For no reason whatsoever, other than I like lists, here are the books I love to read. The ones that have had the biggest impact on my life and writing career. Enjoy!
Being a romance writer, I really have to start here! These are just a few of the many, many romance books that I love and reread.
- Open Season by Linda Howard This was the first romance book I ever read. I was on holiday with my Husband in Peru and on the hunt for English language books to read. I found this in a tiny shop in Lima and it changed my reading life! After this I ate up every Linda Howard book I could find, then moved on to Sandra Brown, Jennifer Crusie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips and many, many more. This books is funny, intriguing, entertaining and has a great romance.
- Dream a little dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips Brilliant book! Loved the parallel romance stories. I loved the heroine and her desperation to fend for herself and her child. I love the snappy dialogue. Really, reading this is a masterclass on how to write a romance.
- One for the Money by Janet Evanovich This was the first book I remember reading that made me laugh out loud and it still does. Janet Evanovich is a master in comic timing and fantastic one liners. I’m not really sure this is a romance though, I mean we’re about a million books into the series and Stephanie’s still stringing two guys along! Choose already!!!
- A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole A bad tempered Scottish werewolf, a timid American vampire and a two hundred year old curse. This books is so well written. All the characters are well rounded, the story is fast and the emotions are deep. Love the dialogue. Love the humour. I’m a huge fan of this series.
- Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh This was the first paranormal romance I read. I met Nalini at a writer’s conference and had no idea who she was. Afterwards I felt embarrassed at my ignorance, seeing as she’s a rock star of New Zealand romance, so I decided to read one of her books. A couple of years on and I’ve read ALL of her books. They are fantastic. Great characters. Great plot. Love them all.
I could go on about romance books, but I won’t! Before I got into reading romance, I read crime. LOTS of crime. It got to the stage that I was having nightmares from the books I was reading! Anyway, here are my favourites.
- Judas Child by Carol O’Connell Freakily fantastic, bone chilling book. The thing that gets me about Carol O’Connell’s work is that her characters and plots are so out of the ordinary. She’s a master of description and atmosphere. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read this book and wish I could write a fraction as well as she does.
- Killing Floor by Lee Child The first and the best Jack Reacher novel. Lee Child has an amazing writing style that sucks you in before you even know it’s happening. Don’t let the movie version put you off, Jack Reacher is nothing like Tom Cruise!
- Flight of the Stone Angel by Carol O’Connell okay, I know this is the second Carol O’Connell book on my list, but this woman can write!! This is the 4th in her Kathy Mallory series and the one where she goes back to her home and confronts her past – a past that’s been hidden from readers up until now. I love the sociopathic heroine and her genius beast of a companion, Charles. Seriously good read.
- French Silk by Sandra Brown This book creates the atmosphere of New Orleans’s French Quarter beautifully. It’s not as hard core, crime wise, as her later books. This one sits more firmly in romantic suspense. It’s a fab read.
- Every Dead Thing by John Connolly This book is scary. I mean the content. Although, it’s terrifyingly well written too! This is one of the books that gave me nightmares and made me swap reading genre – so be warned! The other writers who scared the life out of me were Karin Slaughter, Tami Hoag’s later books and Patricia Cornwell.
Here are some of the other books I love.
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath Sylvia Plath knew how to write the angst ridden character long before it was fashionable! Add to that her amazing sense of language and you have a book that’s a delight to all the senses.
- Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien Another set of books I’ve read so many times I’ve lost track. If you’ve only seen the movies, you really need to read the books too. Peter Jackson did a great job transferring the story to film, but he had to cut a lot out to get it there. The language alone makes the books worth reading – although I still get annoyed with Tom Bombadils songs…
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen What would a favourite book list be without at least one Jane Austen! This one wins for me, not just for Mr Darcy, but for the opening lines. LOVE that first sentence!!
- 100 years of solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez Again it’s imagery and the language in this book that casts a spell over the reader. It also appeals to my sense of humour in that several generations of characters have the same names, which means that if you’re a fast reader the story can get a little confusing!
- The Colour Purple by Alice Walker Incredibly powerful novel about transforming love. The story is told through letters written between two sisters. This is a beautiful book that leaves your emotions raw.
It may surprise you but I don’t only ready fiction! Here are my all time favourite non-fiction books. For books on writing, click here.
Art history books
I studied fine art at college and since then have been pretty much obsessed with art history. These are a few of my favourite art history books. I’ve tried to stick to the easy to read ones. Some of the heavier ones can be hard going when you’re new to the subject.
- History of Art by H W Janson This is great for an overview of the topic.
- Peter Doig by Adrian Searle Currently my favourite contemporary painter. I love the way he works the canvas. Gorgeous work.
- How to read a painting by Patrick De Rynck Very entertaining book. The stories and gossip behind some of the world’s most famous paintings.
- The Lives of 20th Century Artists by Edward Lucie-Smith What went on in the heads and lives of people like Picasso and Dali. Easy to read. Really entertaining.
- Van Gogh’s Letters Okay, so he bangs on about how he has no money and is striving to get the perfect yellow. It’s still a fascinating peek into the mind of a fabulous painter.
Books about faith
Here are some of the books that have influenced my faith and life.
- The Message by Eugene H Peterson This is a contemporary paraphrase of the complete Bible. It’s really well done, easy to read and fun! Yes, fun. You read right. I did put the words ‘fun’ and ‘bible’ in the same sentence… 😉
- The Father Heart of God by Floyd McClung Apart from the fact the name Floyd McClung cracks me up, this is a great book. It had a huge impact on me when I was a teenager.
- When Bad Christians Happen To Good People by Dave Burchett Really the title says it all!
- The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom Corrie Ten Boom was a Dutch spinster lady who worked in her family clock shop when the second world war started. With the help of her Christian family, she saved Jews from Nazi clutches while Holland was under German occupation. Along with her sister, she was captured and sent to a concentration camp, where her sister died. This tells her miraculous story. This is a really wonderful and emotive book. Would loved to have met this unassuming woman.
Other non-fiction books
- The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettelheim Great book for looking at the story structure and social impact of fairy tales. What can I say? I find this sort of thing fascinating.
- The Mummy Congress by Heather Pringle I am like a five year old when it comes to mummies. I have an odd fascination with them. This book focuses on a group of experts who get together each year to discuss their mummy findings. I would love to go to this conference, but I don’t think they let groupies in!
- Art and Fear by David Bayless This book is great for insecure creative people. 😉 Every wondered why you aren’t making the art you want to make? Then this might help you.
- City of Joy by Dominique Lapierre This was made into a movie with Patrick Swayze – don’t let that put you off! I thought the movie was quite good anyway. It’s the true story of an American doctor who ends up working in the slums of Calcutta. Very moving.
Okay, that’s more than enough for now. If I think of any more, I’ll add them to the list. Who knows, you might find something new to read in amongst all that! 😀