The best books of classic speculative literature

Peter A. Balaskas Author Of Triptych: An Omnibus of Wonder
By Peter A. Balaskas

Who am I?

As a fiction writer, poet, essayist, and (now) a playwright, I am a staunch believer in applying the “Three Es” in all of my work in equal quantities: to entertain, to enlighten, and to educate. My passion to create stories has been ongoing throughout my life, courtesy of my love for the written word, cinema, and the theater, all of which have impacted and influenced my stories in amazing ways. My background and accolades as a writer and publisher are listed on my personal website, but it’s my life experiences and the books that I have recommended that helped me evolve as a storyteller. 


I wrote...

Triptych: An Omnibus of Wonder

By Peter A. Balaskas,

Book cover of Triptych: An Omnibus of Wonder

What is my book about?

Throughout my entire career as a fiction writer and playwright, I have always loved crafting stories that combine extraordinary elements of the fantastic with the sublime facets of reality. Triptych: An Omnibus of Wonder is a perfect example of that love as it contains three of my published books. The Grandmaster, a multiple award-winner, is a supernatural thriller that takes place during the Holocaust. The Chameleon’s Addiction is a gothic horror tale set in New Orleans. And the Pushcart Prize nominated In Our House: Tantalizing Tales of Terror is an anthology whose influences include Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, and Rod Serling. Triptych: An Omnibus of Wonder is a must for all lovers of fiction. 

The books I picked & why

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The Martian Chronicles

By Ray Bradbury,

Book cover of The Martian Chronicles

Why this book?

The Martian Chronicles is a literary classic that transcends the speculative fiction genre. Bradbury creates thought-provoking tales that work on their own merit and together in an overall story tapestry. With three-dimensional characters, dynamic dialogue, and picturesque settings, The Martian Chronicles is a masterpiece and it served as a primary influence on me in writing my book.

The Martian Chronicles

By Ray Bradbury,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Martian Chronicles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Martian Chronicles, a seminal work in Ray Bradbury's career, whose extraordinary power and imagination remain undimmed by time's passage, is available from Simon & Schuster for the first time.

In The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury, America’s preeminent storyteller, imagines a place of hope, dreams, and metaphor— of crystal pillars and fossil seas—where a fine dust settles on the great empty cities of a vanished, devastated civilization. Earthmen conquer Mars and then are conquered by it, lulled by dangerous lies of comfort and familiarity, and enchanted by the lingering glamour of an ancient, mysterious native race. In this classic work…


The Exorcist

By William Peter Blatty,

Book cover of The Exorcist

Why this book?

Speaking as a traditional, Latin-speaking Catholic, The Exorcist is more than a horror novel, but a classic tale of good versus evil and how a fallen man of God achieves redemption and his faith through courage and sacrifice. Author Blatty perfectly balances all horror with theological themes, which inspires all of my horror stories.

The Exorcist

By William Peter Blatty,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Exorcist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Father Damien Karras: 'Where is Regan?'
Regan MacNeil: 'In here. With us.'

The terror begins unobtrusively. Noises in the attic. In the child's room, an odd smell, the displacement of furniture, an icy chill. At first, easy explanations are offered. Then frightening changes begin to appear in eleven-year-old Regan. Medical tests fail to shed any light on her symptoms, but it is as if a different personality has invaded her body.

Father Damien Karras, a Jesuit priest, is called in. Is it possible that a demonic presence has possessed the child? Exorcism seems to be the only answer...

First published…


The Hobbit

By J.R.R. Tolkien,

Book cover of The Hobbit

Why this book?

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy I consider to be one book because its an epic in every sense of the word in terms of combining fantasy themes, and theological and philosophical concepts that motivate the reader to take in every single line, page, character, and dialogue as though the world was literally being conjured in reality. These works fuel my soul as both a traditional Catholic and a storyteller.   

The Hobbit

By J.R.R. Tolkien,

Why should I read it?

29 authors picked The Hobbit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Special collector's film tie-in hardback of the best-selling classic, featuring the complete story with a sumptuous cover design inspired by THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY and brand new reproductions of all the drawings and maps by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely travelling further than the pantry of his hobbit-hole in Bag End.

But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard, Gandalf, and a company of thirteen dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an unexpected journey 'there and back again'. They have a plot to raid…


Tracks

By Louise Erdrich,

Book cover of Tracks

Why this book?

Tracks was on my “Required Texts” list I had to read while earning my Masters in English (Creative Writing and Literature) and the only one I read twice because of Erdrich’s beautiful way of telling her tale of fantastic realism through her distinct first-person narration, complex characters, and profound themes. There’s a type of serenity she exudes that matches Bradbury’s, both in writing style and their public personalities. 

Tracks

By Louise Erdrich,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tracks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“[Erdrich] captures the passions, fears, myths, and doom of a living people, and she does so with an ease that leaves the reader breathless.”—The New Yorker

From award-winning, New York Times bestselling author Louise Erdrich comes an arresting, lyrical novel set in North Dakota at a time when Indian tribes were struggling to keep what little remained of their lands.

Tracks is a tale of passion and deep unrest. Over the course of ten crucial years, as tribal land and trust between people erode ceaselessly, men and women are pushed to the brink of their endurance—yet their pride and humor…


The Riverside Shakespeare

By William Shakespeare, G. Blakemore Evans (editor),

Book cover of The Riverside Shakespeare

Why this book?

Speaking as a playwright, this selection is a must. It not only contains all of the Bard’s plays, it also includes all of his beloved sonnets. His collected works not only serve as a foundation regarding dramatic structure and poetics, but his eloquence is fuel for any lover of the written word.

The Riverside Shakespeare

By William Shakespeare, G. Blakemore Evans (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Riverside Shakespeare as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Second Edition of this complete collection of Shakespeare's plays and poems features two essays on recent criticism and productions, fully updated textual notes, a photographic insert of recent productions, and two works recently attributed to Shakespeare. The authors of the essays on recent criticism and productions are Heather DuBrow, University of Wisconsin at Madison, and William Liston, Ball State University, respectively.


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