Hello! I’m Jeff Heimbuch, and since I’m posting here, you may have already guessed that I am a very avid reader. After reading some of the other lists posted here so far, I had a few ideas for one of my own. So, Estelle and Magan were kind enough to invite me to write my own top 10 favorite books list for the site. If you haven’t read any of these books yet, hopefully one will catch your attention enough to check it out!
10. The Complete Jack the Ripper by Donald Rumbelow – Not to start off on a morbid note, but I was kind of a Ripper buff when I was a kid. I did a lot of research papers for school on him for some reason or another. I don’t know how I even heard of the story to begin with, but as a kid, this kind of thing blows your mind. Rumbelow’s book is pretty much the “Bible” of all Ripper books. It is the most detailed and well-written book about the subject out there. I’m still fascinated by the story today, and sometimes pick this up to refresh my memory. When I went to England way back when, I remember the only thing I wanted to do was go on the “Ripper Walk,” which retraced the steps of the infamous murders. Rumbelow himself gave the tour, and he was very impressed by the young kid trailing behind him, book open in hand, following the story with him. Goodreads | Amazon
9. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne – When I was a kid, I remember watching the Disney film based on this book and enjoying it very much. Because of that, when I was old enough to read, I picked up one of those “abridged children’s versions” and wasn’t wholly satisfied with it. I just felt like it was missing something. As I grew up, and felt I was finally old enough to tackle the real thing, I found it was worth the wait. Verne was the grandfather of modern science fiction, creating these fantastic visions of the future, that some came partly true today. The character of Nemo has also been my favorite anti-hero. Goodreads | Amazon
8. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut – I was late to the party when reading this classic tale, only having picked it up after LOST, my favorite TV show, had referenced it a few times. I don’t know why I never read it before then, as it was right up my alley. A very weird and bizarre tale, jumping through periods of time. While it was a little hard to follow at first, once I got the hang of it, I fell in love. I’ve read it twice since them, and I appreciate it more every time. Goodreads | Amazon
7. South of the Border with Disney: Walt Disney and the Good Neighbor Program by J. B. Kaufman – I am a HUGE Disney fan. I love everything about them. The movies, the Parks, the Company in general, and the man himself, Walt Disney. My favorite Disney movie of all time is The Three Caballeros. I was always fascinated by it, learning about these different cultures at such a young age. As I got older, I realized there was a lot more to the story of this film being created. This book tells that very story, of how Disney was asked by the American Government to travel to South America as a sort of Good Will Ambassador. Disney took along several of his animators, and they used this time to research new ideas for films to sort of help our relationship with South American countries. It’s a fascinating story, not just for Disney buffs, but for history buffs as well. In some ways, Disney helped stem the tide of growing Nazism just by going down there. This book tells a great historical tale, and its long-lasting effects on the American culture. Amazon
6. The Gunslinger by Stephen King – I’m not a very big epic fantasy novel person, but The Gunslinger changed that for me. It’s definitely not your normal King fare here, as it crosses a Western with a sort of weird hybrid fantasy world much like our own. After reading this first book, I was hooked. I patiently waited years for King to finish out this Dark Tower series, and I would absolutely read them all again. While it’s a great beginning to this wonderful series, it is also a fantastic stand-alone novel. Goodreads | Amazon
5. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson – I’m a big fan of historical works, and this one impressed me. While reading it, you may feel that it is a work of fiction. However, the story is quite true, as fantastic as it may be. It’s a beautifully interwoven tale of two completely opposite people during the 1893 World’s Fair; one an incredibly talented architect who helped get it off the ground, and the other a blood thirsty serial killer who used the fair as his playground. A fast paced historical thriller that is worth the read. Goodreads | Amazon
4. Floating Staircase by Ronald Malfi – This is the newest edition to my list, as I just read it a few months ago. I first met Ron last year at a horror convention, where I sat in on one of his readings, and very much enjoyed it. I picked up The Ascent, another novel he wrote, and quickly devoured it when I got home from the weekend. Throughout the past year, I’ve been slowly building my collection of Malfi books. While each one has been better than the last, Floating Staircase is by far my favorite. It was only released a few months ago, but it’s destined to become a classic tale. Just calling it a creepy little ghost story doesn’t do it justice. It’s more about a man’s slow unraveling, and a mystery, in his new home. While it does have dashes of the supernatural tossed in, it’s more about the people. It’s a great story, and if you’re into ghost stories, I highly recommend it. Goodreads | Amazon
3. 1984 by George Orwell – I remember being the only person in my class, when asked to read this for an assignment, who actually enjoyed this book. That first night, with the assignment being “Read Chapters 1 & 2,” I remember blowing well past that, finishing most of the book in that first sitting. For some reason, the story just spoke to me. I had never read anything like it before (but have read many like it since), and it completely blew my mind. This dystopian society was just unbelievable to me, but Winston’s struggle against the oppressive government simply blew my little mind apart. Goodreads | Amazon
2. The Rising by Brian Keene – I’m a sucker for a good horror novel. Back before vampires were all the rage, zombies were on the rise (and they still are nowadays too!). It’s often been said that the revival of the zombie genre the past few years can be based solely on two things: the film 28 Days Later, and this very book, The Rising. (Seriously. Look that up. It’s true!) I first heard of this novel while reading FANGORIA magazine, finding a review amongst its pages. Since I was already in Barnes and Noble, I headed straight over to the horror section and bought this book. Not your typical zombie tale, I instantly fell in love with it. It’s got a great premise, a different take on those mindless creatures we all love, and some wonderful characters in it. It also led to a long-lasting friendship with the author as well (but that’s another story altogether!). Goodreads | Amazon
1. The Stand by Stephen King – Without a doubt, my favorite book of all time is The Stand. In fact, I love it so much, I’m not even really sure how to convey my feelings for it to you. I first read it way back in 7th grade. To be honest, I’m not sure I even completely understood it at the time, but I did enjoy it immensely. I revisited it a few years later, this time reading the expanded and revised edition, and loved it even more. Soon, I was reading the book when I found I had nothing else to read at the moment. For me, this is not only King’s greatest masterpiece, but it’s also a fantastic book overall. It’s an amazingly complex tale of survivors, their stories intertwining into a massive arc of the classic good versus evil plotline. If you’ve never read The Stand, don’t feel daunted by its massive size. While it may look imposing (and in a lot of ways, it is), it is definitely worth the read. I still read it, almost once every year, and still find new things in it every single time. Do yourself a favor, and seek this out immediately. You won’t regret it. Goodreads | Amazon
I hope something in there peaks your interest! Thanks to Estelle and Magan for letting me share!