes – I’d be staying with the house. Seriously.
Like yourself, I lived in Florida and faced imminent evacuation on several occasions from both hurricanes and forest fires. Allow me to relate three incidences:
The last was for a forest fire. Yes, I was one of the idiots out in the yard with multiple garden hoses wetting down the roof, the lawn, sprinklers running, buckets and buckets of water stored all over the place just in case. The fire fighters managed to get things under control (the fires came within a mile of our location) but I wouldn’t have left anyway, and my persistence was rewarded by getting to see all of the fantastic wild life that kept running through our back yard, seeking to escape the flames. We even had a pair of black racer snakes mating by our barn (and a brace of black racers a month or so later.) They’re quite the aggressive snakes (fast too, they didn’t name them racers for no reason); whenever my curiosity got the better of me and I ventured too close to them, they’d rear up and start moving towards me. Tons of deer, a bunch of raccoons (one who stayed around for hand outs for quite some time afterwards) falcons, turkey vultures, even a neighbors panicked horse.
Two hurricanes came through within a couple of weeks of each other. On the first one, the wife insisted on obeying the “mandatory” evacuation (you don’t have to leave your domicile even under a mandatory evacuation but if you don’t the cops will ask you for contact information for your next of kin…). We drove cross state to stay in a motel near where my brother lived. The hurricane changed course and came onshore right where we were staying, and we ended up trapped in a hotel room with no power for three days.
During the second hurricane we ignored the evacuation on my insistence and laughed as – it changed course and never threatened us at all.
Prior to leaving for the first hurricane, I insisted on boxing up all of my books (about 3,500 at the time) and double bagging them in 50 gallon trash bags. That way, if the roof collapsed, they still had a decent chance of surviving mostly intact. (ID information inside too…)
And I kept those trash bags in the library room as my emergency plan for dealing with a house fire and that plan was organized thusly:
1. determine if I can get the fire out myself or not. If not
2. get the wife and the pets out of the house
3. put the family papers and the jewelry case in the wife’s hands as I’m getting her out of the house
4. make sure she has the cell phone to call 911
5. get into the library, empty the shelves into the trash bags and throw them out the window
6. grab other stuff if there is time
7. get out myself
(Yes, we do have smoke detectors and fire extinguishers)
I’ve had enough experience with these kinds of things to know that yes, I am the kind of person who will and has run back into burning buildings, heads towards the sirens, stops for car accidents to render aide and places himself between loved ones and danger at the potential cost of his own life (so don’t even think for a second that the above is just glorified wish fulfillment): I’ve gone after thieves armed with nothing but a coke bottle, idiot that I am.
So in reality and practice, the question doesn’t really apply. It’s my stuff, dammit, and I’ll go down protecting it. If that makes me a materialist, so be it, but a lot of those books have lived with me far longer than any single person – human or otherwise – has.
James @ Dazed Rambling: I recently moved from Florida to Kansas on short notice and was forced to leave the bulk of my books behind. Having very little space in my baggage, I could only select a handful of books, some of which were books I just wanted to read, but a few were ones that I could not leave behind.
- Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis – One of the few books I would count as a comfort read. It is a vulgar little book, filled with hilarity, the perverse, and the absurd. I fell in love with it on the first read and it has only gotten better with each subsequent one.
- Shivering Sands by Warren Ellis – Shivering Sands is a collection of essays, musings from Twitter, and even the odd recipe. Unlike most books, I never stop rereading this one. I always have it on hand for when I am between books or having trouble deciding the next one to start. It is a highly entertaining and interesting book, but I really love it because Ellis can talk about writing and influence and make me yearn to start writing and experimenting.
- Escape From Hell! by Hal Duncan – The Heaven/Hell trope is one of my favorites, so it comes as no surprise that this novella is among one of my favorites. It is tragic, violent, and tinged with dark humor and just like the other books on this list, it is one of the few books that I can reread again and again and never tire of.
- The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway – This book is insane and I love it so much that I have two copies. Unfortunately, the second did not arrive until after I left for Kansas. Instead of the furry neon pink hardcover that I have longed for since I saw it, I stuffed my worn out paperback into my baggage and it sits on the shelf now, about due for another reread.
- The Other City – Michal Ajvaz – Unlike the other books on this list, there is not a lot of humor to be found in this book and it is not the type of book I can reread endlessly. Rather, this book marks just how much my tastes have changed since I started reading the genre seven years ago and stands as a testament to the books I can discover and come to love by stepping away from my comfort zone. It is a fantastic book, yes, but it is also there as a reminder to never stop exploring.
I imagine that others will choose to save books that have some deep, personal meaning to them–whether they are books that changed their lives or books gifted to them by family or friends or just prized possessions, but my collection lacks all of those. The closest I get is the last book on the list and the rest are just the books I enjoy the most. They are the ones that I can read over and over again, the ones that still manage to make me sad or make me angry, the ones that still manage to repulse me, the ones that make me laugh at the same jokes, be they good or bad, and cheer on the characters. That is all I can ask from a book and more than enough reason to rescue them.
The Alternative @ The Alternative One: The five books I’d have to take if fleeing a fire are (in no particular order):
- Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany (fantasy and poetry – just can’t beat that combination)
- The Stand [Complete and Uncut version] by Stephen King (because, you know, it’s 1150 pages and like 4 books long)
- Gateway by Fredrik Pohl (one of my all-time favorites)
- Old Man’s War by John Scalzi (great story –well worth re-reading over and over again)
- Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (ditto)
If I could squeeze in five more I’d take:
- Midnight at the Well of Souls by Jack L. Chalker
- Mindbridge or The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
- A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller
- Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
- Foundation by Isaac Asimov
David Marshall@ Opionator: Well, inevitably, we would have to start with Fahrenheit 451 (1) to remind us when our precious books might burst into flame. We may feel Expendable (2) and be The Dispossessed (3) today, but we’re hoping tomorrow will be A Brave New World(4). Until then, remember the advice on how to relieve stress given when we told to run, Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (5).
1. Ray Bradbury
2. James Alan Gardner
3. Ursula K Le Guin
4. Aldous Huxley
5. P K Dick
Gef / Rabid Fox @ Wag The Fox: I’m no good with snap decisions like this, so I’d likely wind up grabbing cook books and catalogs in a panic. If I had my wits about me though, I’d go with Stephen King’s On Writing because it’s the best book I’ve read so far about the writing life, Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend and Hell House because it’s two great novels in one book, my signed hardcover of Joe Hill’s 20th Century Ghosts, my contributor’s copy of Shadows of the Emerald City, which includes the first short story I ever sold, and Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys–it’s a well-worn paperback, but it’s one of my all-time favorite novels.
Amanda @ Floor to Ceiling Books: Just five books? Oh hell! That sort of precludes most fantasy series, doesn’t it? Having said that, I think one of my books would now be Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson. This is where I “got” it and I have never lived such a rollercoaster of humour, tears, excitement and true fantasy. Brilliant stuff. Plus, it clocks in at almost one thousand pages, so would keep me busy for a while. My copy of French Relations would definitely come along – another large book, and this one is one for the girls, being a summer bonkbuster *grins* Tales of bedhopping, horse riding and drinking in the Loire Valley – steamy and awesome fun. My third book would be Sharon Shinn’s Archangel – beautiful, beautiful prose and a love story to weep over. God, two left already? I think I’d be burning in the inferno as I tried to pick the last two! I’m trying to think about all those books on my “to-keep-never-ever-getting-rid-of” shelf. Ah! The fourth would be Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon (you Yanks call it Outlander instead, I believe) – the start of Jamie Fraser and Clare’s journey. I adore this book so much. Last book….. Hell… You know what? This one is for comfort, and is probably the book I have read the most in my life: The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell. My copy is dog-eared and treasured. I was brought it as a child and it still earns a place on that keep-forever shelf. There you go, five books! But if you asked me again tomorrow, they would probably be different. *winks*
Jared @ Pornokitsch:
We have a lot of books around and I’d like to think that some of them are pretty valuable. But when it comes down to it, only four are irreplaceable.
- This particular copy of The King In Yellow sat in a Chicago bookstore for ten years, and I lusted every it every single day I walked by. Actually purchasing it was a rite of passage.
- The battered copy of I, Claudius is unique. It is an ex-library copy, withdrawn from Charterhouse School (Graves’ childhood alma mater) and signed by him. As one of my favorite authors, this might be one of the best bookshop finds I ever made, and I’m still immensely proud of it.
- Anne and I are mentioned in the dedication of Cold Warriors – pretty much the coolest thing that’s ever happened to either of us – and this is the copy that Rebecca Levene gave to us personally. There are many copies of Cold Warriors out there with our names on it, but this one is ours.
- Finally, the spiral-bound book is an anthology that Anne gave me last year. Many of our friends and family contributed pieces of short fiction – all based on a terrible short story I had written as an 8 year old. It is truly irreplaceable.
Stephanie M. Lorée @ Scribbler to Scribe: First and foremost, I would choose my signed copy of Changes by Jim Butcher, because I’m a huge Butcher fangirl and this volume has a special significance for me. Second, The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, which has gotten me through tough times and has a handwritten note from my mother. Third, Stein On Writing by Sol Stein, the book that changed my craft forever and for better. Fourth, Tempus Fugit by Lawrence Lee Rowe Jr., a book as entertaining and humorous as it is politically charged and personally meaningful. Finally, my signed galley of Warcry by Elizabeth A. Vaughan, because we all need a little magic and romance.
Ian Randal Strock @ www.SFScope.com: Hmm, that’s a tough one. The vast majority of my library are good books, but nearly all are easily replaceable. I guess I’d have to grab for unreplaceable books, right? That means books by Isaac Asimov, Victor Serebriakoff, James Hogan, Hal Clement, and Alfred Eisenstaedt, since they’re all deceased. Specifically, books they signed, and even more specifically, books they signed to me. Now, choosing which specific books becomes even more difficult. Well, the I only have one each from Serebriakoff (Mensa) and Eisenstaedt (Eisenstaedt on Eisenstaedt). Hogan’s would be the cheap paperback copy of Voyage From Yesteryear, the first of his I ever read, which was at home for several years before I met him in the office at Analog and had him sign it. Probably the fortieth anniversary boxed edition of Asimov’s Pebble in the Sky, since I was at the launch party for it with Isaac, and then had him personalize the already-signed book the next week in the office. I’ve got several from Clement, but I can’t think of any specific reason to choose one over the others, since it’s mostly the connection with Hal, rather than a specific book or memory.
Kat @ Bibliobabes.ca: It’s the middle of the night and the zombie apocalypse is upon us. I’ve got my ferret, my food, and my fresh undies. Now I need some reading material… but what five books do I take? After some tough deliberation, and the certainty that I’d be able to hit libraries and bookstores for the more common stuff, I’d ultimately choose…
Whatever I’m reading at the time – Nothing leaves me more unsatisfied than a book unfinished.
The Annotated Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov and Alfred Appel Jr. – Not only is it beautifully written and utterly fascinating, it’s also the most complicated and multi-faceted book I’ve ever read, so I’ll always learn something new from it.
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk – My particular copy is autographed out to me, so it makes me feel like a big man to have it. Also, I still haven’t read it, so I really should get on that; I hear it’s kind of badass.
The Child Thief by Brom – It’s one of those big, gnarly books that you can get a lot of mileage out of due to the gigantic size of it, and while it’s a familiar story (we all know Peter Pan, right?) it’s written with adults in mind… adults who like swearing and gratuitous violence!
Last of all… well, I figure if I can grab one book, I can grab a handful, so I’d scoop up an armload of my horror anthologies – Because I have a short attention span and can get just about anything I might be in the mood for out of them.
If you consider that cheating, than to round it all out I’d grab The Season of Passage by Christopher Pike – It’s got everything: space travel, romance, adventure, aliens, and ridiculous amounts of blood. And somehow, I always wind up with a sense that I’ve somehow learned an important lesson when I’ve finished reading it.
There you have it… my current emergency survival kit of books!
Lexie @ Poisoned Rationality: Asking me to pick just 5 volumes from the 1600+ books I own is like asking a chef to choose only 5 recipes to cook for the rest of his life. So…I’ll give this my best shot and then weep in the corner at the mere thought of losing all the others.
A Distant Soil by Colleen Doran
This is a graphic novel (which is actually 4 books long at the moment), but that doesn’t matter. Its part scifi/part romance/part action/part espionage/part everything but the kitchen sink (it has GALAHAD! The Knight!). Doran Space Opera Epic is about a young girl finding out she’s the ‘God’ of an alien world…and the problems therein. Sort of. Its difficult to explain. But I re-read this series at least twice a year (partially because one day it will be complete, Doran is funding the completion of the project out of pocket, so its taken a bit longer then any of us hope) and would be depressed without it at my side.
The Rowan by Anne McCaffrey
This wasn’t my first book of hers I read (that was Acorna), but it is my favorite 9 times out of 10. Its self-contained enough that you don’t have to read the sequels (and in truth I didn’t know it HAD sequels until much later), but intriguing enough to give anyone plenty of fodder to talk. I want to grow up to be like the Rowan (and yes you have to have the ‘the’ in front of her name.) complete with white hair!
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
My favorite book of hers–whether we’re talking live action drama, audio-drama or novel form. I’m hopeful it will get a graphic novel one day. Catherine is the kind of girl I was at that age (17)–so certain I understood the world and often leaping to conclusions that were far more interesting then reality.
Kieli, Vol. 1: The Dead Sleep in the Wilderness by Yukako Kabei
I read a lot of novels that are either in another language (not easily, my Japanese and Korean is only good enough for me to guess at the gist of novels, not really read them) or translated from another language. Indeed a good chunk of my collection is dedicated to these books. Kieli, volume 1, is a bittersweet tale with a hopeful ending (that is thoroughly dashed on the rocks with the start of volume 2. seriously Kabei-sama finds it hilarious to do this I think) and a sweet set of characters who are just in the wrong time and place a lot.
Daughters of Darkness by LJ Smith
My favorite novel of hers from the Night World books. It’s one of the few YA Paranormal Romances that I can point to and say ‘Look! The heroine isn’t too stupid to live and the hero actually listens!’ Mary-Lynette tells Ash off and he just takes it and says ‘I will slay a dragon to win your love!’ (and he means it). Mary-Lynette simply huffs at him and tells him to stop making decisions for her. It’s hilarious and so entertaining!
So…yeah. Not what you’d call a list of classics huh? But hey if I gotta lose my books I’m taking the ones I’ll re-read into infinity thank you. (and because I can’t help it: The Girl with the Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts–I don’t care if I lose an arm saving this book, its worth it. And Little House in Big Woods. Oh oh and jeez I forgot my mythology books…my friends always claimed I’d die trying to save my books.)
Mieneke van der Salm @ A Fantastical Librarian: The five volumes I’d rescue in case of fire? That’s a really tough question and I’ve had to think about it for a fair bit. And I came up with the following tomes:
1. My illustrated Brothers Grimm’s Fairytales, because it’s gorgeous and I’ve had it ever since I can remember. It was illustrated by Anton Pieck, a well-known Dutch illustrator and his work is just iconic.
2. (&3, as it’s a two volume work) The antique medical handbook for the regular house-wife De Vrouw Als Dokter Thuis by Dr. Jenny Springer MD (English translation of the Dutch: Woman as the Doctor at Home). It’s from 1910 and I inherited it from my grandmother, when she passed away. While most of it is obsolete, some of it is surprisingly acurate and it has the coolest illustrations.
4. My favourite childhood book, De Scheepsjongens van Bontekoe by Johan Fabricius (English translation: Bontekoe’s Ship’s Boys.) It’s a fabulous adventure story set in the Dutch Golden Age and my dad must have read it about five times to me when I was small and once I could read myself, I must have read it just as often. I’d save it so I can read to my daughter when she’s older.
5. Amazingly enough, this is the only speculative work on my list. That’s not because I wouldn’t want to save any of those, but because most of the SFF I own is still in print and thus easily replaceable, the books above have special emotional meaning attached. This book however isn’t as easily replaceable, that’s why I’d rescue it. It’s a leatherbound, signed, 20th anniversary limited edition printing of Magician by Raymond E. Feist. It was the first hardback I ever bought of a book I already owned in paperback.
So there you have it, those are my five must-rescue-in-case-of-fire-books!
Terry Weyna @ Reading the Leaves and Fantasy Literature: With 12,000+ books in the house, it’s hard to determine what we’d take and what we’d leave. Fortunately, the “blue chip” bookcases are on either side of the bed, so we’d probably go for the books that have the highest dollar value, rather than anything to which we have an emotional attachment. Certainly our signed first edition of Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash would make the exodus with us. We’d probably also grab our signed first of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code — but only for its dollar value, not because it’s a good book (it’s not). Our firsts of Frederick Pohl’s Gateway and Niven and Pournelle’s The Mote in God’s Eye probably bring up the rear. If I could carry anything else, I’d probably make a try for anything we’ve gotten through Powell’s Books Indiespensable program — really gorgeous books, usually slipcased and signed, and often worth more than the cost of the book by the time the book is delivered.
Liz @ My Favourite Books:
1. I’d grab my copy of Jack of Kinrowan by Charles De Lint. This was my first book I read by CDL and my first foray in the urban fantasy / genre and I re-read it at least once a year. I have never looked back and I will fight any comers who’d say anything against this book. And the author. CDL FTW!
2. Also my much loved and well-thumbed copy of the The Iliad. I love Greek mythology and have always felt a great kinship with the story as it is written in the Iliad. Also, each time you read it, you notice something new.
3. Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney. What a great story, translated by a genius. Imminently re-readable too.
4. Also, The Walking Drum by Louis L’Amour. My dad used to read Westerns so I read them all the time growing up. The Walking Drum however is not a Western. It is set in Europe during the Arabic conquests and has a rich cast of amazing characters and to this day I am in love with the main character, Kerbouchard.
5. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas – the ultimate revenge novel and one I love and can re-read at any given time.
Scooper @ scooper speaks: Hmmm. If I had time to grab five books I’d take my Dante Valentine by Lilith Saintcrow (It’s a compilation of her 5 book series), Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs, Cast in Shadow by Michelle Sagara, Ransom by Julie Garwood and the first book I grabbed that was written by Illona Andrews. I began as a romance lover and progressed to loving urban fantasy and fantasy, so as long as I had a little bit of both of those worlds, I’d be OK until I could replace my lost books.
Peggy Hailey @ RevolutionSF.com: So we’re pretending that I wouldn’t panic completely, run around in circles, trip over the cat, and just grab whatever came to hand, leaving me standing outside the ashes of my house wearing one flip-flop and clutching a copy of Mental Floss magazine from 2008?
All righty, then.
The first book I’d grab would be my copy of Joe Lansdale’s The Good, the Bad, and the Indifferent. Not because it’s a signed limited, but because it was given to me as a thank-you gift from friends who knew that I had lost my original copy in an apartment flood.
Next would be Sea Dragons: Predators Of The Prehistoric Oceans by Richard Ellis. I’ve been nutty about Ellis since those awesome white-on-black drawings in Deep Atlantic, but the one time that he was at BEA (the annual book industry convention), I wasn’t. Luckily, friends aware of my love for the man gang-tackled him and forced him to sign a book for me, for which I am eternally grateful.
The third book I couldn’t live without would be Jeff VanderMeer’s City of Saints and Madmen. I’ve read and re-read Jeff’s book so many times, Ambergris feels like home to me.
Next comes Edward Whittemore. I’d love to cheat and claim the whole Jerusalem Quartet as one book, but if forced, the one I’d grab would be Jerusalem Poker: three guys sit down to a poker game to determine who will control Jerusalem. All of Whittemore is mighty fine, but this is my favorite.
Last but not least, my copy of Something Wicked This Way Comes, signed by Bradbury. Bradbury has always been able to slip past my defenses, and this tale of two boys and their encounter with Mr. Dark’s carnival beats close to my heart.
Carole Wallencheck @ The Luminous Page:
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary (because one should never be at a loss for words even – or especially – in an emergency, and besides, the OED is too cumbersome to carry)
Hogfather by Terry Pratchett (because he is my favorite living author and I would want him to keep me company in my exile)
At a Journal Workshop by Ira Progoff – (because I would need the support of my very favorite self help/inner workings/psychology/creativity/get-your-life-in-order-while-writing-down-your-dreams-and-having-fun-viewing-your-interior-world book ever — I’d also bring my own Journal, so this is a two-for-one choice)
American Splendor by Harvey Pekar – August 2008 issue (because I’m mentioned in it by name)
A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley (because I first encountered this evocative, charming story of a child slipping between the centuries when I was a young girl and have reread it every few years since – I still love it).
Brenda @ Reading Fairy Tales: If I could only grab five books, I think I’d first reach for my signed copies since most other books can be replaced. That said, my five would be:
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card–besides being one of my all-time favorite books, my copy is signed “To Brenda: A Friend of Ender”.
Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card–this is also one of my favorites, and I got it signed the same time as Ender’s Game.
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson–also a signed copy and a favorite (are you beginning to see a pattern here?). But now I’m going to break the pattern with:
The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien (omnibus edition)–see what I did there? 3 for 1. Not a signed copy, but man that’d be cool to have.
A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin–I’m going under the assumption that I won’t immediately be able to get new books and replace those I used to have, so I’d have to grab my favorite book from my favorite fantasy series.
Jessica @ On a Pale Star: Trying to limit myself to five volumes is scary. First and foremost – my omnibus of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. Following that, I’d grab Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery), The Best Science Fiction of Isaac Asimov, my bedraggled copy of Dragons of Autumn Twilight (Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman), and Contemplative Prayer (Thomas Merton). The Hitchhiker’s Guide, Anne of Green Gables, and Dragons of Autumn Twilight are all childhood friends of mine, and I can’t imagine leaving them to burn up in my home if I had time to scoop them up. My favorite short story ever (“Immortal Bard”) is in the Asimov collection, and Merton’s Contemplative Prayer makes me feel better just being nearby–and I think that if my home burned I’d be in serious need of both contemplation and prayer.
Grace Bridges @ Splashdown Books: I would take the volumes that I love very much and also give the most bang for my buck, so to speak – Chris Walley’s The Lamb Among the Stars trilogy, which is three giant hardbacks providing many, many days of reading; Stephen Lawhead’s Empyrion, just as huge even though I tend to speed through it after so many rereads; and then probably my early edition C.S. Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet, because it is physically the oldest Christian Speculative Fiction that I own. It’s kind of cool to have a 70 year old book!
redhead @ Little Red Reviewer:
1. The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss
2. The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch
3. Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand
4. The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco
5. Open Veins of Latin America, by Edwardo Galeano
All those books are in different places in my home. maybe it’s time to keep them on the same shelf!!
ediFanob @ Edi’s Book Lighthouse: There are around 500 books on my shelves. To choose only five of them is a difficult task. I should need several series in in ultra omnibus format – ten books in one. But such omnibus do not exist. I love to read fantasy but I chose not only fantasy books.
My first choice without hesitation is a graphic novel. It is the only one I own and it is my all time number one graphic novel.
I talk about Watchmen by Allan Moore. It don’t get tired to read it again and again. Rorschach is my favorite character.
My second choice is The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. This is definitely on of the best books I read in my life. A book for book lovers. It is full of magic.
I think my third choice is a bit unusual because it is the second book in a series. But I can’t leave without a steampunk book. It will be published on March 22nd 2011. The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man by Mark Hodder is steampunk at its best.
My fourth choice has been the debut novel for the author. It is awesome, terrific, brilliant. It is epic fantasy at its best.
“I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.
You may have heard of me.”
Need I really to tell you more? OK. I will do. My fourth choice is The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.
My fifth and last choice is the first book in a series. It is simply brilliant, absolutely georgeous and belongs to one of my favorite fantasy series. I think you know which book I mean when you read the following combination of characters: ASOIAF. For all of you who do not know I talk about A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. It belongs to the books I will never forget. Winter is coming …
It is so sad. Neither a historical thriller/mystery, nor a science fiction book, nor other fantasy books. I really hope I never have to choose ….
Shaun Duke @ The World in the Satin Bag and The Skiffy and Fanty Show: It became clear to me early in my thinking process for this question that I’m pretty much screwed if anything approaching apocalyptic levels of change forces me to leave my house in a hurry. I own no books which offer serious advice on survival in any capacity, since most of my non-fiction books are biographies or academic texts on culture and depressing things like colonialism. With Japan under water, I think apocalypse is coming pretty soon…
But to the question. I’m a pragmatist, so the first thing I started thinking about is whether omnibus editions count as one book (since we only get five choices). I’m going to say that they do, and if Ottinger wants to argue with me over it, he and I can take it outside and settle the debate with a duel using Nerf guns. Besides, if I’m leaving my house, it’s possible I may never come back or my house will be overrun by zombies or book-obsessed biker gangs.
So, which omnibus editions would I bring with me? These:
The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
It includes all of Adams’ HG novels. And let’s face it, if the world ends and we need to entertain ourselves, nothing is going to do that better than amateur re-enactments of the classic British scifi comedy’s! I’ll wear the paper mache Zaphod head!
The Xenogenesis Trilogy by Octavia Butler
She’s a genius. Need I say more? I do? Well, she’s a great writer, her novels are complex, re-readable, and brilliant. And she’s a genius. That is all.
The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov
He may not have been the best of writers, but the Foundation novels are fascinating to read. I have a thing about complex scifi epics involving psycho-history. Besides: Asimov is classic and always fun to read.
The Dragonriders of Pern Trilogy by Anne McCaffrey
I’ve never read them, but I own the omnibus edition of the first three novels, and if I’m going to survive the apocalypse or whatever has forced me out of my house, then I need some classics that I haven’t actually read. There’s a logic to this. I promise.
The Space Opera Renaissance edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer
Okay, so this one is actually a short story/novella collection. It contains 32 stories by authors from just about every period of science fiction’s relatively short history, most of which I’ve never read. That’s enough to keep a bus full of starving teenagers happy!
There you go. The tally? 15 novels and 32 short stories for a bazillion and a half pages of scifi and fantasy goodness! Take that, apocalypse!
Paul “jvstin” Weimer @ Blog, Jvstin Style: Five books to save from disaster. Not a desert island question, but, still…Tough.
Okay, here goes:
- Silverlock, John Myers Myers
- The Great Book of Amber, Roger Zelazny
- The Well-Filled Tortilla (a cookbook)
- My 1E D&D Dungeon Masters Guide
- My copy of the 2E edition of Nobilis
Why these? Because in the main they would be a pain to replace, and if I didn’t have the funds to replace my lost books for a while, they would still be a seed of books for me to begin again with my book buying. And the cookbook is useful–for cooking!
Lisa Paitz Spindler @ Danger Gal Blog: I can only pick five. FIVE?! With apologies to my critique partner, I would grab the following: Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro, Neuromancer by William Gibson, Seize the Fire by Laura Kinsale, The Summer Queen by Joan Vinge, and Lover Avenged by J.R. Ward.
My criteria would be to choose one book from each of my favorite genres, but I see that this list is a bit lacking in Fantasy. Choosing only five is incredibly painful, so runners up would include The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley and The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien. If you ask me again next week, I’ll probably tell you five different books.
Bill Ward@Deep Down Genre Hound: I think it must be natural for those of us who line our walls with hundreds of pounds (tons?!?) of flammable material in the form of books to occasionally let our thoughts stray in the direction of the worst case scenario. It’s entirely possible that future generations of e-book readers won’t be able to grasp the horror of the notion of the quick dash out of the domicile, volumes clutched in hand — or the tossing of whole shelves of books out of windows as flames lick at the bedroom door.
But to save a mere five? Of course, we only save the books after the people/cats/hamsters/sentient robots themselves have been seen to, that’s a given. I’d like to think my arm spread and general zeal would allow me to save more than five books…but those, unfortunately, are the rules.
I don’t own many books of great material worth, but I suppose I’d grab the priciest in my collection — the first edition Michael Andre-Driussi’s extraordinary guide to the world of Gene Wolfe’s New Sun series, Lexicon Urthus. And, well, speaking of the New Sun, I’ve got a three volume set that Wolfe signed for me just last year at the World Fantasy Convention. But then there are all the other Wolfe books he’s signed for me, and that nice autographed copy of Joe R. Lansdale’s Dead in the West, and all those sweet vintage Harold Lamb paperbacks that are in amazing condition for their age, and, wait a second, a bunch of Easton Press and Folio Edition non-fiction sets in the other room I just thought of, and of course those sentimentally valuable paperbacks of my teenage years like Dune, 1984, and The Hobbit, and, well, I can’t really leave without a book called Realms of Fantasy that got me into this whole book-buying mania to begin with as a kid….
I think it’s clear that, if this were to actually happen to me, I’d be toast. So to give some kind of real concrete answer I’d have to say that the things I’d grab first off my shelves, the things I really couldn’t stand to part with, are the (currently) two notebooks that make up my reading log for the last fifteen years — at least that way I’d stay connected to the books that shaped my life, even if they all went up in smoke.
Steven @ MentatJack.com: I’m going to start off by cheating. The first 2 “volumes” will be my kindle and my phone. Between them I’ve read more fiction in the last 6 months than any other medium. Recent kindle reads include Bone Shop by Tim Pratt, Rides a Dread Legion by Raymond Feist and I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells. In addition to pre-packaged eBooks, the phone a decent medium for reading (or listening to) online fiction, such as Lightspeed Magazine, Clarkesworld Magazine or Subterranean Press Online.
That leaves me 3. I’ll cheat slightly less on the 3rd one. I wanted to count my collection of Locus magazines as 1 volume, but that’s just plain silly, so I’ll limit myself to the February issues. I’ve only subscribed for a 1/2 dozen years, so that’s manageable. Why the February issues? Because the February Issues of Locus contain the year in review section which will be crucial in rebuilding my abandoned library.
Four will also be a small stack of magazines. Science magazine. The stack in question (still of manageable weight) has the recent issue I’ve REALLY been enjoying. The February 11th issue with the special section on “dealing with data.” It may very well have convinced me of a career path: Data Archivist. You may have learned all that you’d ever want to know about me by knowing that that sounds cool to me.
I’d probably choose a Borges collection for my 5th except that mine is safely shelved at my office for afternoon mental exercises. So my 5th will be my O’Reilly Hadoop book, because I have a few projects I’ve been meaning to work on.
Lisa @ Read.Breathe.Relax.:
In answering this question, I really tried to think about what books I absolutely cannot live without- or books that are extremely sentimental to me that I would be devastated to re-buy.
Here’s my list:
1. Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen- This book has an infinite re-read factor for me. I love the story, the setting, the characters and everything else about it. My copy has wavy pages (from bringing it with me everywhere) and a cracked binding, and I would never want to lose the memories I have of reading this amazing book.
2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling- Ideally, I would carry as many of these books with me as I could, but for the sake of the question I guess I’d choose The Sorcerer’s Stone. It may be a bit silly to choose this book as they are millions and millions of copies available, but I’ve had this particular book since I was 10 years old. It helped me get through my mom’s fight against breast cancer, and I would make a mad dash through fire to get it. Provided that the flames were very small or virtually non-existant.
3. A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers- This book is deeply inspiring and one of the best historical fiction novels I have ever read. It’s what introduced me to the genre and to this talented author.
4. Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marilier- This celtic fantasy novel helped me fall in love with…well, fantasy romance. I’m a lover of romantic stories no matter what the genre, but this book is what kick-started by passion for book-passion.
6. The Bible- I’m a spiritual person and honestly, without pretense, I would grab my Bible. It’s a NIV study Bible that I bought in middle school and in the margins it still holds markings in my sloppy 6th-grade handwriting. It’s more to me than just sentimental- it’s the representation of everything I believe.
Jackie @ Literary Escapism: I only get to grab 5 volumes off my shelves?! Oh the humanity, this would be a really tough choice. I would probably be one of those individuals who spends more time trying to figure this out than making sure I was also bringing enough food or clothes or whatever else I would need to survive the catastrophe.
Ideally, this wouldn’t be a hard decision to make as the first volume I would grab would be my Kindle which has quite a few novels on it. On top of that, I would also hope that we would be able to take the car and the hubby was able to grab our server, which not only has all our family photos and videos, but all of my digital books. Right there would ensure that I would be set for quite awhile…or at least until order was restored and I could get to the Internet to order more books.
However, aside from my Kindle, five novels that I could totally see me grabbing would be:
The Vampire Chronicles Collection, Volume 1 by Anne Rice – I’ve never read the first three Vampire Chronicle novels – Interview with the Vampire,The Vampire Lestat or The Queen of the Damned – and since I have them all in one omnibus edition, why not. Plus, with only having the five novels available, I would definitely get to them and make more of an effort to get past how wordy I thought Interview with the Vampire was. Considering the reputation these novels have, it’s probably sacrilege that, as a UF/PNR/F reviewer, that I haven’t read them yet.
The Black Jewels by Ann Bishop – These would definitely be a must. Again, it’s another omnibus edition with the first three novels of the trilogy -Daughter of the Blood, Heir to the Shadows and Queen of the Darkness – and it’s one I could totally read over and over again. Bishop does such a fabulous job with her worldbuilding, that it would be so easily to forget about the tragedy around me and just escape to the worlds of Terreille and Kaeleer. Considering the disaster, I might need to take a few moments to escape and I could totally do that with the Black Jewels trilogy.
Wicked by Gregory Maguire – I love this retelling of the Wizard of Oz. The way Maguire paints Elphaba is fantastic and just the whole new look at Oz is great. There is romance, political intrigue and fabulous character development that it would be a crime not to take it with me and have it end up disappearing forever. Plus, depending on the age of my kids, it’s a story all of us could share and enjoy. Yes there are so more interesting romantic elements, but at their current age, I could easily skip over (or turn them PG) and they would never know the difference.
For this one, I’m conflicted. I could see myself grabbing my omnibus edition of Inheritance Cycle (containing Eragon and Eldest) by Christopher Paolini or The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis. If I’m running for the hills, I would obviously have my kids with me and I would want to make sure I have something I could read to them as well. Something that would last us if we didn’t know how long we would be gone from our collection. Granted, they are young and are in the board book/young reader editions, but those are more easily constructed than novels that we can read to them. As to why these two in particular is simply because they are omnibus editions and are geared towards a younger crowd. Plus, I haven’t read them so as with the The Vampire Chronicles Collection, it would give me a chance to read it.
As for my last novel, this one is easy and yet I can’t give you an exact answer. The last book I would definitely be taking with me is whichever one I’m currently reading. Seriously. There is nothing worse than being half way through a book and not being able to finish it. Who knows what type of novel it is. It could be an anthology of stories, the latest paranormal romance from Nalini Singh or JR Ward, or a great new urban fantasy from Jeaniene Frost, Ilona Andrews or Chloe Neill. Whichever novel it is, it’ll be with me because I have to know the ending.
I’m probably cheating with a few of these books, after all my five volumes will contain anywhere from 10 to 11 novels, but I love my stories. I would want to try to take as many as I could and by grabbing omnibus editions, I would have quite a collection. Of course, this is all contingent on the fact that I would also have my Kindle. There is no way I would leave with just my Kindle, I would have to have books as well. I mean, the battery will die at some point and if I can’t plug it in or forget the cable (which I totally would), then I would have no stories and that would be sad.
John/JD and Shellie @ Layers of Thought:
We have gone very practical (and satirical) as is our tendency – John is British and we know about those guys (“Keep Calm and Carry On” mentality), and in my case planning for the absolute worst (though I don’t think that is a generalized US trait).
John: Easy. My check book, my passport, my notebook, current edition of Mojo, and my pocket dictionary. (Mojo is a British music magazine – highly recommended)
Shellie: With a tendency to assume the worst case in any situation and this potentially being apocalyptic, I would definitely bring the following three:
- SAS Survival Handbook, Revised Edition: For Any Climate, in Any Situation by John ‘lofty’ Wiseman (we live in the desert and who knows where we will be going)
- The Outward Bound Wilderness First-Aid Handbook by Jeffrey Isaac (very comprehensive)
- Roadkill Cooking for Campers: The Best Dang Wild Game Cookbook in the World by Charles G. Irion (goodness knows what we will be forced to eat – cooking instructions may make these roadside casualties more palatable)
One of these three depending on the scenario – all are self explanatory:
- The Alien Invasion Survival Handbook: A Defense Manual for the Coming Extraterrestrial Apocalypse by W. H. Mumfrey
- The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead by Max Brooks (illustrated by Max Werner)
- The Complete Guide to Surviving a Terrorist Attack: Understanding and Protecting Against the Effects of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Agents by Gary M. Morris
- Oh yes – and most importantly, our map of the US in its book format.
I think that covers it. Seriously, several of these books are excellent and recommended. No comment as to which we actually have on our shelves at home and intend to actually use.
Cara @ www.BiblioBabes.ca:
In the face of impending disaster and destruction, the following 5 books would be under my arm along with my furry babies and, if there is room, my husband…..
1. A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle. A young reader’s novel that could ignite the imagination of even the most stagnant adult minds. This book was my first step into the world of science fiction and for that I will always be eternally grateful!
2. Narcissus in Chains – L.K. Hamilton. Ahhh, L.K.Hamilton, how I want to lick your brain in appreciation! Throughout this AMAZING series, this book was the climax of all climaxes, literally. Hot, sexy, steamy, graphic, what more could a girl and a series need or want!? How about five men and one bad ass vampire slayer…. yes please.
3. The Handmaid’s Tale- Margaret Atwood. This book creeped the [***] out of me and yet I hung on to every word. SO well written, eerie, and did I mention creepy? I loved how uncomfortable and strange I felt while reading it. Just an amaaaaazing book.
4. Lover Unbound- (Book 5 in the Black Dagger Brotherhood Series) – J.R. Ward
J.R.Ward created such an incredibly dark and tortured world for the Brothers in this series. Of all the books so far, this one had the most impact on me. So much torture and anguish, heartache and suffering. Delicious emotions that tore at my heart. “Death will find you on a mountain, and as the wind comes upon you, so shall you be carried away.” Amen.
5. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy- Douglas Adams. It can’t be all sex, time travel and torture, and for this reason my last book would be The Hitchhiker’s Guide. A classic, yes, but also classically HILARIOUS and fabulous. I laughed so hard I cried, as Mr. Adam’s very typical British humour is to die for. I loved every dry, gritty piece of irony in this book, from the plot to the names of characters.
So this is my list of fantastic five! It was very difficult to choose, a list of 10 would’ve been much easier! And on that note, “So long and thanks for all the fish!”