As soon as you tell someone that you write, or even simply that you enjoy reading, you will more than likely be asked what your favourite book is. This has always felt like an impossible question to me as how could you possibly pick just one book when there is such a huge range of vastly different yet equally wonderful stories on offer?
In light of this, I have always preferred – and found it far easier – to tell people who the authors I most admire are, as though my favourite books can change from day to day depending on my mood and what happens to be capturing my imagination in that particular moment, the skills of the following people never cease to amaze me and while this is far from a comprehensive list of authors whose work I enjoy, these individuals certainly had a profound impression and influence on my own love of writing and literature.
- Thomas Hardy
I admire Hardy’s work first and foremost because he wrote genuinely interesting and compelling stories with characters I felt completely invested in but when you consider the time in which he was writing, it only becomes even more impressive. The boldness with which he tackled what were in his day hugely controversial social issues and the way in which he was not at all afraid to criticise the status quo are to be celebrated – particularly in his representation of the treatment of women and the class divide. His use of colour to portray deeper meaning, perhaps most notable in the brilliant Tess of the D’Urbervilles, is also a technique I find especially effective and inspiring. Aside from the aforementioned story of Tess, I also love The Return of the Native and Jude the Obscure.
- Muriel Spark
Being from Scotland, it feels only natural to include at least one home-grown author on this list and Muriel Spark is certainly a fine example. The way she can interweave touches of comedy with heart breaking drama is second to none and the vivid pictures she paints of the very much realistic settings throughout her stories are beautiful. My favourite of her work would definitely include The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and The Driver’s Seat; both wonderful novellas.
- J.K Rowling
Though some literary enthusiasts may initially be somewhat dismissive of authors famed for work primarily aimed at children or teenagers, I have never known a writer to create a series of stories capable of entirely transcending ages anywhere near the extent to which Rowling achieved it with Harry Potter. The attention to detail in her writing and the clear passion for the world she had envisioned combined with her representation of relatable and relevant real world issues captured the imaginations of generations and will undoubtedly continue to do so well into the future. Her more recent endeavours, The Casual Vacancy and The Cuckoo’s Calling (written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith), show that her strength lies not only in the genre of fantasy; with the former being a hard-hitting, gritty story of political and social unrest in modern Britain and the latter, a compelling crime novel. Both prove that her ability to establish charismatic, enjoyable characters and well-paced, gripping stories are certainly not restricted to the confines of children’s fantasy.