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SPOTLIGHT: The 50 Authors Who Shaped Me

Saturday, June 03, 2017


Today is my birthday! To celebrate, I thought I would share with you once again the 50 authors who have been most important to me in my life.

It took me a long while to compile this list  – it was so difficult to choose only fifty from the thousands of authors whose work meant so much to me. 

When I began, I realised that many of the books that I had originally chosen were my favourite childhood books. Of course this makes sense, as the books we read when we are children make such a deep impression upon our psyche. However, I wanted to see how favourite books in each decade of my life worked to change and direct me. 

In the end, I made strict rules. I could only choose fiction; and I had to name the ten authors in each decade of my life whose work had transformed my life in some way. I have also chosen only one book from each author to highlight, though most of these authors have written many, many books which I love. 

I call the novels on this list my “touchstone’ books.  

It is part of my 50/50 Project to re-read all of these books again - and slowly, one by one, I am doing so. Any book which I have re-read has a link to my review on it - and if I have reviewed other books by that author, then the authors' name carries the link. 

Over time, it is my hope to have re-read and reviewed every book on this list.  

0-10 (1966-1976)

1. C.S. Lewis – The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe
2. Enid Blyton – Five Go to Treasure Island
3. Eleanor Farjeon – The Glass Slipper
4. Elizabeth Goudge – The Little White Horse
5. Nicholas Stuart Grey – The Stone Cage
6. Joan Aiken – The Wolves of Willoughby Chase
7. J.R.R Tolkien – The Hobbit
8. Frances Hodgson Barnett –The Secret Garden
9. Susan Cooper – The Dark Is Rising
10. Geoffrey Trease – Cue for Treason

11-20 (1977-1986)

1.     Ursula le Guin – A Wizard Of Earthsea
2. L.M. Montgomery – Emily of New Moon
3. E. J. Oxenham – New Abbey Girls 
4. Anne Frank – Diary of a Young Girl 
5. Dodie SmithI Capture The Castle
6. Georgette Heyer – These Old Shades
7. Mary Stewart – The Moon-Spinners 
8.     Mary Webb – Precious Bane
9. Jane Austen – Persuasion
10. Charlotte Bronte – Jane Eyre

21-30 (1987-1996)

1.     Emily Bronte – Wuthering Heights
2.     Daphne du Maurier - Rebecca 
3.     Harper Lee – To Kill A Mockingbird
4. Jane Yolen – Briar Rose 
5. Marion Zimmer Bradley – The Mists of Avalon
6. Robin McKinley – Beauty
7. Isabel Allende – The House of Spirits
8. Alice Walker – The Color Purple
9. E.M. Forster – A Room With A View
10. Tad Williams – The Dragonbone Chair

31-40 (1997-2006)

1. Jeannette Winterson – The Passion 
2. Barbara Kingsolver – The Poisonwood Bible 
3. Susan VreelandGirl in Hyacinth Blue
4. Juliet Marillier – Daughter of the Forest
5. Kim Wilkins – Angel of Ruin
6. Tracy ChevalierFalling Angels
7. Joanne Harris – Five Quarters Of The Orange
8.     Sarah Dunant – The Birth of Venus
9. Geraldine Brooks – The Year of Wonders
10. Carlos Ruiz Zafon – The Shadow of the Wind

41-50 (2007-2016)

1. Marcus Zusak – The Book Thief
2. Phillipa Gregory – The Queen's Fool
3. C. J. Sansom – Dissolution

4. Mary Ann Schaffer – The Guernsey Literary & Potato
              Peel Pie Society
5. Kate MortonThe Forgotten Garden 
6. Ken Follett – The Pillars of the Earth
7. Karen Maitland - Company of Liars
8. Eowyn Ivey – The Snow Child 
9. Sarah WatersAffinity
10. A.S. Byatt – Possession 

Are any of the books on this list touchstone books for you too?

What books should I read to to shape the next decade of my life?


Elise McCune commented on 03-Jun-2016 09:44 AM
This is a great list!

I’m looking forward to your next book.

Happy Birthday, Kate x
Jacque Duffy commented on 03-Jun-2016 09:44 AM
Wow Kate, impressive list. Thank you for sharing it with us and for going to the trouble of compiling it [was it done when you should have been writing?]
I hope you have a wonderful birthday.
Michelle commented on 03-Jun-2016 09:47 AM
This is such a good list - I'm saving it for next time I'm in a bookshop and have no idea what to get. Have a lovely birthday!
sue knight commented on 03-Jun-2016 11:03 AM
Excellent list. Will post if that's ok for my reader friends. I couldn't tie myself down to 10 per decade, so well done ! May the day be kind to you.
Kathryn Gossow commented on 03-Jun-2016 11:48 AM
What a mammoth effort. Many of my favourites too
Jo-anne Clohesy commented on 03-Jun-2016 12:02 PM
What a great list. As I was scrolling through them I was thinking Oh I read that one and that one. I must read that one.
I don't think I would be able to compile a list that that but if I did The Witches of Eileanan series would definitely be on it. Plus Traci Harding's The Ancient Furture trilogy.
Juliet Marillier commented on 03-Jun-2016 02:15 PM
A lot of mine would be the same as yours, Kate!
Coralie Ros commented on 03-Jun-2016 03:07 PM
So many of my favourite authors and titles here, Kate.
Debra Tidball commented on 03-Jun-2016 10:07 PM
I'd share a few with you on my list, Kate! But I don't see any Anne Patchett - Bel Canto is one of my touchstones. Happy birthday!
Kate Forsyth commented on 05-Jun-2016 11:58 AM
Thank you all so much for your comments & suggestions. So many wonderful books I would have liked to have included - but couldn't! I'm thinking of doing a list of 50 favourites just for my childhood as I had to leave so many amazing books off the list. I have never read Bel canto, Debra - thank you for the suggestion! I shall try and read it soon.
Annabel Smith commented on 14-Jun-2016 10:58 PM
Lots of my own touchstones on your list, kate, especially from your first decade. For the next decade, I second Bel Canto - a book I have re-read 6 or 7 times, an absolute delight from start to finish. Great list!
Robyn Cadwallader commented on 16-Jun-2016 04:01 PM
Fascinating list, Kate. I share some of these, along with some writers and poets (ee cummings, Hopkins, Blake, Middle English stories and poems) that influenced my sense of what language could do. And I'd have to add children's books that I read to my kids for the sense of play. Thanks for the prompt to think it all over.
Alicia commented on 03-Jun-2017 10:40 PM
Dear Kate
Wising you the very best of birthdays! and for sharing your list of authors. xo
Anonymous commented on 08-Jun-2017 05:12 PM
Happy Birthday.
Don't forget Terry Pratchett for humour! Love these books and there are a few I haven't read so will see about getting them.
Geraldine Brooks commented on 23-Jun-2017 01:31 PM
I am so proud to be on this list.

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