The prompt for the Great Book of Lists this week was to list books that “transport” us to another time or place, out of our daily lives. I found this difficult, purely because every book that I enjoy transports me into that particular world. If it doesn’t, I stop reading it – life’s too short, and my reading pile too big! Choosing just a handful on this basis was also beyond me…
So below is a list of the ten books (not necessarily novels) that have had the greatest impact on me, that have transported me either through the power of the storytelling, or in the influence they have had on me personally, or both.
In no particular order:
1. Cormac McCarthy – The Road
The book that put me off wanting to be a writer, because I’ll never write anything as good as this.
2. Nick Hornby – High Fidelity
The right book at the right time can have a huge effect. This tracked and amplified my obsession with list-making… and look where that’s got me!
3. Julia Donaldson – The Gruffalo
I could have chosen one of half a dozen of her books – she directly inspired me to write children’s stories in rhyme.
4. Shel Silverstein – Where the Sidewalk Ends
I was recommended this by my American critique group (I hadn’t heard of him at that time), who paid me the great compliment of being Silverstein-esque. I only wish!
5. Max Brooks – World War Z
A great book, bold in scope, unique in vision. This was unfortunately made into a distinctly average film of limited scope and generic, by-the-numbers vision. (Note to film-makers – zombies DO NOT run. They are the reanimated dead, not Olympic sprinters.)
6. Iain Banks – The Wasp Factory
I can still picture every detail in this slightly bizarre, yet surface-normal, world, even though I haven’t read it for at least a decade.
7. Douglas Adams – The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
A huge influence on my sense of humour. I was too young for the radio series, but grew up with the original TV show, and even remember playing a text-only computer game of it. Must read this one again.
8. Roald Dahl – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
A children’s story with both lyricism and darkness.
9. George RR Martin – A Song of Ice and Fire
I’m not normally a fan of fantasy, but these had me gripped. I raced through all the novels one after the other (courtesy of a friend’s generosity in lending me them… There isn’t room on my bookshelves for this weighty series!). After reading one of the books, I read Hunger Games. It was like drinking lemonade after a fine wine.
10. Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard Book
Gaiman is the writer I most want to be, and The Graveyard Book is the book I most want to have written.
So, feel free to analyse away about what this list says about me… What books have transported you, in one way or other?