The best books which spark the dreamer

Who am I?

As a decades-long collector of fossils & student of undiscovered and/or extinct creatures, I’ve gained traction in both fields on a professional level, which is what my spark ignited into. My choice for the final position could’ve been a tie between The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien, Roadmarks by Roger Zelazny, Farseer by Robert J. Sawyer, but since I could only choose 5 which sparked the dreamer.


I wrote...

Murder Red Ink

By Mord McGhee,

Book cover of Murder Red Ink

What is my book about?

In Murder Red Ink, Mord McGhee imaginatively explores the incomprehensible depths of horror, human nature, and captures the brutal reality of the monster behind the Jack the Ripper murders of 1888 in a science fiction whirlwind of the darkest sort. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Lost World

Mord McGhee Why did I love this book?

What could be dreamier than being told exactly how to win the heart of your first true love? This is how Doyle’s classic novel begins, and where he takes the reader is nothing shy of a boisterous affair; an adventure starring dinosaurs, cannibals, and excitement at every turn of page.

It’s on point and at pace, being a shorter book. But it was one of the first books which I found to spark the dreamer lurking in me. I’ve even done a modern translation of this book.

By Arthur Conan Doyle, Arthur Conan Doyle,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Lost World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Originally published serially in 1912, “The Lost World” is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic tale of discovery and adventure. The story begins with the narrator, the curious and intrepid reporter Edward Malone, meeting Professor Challenger, a strange and brilliant paleontologist who insists that he has found dinosaurs still alive deep in the Amazon. Malone agrees to accompany Challenger, as well as Challenger’s unconvinced colleague Professor Summerlee, and the adventurer Lord John Roxton, into the wilds of South America and the Amazon in search of Challenger’s fantastical beasts. There, cut off from the rest of civilization and high atop an isolated…


Book cover of Conan

Mord McGhee Why did I love this book?

From the monumental opening quoted in the movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1980s, Howard establishes a mastery of how to set world, pace, and dream at once. Though there are many Conan novels and shorts, none sparked the dreams of a young reader more than this first in the series.

Recommended for young readers with an interest in writing fantasy. Howard’s brand of sword and sorcery was years ahead of its day.

By Robert E. Howard, L. Sprague De Camp, Lin Carter , Frank Frazetta (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Seven of the most exciting and fantastic adventures ever created! The unforgettable tales of the mighty Conan.


Book cover of The Black Company

Mord McGhee Why did I love this book?

Upon discovering Cook’s worlds, the dreamer in me fell in love with the idea that the antagonists do not always need to be good people. The Black Company are a band of mercenaries working for the worst villains yet theirs is a gripping tale with surprises aplenty. Knowing where Croaker ends up makes one want to go back and start over, just because.

This novel sparked for me a way of writing villainous heroes such as those in my Ghosts series. Unique and interesting.

By Glen Cook,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Some feel the Lady, newly risen from centuries in thrall, stands between humankind and evil. Some feel she is evil itself. The hard-bitten men of the Black Company take their pay and do what they must, burying their doubts with their dead.

Until the prophesy: The White Rose has been reborn, somewhere, to embody good once more. There must be a way for the Black Company to find her...

So begins one of the greatest fantasy epics of our age―Glen Cook's Chronicles of the Black Company.


Book cover of The Book of Jhereg

Mord McGhee Why did I love this book?

The first novel in Brust’s Vlad Taltos novels features a young assassin armed with witchcraft and a reptilian familiar whose bite is not half as sharp as his wit, traversing a complicated realm of people called Dragaereans.

The action is fast, the dialog realistic and fun, and this is why Brust has made this list. Not only did he spark the dream, but he made a lifelong fan.

By Steven Brust,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Book of Jhereg as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first three fantastical adventures of assassin Vlad Taltos—now in one volume.

A welcome addition to any fantasy fan's library, The Book of Jhereg follows the antics of the wise-cracking Vlad Taltos and his dragon-like companion through their first three adventures—Jhereg, Yendi, and Teckla.

There are many ways for a young man with quick wits and a quick sword to advance in the world. Vlad Taltos chose the route of assassin. From his rookie days to his selfless feats of heroism, the dauntless Vlad will hold readers spellbound—and The Book of Jhereg will take its place among the classic compilations…


Book cover of The Dinosaur Heresies

Mord McGhee Why did I love this book?

It is Bakker’s controversial rethinking of the lives and science behind earth’s prehistory. In his avant-garde ideas, Bakker proposes and answers questions of things like what these monsters are and how they defended themselves or hunted. He even spoke on how they might have reproduced.

It’s a book to create dreamers who can take the torch to shed new light on those questions we all share in common as members of humanity.

By Robert T. Bakker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For over a century, dinosaurs have been thought of as plodding, dim-witted giant lizards too awkward and ill-equipped to survive the ravages of environmental change. Bakker offers startling new evidence destined to forever alter the perception of the much-maligned monsters, depicting them as never before imagined: hot-blooded, amazingly agile, and surprisingly intelligent. Illustrations.


You might also like...

Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World

By Sharman Apt Russell,

Book cover of Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World

Sharman Apt Russell Author Of Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Explorer Runner Mother

Sharman's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Citizen Scientist begins with this extraordinary statement by the Keeper of Entomology at the London Museum of Natural History, “Study any obscure insect for a week and you will then know more than anyone else on the planet.”

As the author chases the obscure Western red-bellied tiger beetle across New Mexico, where she lives, she explores a dozen other citizen science programs with lyrical prose, humor, and a profound sense of connection to place. Diary of a Citizen Scientist celebrates a renewed optimism in the mysteries of the world and a renewed faith in how ordinary people can contribute to science and environmental activism.

Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World

By Sharman Apt Russell,

What is this book about?

A critically acclaimed nature writer explores the citizen scientist movement through the lens of entomological field research in the American Southwest.

Award-winning nature writer Sharman Apt Russell felt pressed by the current environmental crisis to pick up her pen yet again. Encouraged by the phenomenon of citizen science, she decided to turn her attention to the Western red-bellied tiger beetle, an insect found widely around the world and near her home in the Gila River Valley of New Mexico.

In a lyrical, often humorous voice, Russell shares her journey across a wild, rural landscape tracking this little-known species, an insect…


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