100+ Books That Shaped My World

You may have seen the BBC’s list of “100 Novels That Shaped Our World“, compiled by a panel of writers and commentators. Well, the other week, Nina Allan was inspired to make her own list of books that had shaped her world. I was really taken by the idea, so I’ve been compiling a list myself.

My 100 entries include novels, story collections and series, English-language works and books in translation –they’re all key parts of my reading history. The only restriction I’ve given myself is one entry per author.

Like Nina’s, my list is arranged in rough order of first reading, from my early childhood to this year. It’s the first time I have attempted to put my entire reading life in one place. I can see the evolution of myself as a reader – the continuities as well as the changes.

The resulting list isn’t really meant to be representative or comprehensive. But each of these books and series played its own part, small or large, in making me the reader I am today.

100 NOVELS, COLLECTIONS AND SERIES THAT SHAPED MY WORLD

The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone
The Hodgeheg by Dick King-Smith
Flames in the Forest by Ruskin Bond
The Snow Spider by Jenny Nimmo
The Conker as Hard as a Diamond by Chris Powling
The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tyler by Gene Kemp
The Fighting Fantasy series by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone (et al)
The Demon Headmaster by Gillian Cross
The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
The Legends of Lone Wolf series by Joe Dever and John Grant
The Virtual Reality Adventure series by Dave Morris and Mark Smith
A Kestrel for a Knave Barry Hines
The Homeward Bounders by Diana Wynne Jones
253 by Geoff Ryman
Quicker Than the Eye by Ray Bradbury
Escardy Gap by Peter Crowther and James Lovegrove
The Most Amazing Man Who Ever Lived by Robert Rankin
Ye Gods! by Tom Holt
The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks
The Royal Changeling by John Whitbourn
The Saga of the Exiles series by Julian May
The Great Game trilogy by Dave Duncan
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
The Orokon series by Tom Arden (David Rain)
The Prestige by Christopher Priest
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
Ash: A Secret History by Mary Gentle
Perdido Street Station by China Miéville
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
The Facts of Life by Graham Joyce
The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit
City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff Vandermeer
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ by Sue Townsend
Remainder by Tom McCarthy
Gold by Dan Rhodes
Animal’s People by Indra Sinha
The Grin of the Dark by Ramsey Campbell
The Book of Revelation by Rupert Thomson
Solo by Rana Dasgupta
The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton
The Turing Test by Chris Beckett
Legend of a Suicide by David Vann
Black Mamba Boy by Nadifa Mohamed
The Rapture by Liz Jensen
Skippy Dies by Paul Murray
New Model Army by Adam Roberts
Beside the Sea by Véronique Olmi
The Silver Wind by Nina Allan
Coconut Unlimited by Nikesh Shukla
Pocket Notebook by Mike Thomas
Mr Fox by Helen Oyeyemi
Loving by Henry Green
The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë
Diving Belles by Lucy Wood
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Hawthorn & Child by Keith Ridgway
Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord
The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark
The Longshot by Katie Kitamura
Viriconium by M. John Harrison
Lightning Rods by Helen DeWitt
Nod by Adrian Barnes
70% Acrylic 30% Wool by Viola Di Grado
Communion Town by Sam Thompson
How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid
All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld
The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Alina Bronsky
Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood
Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey
A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride
The Notebook by Agota Kristof
The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
The Life of Rebecca Jones by Angharad Price
The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth
Zone by Mathias Enard
The Vegetarian by Han Kang
The Wandering Pine by Per Olov Enquist
The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck
Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera
Mildew by Paulette Jonguitud
The First Bad Man by Miranda July
The Boy Who Stole Attila’s Horse by Ivan Répila
The Folly by Ivan Vladislavić
Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Mend the Living by Maylis de Kerangal
Martin John by Anakana Schofield
Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun by Sarah Ladipo Manyika
Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys
Tainaron: Mail from Another City by Leena Krohn
Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin
Such Small Hands by Andrés Barba
Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor
A Kind of Loving by Stan Barstow
The Ice Palace by Tarjei Vesaas
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
Three Dreams in the Key of G by Marc Nash
T Singer by Dag Solstad
Berg by Ann Quin
Tamarisk Row by Gerald Murnane

3 Comments

  1. Golly! Much honored — many thanks!

    The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine, of which I had not heard before, sounds too good to miss: I’ve put in an order for it.

  2. Hi David, it sounds incredible for a reader like me (I have read around 3,000 books), but I have read none of the 100 books you have named in your list. Greetings, Erik

  3. Thank you, David. My poor, starving children bless and commend you to the Almighty.
    I only hope ‘The Royal Changeling’s shaping was in a good way…
    John W.

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