We’re doing something a little different this week for our #FridayReads. We’re joining in the celebrations for #ThisBook run by the Bailey’s Women’s Fiction Prize. The campaign aims to find the novels written by women which have most impacted the nation, and is inviting people to cast their vote via Twitter. You can find out more by visit the #ThisBook website here.
So, today Team Gollancz will be sharing the books that most both on impacted us here on the blog our Twitter (@gollancz). Let us know your choices for #ThisBook by Tweeting us using the #ThisBook.
Sophie: My Friday Reads is the sensational novel We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. The gothic suspense story follows eighteen year old Merricat Blackwood and her reclusive existence with her sister Constance and Uncle Julian in the Blackwood manor. For me, the brilliance of Shirley Jackson’s last novel lies in the disturbing complexity of the unreliable Merricat; she’s at once a charming feral child, a sexually repressed adolescent, a self-invented witch, a dedicated sister, a terrifying sadist and much, much more.
Marcus: My choice for today’s Women Writers discussion is Ursula (K.) Le Guin. I know, a bit obvious for an SF editor, but honestly, while there are plenty of other writers I could choose (honestly, just in terms of genre writers I read as a teenager who inspired me, I could include Anne McCaffrey, Margaret Atwood, Diana Wynne Jones, Pat Cadigan, Doris Lessing, Angela Carter…), Le Guin remains perhaps the most important to me. Not for her amazing SF novels – great though they are – but, for me, because A WIZARD OF EARTHSEA was the most amazing, mind-blowing pieces of work I read in my formative years. I revisted it – and its sequels – a few years ago, and it had lost none of its power or subtlety. Simply an outstanding book, from one of the greatest writers in the world.
Jen: This book literally changed my life. A childhood favourite, my mom read this book to me so many times I can’t count the number of editions I’ve owned. I’ve dreamed of visiting Misselthwaite Manor since I was eight. Filled with love, humor, healing and just a touch of the Gothic, this was a story that never left me. When I was in college I applied for a grant to study Children’s Literature with a focus on The Secret Garden. I got the grant, traveled the UK, and met my future husband on the same day I bought tickets to see a stage version of The Secret Garden.
Simon: Angela Carter- witty and artful purveyor of the dark truths at the heart of fairy tales. The Bloody Chamber is bewitching. It cast a long spell over me.
Darren: I have two, both from my childhood: Eleanor Campbell’s The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet was just about the first SF book I ever read – bought from the Scholastic Bookclub via my primary school. Not only my first SF but a children’s book where actual science was used to solve one of the central puzzles. The Nargun and the Stars by Patricia Wrightson – a haunting fantasy for older readers, and one of the first Australian children’s books to draw inspiration from Aboriginal mythology.
Harriet: Nights at the Circus. The circus, a woman who was born with wings (or was she?), and a mind-bending train ride through Siberia. WHAT MORE COULD YOU WANT? This book got me through my MA dissertation (hence the pages falling out) and as it features two of my fave things (magic and feminism – the ultimate reading combo) it’s pretty much the best book of all time.
Charlie: The Secret History by Donna Tartt – OK, I admit I only read this book for the first time as a teenager because a teacher I fancied recommended it. But it is one of the most astonishing books I’ve ever read (and re-read over and over), and even more so for being a debut. A modern-day Greek tragedy which takes great delight in slowly tearing apart the relationships between the characters.
Hannah: Truth be told, my actual #ThisBook choice was an incredibly close call between two Iris Murdoch novels and Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. The Sea, The Sea won out today because it was the only one I had a physical copy of in London; Rebecca having been lost to a book exchange in Indonesia, and Under the Net being in a dusty attic at my parent’s house in Cornwall (there’s probably some irony there re: Daphne). Murdoch has sat close to my heart since I found out she was a philosopher during my undergraduate degree. I read The Sea, The Sea when my parents moved to, well, the sea, and I fell in love with it at this line – this beautiful, terrifying, startlingly 21st century line: ‘Most of what we think we know about our minds is pseudo-knowledge. We are all such shocking poseurs, so good at inflating the importance of what we think we value.’ I think about it every time I’m tempted to Instagram something I don’t love but think will make me look cool.