The best books that stick with you long after you’ve finished reading them

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer, editor, and publisher. As a child in the 1970s, I first discovered a taste for adventure stories in the pages of Marvel comics. This lead to a wider interest in fiction, particularly sci-fi, horror, and adventure tales. I believe one of the basic tenets to becoming a good writer is to read…a lot. I gravitate toward well-known but also lesser-known stories. My main criteria: is the writing engaging, does it inspire me to keep reading? As a writer, I ask myself these same questions about my work. The titles in this list are among the benchmarks I aim for when writing and editing. 

I wrote...

Glass Onion

By David Yurkovich,

Book cover of Glass Onion

What is my book about?

In 1986, Otis Oppenheimer and a dozen fellow CIA agents are handpicked by Ronald Reagan and assigned to his secret pet project: The Glass Onion Initiative. The GO team's task seems simple. Spread across the globe, Otis and his squad are plunged into a search for a mythical onion sculpted in glass that offers its owner a window into the future. Reagan and Pentagon officials know that a superpower with the ability to see tomorrow will give them a unique political advantage in the dawning new century and beyond.

Two decades into the search, Reagan is dead but his dream lives on. The long search is nearly over. Centuries without a master, the glass onion now longs to share its many secrets. But can such power be contained?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Deathbird Stories

David Yurkovich Why did I love this book?

One of the first Ellison books I ever read and the one that haunts me the most.

Deathbird Stories lives up to its title and delivers a tour de force of fantasy and horror that only Ellison could have written. The nineteen stories in this collection are, in a sense, about gods. Not the gods we know and may worship but new ones. “A New Testament of deities for the computerized age of confrontation and relevance,” as notes Ellison in his introduction.

You’ll likely want to read every story in this collection several times, though to the casual reader looking for a taste, I recommend “The Whimper of Whipped Dogs,” an unflinchingly honest assessment of human behavior and depravity—and based in part on actual events.

I’ve seldom been so gutted by a short story, and it hits me every time I re-read it.

By Harlan Ellison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Masterpieces of myth and terror about modern gods from technology to drugs to materialism-"fantasy at its most bizarre and unsettling" (The New York Times).

As Earth approaches Armageddon, a man embarks on a quest to confront God in the Hugo Award-winning novelette, "The Deathbird."

In New York City, a brutal act of violence summons a malevolent spirit and a growing congregation of desensitized worshippers in "The Whimper of Whipped Dogs," an Edgar Award winner influenced by the real-life murder of Queens resident Kitty Genovese in 1964.

In "Paingod," the deity tasked with inflicting pain and suffering on every living being…

Book cover of Mister B. Gone

David Yurkovich Why did I love this book?

Clive Barker’s 2007 novel is the sort of book that, as soon as you read the first page, you know you’ve found something special.

The narrator is a demon named Jakabok Botch who desperately wants you, the reader, to burn the book you’re reading. Throughout these pleas we learn about Jakabok’s history, beginning with his childhood in Hell, how he was pulled into the human world in the fourteenth century, and his many exploits since.

What really elevates this book from good to great is the first-person narrative. Barker does an exquisite job in giving a wholly original voice to his demon. Barker has described the novel as, “a different kind of scare, very brutal and very intimate,” and he isn’t exaggerating.

Mister B. Gone is a quick read, especially by Barker standards, but one that’s well worth your time and will have you reflecting upon long after you’ve finished it.

By Clive Barker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The long-awaited return of the great master of horror. Mister B. Gone is Barker's shockingly bone-chilling discovery of a never-before-published demonic 'memoir' penned in the year 1438, when it was printed - one copy only - and then buried until now by an assistant who worked for the inventor of the printing press, Johannes Gutenberg.

This bone-chilling novel, in which a medieval devil speaks directly to his reader-his tone murderous one moment, seductive the next-is a never-before-published memoir allegedly penned in the year 1438.

The demon has embedded himself in the very words of this tale of terror, turning the…

Book cover of Slayground

David Yurkovich Why did I love this book?

No one wrote crime stories like Donald Westlake.

During his lifetime, Westlake published over one hundred books. He wrote under several pseudonyms, the most well known of which was Richard Stark. Between 1962 and 2008, Stark penned twenty-four novels starring Parker, a smart, slick thief who pulled heists for big bucks.

In Slayground, we find Parker trapped inside an amusement park in the dead of winter following a botched armored car robbery. He needs to hide the stolen loot, make good his escape, and return later to pick it up. Problem is, he’s been spotted by crooked cops. Parker is soon hunted by members of a local mob who’ve figured out he’s carrying a lot of cash. Parker realizes his only chance for survival is to go on the offensive.

Unfortunately for the mob, it’s something he does better than anyone else. Stark writes Parker stories with a minimalist approach, and it’s extremely effective. There are honestly no bad Parker novels, but Slayground is particularly entertaining and was the basis of the 1983 film of the same name. But trust me, the book’s a heck of a lot better.

By Richard Stark,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Slayground as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

By the time Richard Stark sat down to write "Deadly Edge" in 1971, he'd been chronicling the adventures of his antihero, Parker, for nearly a decade. But it turns out he was just warming up: the next three "Parker" novels would see Stark crank everything up a notch - tightening the writing, heightening the violence, and, most of all, hardening the deadly heister at the books' heart. "Deadly Edge" kicks things off by bidding a brutal adieu to the 1960s: Parker robs a rock concert, but the heist goes sour, and he finds himself - and his woman, Claire -…

Book cover of The Dead Beat

David Yurkovich Why did I love this book?

Published a year after his infamous novel Psycho, Bloch’s The Dead Beat is an offbeat short novel about a piano player named Larry Fox.

Larry’s a bad seed with a criminal record who worms his way into a suburban American family’s house after they discover him unconscious in the back of their car and learn that he’d been attacked. Larry keeps a lot of secrets and has a lot of big dreams, most of them around seducing teenage girls and extorting his former crime partner.

The story has some sections that read as dated, which isn’t surprising for a title published in 1960, but Bloch’s undeniably crisp writing and play on words will keep you turning the page. I’m not much of a night owl these days but I stayed up until 4:00 a.m. to finish this one.

The ending is satisfying, and you may find yourself thinking about this one later on and wondering how Larry’s life might have turned out if he’d made a few different choices.

By Robert Bloch,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Vintage paperback reprint "by the author of Psycho."

Book cover of The Stars My Destination

David Yurkovich Why did I love this book?

A novel that should be on every reader’s bookshelf, Bester’s The Stars My Destination is a dense and thought-provoking read that I found impossible to put down and frequently re-read.

The story is set during a war in the future in an era where personal teleportation (known as jaunting) is commonplace. The plot centers around Gully Foyle, a flawed anti-hero who finds himself marooned in space aboard his merchant ship, Nomad, after it’s attacked. After waiting to be rescued for six months, Foyle signals a passing ship, the Vorga, but his SOS is ignored. He immediately becomes consumed with the desire for revenge.

During the period that follows, Foyle undergoes countless experiences and also educates himself, emerging in a refined alter-ego role, but his quest for revenge upon the Vorga captain remains.

Considered a precursor to the cyberpunk movement, The Stars My Destination is regarded by many leading sci-fi authors to be among the finest sci-fi novels ever written. 

By Alfred Bester,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Stars My Destination as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gully Foyle, Mechanic's Mate 3rd Class, is the only survivor on his drifting, wrecked spaceship. When another space vessel, the Vorga, ignores his distress flares and sails by, Gully Foyle becomes a man obsessed with revenge. He endures 170 days alone in deep space before finding refuge on the Sargasso Asteroid and then returning to Earth to track down the crew and owners of the Vorga. But, as he works out his murderous grudge, Gully Foyle also uncovers a secret of momentous proportions...

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Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat

By Wendy Lee Hermance,

Book cover of Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat

Wendy Lee Hermance Author Of Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Wendy Lee Hermance was heard on National Public Radio (NPR) stations with her Missouri Folklore series in the 1980s. She earned a journalism degree from Stephens College, served as Editor and Features Writer for Midwestern and Southern university and regional publications, then settled into writing real estate contracts. In 2012 she attended University of Sydney, earning a master’s degree by research thesis. Her books include Where I’m Going with this Poem, a memoir in poetry and prose. Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat marks her return to feature writing as collections of narrative non-fiction stories.

Wendy's book list on why Portugal is weird

What is my book about?

Weird Foods of Portugal describes the author's first years trying to make sense of a strange new place and a home there for herself.

Witty, dreamlike, and at times jarring, the book sizzles with social commentary looking back at America and beautiful, finely drawn descriptions of Portugal and its people. Part dark-humor cautionary tale, part travel adventure, ultimately, Hermance's book of narrative non-fiction serves as affirmation for any who wish to make a similar move themselves.

Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat

By Wendy Lee Hermance,

What is this book about?

"Wendy Lee Hermance describes Portugal´s colorful people and places - including taxi drivers and animals - with a poet´s empathy and dark humor. Part travel adventure, part cautionary tale, Weird Foods of Portugal is at it´s heart, affirmation for all who consider making such a move themselves."

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