There are some books that inspire you and others that intimidate you. Here’s five that did one, the other, or both!

  1. Herman Hesse, STEPPENWOLF: In the aftershocks of my MA, this one blew my noggin. A unique reading experience about knowledge, depression, love, and dreams.
  2. Gary Braunbeck, IN SILENT GRAVES: I dearly hope Gary re-releases this one under its original title THE INDIFFERENCE OF HEAVEN. A magic realist UNDER THE VOLCANO. A wild, sometimes messy, but stunning tour de force of mythic storytelling that most people never finish because the opening chapter is so damn painful and terrifying. But if you can launch past it, you’re in for a hell of a ride.
  3. Joe R. Lansdale, A FINE DARK LINE: I love lots of Lansdale’s novels, but this one was just a joy, even more so than THE BOTTOMS. Southern Gothic crime story set around a Drive In. Dig it.
  4. Melanie Tem, PRODIGAL. Melanie won a Stoker for her debut, and it has one of the best and most convincing young protagonists voices I’ve read. Terrifying tale of abuse and health services for those in need.
  5. Ernest Hemingway, FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS. Perhaps his best war novel, the tale of Robert Jordan and the Spanish guerrillas in the Spanish Civil War was evocative and harrowing. Read it with George Orwell’s HOMAGE TO CATALONIA for best effect.

About ridlerville

Jason S. Ridler is a historian, writer, and improv actor. He is the author of A TRIUMPH FOR SAKURA, BLOOD AND SAWDUST, the Spar Battersea thrillers and has published over sixty stories in such magazines and anthologies as The Big Click, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Out of the Gutter, and more. He also writes the column FXXK WRITING! for Flash Fiction Online. A former punk rock musician and cemetery groundskeeper, Mr. Ridler holds a Ph.D. in War Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada. He lives in Richmond, CA. Visit him on Facebook at
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