One Dozen of Mel Gilden's Favorite Books

by Mel Gilden


1. Maxwell Perkins: Editor of Genius by A. Scott Berg

A biography of Max Perkins, legendary editor of Thomas Wolfe, Ernest Hemingway, and others. A must for anyone interested in the relationship between writing and editing.

2. The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester

The science fiction version of The Count of Monte Christo. Gully Foyle takes revenge on those who leave him to die aboard a wrecked space ship. An exciting vision of the future that is by turns beautiful and grotesque. A real page turner.

3. Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glassby Lewis Carroll

Fantasy view of the life of children in Victorian England. Full of charm and word play

4. Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler

Classic hardboiled mystery that gave the world detective Philip Marlowe. The whodunit is less important than the colorful characters and the style with which the story is told.

5. The Complete Sherlock Holmes by A. Conan-Doyle

"The game's afoot!" as you follow Holmes and Watson down the fog-shrouded streets and alleys of Victorian London.

6. The 100 Dollar Misunderstanding by Robert Gover

A case study in how to create characters. Written from the point of view of a naive college guy who goes to the red light district to "have his ashes hauled." Alternate chapters are written from the point of view of a 14-year-old black hooker. Entertaining and educational on many levels.

7. Have Spacesuit - Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein

A kid enters a soap contest and wins 3rd prize, a space suit. His adventures take him to the moon, to an alien base on Pluto, and then to meet his destiny in the Lesser Magellenic Cloud. Amazing stuff. Heinlein's best adventure.

8. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

A classic western and Pulitzer Prize winner about a cattle drive from south Texas to Montana just after the Civil War. Wonderful uncluttered prose. Fascinating characters. Occasionally dark and disturbing. If you like sweat, dust, horses, cows, and fine writing, this is your book.

9. Treasure Island by Robert Lewis Stevenson

The pirate adventure from which all other pirate adventures spring. Long John Silver and Jim Hawkins search for treasure on Skull Island. Arrrr, me heartys!

10. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

I never took recreational drugs and I don't particularly like Las Vegas, but that isn't the point. The prose is energetic, muscular, and astonishing. You don't have to like Thompson and his gonzo attorney to enjoy this book. Is it a novel or a memoir? Probably a little of both.

11. A Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne

Prof. Liedenbrock, his nephew, and Hans, their Icelandic servant, enter the earth through an extinct volcano and descend to the center. The science is a little shaky by 20th century standards, but this is still a damned good adventure story.

12. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

Wells is less concerned with science than with sociology, but his explanation of time travel, and his description of what it looks like and feels like remain without peer. His melancholy description of the earth at the end of time may be one of the most lyrical and moving in science fiction.