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Reading pile ... & great books I've known


Reading and writing

Authors are often asked what they're reading. To be a good writer, you need to be a reader (though not the reverse).

Reading teaches you what is possible, what you should avoid, what you like and what you don't.


I don't read when I'm writing a first draft it's easier not to have more than one story in my head. But when I'm editing, I read, and once each novel is finished done, dusted, edited, page proofed and out of my hands I binge.


My current reading pile contains:
Daemon Voices, Phillip Pullman

The Secret Life of Nature, Peter Wohlleben

With them through hell, Anna Rogers

Top recent reads:

Wilding, Isabella Tree

Eddy, Eddy, Kate de Goldi

Boy Swallows Universe, Trent Dalton

The Silence of the Girls, Pat Barker

Circe, Madeline Miller

The Old Ways, Robert Macfarlane

France, John Julius Norwich

The Seven Trees of the Somme, Lars Mytting

The Running Hare, John Lewis Stemple

Hero of Empire: the making of Winston Churchill, Candice Millard

Being Mortal, Atul Gawande




Everyone has books they love for all time, that they keep going back to, or that stood out as important at the moment they first read them.


Classic titles, Anna Mackenzie

Sometimes it's just a book, sometimes it's an author. Sometimes they're 'comfort' books, sometimes they're seminal.

Everyone's list will be unique, but I like reading a few from other people's lists it helps you understand who a person is. You probably won't be able to figure out why that book, or when this one mattered but you'll still get to connect on a whole new level.


Great books on my list include:

The Outsiders by SE Hinton

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

The Changeover by Margaret Mahy

Even Cowgirls get the Blues by Tom Robbins

Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut


All from my early years, in the order I discovered them. Each has stood the test of time – as have many more...

The Classics
WWI research
Reading for research
The next batch of classics

Research for my novel, Evie's War opened the door to a new reading arena. My top picks for books about WW1 include:

For younger readers:

Zero Hour ANZACs on the Western Front by Leon Davidson

Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo



Dark Journey by Glyn Harper


Vernacular voices of WWI:

Last Post by Max Arthur (I bought this in a flea market in Cambridge, UK; one of the best couple of quid I've ever spent)

The Other ANZACs by Peter Rees (far better than the TV series based on it, which saw the book rejacketed as 'Anzac Girls')


Regeneration by Pat Barker (together with all her WWI titles. No other writer of WWI fiction comes close!)


For more on writing Evie's War, from on-the-ground research and photos to notes on the process and books to come, click here.


Recent additions to the 'Great Books' list (only time will tell, but I'm confident) include:


All the light we cannot see, Anthony Doerr

Everyone Brave is Forgiven, Chris Cleave

Traitor, Stephen Daisley

H is for Hawk, Helen MacDonald

Chappy, Patricia Grace

Jasper Jones, Craig Silvey

Bring up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel

Boneland, Alan Garner

A God in Ruins, Kate Atkinson

We are all Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler

Eyrie, Tim Winton

Notes from an Exhibition, Patrick Gale




Click on a cover to view a book page

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