Thursday, March 25, 2010

Michael Crichton’s Recommended Reading


Many people visit this blog because, like me, they love Michael Crichton’s books. But what books did Michael Crichton himself love? What books did he recommend? What books influenced the way he wrote?

From a 2005 Barnes & Noble interview:
(Click on the “Meet the Writer” tab)

BN: What was the book that most influenced your life or your career as a writer?

MC: Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles was the first novel I read as a young person, that I genuinely enjoyed. (I was plowing my way through the classics at the time, and Lorna Doone wasn't doing much for me.) I subsequently read all the Holmes stories, and later in life went back to study them, to see how Conan Doyle had moved his narratives forward so quickly. In fact, his techniques are quite cinematic.


In a June 8, 1969 interview with the New York Times, Crichton cited Len Deighton’s novel The Ipcress File as a major influence on his 1969 novel The Andromeda Strain (Crichton’s first novel published under his own name):

I picked up The Ipcress File,” he recalled, “and was terrifically impressed with it. A lot of ‘Andromeda’ is traceable to ‘Ipcress,’ in terms of trying to create an imaginary world using recognizable techniques and real people.


In the 2005 Barnes & Noble interview, Crichton, when asked about his ten favorite books, named:

• George Orwell, Collected Essays -- He is my favorite writer, and I read him as a teenager because my father admired him a lot. From Orwell, I got an insight into an independent mind and I emulated him.

• Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi -- Making art out of life, blurring the lines of fiction and nonfiction. And of course funny.

• Witter Bynner, Tao Te Ching -- This is my preferred translation of this classic, which influenced me very much in my approach to life.

• Robert Louis Stevenson, The Black Arrow -- Actually, I recommend anything by Stevenson. This particular novel must be the source for about 50 movie clichés for any period story. It's great fun.

• Ken Wilbur, No Boundary -- The first of his books I ever read, and I have read almost all of them. He's brilliant.

• Alejo Carpentier, The Lost Steps -- I regard this as a man's novel, about manhood. And rare for that.

• Mary Midgeley, anything by her -- I find her the one of the most interesting contemporary philosophers because she works with real-life issues. And she is especially interesting about science: Evolution as Religion, Beast and Man, Wickedness, and so on.

• Graham Greene, The End of the Affair -- Again, art into life. A classic in some ways disagreeable and even repellent, but for me mysterious in its impact, and unforgettable.

• Ram Dass, Be Here Now -- A very important book for me at a troubled time in my life. I wrote about why in a book of my own called Travels.

• James Thurber, The Thirteen Clocks -- a children's book.


In the June 3, 2007 New York Times Sunday Book Review, a survey “Read Any Good Books Lately?” featured celebrities giving their recommendations.

Michael Crichton’s response:

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. The second volume by the author of Fooled by Randomness continues his theme — our blindness to the randomness of life — in an even more provocative, wide-ranging and amusing mode. A book that is both entertaining and difficult.

P. K. Feyerabend, Problems of Empiricism: Philosophical Papers, Volume 2. From 1981, a brisk reminder that the conflicts of contemporary science are not in any way new or unique. The author is reviled in many quarters, mostly by those who have not read him. He is invariably provocative.

Anthony Bourdain, Bone in the Throat. Wonderful fun, a perfect book to read at the beach.


Look for these books and many others at your local library! Ask your librarian about interlibrary loan for books you can’t find at your local library.

Crichton was himself a big supporter of libraries. When he died in November 2008, a librarian from Bedford, New York, where Crichton used to live, remembered his generosity:

…Librarian Ann Cloonan, director of the Bedford Village Free Library, said she recalls hearing he was a big library supporter in communities where he has lived. He was known for generously donating funds and his time. When Bedford Village, for example, planned a building expansion more than a decade ago, Cloonan, says that staff recalls that he spoke at the library during a capital campaign fund-raiser.


And here are some photos from a February 2003 event where Michael Crichton read from his book Prey to benefit the Los Angeles Public Library Foundation.

67 comments:

Pavel said...

Great post and creditable intention.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for joining the library challenge!

Jenn Hubbard

robin said...

Yay! Good luck with your challenge!

Denise Jaden said...

Love them libraries!

jama said...

Hooray for libraries!

Anonymous said...

Thanks fellow library lover!
thedragonsroost.net

Becker said...

Thanks for supporting libraries!

Cari said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Good luck with your challenge!

Jess said...

All this library love makes me so happy! Good luck with your challenge, and thanks for commenting on mine!

Sliding on the Edge said...

Hope this comment pushes you forward in your goal. Great challenge. Thanks for doing your share.

Ishta Mercurio said...

Thanks for joining in!

Alma Alexander said...

returning the favour - good luck with the pledges!

Taffy said...

Hi library-loving blogger! I wish my library was bigger so it could hold more books!

Here is my challenge:
http://taffyscandy.blogspot.com/2010/03/library-loving-blog-challenge.html

Doret said...

libraries are great.

The mad woman behind the blog said...

So glad you've gotten involved. Every quarter counts! Thanks for coming by mine!

Margo said...

Thanks for participating in the challenge! My library-loving post can be found at: http://bit.ly/ilovelibraries

sarahmullengilbert said...

Thanks for helping with my challenge, Marla, and best of luck with yours! Libraries rule :)

Brimful Curiosities said...

Yay for libraries - all those that frequent them thank you.

The Editors said...

I love libraries!

cynjay said...

Yay for getting involved - and thanks for commenting on mine!

Lara Zielin said...

Go Marla! Go libraries!

Melissa Walker said...

Yay, libraries!

Kimberly Sabatini said...

Yay you! Yay libraries! I'm doing the challenge also. :o) http://kimberlysabatini.blogspot.com/2010/03/library-loving-blog-challenge-2010.html

Janet Fox said...

Hi Marla - so happy you are here! :)

Lizann Flatt said...

Great to see all the support for libraries everywhere!

Sydney Salter said...

Yay for the library challenge!

angeladegroot said...

Love libraries. Love challenges.

Michelle said...

Yay, libraries! I'm participating on my blog, too:

http://michelleknudsen.blogspot.com/2010/03/library-loving-blog-challenge.html

Michelle :)

deborahfreedman said...

It's never too late to support libraries!

Joyce Lansky said...

Thanks for supporting a library.

Vivian said...

Yay for libraries! Good luck!

JTShea said...

Bravo for libraries! I live near Cork in Ireland, where Michael Crichton filmed THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY. Our train station stood in for both the London and Folkestone stations. I recently read PIRATE LATITUDES, which wastes not a single word that I could see.

Marla Warren said...

Thank you very much, JTShea! Have you read Crichton's autobiography Travels? In the chapter titled "Ireland" he talks about filming The Great Train Robbery. There's a wonderful story involving Sean Connery in there.

And JTShea, you just earned Alpha Park Library $1.25. In addition to 25 cents per comment, I'm going to add a $1 bonus for any substantive comments related to the content of my blog post.

Ashley said...

Thanks for helping libraries!

Crystal said...

yay for libraries!

Anonymous said...

Libraries rule!!!

Michael Crichton rocks!!!!

--Casey S.

Debby said...

I've always loved libraries! Good luck with your challenge.

Anonymous said...

Libraries are a treasure.

Edward P.

Anonymous said...

Libraries bring order to chaos.

Ian M.

EAS said...

We are a familiy of five weekly libary users - libraries are great indeed!

Anonymous said...

I like to go to the library to find a good book to read on a plane.

--Roger C.

Anonymous said...

I love to explore libraries.

--Harold B.

Anonymous said...

I love to examine the books on birds--especially birds of prey.

--Peter R.

Anonymous said...

I always go to libraries for some reading to take on long journeys.

--Norman J.

Anonymous said...

Libraries are very powerful.

--Beth H.

Anonymous said...

Libraries are fun, but it's a jungle in there.

--Peter E.

Anonymous said...

I just love the botany section of the library.

--Ellie S.

Anonymous said...

Libraries are the best place to dig for information.

--Alan G.

Anonymous said...

I've been working on a great idea for virtual libraries.

--Tom S.

Anonymous said...

Virtual libraries was MY idea, Tom!

--Meredith J.

Anonymous said...

Libraries take you to another time and place, and you can stay there as long as you like.

--Andre M.

Anonymous said...

I lost my glasses at the library once.

--Edward J.

Anonymous said...

Libraries bear investigating thoroughly.

--Peter S.

Anonymous said...

Libraries are the ultimate adventure!

--Sarah H.

Anonymous said...

Smart kids live at the library.

--Kelly C.

Anonymous said...

Fly to the nearest library!

--Harold E.

Anonymous said...

Libraries are very worthy of support.

--George M.

Anonymous said...

Discover the truth at your local library!

--Peter E.

Anonymous said...

My entire family loves libraries! It's genetic.

--Henry K.

Anonymous said...

Read up on what fascinating birds African Gray parrots are at your local library!

--Gerard

Anonymous said...

I'd trade a chest of gold for a good library.

--Charles H.

Anonymous said...

I'd fight to the death for my local library!

--Sanson

Anonymous said...

Don't get between me and my library!

--Bassa

Anonymous said...

I can see my local library from here if I look hard enough...

--Lazue

Anonymous said...

My personal library is the finest in town.

--James A.

Marla Warren said...

Thank you to everyone who commented and spread the word! The final count is 66 comments, which comes to 16.50, plus $1 bonus for JTShea's post. That brings the total to 17.50, but I'll add enough myself to round it up to $20 for Alpha Park Library.

Thanks again!

J. T. Shea said...

Marla, please excuse my extremely belated comment on your timely comment on my comment!

I did indeed read TRAVELS. I remember Sean Connery was in something of a hurry to get out of Ireland at the time. Mind you, so were many of us locals! I was already an avid reader of Michael Crichton and other writers, but my reading was limited more by money than time in those days. Public libraries filled the gap.

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