As it is World book day, I have decided to post a little about books and authors who have influenced me over the years. I’ve probably mentioned them before, but here’s one convenient post with them all together.
Enid Blyton – The magic faraway tree books.
I loved these as a child. They are simple, yet never forget the core story. I loved their quirkiness. A warning to any publisher she sees fit to vandalise these by editing them: you will never get a pennt of my money again for anything. Only the original Blyton-penned versions are worth reading.
Arthur Ransome – the Swallows and Amazons series
As a child these books fascinated me, and I read them to death. The first book (‘Swallows and Amazons’) is all right, but there are better ones in the series that do not get the mention that they deserve. ‘Missee Lee’ is outstanding. ‘Great Northern?’ (yes the question mark is part of the title) is brilliant too. As the last book of the set I found it to be tinged with a tiny bit of sadness – the children are growing up and it feels like this is their last adventure together. A great book nonetheless.
C.S. Lewis – the Narnia series.
Some I like, some I like less so. ‘The Voyage of the Dawntreader’ is brilliant, though the last two in the series are my favourites. Earlier books could be a little stodgy in places. Ignore the religious overtones – you don’t have to buy into all that to still enjoy them.
Philip K. Dick – Flow my tears the Policeman said
A great book with surreal futuristic done so masterfully. Dick can be a mixed author, but this book is truly one of his best above some of the more famous ones.
Arthur C. Clarke – Rendezvous with Rama.
Forget the follow up books – this is the greatest. An alien book where you never see the alien. Hugely influential to me. Why explain alien technology when you can preserve its weirdness by just telling it as it is! The sense of mystery in this book is artfully done. It’s just a shame that he blew it all in the follow up books. Still, no-one makes you read beyond this first book.
Brian Jacques – Redwall trilogy.
In later years Jacques milked it and I don’t believe his stuff was so good. But I remember the original Mossflower/Redwall/Mattimeo trilogy well from when they first came out. These books successfully captured some of the essences that had been in other children’s books I loved. At the time they were new and innovative and deservedly successful as a result.
Tom Clancy – Red Storm rising
Not all Tom Clancy books are so good, but the earlier ones were truly masterpieces. This one in particular stands out to me by Clancy’s stunning balance of technical terms and procedures imparted in a way that neither patronises nor becomes techno-overload. The action is well described and the characters work well. This is a thriller written to usurp all thrillers that have gone before, because it deserves to. From the beginning to the end this one is a real page turner. Don’t let its tome-like thickness put you off. It is an accessible and gripping read from beginning to end.