The latest bookish figure I’ve decided to highlight is H.G. Wells, an author who has quietly snuck up on me to become one of my favourite writers without me even realising it. That might sound an odd thing to say, so let me try and explain.
I haven’t yet read what could be described as a ‘wow’ book by Wells; one that totally blew me away, became an instant five-star favourite, and compelled me to rush out and devour his full bibliography as fast as possible. I have, however, read four novels by him (the ones pictured above), all of which I thoroughly enjoyed, was highly impressed by, and gave a solid four-star rating. In addition to that, I’ve read five of his short stories (courtesy of a couple of the Penguin Little Black Classics), which I also really liked (one in particular which I thought was fantastic). So, whilst there may not necessarily have been an obvious standout read, he has been easily one of the most consistently enjoyable and thought-provoking authors I’ve read, with the sum total of those various great reads putting him right up there amongst my favourite authors overall.
One of the main reasons I thought Wells was worth highlighting is how great an author he would be for anyone looking to get into classics, but who perhaps feels a little daunted, worrying they’ll find them too dense, slow or archaic. The predominant reaction I had whilst reading all of Wells’ work thus far has been, ‘I can’t believe this was written in the 1800s…’. His prose is so readable, his plots and themes scarily prescient in today’s society (often exploring human nature and the danger of pushing modern science too far), and his novels are often comparatively brief amongst the work of his contemporaries. They are the kind of books that have deeper moral and thematic ideas that can be picked at and explored if you wish, but also just feature intriguing and at times compulsively exciting stories, with his fantastic concepts incredibly well realised.
When discussing Wells, I think it’s also worth pointing out that he didn’t just write science-fiction, and that he was in fact far more varied in style than many perhaps realise or give him credit for. Though sci-fi was clearly his greatest literary calling, he did indeed dabble in many other genres, including war, romance, politics, fantasy, social commentary, and literary fiction. I, for one, am certainly excited to continue to explore his work.
Have you read any H.G. Wells? What is your favourite of his works?