As a writer, it’s important to read pretty much everything you can get your hands on. I’ve always been a reader from an early age, and when I wasn’t out running about in fields with my friends, I was at home with my head in a book. Decades later things haven’t changed much. I still read A LOT, yet I always wish I had more time to read even more.
Here are some of my favourite books of all time.
Mary Shelley – Frankenstein
Although this falls into the category of Gothic Horror, I found the story to be much more heartbreaking than frightening. The monster is actually one of the kindest and gentlest creatures, who wants nothing more than to be accepted and loved. He only turns bad when the scientist (Dr. Frankenstein) shatters all hope of him ever finding happiness. The main theme of the story is the catastrophic consequences that occur when man tries to use science and technology to play god and interfere with nature.
Ray Bradbury – Fahrenheit 451
As a teenager, I really started to get into Science Fiction, and I particularly like the way that the authors can use futuristic interpretations of earth and other planets, to comment on society and humanity. I read Fahrenheit 451 at the age of seventeen and really identified with the character Clarisse, who describes herself as “seventeen and crazy.” That’s how I felt at the time, that I was different from everyone else, so when I read this I felt as though I’d finally found a friend.
Kurt Vonnegut – Slaughterhouse-Five
This was a novel that I only read recently, and I think it’s one of the most clever pieces of writing I’ve read in a long time. It deals with the destructiveness of war, and centres around a character named Billy Pilgrim who survived the fire-bombing of Dresden. In later years he claims to be kidnapped by aliens, which seems ridiculous, but then this sub-plot about the aliens highlights the ridiculousness of war and killing each other.
John Steinbeck – The Grapes of Wrath
Written during the Depression era, The Grapes of Wrath focuses on a family’s struggle to earn a living as migrant farmers. The story is bleak at times, yet beautifully written. The main idea of the novel is that all the suffering is caused not by economic collapse or crop failure, but by greed and man’s inhumanity towards fellow human beings. The only way the family can get through their ordeal is to stick together and help each other in whatever way they can, and I think that this is an important lesson for all of humanity.
Of course, as readers know it is almost impossible to condense your favourites down into such a short list. Let me know what your favourites are in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!