9 Books I Wish I’d Written
Not just because they’re thrillers, which most of them are, but because these are the books that, quite literally, changed my life. Every book on this list either made me want to be a writer, or be a better writer. Victor Hugo once wrote that good writers borrow, great writers steal. Well, we all learn by imitation and I’ve “stolen” more from these books over the years than any others.
1. THE STAND by Stephen King: Simply stated the best time I’ve ever had reading a book, an experience that made me realize the power of storytelling. You have to love to read before you can love to write and this is one of the first books that taught me that.
2. THE HOLCROFT COVENANT by Robert Ludlum: The first book I read in the very genre in which I’ve spent my career. Nazis returning to rule the world and only a single man can stop them. Reading this book made me realize that I was going to be a thriller writer.
3. MARATHON MAN by William Goldman: As perfect a book as I’ve ever read—and reread several times. When people ask me if they had to read one thriller, what would it be, I tell them this is it. A great movie too but, trust me, the book is better!
4. THE EXORCIST by William Peter Blatty: A book that made me utterly forget where I was at the time and the first book I ever read in a single sitting. A rainy afternoon when I was around 13. I opened to page one and didn’t stop until I was finished. Don’t think I even moved.
5. RAISE THE TITANIC by Clive Cussler: The first of many Cussler books I devoured and my introduction to the action-adventure thriller. I think I’ve stolen more from Clive over the years than any other author and this was the start of that.
6. THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL by Ira Levin: Nobody even knew what cloning was back in 1976 but that didn’t stop Levin from postulating the return of Adolph Hitler in practically inventing the greatest two words in the thriller genre: What if?
7. DR. NO by Ian Fleming: The first Bond movie I saw and first Bond book I read while at camp one summer. Nothing influenced my career than the early movies and brilliant books they followed through Thunderball. To this day, I cling to the format and structure that Fleming and Alistair McClean practically invented.
8. THE ARMAGEDDON RAG by George R.R. Martin: Yes, he did write other books before the series that inspired HBO’s Game of Thrones. And this rock and roll horror story about a devilish (literally) plot to reunite a defunct band is not only chilling, it’s the most underrated book I’ve ever read.
9. RED DRAGON: A classic that remains, in my mind, the best book Thomas Harris ever wrote. Not only did it introduce us to Hannibal Lecter, it also made forensics an effective plot point for the first time. This while setting the bar against which all other serial killer tales should be measured. But not a single one has ever hit that mark with the exception of its sequel, Silence of the Lambs.
JON LAND is the acclaimed author of thirty-five novels, including the bestselling series featuring Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong: Strong Enough to Die; Strong Justice; Strong at the Break; Strong Vengeance; and Strong Rain Falling, which won the 2013 USA Best Books Award and 2014 International Book Award. In addition, Land is the coauthor of the nonfiction bestseller Betrayal. Jon Land lives in Providence, Rhode Island and can be found at www.jonlandbooks.com.