Towards the end of last month I posted my review of Tarzan: The Jungle Warrior by Andy Briggs. When I as asked by the nice people at Faber if I would be interested in hosting Andy for a stop-off on his blog tour, naturally I jumped at the chance. I asked if he would be interested in adding to my slowly growing feature called My Life That Books Built, and he duly sent through this great post about some of the books he loved when he was younger.
BOOKS THAT ROCKED MY WORLD
We all want to know what movies our favourite actors watch, what songs pop stars listen to, so it’s no surprise that one of the most frequently asked questions an author gets is “What is your favourite book?” This is often followed by “What do you think the best book you have written is?” (it is always the last one) - and of course “What car do you drive?” (a Land Rover) and “How much do you earn?” (not enough!). So, let me focus on the first question.
When I was younger, and even now, I adored comic books. Telling a story in 20-something pages, with only several panels per page is a real art form, and amateur writers could do far worse than study how well crafted those stories can be. For me, Spiderman, Daredevil and the X-men were my top three comics for consumption. The stories rattled along with a lightning pace, while the characterisation was subtle and allowed to develop over the course of years.
Comics gave way to books, and I discovered Gordon Boshell’s Captain Cobwebb series of eleven children’s books, which are sadly now out of print. They follow the fantastic exploits of two brothers, David and Toby, who undertake missions for their Uncle Septimus who mysteriously disappeared while sitting in a fairy ring. These stories were like dynamite for my imagination, unlike anything I had encountered before.
Of course, I found J.R.R. Tolkien, and still regard The Hobbit as one of the finest fantasy books every written. And speaking of fantasy, you can’t go wrong with Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, especially the earlier books (particularly Mort) which remain bonkers and addictive.
Sometimes I need a book to give me a shot in the arm and drag me kicking and screaming through a riotous adventure. For this, I would prescribe anything by Clive Cussler, particularly his Dirk Pitt stories. Cussler manages to effortlessly take a piece of history and weave it into a modern day adventure that will grip you by the throat until you turn the last page. They are a master class for frenetic adventure storytelling.
Of course, I can’t leave out Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes - along with Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World - which formed my childhood impression of reading. Both books take place in the dark jungles and venture into the unknown. Reading such books made me want to become a writer and they left my mind open enough to want to explore the world and realize that, even with our global communications and advanced technology, there are still places in the world left undiscovered... waiting for their stories to be told.
TARZAN: THE JUNGLE WARRIOR is out now, published by Faber.