You’d think, as a writer, I have the ‘Classics’ in this list, but they’ve never appealed to me. And it doesn’t matter, words are words and appeal to many different people on many different levels.
In Alphabetical Order:
A Century of Wisdom: Lessons from the Life of Alice Herz-Sommer, the World’s Oldest Living Holocaust Survivor
Caroline Stoessinger (Author)
The pianist Alice Herz-Sommer survived the Theresienstadt concentration camp, attended Eichmann’s trial in Jerusalem, and along the way befriended some of the most fascinating historical figures of our time, from Franz Kafka to Gustav Mahler, Leonard Bernstein and Golda Meir.
A Century of Wisdom is her story: a testament to the bonds of friendship, the power of music, and the importance of leading a life of maternal simplicity, intellectual curiosity, and never-ending optimism.
Julie Bozza (Author)
It started as a simple assignment for Aussie bush guide Dave Taylor – escort a lone Englishman in quest of an unknown species of butterfly. However Nicholas Goring is no ordinary tourist, his search is far from straightforward, and it’s starting to look as if the butterflies don’t want to be found. As Dave teaches Nicholas everything he needs to survive in the Outback he discovers that he too has quite a bit to learn – and that very often the best way to locate something really important is just not to want to find it…
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Adult Edition)
JK Rowling (Author)
As he climbs into the sidecar of Hagrid’s motorbike and takes to the skies, leaving Privet Drive for the last time, Harry Potter knows that Lord Voldemort and the Death Eaters are not far behind. The protective charm that has kept Harry safe until now is now broken, but he cannot keep hiding. The Dark Lord is breathing fear into everything Harry loves, and to stop him Harry will have to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes. The final battle must begin – Harry must stand and face his enemy.
The Feast of the Drowned (Doctor Who)
Stephen Cole (Author)
When a naval cruiser sinks in mysterious circumstances in the North Sea, all aboard are lost. Rose is saddened to learn that the brother of her friend, Keisha, was among the dead. And yet he appears to them as a ghostly apparition, begging to be saved from the coming feast… the feast of the drowned.
As the dead crew haunt loved ones all over London, the Doctor and Rose are drawn into a chilling mystery. What sank the ship, and why? When the cruiser’s wreckage was towed up the Thames, what sinister force came with it? The river’s dark waters are hiding an even darker secret, as preparations for the feast near their conclusion.
The Crystal Cave (Merlin Trilogy)
Mary Stewart (Author)
This is what happened. I saw it, and it is a true tale.
So begins the story of Merlin, born the illegitimate son of a Welsh princess in fifth century Britain, a world ravaged by war. Small and neglected, with his mother unwilling to reveal his father’s identity, Merlin must disguise his intelligence – and hide his occasional ability to know things before they happen – in order to keep himself safe.
One beautiful afternoon, while exploring the countryside near his home, Merlin stumbles across a cave filled with books and papers and hiding a room lined with crystals. It is the home of Galapas, who becomes Merlin’s tutor and friend, and who teaches Merlin to understand the world around him… and to harness the power of the crystal cave to see the future.
Merlin will rise to power and enter history – and legend – as advisor to King Arthur. But all stories must begin somewhere. And this is his.
The Crystal Cave is the first of Mary Stewart’s brilliant Arthurian Saga, telling the story of King Arthur from the perspective of the extraordinary, mysterious Merlin.
The Hollow Hills (Merlin Trilogy 2)
The Last Enchantment (Merlin Trilogy 3)
The King’s Grave: The Search for Richard III
Philippa Langley (Author)
On 22 August 1485 Richard III was killed at Bosworth Field, the last king of England to die in battle. His victorious opponent, Henry Tudor, went on to found one of our most famous ruling dynasties. Richard’s body was hurriedly buried in the church of the Greyfriars. Fifty years later, at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries, the king’s grave was lost – its contents believed to be emptied into the river Soar and Richard III’s reputation buried under a mound of Tudor propaganda. Its culmination was Shakespeare’s compelling portrayal of a deformed and murderous villain, written over a hundred years after Richard’s death.
Now – in an incredible find – Richard III’s remains have been uncovered beneath a car park in Leicester. The King’s Grave traces this remarkable journey. In alternate chapters, Philippa Langley, whose years of research and belief that she would find Richard in this exact spot inspired the project, reveals the inside story of the search for the king’s grave, and historian Michael Jones tells of Richard’s fifteenth-century life and death. The result is a compelling portrayal of one of our greatest archaeological discoveries, allowing a complete re-evaluation of our most controversial monarch – one that discards the distortions of later Tudor histories and puts the man firmly back into the context of his times.
Simon Armitage (Author)
In summer 2010, Simon Armitage decided to walk the Pennine Way. The challenging 256-mile route is usually approached from south to north, from Edale in the Peak District to Kirk Yetholm, the other side of the Scottish border. He resolved to tackle it the other way round: through beautiful and bleak terrain, across lonely fells and into the howling wind, he would be walking home, towards the Yorkshire village where he was born.
Travelling as a ‘modern troubadour’ without a penny in his pocket, he stopped along the way to give poetry readings in village halls, churches, pubs, and living rooms. His audiences varied from the passionate to the indifferent, and the clacking of pool balls, the drumming of rain and the bleating of sheep accompanied his readings.
WALKING HOME describes this extraordinary, yet ordinary, journey. It’s a story about Britain’s remote and overlooked interior – the wildness of its landscape and the generosity of the locals who sustained him on his journey. It’s about facing emotional and physical challenges, and sometimes overcoming them. It’s nature writing, but with people at its heart. Contemplative, moving, and droll, it is a unique narrative from one of our most beloved writers.
And number 8 is a little self-indulgent. To the Left of Your North Star by Michelle Peart.
To the Left of Your North Star
Michelle Peart (Author)
My novel is an adventure set on another planet called Abaytor. Edward, son of the famous explorer Herb Kemp, is popular, self-assured, and spoilt. During his time on the notorious Copper River, amongst the perilous lands of Abaytor, Edward discovers he’s not who he thought he was.
Burn, an off-kilter Abaytorian, with hair the colour of polished bronze and a desire for change, is charged with the task of escorting Edward back to civilisation. As they travel the crashing waters on a makeshift raft called the Copper Queen, they are in a constant battle with the river, the unknown, and each other. Edward’s deep-seated problems with his father are laid bare as they are hunted, almost drowned, starved, and face difficult choices. Both men struggle with loss, fear, and themselves. Amongst the star nursery skies, striking landscapes and colourful people of Abaytor, Edward slowly learns about trust, love, and self-acceptance.
My top eight reference books for writers to follow.