Upon his passing in 2012 at the age of 91, The New York Times declared Ray Bradbury “the writer most responsible for bringing modern science fiction into the literary mainstream.”

As one of the most preeminent American authors of the 20th and 21st centuries, Bradbury began writing stories as a child during the Great Depression. He spent much of his youth in the library, devouring the works of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and Edgar Allen Poe, and began publishing sci-fi stories in fanzines by the age of 18.

Bradbury was a “builder of dreams,” according to fellow fantasy writer Neil Gaiman:

The man who took an idea of the American Midwest and made it magical and tangible, who took his own childhood and all the people and things in it and used it to shape the world. The man who gave us a future to fear, one without stories, without books.

From the ’30s up until his death, Bradbury created a prolific body of literary work spanning novels, short stories and screenplays. Blending political commentary with the potential perils of modern technology, his love of books is brilliantly distilled in the modern dystopian masterpiece Fahrenheit 451.

Gathered from Sam Weller’s Listen to the Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews via LitHub, read on for a list of books Bradbury loved. Complement with the reading lists of Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Ursula K. Le Guin and Ernest Hemingway.

The Gods of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
“Burroughs is probably the most influential writer in the entire history of the world.” -RB

Lorelei of the Red Mist: Planetary Romances by Leigh Brackett

“[Brackett] was my teacher. I imitated her, of course. She had those beautiful short stories in Planet Stories about John Stark, they were all Edgar Rice Burroughs par excellence. In other words, she could write better than Burroughs. She took the same sort of things he did: the fighting man of Mars, the gods of Mars, the Martian stories, but gave them that extra ambiance, style, and imagination.” -RB

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (also rec’d by Bob DylanBruce Springsteen, Nelson Mandela & Tom Wolfe)

“In The Grapes of Wrath, every other chapter is a description, a metaphor, prose poetry, it’s not plot…I subconsciously borrowed that structure from Steinbeck when I wrote The Martian Chronicles.” -RB

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

When the novella was first published in Time magazine, Bradbury and a couple of friends went to the printing plant to get copies straight off the press: “We carried them off to a bar that was still open, and we sat and read The Old Man and the Sea, and we talked about Papa and how much we loved him.” -RB

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (also rec’d by Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Patti SmithSteve Jobs & Tilda Swinton)

“I dove into the middle of it instead of starting at the beginning. I came across a lot of beautiful poetry of the whiteness of the whale and the colors of nightmares and the great spirit’s spout…I turned back to the start: ‘Call me Ishmael,’ and I was in love!” -RB
(via LitHub)
Categories: Writers

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