It’s always fascinating to discover which books influenced well-known writers, or simply which books they count among their favourites. Here, authors recommend some of their most-loved books – what better Christmas gift for a book lover than a book treasured by their favourite author?
Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay is a fun-sized follow-up to the wildly popular This is Going to Hurt. More stories from the frontline of the NHS that will hit you in the feels and have you ho-ho-hoing over the festive season.
Patrice Lawrence’s Rose, Interrupted is a marvellous novel which explores what life is like for a pair of siblings after they are excommunicated from a strict religious sect. Rose seeks freedom, while brother: Rudder seeks redemption.
Rounding out my top three is Fearscape Vol. 1 by Ryan O’Sullivan – a comically dark and witty graphic novel with a narrator who is unreliable, delusional and downright despicable! Once a generation The Muse travels to Earth to take our greatest storyteller back with her to battle fear-creatures. But then she mistakes Henry – a shameless plagiarist – for the best and all hell breaks loose.
The book I’ll be recommending for Christmas is Charlie Mackesy’s The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. I’ve been following Charlie on Instagram for several years, initially charmed by his naïve, simple ink-line illustrations and then drawn in further by his gentle characters uttering profound wisdoms. The illustrations have now been collected and made into a book. His message is ultimately one of compassion and kindness which in this day and age – and at Christmas particularly – I think we all need to hear. I’m going to buy it for family, friends and godchildren, as well as for my own bookshelf.
Malgudi Days is one of the great books of all time. Simple, but beautifully observed tales of real India centred around the village of Malgudi. I agree with Graham Greene – R K Narayan should have won the Nobel Prize.
My classic favourite I think has got to be Julian May’s Saga of the Exiles series. Currently, I can’t choose between Ian McDonald’s Luna series and Alastair Reynolds’s Revenger series, so both of those.
Discover the Saga of the Exiles series.
If Only They Could Talk by James Herriot. I believe certain books can map out your life. They can take you somewhere – that’s what James Herriot’s books did for me.
Last year was the 100th anniversary of the birth of Alf Wight, who wrote under the pseudonym of James Herriot. Macmillan reprinted the first volume of his memoirs and asked me to write the foreword. I was so honoured. My grandfather had given it to me when I was 12. Herriot’s adventures as a young country vet in Yorkshire spoke to me and I thought, ‘That’s the life for me.’
Three Against the Wilderness by Eric Collier is my hidden gem. In the late 1930s, Collier, a lawyer’s son from Northampton, sets off for British Columbia to make his fortune fur-trapping. Problem is, his concession – an area of wilderness inherited by his part-Indian wife – had been hunted out decades earlier. Even the trees are dying. In order to restore water to the region he rebuilds, by hand, the old beaver dams, and a miracle happens. Life returns. This astonishing and eloquent tribute to the creative impacts of a keystone species is all the more powerful told by a homesteading pragmatist.
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