Embellished Manuscripts - Assorted

Tonight we celebrate World Book Night, a UK-based initiative designed to encourage a love of reading in our increasingly digitised age. From book giveaways to “read-ins,” there are numerous ways to celebrate World Book Night. Here at Paperblanks we thought we’d look for the connection between reading and creative writing, and have compiled a list of ten books to which some of the most successful authors have turned for inspiration.

1) Lord of the Flies

This classic novel by William Golding is an all-time favourite of American author Stephen King.

2) Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

He may be known for military and espionage novels, but writer and historian Tom Clancy loves this science-fiction classic by Jules Verne.

3) A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Betty Smith’s 1943 novel, with its inspirational story of an impoverished New York family, continues to affect those who read it, including authors Jacquelyn Mitchard (The Deep End of the Ocean) and Jeanette Wells (Half Broke Horses, The Glass Castle).

4) Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity

Canadian author Emma Donaghue’s debut novel, Room, tells the story of a mother and child surviving in an unimaginable situation, so it’s perhaps little surprise that Donaghue is fascinated by Andrew Solomon’s 700-page tale of exceptional children and their families.

5) What a Carve Up!

Jon Ronson (The Men Who Stare at Goats) credits this Jonathan Coe novel with teaching him “how the world is a clash of comedy and horror, tenderness and exploitation, how decisions made on high trickle down to shape us all.”

6) Rock Star

The late American writer David Foster Wallace is known for his postmodernist, ironic style so it may be a little unexpected to note that one of his favourite novels was “glamour girl” Jackie Collins’ Rock Star.

7) Stone’s Fall: A Novel

Malcolm Gladwell has made a name for himself as an engaging and innovative scientific writer and journalist, but that doesn’t mean that he spends all his freetime researching the latest news in social psychology. He has stated that he “cannot remember enjoying a book as much as Iain Pears’ Stone’s Fall.

8) The Great Gatsby

Chuck Palahniuk (Choke, Fight Club) is known for his pushing-the-envelope, cutting-edge writing, so it’s interesting to note that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s piece of classic Americana is one of his favourite novels.

9) The Aeneid

Virgil’s take on the Trojan War is a historic heroic poem, so it shouldn’t be a shock that it is of great inspiration to Greek-American writer Jeffrey Eugenides, author of the modern-day epic Middlesex.

10) Anna Karenina

Leo Tolstoy’s classic tale of romance was also highly realistic, making it one of the favourites of New Journalism innovator Norman Mailer.

Which books can you read and re-read? How have they inspired you in your own writing?


  1. Of the many authors and books which inspire me in my writing a few instantly come to mind: A. S. Byatt, especially “The Virgin in the Garden”, Mark Helprin, “Memoir from Antproof Case”, and “Winter’s Tale”, Umberto Eco, “Foucault’s Pendulum”, Isaac Bashevis,’ short stories, Ray Bradbury, “The Halloween Tree”. In general, I find fiction written by British authors to be far more engrossing and to have a refreshing forthright style.

    • Hi Stacey,

      That’s a great list of inspiring books! Personally, I find that I can read and re-read George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” over and over; it’s the perfect length for an afternoon and never fails to inspire. I read it at least once a year!

      All the best,
      Your friendly Paperblanks® blogger


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