On a different subject (almost), I was fortunate enough to attend the wedding of two friends a few days ago, and I was struck by their choice of wedding gift: they wanted a single book from each guest. Not just a ‘good book’, but a book that has moved the guest in some way. Perhaps the most ‘important’ book a guest has read.
I chose ‘The Hollow Man’ by Dan Simmons. When I first read this science fiction masterpiece, I knew nothing of Dante’s ‘Inferno’ (still don’t), upon which it is based. But the book was a gripping read, and I remember being deeply impressed that Simmons could write about extremely bizarre quantum physical phenomena and combine them with a gripping plot. It’s a feat I hope one day to replicate. At the time, reading Simmons had a special feel about it. Nobody, it seemed, had heard of him. He was published in England but couldn’t be found on any of the lists, and I never heard mention of him in the reviews. I had discovered Simmons in a library and, in the anonymity of zero marketing, I was free to make up my mind entirely about his writing; I had no intimations of his general peception by literati or fans. He had been recommended by no-one. Finding this book entirely on my own terms was, therefore, very important to me, and, combined with the quality of the work, made it a natural choice for Martin and Dana. Best of luck in their married life. When they post a list of the books they received, I will link to it from here.