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Ten For Life: Books

Time marches on, and I recognize that it is something that we cannot battle. We can defy or perhaps delay it, but in the end, it will win.

Robert E Howard, creator of Conan the Barbarian and others

Robert E Howard, creator of Conan the Barbarian and others

I write, therefore I am...

And I read, so therefore I am...more? In all honesty, reading is my favorite pastime, and has been since I was old enough to read. Dating back well over a half a century (Damn, that is the first time I actually put that anywhere: I am old.) to the Walter Farley series of The Black Stallion, and then moving through the Robert E. Howard Conan series, and Bran Mak Morn, Solomon Kane and Kull the Conqueror books to Almuric. Howard was the impetus behind the Sword and Sorcery genre, which continues to this day and includes the Dungeons and Dragons storylines.

In high school, I found James A Michener and his novels of historical fiction like Space, Centennial, Chesapeake, Tales of the South Pacific and The Source.

At college, I discovered John Norman's Gor series, and J.R.R. Tolkein's Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.

I have continued to expand my horizons over the decades and to whittle these works down to a measly ten will be incredibly difficult.

Here goes.

The Easy Choices...

Some will be extremely easy to include. Norman Maclain's A River Runs Through it is perhaps the best story I have ever read. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's Thunderhead is an outstanding read, and includes actual places and events Preston has experienced, couched in fiction. Preston's individual work Talking To The Ground is incredible.

That's three. Harold Bell Wright's classic The Shepherd of the Hills is timeless and never grows old. I have to include a Michener novel, so Space fills that bill.

Five down, five to go. From there, it gets difficult.

Books, books and more books!

At present, I have some 500 books in my library. That means 490 won't make the cut. But how to whittle them down?

The five I already selected were easy, from there, which way do I go? Do I choose one of the Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman? Maybe a Clive Cussler Dirk Pitt novel like Sahara? Perhaps an Orson Scott Card work like Ender's Game. Or Steven Alten's Meg? All three have been turned into Hollywood films. Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code has as well, starring Tom Hanks.

I thoroughly enjoy the historical fiction of William Martin and his Citizen Washington, The Lincoln Letters and The Lost Constitution, but do they make the cut?

Then there is Katherine Howe and The Physic Book of Deliverance Dane, a book detailing the Salem Witch Trials and a connection to the here and now.

But Wait! There's More!!

All of the Preston/Child Pendergast series of books. Including the one I provided the title for: Two Graves. A Century of Dishonor, an 1885 book I pulled from a recycle box and turned out to be one that was actually presented to a member of Congress by the author, Helen Jackson.

The Runestone by Don Coldsmith, a tale of Vikings in America long before Columbus stumbled along and discovered the West Indies. I always have a problem when they say he discovered America; he never set foot in it!

And another favorite of mine, The Far Arena by Richard ben Sapir. This book switches back and forth between ancient Rome and the modern day, telling the story of Rome's premier gladiator who was frozen and then awakened in the here and now. Told from the gladiator's point of view and including his backstory of friends, wife and son, it is unique in the extreme for its story and viewpoint.

Okay, here we go...

So, five down: Shepherd of the Hills, A River Runs Through It, Talking to the Ground, Thunderhead and Space. Five to go.

I have to include at least one Conan novel here, so I choose Conan the Warrior. This books holds three Conan tales: Red Nails,Jewels of Gwahlur and Beyond the Black River. There are so many Conan tales, but this book has three classic stories in it.

Next up is Fred Saberhagen's The Complete Book if Swords. Combining three books into one, this story details swords created by Vulcan to be included in the god's games on Earth. All of the Greek gods are here, and the swords each have a unique ability that makes them incredibly powerful.

Of course, Tolkein's Lord of the Rings is included. How can it not be?

Then I will include Tom Clancy's Without Remorse. The book is epic, not so the movie. In fact, it ranks as one of the worst books-to-film I have ever seen. Pathetic.

And finally, a book I read whenever I need to recenter my world (seems I need that fairly often): Colin Fletcher's River. A story of his traveling the Colorado River from source to sea and his thoughts and experiences along the way. It is a calming read, one that puts things into perspective for me.

The list is complete

Well, there you have them, my Ten For Life books.


The Complete Book of Swords

The Lord of the Rings

Without Remorse

Conan the Warrior

A River Runs Through It

The Shepherd of the Hills



Talking to the Ground

And the list is complete.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2022 Mr Archer