“JAMES BOND, with two double bourbons inside him, sat in the final departure lounge of Miami Airport and thought about life and death.”
These are the opening lines of the novel Goldfinger by Ian Fleming. How great is that? As good as the movies are, and Goldfinger is one of the best, I don’t think that this level of badassery can be properly filmed.
Obviously James Bond is best known because of the movies, and rightly so – it is the second biggest selling franchise of all time, second only to Harry Potter. I think most fans have an idea that books came first, but maybe either don’t like to read or have never come across them in a bookstore.
Indeed, for years they were out of print. Then recently they were reissued by Penguin in nice, expensive editions. Some of the books are combined into one volume, which makes sense because most are short – between 100 and 200 pages.
But I’m too cheap to buy new books. I got into the Bond novels by finding them in the library. I read From Russia with Love and was hooked.
Then I moved out of the country, but before I left I browsed through my favorite used bookstore, the Dawn Treader in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Sure enough, in the back of the store squeezed between mysteries and adventure was the whole collection.
I bought a good handful and read them all. Goldfinger and From Russia With Love are still favorites, but I also recommend the dark On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and the short story collection For Your Eyes Only, which includes the really quality non-action story Quantum of Solace, which has nothing to do with the movie.
All in all I made three trips to that bookstore during visits to Michigan to see family. Now I have the entire James Bond collection, at least the originals by Ian Fleming. If you like good, clear writing and adventure, then check them out!