This One Book – Roundup

Two weeks ago I wrote a blog about the one book that made me reconsider what fiction could do. I chose The Wasp Factory, and nominated a couple of other writers to talk about their influences. The topic has since spread a bit amongst blogs, and I thought I would show you what they have been talking about.

The response has been interesting, and most writers have gone for books that I wouldn’t necessarily have thought they would (although, a few of them have also suggested that if I hadn’t written about The Wasp Factory first, they would have chosen that too, such is the power of Banks’ debut). Dave Hartley was the first to write a piece, choosing gothic horror classic Frankenstein, saying, “The creature, who remains unfinished because he is never given a name, is, for me, one of the greatest heroes of literature; he is a tragic figure, desperate and genuine, cursed to become the monster, fated to become humanity’s cracked and ugly mirror image.” It’s a great article about a classic novel, and you should head to his site immediately and read the whole thing.

A much more leftfield choice came from Ben Judge, who picked the Tom Clancy novel Red Storm Rising. It’s a really fun piece to read, as he discusses the joys of reading popular fiction. “I thought, I’ll read one chapter and put you down you big stupid fucking popular thriller you. I read Red Storm Rising in a weekend. I read it in as close to one sitting as is humanly possible with a book that is 832 pages long. It is a ridiculously well paced novel. It is thrilleriffic. There is always a need for one, more, chapter. Red Storm Rising was the exception that proved the rule. I was wrong about Tom Clancy. And if I was wrong about Tom Clancy, I could be wrong about anything. I could be wrong about everything.” Fantastic.


Simon Sylvester’s piece for This Book is as much about the books he didn’t choose, as it is the one he did. It’s a really interesting piece about the history of reading fiction as an adult, and growing to love it after some time off. He chooses the (rather obscure) Roald Dahl collection Henry Sugar, and his final sentence, “I don’t want to write like Roald Dahl – I couldn’t – but I’m trying to walk that same tightrope between two places. And in that sense, no other book has so changed the way I think about books – about writing – about reading – about living,” is just brilliant.

There are still quite a few articles on This Book to come, and I’ll likely do another update when there’s more to read.


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