Alright, so here's a confession...
When it comes to the source material for old school D&D, I am quite illiterate. The thing that really drew me into D&D was the Dragonlance novel Time of the Twins, which I happened across randomly at the public library when I was in fifth grade. At the end of the book, an afterward by the authors mentioned AD&D, and it wasn't long before I was prowling the Adult Oversize Nonfiction section and taking home the AD&D1 Dungeon Master's Guide and Oriental Adventures.
I started reading Dragonlance novels as fast as I could. I read just about every damn one, no matter how spun-off from the original Chronicles and the Twins trilogy. I tried to read Forgotten Realms novels but just couldn't get into them. A friend in high school got me to read several Ravenloft novels. At any rate, aside from a couple of David Eddings novels and the first Lord of the Rings book, all the fantasy literature I read from grades 5-12 was AD&D fiction. My image of D&D fed into itself in sort of an awful little feedback loop, which is maybe why I walked away from the game circa 1995 and didn't return until 3rd edition was out. (I was still gaming, but as far away from high fantasy as I could get)I had really only seen D&D from one paradigm and I was totally burned out on it. (Yes, Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, and Ravenloft were different settings, but a lot of the style of AD&D novels was pretty homogeneous after awhile.)
With my recent shift back to the gaming that I cut my teeth on, I've become quite interested in the source material that inspired it. Also, I haven't touched a sword-and-horse fantasy book since I was in high school. I'm interested in seeing the pulpy goodness that I missed all these years, and I also hope to gain a greater understanding for D&D.
For my primer, I have ordered a collection of Conan stories and a compilation of the Jack Vance Dying Earth novellas. (Courtesy of an unused Amazon gift certificate) After I finish the two library books I have checked out, it will be old school fantasy time. I am trying to rid myself of any preconceived notions, and I am also ready for the possibility that I might not like it at all. Hell, I'd have checked them out from the library, but this city seems to have nothing in the way of Vance and only one Howard book, but it's not Conan. It will be quite interesting to see how this turns out. (Well, for me anyway.)