A previously unpublished essay appearing in the Paris Review about Bradbury’s accidental career as an architect reminded me about this great author and how much I love his work. Here are (in my opinion) his 10 best books!
10. Farewell Summer. This was the last novel that Bradbury published during his lifetime. It was inspired by his childhood in Illinois.
9. Dark Carnival. From the other end of Bradbury’s career, this was the first short story collection that he published. It contains some of his famous stories such as “The Scythe” and “Jack-in-the-Box.” It’s fun to see where Bradbury came from!
8. The Sound of Thunder and Other Stories. Another short story collection. The titular story is one of the most famous of all time, and concerns time travel and explores the mind-bending ideas of time travel and the Butterfly Effect.
7. The Homecoming. The Homecoming is a strange and not well known novel about a family reunion of vampires. Actually I haven’t read it yet, but I want to! It sounds like an interesting read.
6. The Illustrated Man. The Illustrated Man is a mysterious fellow, a traveler and wanderer whose full body of tattoos are actually animated and tell intriguing stories. The story called “The Veldt” was later the inspiration for a song by the creatively monikered Deadmau5.
5. The October Country. Bradbury has a unique way of writing. Many of his books have to do with darkness, whether of twilight of the day or October, the twilight of the year. But his darkness is not gloomy, but simply mysterious or innocently macabre.
4. Dandelion Wine. An exciting and popular novel.
3. Something Wicked This Way Comes. Two teenage best friends encounter a the nightmarish behind-the-scenes side of a carnival that has come to town. The carnival owner seems to grant people’s desires, but really he drags them down to servitude. It’s a morality play of sorts, and also a great movie!
2. Farenheit 451. An anti-censorship novel, very readable, beloved of middle and high school reading lists. This novel predicted the invention of headphones. I also always thought that the sitcom “Friends” was presaged by the program that the narrator’s wife watches.
1. The Martian Chronicles. Read this one! I think it combines everything that Bradbury does best: readability, fascinating ideas, science fiction, commentary on middle America, and predictions about the future. The stories are short and therefore relatively bite sized. I also listened to the audio version which was a lot of fun. Highly recommended!
(Image source: The Paris Review)