I love reading. Here are 10 books that have influenced my writing over the years, and a sense of why I've loved reading them.
#10 - Dancers at the End of Time by Michael Moorcock.
This mind-bending series is wildly imaginative, set in a dying, chaotic world where humanity can create, destroy and time travel at whim using power rings, but finds itself utterly bored until…
#9 – Solaris by Stanislaw Lem.
Forget the Clooney movie (though Tarkovsky comes closer), Solaris is about a planet that communicates with the orbiting astronauts through neutrino-based replicas of close/dead friends. Mysterious and beautiful.
#8 – Gateway by Frederick Pohl.
Gateway is a tantalising tale, tracking the discovery of an intelligent alien race. Ahead of its time, it covers AI butlers and digitally-encoded after-lives. I loved the awe-inspiring sense of mystery and discovery.
#7 – The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien.
You HAVE to read the books. The movies aren’t enough. Only the words can adequately convey the impressive array of characters, terrains, cultures, domains, philosophies, humour & jaw-dropping vistas. Aah!
#6 – Neuromancer by William Gibson.
Cyberpunk classic Neuromancer makes the reader work hard: catching future-lingo and future-techs- brain-enhancing 'microsofts', visual implants and webrunners who live in the virtual world. Way ahead of its time.
#5 – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams.
The Earth blows up, a restaurant at the end of the universe, an infinite impossibility drive generator, a depressed robot: what’s there not to love? Proves you can combine sci-fi with outrageous humour.
#4 – Snowcrash by Neal Stephenson.
This one's so ‘out there’ in its vision of the future, it’s a dystopian inspiration. Anarcho-capitalism, an avatar-packed MMO VR world, massive hyperinflation, bio-warfare and corporate-owned suburbia. Stunning.
#3 – Bleak House by Charles Dickens.
Hard to pick my fav Dickens (I also love Our Mutual Friend) but this has it all: legal plot twists (conflicting wills), intrigue, danger (spontaneous combustion) and loads of great characters. A masterful work.
#2 – Generation X - Tales for an Accelerated Culture by Douglas Coupland.
A big-hearted story about Gen Xers telling each other life stories. I found the book in a discount bin in the 90s. It was my intro to one of my now fav writers. He’s a sharp culture-vulture and really funny.
#1 – Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake.
Castle Gormenghast is a sprawling, decaying, gothic labyrinth. Its deliciously-Dickensian inhabitants are its strength: scheming Steerpike, wild Fucshia, Lord Sepulchrave and Titus: the boy about to inherit it all.
These books - and others - have been a huge influence and help in writing the 5fingers series, including book 5 - 5fingers: freedom - which is being launched September 29th 2018. Come to the free launch event if you can!
How about you? What's your favourite book? Let me know - comment below!
Joshua Raven, novelist. Read about my writing and my life here. And have you discovered 5fingers yet?