The Owl Service – Alan Garner
Alan Garner in his early period from the 1960s wrote a number of my favourite books, including The Owl Service but also The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath. As with all good children’s books, they also offer a great deal to adults. Compelling stories, drawing on myth and legend, told in spare but powerful prose, and always with a strong emotional punch.
The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien
I first read LOTR by myself when I was about 10 (my parents had read it aloud to me earlier) and I’ve reread it many times since. I love the work, while being aware of the flaws, and consider Tolkien a major influence, even though I have (so far) resisted writing imitative tales of elves, orcs and Dark Lords in their towers.
Goodbye to All That – Robert Graves
Like many Australians, my ancestors served in the First World War and my great-great-uncle was killed at Flers in 1916. Reading this memoir at age 13 transformed a kind of diorama view of the war into something more personal. Some of my lifelong interest in military history is undoubtedly due to Graves (and C.E.W. Bean) and the trench lines of the Perimeter in my novel Sabriel owe much to this book as well.
Uncle – J.P. Martin
Written by a clergyman in the 1960s and wonderfully illustrated by Quentin Blake, this book and its sequels are about an immensely rich elephant called Uncle, who lives in a seemingly limitless castle called Homeward and is beset by his enemies in neighbouring Badfort. I loved the quirkiness of these tales. All five books are being republished and can be ordered at gipps杭州夜生活.uk/The_Complete_Uncle.html.
Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable
There are many editions of Brewer’s and it is online in various forms. The older editions are most fascinating, particularly that of 1892 (bartleby杭州夜生活m/81). I have found countless ideas for my own writing in randomly browsing through its pages. Where else would you find an entry on Gemmagog, a giant who designed shoes with turned-up toes fastened at the knee?
Garth Nix has worked in many jobs in the book industry. More than 5 million copies of his books have been sold in about 40 languages. His new children’s fantasy, written with Sean Williams, is The Mystery of the Golden Card: Troubletwisters 3 (Allen & Unwin).
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.