The Kingfisher Book of Myths and Legends by Anthony Horowitz
You know those treasured books which have been with you forever? This is one of my earliest and most beloved books. Back in Primary school, I was a bit of a mystery to my teachers. My reading age was significantly higher than my spelling age, which made it difficult for me to prove I was actually reading, and not just ‘pretending’ as I was frequently accused. This is one of the first books I remember them taking off me before redirecting me to the infinitely boring Biff, Chip and Kipper books. I ended up hiding this book in the library so I could read it whenever I was alone. Anthony Horowitz retelling of classic myths is well worth the read, however, it seems to be getting harder to buy.
Going Postal by Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series is, without a doubt, some of my favourite books ever. But I was very late to the series because I judged a book by it’s cover. For shame on me. There was something about the Josh Kirby’s which put me off. But in 2004 I saw Going Postal, used my World Book Day voucher and fell in love with Terry Pratchett’s world. While my ultimate favourite will probably always be The Truth, it was Going Postal which got me hooked. So the main characters Moist Von Lipwig and Adorabelle Dearheart will always have a special place in my heart. If you’re a fantasy fan, or just looking for a bloody good story, I would highly recommend Terry Pratchett. Start with Wyrd Sisters or Guards Guards. Or, if you’re a Neil Gaiman fan, read Good Omens, the book Terry Pratchett co-wrote with Gaiman.
Curtain by Agatha Christie
There is so much going on in this book and I don’t want to spoil the end. Suffice to say, Agatha Christie created one of the most complex murderers and murder methods I’ve ever read before or since. Given my fascination for hidden identities and manipulative characters in fiction, it was a perfect fit for me. It’s a Hercule Poirot story, accompanied by the reliable Arthur Hastings, one of my favourite detective pairings since Sherlock and Watson. It’s also the last of the Hercule Poirot books, so naturally, it has a great deal of pathos. The ending had a huge impact one me, it’s one of those endings you remember where you were when you read it.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice is a classic on any influential book list, so I don’t have much to say that hasn’t already been said a thousand times. It’s a story I’ll read at least once a year and never grow tired of. In fact, every time I read it, it gets better. Reading it lately with a critical eye, it’s a masterpiece of storytelling and a beautiful example of the three act structure. And Elizabeth Bennet is without a doubt on of the most wonderful female characters in literature. Do yourself a favour, even if you think you know this story well, watch the Thug Notes episode done on this. Trust me, it’s hilarious.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
Oh dear, what a surprise. Well, get used to it I’m afraid. For the next decade or so, most upcoming writers will have been influenced by Rowling. The Harry Potter series were the books of our childhood and while, yes, it’s currently vastly over saturated, that doesn’t negate the fact that they were amazingly crafted stories. J.K. Rowling is a quintessential storyteller and managed to thread that complicated needle of telling a story suitable for children but with enough layers for adults. After being read the first chapter Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone as a bedtime story, I stole the book away because I couldn’t have coped with one chapter a night. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban will always be my favourite.
What are your favourite books? How do you think they’ve influenced you? Share!