The best fantasy books that have influenced my life so far

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since I was a boy I was always fascinated by the tale of Peter Pan. His adventurous, rebellious personality, his self-assuredness, and his ability to fly made him the perfect role model for a young boy that wanted the most out of his life. As I’ve moved through the world, I’ve found I’ve subconsciously carried Peter’s spirit with me, both in my career and in life. By entering the entertainment industry as a full-time writer, actor, and filmmaker, I feel I’ve come as close as I can to making a life out of play, storytelling, and adventure. 


I wrote...

Book cover of Son of Neverland

What is my book about?

Neverland. Evolved. One hundred years after the fall of Captain Hook, a vengeful explorer seeks the council of a dark god to retake Neverland, and there’s only one boy who has the power to stop them.

But Peter’s not alone. He has his battle angel, Tinker Bell, and his lover, Princess Tiger Lily by his side. The lost boys and tribal warriors also support him on his quest to save Neverland from its doomsday. Will the eternal paradise of Neverland survive the darkness of Time itself? Only one god will remain to tell the tale.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Peter and Wendy

Cal R. Barnes Why did I love this book?

The spirit of Peter Pan is something I’ve always admired since I first remember seeing the 1953 Disney film as a boy, and then later reading JM Barrie’s classic novel in young adulthood. He’s a boy that lives every day for adventure, and I feel that is a great way to approach life. The quality of the writing is both poetic and dark for a children’s story, and explores themes that are still relevant today, such as freedom, choice, power, and the innate human desire to overcome circumstances and break free from limiting beliefs. It’s such an incredible world and character, and has greatly inspired my life and career. I love it!

By James Matthew Barrie,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Peter and Wendy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up or Peter and Wendy is J. M. Barrie's most famous work, in the form of a 1904 play and a 1911 novel. Both versions tell the story of Peter Pan, a mischievous yet innocent little boy who can fly, and has many adventures on the island of Neverland that is inhabited by mermaids, fairies, Native Americans and pirates. Peter has many stories involving Wendy Darling and her two brothers, his fairy Tinker Bell, the Lost Boys, and the pirate Captain Hook. The play and novel were inspired by Barrie's friendship with…


Book cover of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Cal R. Barnes Why did I love this book?

The first published book in this classic fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia, was really my first introduction to fantasy fiction by my grandmother as far back as I can remember. It could even be said that this is where my love of fantasy began. I always saw myself as Peter, aiding Aslan and battling the white witch in this magical world. This was a true childhood mind expander, and extremely important to my childhood development. 

By C. S. Lewis, Pauline Baynes (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

29 authors picked The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Lucy steps into the Professor's wardrobe - but steps out again into a snowy forest. She's stumbled upon the magical world of Narnia, land of unicorns, centaurs, fauns... and the wicked White Witch, who terrorises all. Lucy soon realises that Narnia, and in particular Aslan, the great Lion, needs her help if the country's creatures are ever going to be free again...


Book cover of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Cal R. Barnes Why did I love this book?

It’s typical, and probably on everyone else’s most influential fantasy list, but I’d be lying if I said I was the exception to being completely swept up by this incredibly imaginative series. This story blew my mind as a young adult — literally — to this day I can’t believe J.K. wrote this series. I’ve never obsessed over a book series to the point where I’d pass on sleep and food for days on end in favor of getting a few more hours of reading in. I just couldn’t not find out what happened next. J.K. has an incredible imagination, and through it wrote what is undoubtedly one of the greatest works of fantasy in the modern age.     

By J.K. Rowling,

Why should I read it?

38 authors picked Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Galloping gargoyles ... 2022 is the silver anniversary of J.K. Rowling's magical classic Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone!

The boy wizard Harry Potter has been casting a spell over young readers and their families ever since 1997. Now the first book in this unmissable series celebrates 25 years in print! The paperback edition of the tale that introduced us to Harry, Ron and Hermione has been updated and dressed in silver to mark the occasion. It's time to take the magical journey of a lifetime ...

Harry Potter has never even heard of Hogwarts when the letters start dropping…


Book cover of Ready Player One

Cal R. Barnes Why did I love this book?

Another well-known title — and equal parts fantasy and sci-fi — this is a book that has undoubtedly influenced my life. The main thing I find fascinating about this book is the prophetic nature of it. Written in 2011, before social media, blockchain, digital tokens, VR, and overall web 3.0 was what is today, this novel seemed to be one step ahead of the curve. It’s incredible how much of it is coming true, and it’s a fantastical adventure story to boot. It’s original, entertaining, and prophetic — what more could a young mind want? 

By Ernest Cline,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked Ready Player One as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE DIRECTED BY STEVEN SPIELBERG

It's the year 2044, and the real world has become an ugly place. We're out of oil. We've wrecked the climate. Famine, poverty, and disease are widespread.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes this depressing reality by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be, where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade is obsessed by the ultimate lottery ticket that…


Book cover of The Little White Bird

Cal R. Barnes Why did I love this book?

Having written an evolved installment of the Peter Pan saga myself, I’d be hard-pressed not to have Peter Pan’s first appearance in the literary world not on this list. Often overshadowed by JM Barrie’s second and more popular novel featuring Peter Pan, Peter and Wendy, it was actually in The Little White Bird where Peter first made his boyhood appearance, playing with his imaginary friends in the Kensington Gardens of England. This is a great look at Peter’s early development and documents his early thirst for adventure. The character of Peter was so popular upon the release of this book, in fact, that JM Barrie went on to write his most famous work next. When I read this story, I still have flashbacks of myself as a child, playing in my backyard where my mind would take me on timeless and limitless adventures…  

By J. M. Barrie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

J.M. Barrie’s novel, The Little White Bird, combines fantastic and humorous happenings with social comedy. It represents the foundational work of what has now become a whole mythology established around the fictional character of Peter Pan. The different chapters differ in tone and in the degree of seriousness and intensity. The chapters featuring Peter pan are set in London’s famous Kensington Gardens of which they provide minute descriptions. When the gardens are closed to the public by the end of the day, supernatural beings such as fairies get out of their hiding places to roam in the park. The other…


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Book cover of Thorn City

Pamela Statz

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What is my book about?

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What is this book about?

Suspected murder, eclectic food trucks, and artisanal cocaine: just another day in Thorn City.

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