Looking back at my childhood shelves I notice that I’ve always been really into “collecting” the work of certain authors – and I’m sure we all have favourites on our shelves at home that we could read again and again. In the interests of literary introspection, I began to list these favourite authors and thought – lucky you! – that I’d share them.
I somehow discovered Paul Magrs via the young adult novel Strange Boy and it totally blew me away. I could read this book every month and not get bored of it.
The Handmaid’s Tale, Oryx and Crake, The Penelopiad: there is no author I can think of who has such a way of reimagining the ordinary, and making me consider everything from my writing style, to my plots to my place in society. I can’t recommend her enough, and I would and will hope to read anything and everything she has written.
Perhaps controversially, I prefer the Dirk Gently series to Hitchhiker’s Guide. I feel I can say that having read all of these series, including the unfinished The Salmon of Doubt, but seriously, I could wax lyrical for some time about how great Dirk Gently is and why you ought to give it a go.
My English Literature teacher at Secondary school recommended Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit and she was right. Since then I’ve read a number of her books, and I really can’t get over her use of language and imagery. I’m sure I could learn a lot from her – so I need to keep reading!
Here’s another topic best saving for a full blog post. For my dissertation I read a lot of sermons as well as a lot of poetry – and if I still love him then there must be something there. I know a number of his poems by heart (mostly the rude ones such as Elegie XIX but also nicer ones such as The Good-Morrow). As a tip for Christmasses, etc, I’m collecting collections of his poetry. So, you know, just an idea.
I say this, but hasn’t everyone? In fact, I didn’t read the spin off books, but I have read the Harry Potter series at least twice.
I always stated I hated Jane Austen until I read Northanger Abbey and then I went back to read Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility and realised how funny her work was. Not just a description of lovelorn ladies in big dresses!
J. R. R. Tolkien
After re-discovering The Lord of the Rings at school, I suddenly became obsessed with all things Tolkien. Including Leaf by Niggle. Having said this, I own The Silmarillion, but still can’t finish it. But ask me about the Sindarin noun-verb diclensions, or the Hobbits after the Ring and I may know a little something! Oh, and if you can’t find any Donne for Christmas, Tolkien editions are also accepted.
Wilde is another author I’m glad to have discovered at school, and whose works I will happily collect in any edition. I’ve pored over the plays and consider The Picture of Dorian Gray to be among the most haunting stories I’ve ever read.
This one was rather a surprise when I looked back at my bookshelves. But I have the majority of his books. A wonderfully clever philosopher and storyteller, Gaarder’s novels are thought-provoking and vivid and very, very imaginative. Read Sophie’s World and consider how words are written on the inside of a banana skin…
So, who are your favourite authors? Who will you always return to for good writing – and why?