I graduated with an illustration degree and went on to work in a variety of historical sites, art galleries, museums, art/print companies, always keeping the love of art and books at my core. I've now been working as a Library Customer Service Officer and Registrar of Births and Deaths for a few years. I love being able to talk ‘books’ with people and encourage others of all ages to read (including my three year old son). Being an avid reader, I'm now surrounded by books of all kinds on a daily basis. Was this career move just so I could get my fix without any effort?! It’s a possibility.
My fantastic five are:
by Alex Garland
Growing up I used to love being read books, especially at bed time, by my mother but never really enjoyed the idea of reading them myself. It seemed like too much to take on. I didn’t discover how a person could enjoy being completely immersed in a fictional world until I was about 18 years old when I was given Alex Garland's ‘The Beach’. This beautiful yet brutal story seemed to grab my attention and appeal to my young self as I was transitioning into manhood, on the cusp of discovering a solitary freedom and independence in a world that can hold so much possibility yet so many hidden dangers.
by Daniel Quinn
After a year living abroad and while returning to England I began to read this on the plane. I continued to read it hungrily once back home. I can honestly say that this book permanently changed my view of the world and culture we live in. After finishing it I remember feeling almost desperate to do something about the selfish and devastating way we're blindly stripping this planet in order to feed our rapidly growing population. Quinn’s powerful message is carried across perfectly on the fictional story of a character who becomes the pupil of... a gorilla.
by Ursula Le Guin
Quite a few books have been recommended or given to me by my oldest friend Tom, but this one ended up being by far my favourite. It’s the first story of the Earthsea Quartet and it follows the first part of Ged's life. A boy with a considerable gift in magic who struggles with himself to become the man he wants to be (or is destined to be). Beautifully composed, I believe Le Guin's writing is inspired by various anthropological and theological studies which allowed me to connect to Ged's character and the world he lives in on a more personal and spiritual level.
by Neil Gaiman
This book was a birthday gift from my wife, and since reading it I have become a huge fan of Gaiman's writing. The main character of this book is a child living in a country village whose family is infiltrated by a character of increasing menace. He also befriends a very unusual little girl. It reminded me of my days walking in country lanes and fields and visiting friends in country cottages. Gaiman's ability to blur and skew the lines of reality in such simple ways had me very quickly falling in love with this story.
by H G Wells
In my early 20’s, and never having read any of Wells's work before, I began to read this at a friend’s house and I later bought my own copy. At first I felt unused to the old fashioned language, but after the unearthly events started to unfold I was unable to stop reading. I was stunned at how a man writing this in the 1890’s could even imagine such terrifying and effective alien technologies. He seemed to show how fragile the human race was at a time when the British Empire was seemingly at its proudest. I was and still am truly awed.