As I walk down this path of writing my own books, I have been reflecting on the books that have influenced me the most throughout my life. This week, we discuss what books that captivated the intellectually overloaded mind of a college student. What could keep me reading for fun even after all the reading I had to do for my coursework?
Even more than high school, I had hours of reading every day for college courses so you would think I would want to do other things in my free time. Not me. I found new things to read for fun and got my first real introduction to hard science fiction and writing that took real world facts and bent them just slightly to make amazing stories.
X-Series of Marvel Comics
We will start right from the beginning of college with my introduction to my first roommate. We quickly found we had two passions in common, roleplaying games and comic books. A perk of my roommate’s passion, he had a HUGE selection of Marvel X-series comics (X-Men, X-Factor, Excalibur, Alpha Flight, and so many crossover comics), nearly the entire runs of those series from issue number 1. I spent much of my freshman year reading comic after comic and absorbing the long running story arcs, with Alpha Flight then Excalibur being my favorites. To this day, I am a wealth of worthless Marvel comics trivia for early X-series stories and characters. No wonder I have such a huge passion today for superhero roleplaying games and movies. For those curious about my favorite heroes, I quickly fell in love with superhero tanks with Colossus being my absolute favorite. I have played so many tanks in superhero rpgs and MMORPGs (loved City of Heroes).
The Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis
An assigned book at Taylor University for a freshman clasuus to better understand the Christian worldview was Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis. I had read the Chronicles of Narnia books by C.S. Lewis and loved them, but had not known he had written science fiction as well. The first book fascinated me so much I read the remaining books in the series quickly. I came to these books again later in college when studying cosmology as part of my Physics degree. To this day, I am still intrigued by how Lewis integrated his faith so well into fantasy and science fiction while still being able to make fun and fascinating stories.
Tom Clancy books
While in college I was introduced to the books of Tom Clancy, Red Storm Rising being my first (and still my absolute favorite). I was intrigued by the depth of military technology and tactics that Tom Clancy included in his thrillers. His research and understanding gave authenticity to his novels and drew me deep into the stories. My passion for strategy games, tabletop and digital, were mirrored so well in these stories that I couldn’t put one of these huge books down once I picked it up. Which leads to a funny and similar story. One day my senior year in college, my not yet girlfriend (now my wife) was visiting my room for the very first time and we were flipping through a photo album together. A close friend of mine walked in to say hello, which was fine. But then he proceeded to pull my copy of Red Storm Rising off my shelf and just sit and read it, oblivious to the two of us. It wasn’t until another friend stopped by and noticed our “guest” then pulled our reading friend away did we get some quiet time alone. We just started laughing and still smile when we think back on this day.
Michael Crichton books
I studied physics in college and sought out deeper and more challenging books to read that stretched my understanding of science. It was this yearning that lead me to the next three authors who have had a profound influence on my life. First, a professor recommended I check out books by Michael Crichton, especially The Andromeda Strain. Since that day, I have read all his books including his western and pirate novels (highly recommend both of those), yet Andromeda Strain remains my favorite (the book and the original movie). The way Crichton can take a fact, a scientific theory, or a minor conjecture and expound upon that to create an epic story inspires me. Andromeda Strain exemplifies that attention to detail in balance with storytelling so well. I watch the movie or read the book every year or two and still find little elements I had overlooked that make the story even better.
Isaac Asimov books
A friend loaned me I, Robot from Asimov when I was doing a research paper on robotics for a class. While I consider the laws of robotics and their implications and incredible philosophical discussion, it was The Foundation Trilogy that I read next from Asimov that blew my mind. These were some of the most difficult books I had ever read yet they spoke to me. I spent hours reading and reading, taking notes, and pondering what Asimov was saying through his characters and the world around them. The depth of science as the framework of the storylines came at a time my mind was so steeped in physics equations and cosmological discussions that they all merged into this gestalt in my life. My passion for hard science fiction was born while reading Asimov and studying physics.
Philip K. Dick books
Where Crichton jumped from a simple fact or theory to intense and challenging stories, and Asimov steeped his stories in layers and layers of science to emerge with some socio-cultural revelations, Philip K. Dick merged science and philosophy to ask mind blowing questions. Omnilingual was my first Philip K. Dick story that lead me down a rabbit hole of so many mind altering tales, with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep sticking with me for life once I realized it had been the basis for one of my favorite movies, Blade Runner. Reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep also spun me off into the entire genre of cyberpunk leading me to read Neuromancer by William Gibson, Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, and get into the Cyberspace rpg from I.C.E.
That gives you a glimpse into the #CollegeKnight’s reading, beyond all that homework, that continues to influence me today. What books influenced you after high school into your early adulthood?
Check back next week as we jump around the decades of an #AdultKnight.