This is a little bit of a mixed topic—I’m talking about some books that led me to explore different genres, and some that I’m still searching for something like. So without further ado…
Stasiland by Anna Funder
This goes down as one of the only books I studied in school that was actually enjoyable. We studied this in Year 12, which is the final year of schooling here in Victoria, and I was blown away by it. Before this, I’d never really read any non-fiction that I’d liked—I was 17 and it was boring! Stasiland made me fall in love with non-fiction, but it also opened up a new interest in learning more about East Germany and that period of European history in general, which we’d never learnt about before.
The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
I can’t tell you what it is about The Great Believers that made it such a powerful book for me, because in theory, the elements of this book are repeated in millions of other books. It’s a story about the AIDS epidemic in 1980s Chicago, the story of community, of found families, of grief and love and all that good stuff. But it’s been over two years since I read this and I haven’t found anything that has come close to giving me those same feelings. There’s a reason this is one of my top three books of all-time.
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Another one of those top three. Just like The Great Believers, in theory, this is not a unique story. It’s not even a unique story to Christie. I’d say most mystery writers have done a closed circle mystery at some point, right? But this was my first ever foray into Agatha Christie, and so it’s the one that turned me into the fan of hers that I am today.
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
It’s been quite a few years since I read Bone Gap, and again I don’t really know what about it makes me want more but it does. This is a very unique and strange story, but it just really worked for me. There’s something about this that is weirdly cosy, but also makes me want to just like go to a corn maze in Illinois so there’s that.
Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore
I just had to include a historical romance on here, obviously! And the one that started it all for me was Bringing Down the Duke. Before this, I’d never been interested in romance, let alone historicals. I believed all the stereotypes about romance being badly written and trashy and whatnot, and hey, what do you know? Some of it is, but a lot of it isn’t. Since this, I’ve found an extreme love for historical romance and I owe it all to this.
Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene
Before Poirot and Miss Marple, Nancy Drew was the only detective in my heart. I think it was my love of Nancy Drew that led me to start watching crime shows like Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, The Closer, Castle and more, and eventually to Agatha Christie and now solely onto some new mystery authors too. So, thanks Nancy!
Batgirl by Gail Simone
This is a bit of a strange one, but it had a pretty huge impact on me—one I didn’t even really realise until I just starting writing this bit. This version of Batgirl was quite possibly the first piece of media as a teenager or young adult that I saw myself in as a disabled woman. It got me thinking more about that whole idea, which led me to write my thesis about disability representation in young adult fiction.
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
It’s been a long, long time since I read this book but it has a solid place in my heart. This was the book that introduced me to the Stella Prize—which I now run a book club about, so it really affected me in that way. There’s just something so enchanting about this book. The only other thing that is just as good as this is Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood, which has a similar story (in that they are both about real-life female murderers) but written in a way that only Atwood could, just like this is only a story Kent could tell.
The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton
I can’t remember any books from a really, really young age that capture my attention like these books. My grandparents bought me these when I was four, and my mum used to read them to me until I learnt to myself. I used to spend hours lying on the floor on weekends reading these stories and then immediately starting them again as soon as I was done. I think these are quite possibly the reason why I enjoy middle-grade fantasy as much as I do these days.
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
I couldn’t talk about books that influenced me to read other things without talking about Twilight. I found this series at 13 and after having not really read anything for a few years, it sparked my love for reading again and introduced me into the world of YA. From there, I fell in love with books like Vampire Academy, The Hunger Games and so on.
So those are the books that inspired me to read other things, or ones that I’m still searching for. If you have any recommendations please leave them below!