Thoughts on Reading

My Favorite Books

Samuel Wardwell's Favorite Books

One of the many things I learned about while researching life in prison was the voracious appetite many inmates had for reading. This was especially true with the inmates I taught in the GED program.

In the Retribution series, Marc is an avid reader with an eclectic taste when it comes to his choice of books. But like me, Marc’s favorite reads always have a touch of history or have their stories set in the past.

When asked about my favorite books, I always suggested four authors: Michael Crichton, Dan Brown, Tom Clancy, and Clive Cussler. The challenge was always to choose books that would not only interest the reader but also help them realize that “the book was always better than the movie.”

Michael Crichton is most famous for his Jurassic Park series. However, in many ways, the novel that I enjoyed the most was The Great Train Robbery. This story was based on the true historic event that circled around the first robbery ever committed on a moving train. It is action-packed and enjoyable from beginning to end. It even had a touch of romance that influenced how I treated the relationship between my characters, Linda and Marc. What I liked about it the most was the way Crichton made one forget that the story took place almost 150 years ago. The entire novel almost seemed as if it was about something that could have somehow happened today.

Dan Brown is best known for the DaVinci Code. Yet, my favorite novel written by him has always been the Lost Symbol. This story takes place in modern day Washington D.C., yet centers around events that happened all the way back to the founding of our country. One does not have to be a history buff to get into this story. Personally, the best thing about Dan Brown’s work is that most all of his writing is based on historic fact all tied together to make for a great adventure.

Tom Clancy always writes great stories, assuming that one doesn’t mind reading books that are longer than almost any two novels put together. So, when I talk about Clancy, I always pick The Hunt for Red October as my first choice. It wasn’t until I reread the novel that I discovered that almost the entire story takes place underwater and has no female characters. The action sequences are some of the best ever. What I like most about Clancy is how he can weave a mystery into his stories and twist the plot so you can never be too sure who is going to survive and who might end up giving up the ghost.

For those who like action/mysteries that are fun and easy to read, I usually suggest Clive Cussler. For the most part, his novels are timeless. The thing that first attracted me to Cussler’s work was that his novels always start out with an incident from the past that becomes the focal point of the story that is set in the present day. What’s great about his stories is that the “present day” can be today, even though the original book may have been written forty-years ago. Of all his novels, one of my favorites is Sahara. Unfortunately, like what happens so often, the book was far, far better than the movie. Sahara is a timeless story that never slows down and has a series of twists and turns that keeps the reader entranced. It is a great example of why one needs to read the book, especially if they have already seen the movie.

There are many other great authors that I have enjoyed reading. But, when pushed to suggest just a few, these authors, and my favorite stories written by them, are the ones I usually suggest.

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