5 Books that Changed My Life

1. The First Man of Rome (and sequels) by Colleen McCullough
A gift from my Aunt and Uncle, a massive hardback that had some very adult scenes considering I was probably in my early teens. Inspired a lifelong obsession with Rome, the women in Roman history, and Julius Caesar. Certainly led to me choosing Ancient Civilisations at college, which led to my eventual PhD in Classics. All your fault, McCullough!

2. Shapechangers, by Jennifer Roberson
The first fantasy series I read because I was actively looking for fantasy fiction, rather than because I needed to read David Eddings so I could join in the conversation with my friends at school. I still remember being so inspired by this series that, after everyone had gone home after my fourteenth birthday party, I lay down on a pile of mattresses and started writing my own first real novel.

3. The Madigal, by Beverley McDonald
A paperback found in the book section of Myer, the first time I realised that Australians could write fantasy and get it published by an Australian publisher (I think Pan Macmillan)? Heady, brain-altering revelations, in a pre-Voyager world. I started thinking that my secret dream might be closer than I thought.

4. The Colour of Magic, by Terry Pratchett
Just as I was getting completely overwhelmed by a glut of fantasy reading, and starting to suspect that my favourite genre wasn’t quite as shiny as I thought, here came Mr Pratchett to blow my mind with the idea that you could write fantasy that was funny and subversive and commented on the genre itself. The next fantasy novel I would start writing was one which turned the cliches of my earlier manuscripts on their head, and also the one that would get me published for the first time…

5. Up the Duff, by Kaz Cooke
The older I get, the less likely I am to find books that have an enormous, life-changing effect on me, but this was the one that made me feel sane about being pregnant, and at the time that felt like a pretty major achievement.

Has one book (or many) ever changed your life significantly?

6 replies on “5 Books that Changed My Life”

  1. Tehani says:

    Well, if it wasn’t for Simon Brown’s “Inheritance”, I might never have discovered SF fandom in Australia. I certainly wouldn’t have discovered the Eidolist when I did, and thus become a founding member of ASIM! So I have to say, that one, very literally, changed my life 🙂

  2. Wow, great question.

    One book for me has to be Warrior Woman, by Johanna Lindsey. It was the first book I read that combined romance and science fiction and I was stunned. I would never have thought of doing that on my own!

  3. Kirstie says:

    Up The Duff was my first and favourite pregnancy book. I’d grown up on Kaz Cooke’s puberty book so bought her pregnancy book and also own her follow-up: Kid Wrangling. I love her sense of humour and the fact she makes all the options available to you, doesn’t just say ‘well I chose controlled crying, so you have to as well’.
    Terry Pratchett is brilliant, though I have to say his covers turned teen me off his books, it wasn’t until I saw the animated series of Soul Music and then Wyrd Sisters that I broke free of that ‘pretty covers only’ mould. So glad I did.
    As for who I like that wasn’t on your list, I am forever and always in love with Tamora Pierce’s works. Something about strong women in fantasy that aren’t ridiculously gorgeous just makes me keep coming back. Also Isobelle Carmody. When I found out she started writing when she was my age (or my age back then more accurately) I realised I didn’t have to wait to grow up before trying to become an author.

  4. […] Tansy Rayner Roberts lists 5 Books that Changed My Life. […]

  5. Sam X says:

    For me it was The Charterhouse of Parma, Stendhal. When I read that book–the way he effortlessly jumped through time and then slowed down, focused in scenes and moved lots of pieces in a single paragraph–I saw a method I wanted to adopt. Up until then, I had read books I liked but nothing that made me say, “I can do that and I want to do that.”

  6. Amanda says:

    I forever owe a debt of gratitude to my 5th Form English teacher for introducing me to Anne McCaffrey’s “Dragonflight”. While I’d read SFF before I turned 14, this was the book that really made me sit up and go WOW. But it did take about 4 years after to start thinking “I can do that too”, then another 15 years before I did!

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