From The Moomins to The Dark is Rising: authors share their favourite childhood books
Sarah Waters: The White Mountains, by John Christopher
Hilary Mantel: King Arthur and His Knights, by Roger Lancelyn Green
Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche: Arrow of God, by Chinua Achebe
"This book made me fall in love with storytelling ... but I also loved Enid Blyton's Famous Five."
Ian McEwan: The Gauntlet, by Ronald Welch
"I was eight, recovering from an operation in a British military hospital in Tripoli, Libya. (Even as I type these words I can summon that dread medical odour of antisepsis and the sound of the high ceiling fans). I reached the last page in tears (not of sorrow but of admiration) and, knowing that no other book would do, started again from the beginning."
Jojo Moyes: National Velvet, by Enid Bagnold
"It contains two really quite radical female characters: Violet Brown, this sickly young girl who defies the odds to win the Grand National; but also her mother, who funds her with money she got from swimming the channel. These were female characters who DID stuff, rather than worrying about how they looked, or whether they had the right handbag..."
Kazuo Ishiguro: Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Colon Doyle
Curtis Sittenfeld: The Twelve Dancing Princesses, by the Brothers Grimm
Helen Macdonald: The Dark is Rising, by Susan Cooper
"Like loads of childrens' books the main story is about a child
learning that they have magical powers, and an important role to
play in the fight between good and evil. But it wasn't that sense of
magical individual power that drew me to the main character or the
books themselves - it was that they had this marvellous voice,
and they talked so bewitchingly of history and landscape and
Nick Hornby: Emil and the Detectives, by Erich Kästner
Barbara Kingsolver: Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
"I read it as a restless seven-year-old, cramped in the back seat during a long car trip, and it's my earliest memory of utterly leaving my present circumstances to become someone else inside the wide spaces of a book. Holy cow, I thought, here lies magic. Jo March as apotheosis."
David Mitchell: Takes From Earthsea, by Ursula Le Guin
Khaled Hosseini: The Tragedy of Sohrab and Rostam, by Ferdowsi
Madeleine Miller: The Hunchback of Notre Dame, by Victor Hugo
"Most of the book went way, way over my head, but the parts that I understood completely devastated me. Hugo's visions of injustice and cruelty were overwhelming. I ended the book feeling like I wanted to pick up a (metaphorical) sword and fight for justice."
Gillian Flynn: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
"I loved how curious and precocious and fearless Alice was, and I was fascinated by this strange other world that she explored. I spent many hours looking for rabbit holes in my backyard."
Louise Doughty: The Chronicles of Narnia, by CS Lewis
David Nicholls: Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
Emma Healey: I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith
Francesca Segal: Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte
Rachel Joyce: The Diddakoi, by Rumer Godden
Christos Tsiolkas: David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
"I love that grand sprawling narrative, those amazing characters. I loved disappearing in that world."
Karen Joy Fowler: The Once and Future King, by TH White
"In my early teens this book launched me on an Arthurian Quest
from which I have never come home. Among the many many lessons it
contained was that a book could be both funny and sad. No humor
without sorrow; no beauty without ugliness; no magic without
science; no past without future."
Patrick Gale: The Moomin novels, by Tove Jansson
"The novels I repeatedly re-read were Tove Jansson's Moomin novels, Norton Juster's The Phantom Tolbooth and Lewis Carroll's two Alice books - all of which I still return to when in need of comfort..."
Sarah Moss: the Anne of Green Gables series, by LM Montgomery
"I started with literary responses to the experience of being
female, and I'm still working on that now."
Maria Sample: Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh
"It's about a girl who feels alone, but spends her life spying on adults. I realize now this is the life of a writer. The ability to be alone and the interest in other people are both critical."
Last updated: almost 3 years ago