Presented in no particular order of significance or importance, here are books six to ten on my bookshelf of inspiration:
- Page after Page by Heather Sellers – There are countless writing guides available, but often they leave me feeling a little flat and more likely not to write than before I started reading them. Not this book though. I recognised much of myself amongst these pages and more importantly feel like I have actually gained something from reading it. A book to turn to from time to time for some positive feedback or a gentle push.
- Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes – This is a multi-layered book which has it turning from a literary biography, to an analysis of language, to a story of obsession, to a thrilling mystery and a thoughtful examination of the meaning of fiction. This is a real adventure of a read which had me moving from here to there, before I even had a chance to think about where I was going. A legendary storyteller.
- Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf – This is a day-in-the-life-of tale to end all day-in-the-life-of tales. Woolf is elegant and perfectly balanced in her use of stream-of-consciousness storytelling technique. This story is warm and real. It feels like it was ever so simple to put down on paper the thoughts which run through a person’s head on any given day … when of course it is anything but.
- After Dark by Haruki Murakami – This book drifts between and across reality and through to another dream world. I love the use of a ‘real-time’ timeline, with events unfolding from late one evening. As ever with any Murakami tale, there is an eclectic mix of strange and wonderful characters who each have a direct or indirect role to play in eachother’s lives. Like Auster, Murakami messes up my brain in a really, really good way. I never know whether I ever really understand where he’s taken me in his stories, but that seems strangely less important than going on the journey.
- The Princess Bride by William Goldman – Who can go past the tale of Buttercup and Westley? Well certainly not me. A classic book which is often described as having everything (and it’s probably true). Where else will you find fencing, fighting, kidnapping, romance, true love, giants, beautiful women, beautiful men, pain, death, resurrection, passion and revenge (to mention just a few of the themes)? Wonderfully funny and charming writing combined with an irresistible tale.