Journey Through the Night, by Anne de Vries. A family in Holland joins the Underground during the Nazi occupation. It’s aimed at younger readers, but I reread it recently and was still moved. It’s a powerful kind of story that asks, “What would you do?” without letting you off the hook because of your youth.

The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien. I loved the movies, because they were incredibly fine representations of the books. But they’re not substitutes. I’ve reread them over and over and they make me feel smarter, somehow.

The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis. He uses story to make his point. You’d think a novel about people on a bus ride to hell would be blatantly allegorical, or preachy, or just too much of a downer. None of this is true, and years later, I’m still chewing over what he said.

Legacy of Ashes, by Tim Weiner. Why would a book about the sad history of the CIA make my list? It helps that it’s a remarkably agile read considering its subject matter. What I appreciate most, though, were the stories from the field, some truly tragic, that transpired as a result of the CIA’s missteps. This made my imagination go wild, which served as the impetus of my comic book, Kayless.

A Swiftly Tilting Planet, by Madeleine L’Engle. This is the third book in what’s now called the Time Quintet. A Wrinkle in Time gets the most attention (and ill-fated stabs at a film adaptation) but the story of Charles Wallace’s journey through time to inhabit the lives of key individuals in order to stop a nuclear holocaust stuck with me longer. I think it’s also the first time in my life a story crushed me.

Save the Cat, by Blake Snyder. A lot of criticism has been leveled against Blake for formulizing the screenplay-writing process. Except he was still pretty much right every time. Movies without a ‘catalyst’ feel unfocused, and without a ‘midpoint’ they start to wander. I look at it less as a formula and as more of a guideline.

Roget’s Thesaurus – I use it more in the capacity of a website than a book. But I use it a lot. Frequently, even. Repeatedly and regularly, for sure.

The Reason for God, by Timothy J. Keller. I appreciate that Keller approaches the question of how anyone can still believe in God with a well-rounded, reasonable intelligence. I love that his arguments are, for me anyway, impossible to ignore. What I appreciate most, though, is how he treats his opponents as intelligent beings and not godless, combative idiots.

The Stand, by Stephen King. This is probably my favorite adult novel. The characters are so vivid their names are burned into my memory (meanwhile, I can’t remember anyone’s names on the shows I currently watch). A virus kills 99% of the planet, and the survivors are drawn into two camps for a final showdown. It’s good versus evil, with real people on both sides trying to make sense of the new world they’ve inherited.

On Writing, by Stephen King. I enjoy reading Mr. King’s story of how he became a writer. I’ve often returned to his perspective on different do’s and don’ts for writing. What I love most of all, though, is how infectious his love of writing is. This book probably crystalized my desire to be a writer more than any other.