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The other week, the BBC published a list of The 100 Novels that Shaped Our World. It’s as tendentious as such lists inevitably are, though there is also, inevitably, some interest in it.

In response, Nina Allan produced her own list of The 100 Novels that Shaped Her World. This is more personal, and therefore more revealing in its way. And I find myself much more in sympathy with Nina’s list than with the BBC’s. She also suggested that “we all get naked” and produce our own lists. So I have done precisely that. Well, with qualifications.

Nina didn’t keep strictly to the remit of novels, since she included T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” (understandably, of course). I have broken with the remit even more dramatically, since my list includes a fair bit of poetry and non-fiction. To be honest, novels alone would not give an accurate or a coherent picture of what has, since childhood, shaped me as both a reader and a writer. Right from the start of trying to compile this list (and drawing up a list of 100 books is far harder than I thought it would be) I found myself unable to avoid including books that were not novels, because they demanded their place on the list.

I have also broken with her remit of only including one title by each author. I tried to do that, and in some places I was able to sneak extra titles through (Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun, for instance) in ways that don’t really seem to transgress the rule. But there are two authors I have included twice: I discovered T.S. Eliot’s Selected Poems and The Four Quartets at exactly the same time (I picked them up from the same shelf in the same shop on the same school outing) and it would be invidious to pick one over the other. And H.G. Wells also appears twice because the two books are exemplars of two different branches of his career, and both, in very different ways, have been very important to me. Again, I could not pick one over the other.

Other than that, I will follow Nina’s pattern and list the books without comment. Partly because a list of 100 titles is long enough anyway, and any commentary would stretch this post to breaking point. And also, you don’t really need to know which novel I ripped off for the first piece of fiction I ever wrote (when I was 10), or which book shaped my desire to be a critic, or which novel I hated on first acquaintance but came to admire on revisiting. You might guess, of course, though you might well be wrong.

I thought long and hard about how to present this list. Should it be in the order the books occurred to me? Or chronological order of publication? Or in some order that reflects when I first read them? In the end, alphabetical order of author seems the most straightforward. So here goes:

100 Books that have shaped me as a reader and as a writer:

English Music – Peter Ackroyd

Report on Probability A – Brian Aldiss

The Rift – Nina Allan

Look to the Lady – Margery Allingham

Life After Life – Kate Atkinson

The New York Trilogy – Paul Auster

The Bridge – Iain Banks

Cloudsplitter – Russell Banks

The Untouchable – John Banville

The Famous Five – Enid Blyton

A Postillion Struck by Lightning – Dirk Bogarde

The Savage Detectives – Roberto Bolano

Labyrinths – Jorge Luis Borges

The New Confessions – William Boyd

The Ascent of Man – Jacob Bronowski

Stand on Zanzibar – John Brunner

Earthly Powers – Anthony Burgess

True History of the Kelly Gang – Peter Carey

Best Science Fiction of the Year 3 – Edited by Terry Carr

Nights at the Circus – Angela Carter

The Poems of C.P. Cavafy

The Blazing World – Margaret Cavendish

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay – Michael Chabon

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd – Agatha Christie

Strokes – John Clute

The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe – D.G. Compton

Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

Just William – Richmal Crompton

Aegypt Quartet – John Crowley

House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski

Dhalgren – Samuel R. Delany

Underworld – Don DeLillo

A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

Loon Lake – E.L. Doctorow

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle

My Family and Other Animals – Gerald Durrell

The Alexandria Quartet – Lawrence Durrell

Selected Poems – T.S. Eliot

The Four Quartets – T.S. Eliot

Tours of the Black Clock – Steve Erickson

A Time of Gifts – Patrick Leigh Fermor

Time and Again – Jack Finney

The Civil War trilogy – Shelby Foote

Sarah Canary – Karen Joy Fowler

The Magus – John Fowles

The Stone Book Quartet – Alan Garner

The Spire – William Golding

Lanark – Alasdair Gray

The Course of the Heart – M. John Harrison

Catch 22 – Joseph Heller

The Mersey Sound – Adrian Henri, Roger McGough, Brian Patten

Riddley Walker – Russell Hoban

Mythago Wood – Robert Holdstock

The Blazing World – Siri Hustvedt

The Turn of the Screw – Henry James

Phoenix Café – Gwyneth Jones

Report to Greco – Nikos Kazantzakis

900 Grandmothers – R.A. Lafferty

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold – John Le Carré

The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K. Le Guin

Decision at Delphi – Helen MacInnes

Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel

One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The Children of the New Forest – Frederick Marryat

C – Tom McCarthy

Enduring Love – Ian McEwan

Loving Little Egypt – Thomas McMahon

The Metaphysical Club – Louis Menand

Martin Dressler – Steven Millhauser

Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

Utopia – Thomas More

Hav – Jan Morris

The City, Not Long After – Pat Murphy

Pale Fire – Vladimir Nabokov

My Name is Red – Orhan Pamuk

An Instance of the Fingerpost – Iain Pears

James Tiptree Jr – Julie Phillips

Woman on the Edge of Time – Marge Piercy

The Affirmation – Christopher Priest

An Inspector Calls – J.B. Priestley

The King Must Die – Mary Renault

The Chalk Giants – Keith Roberts

Queen of the States – Josephine Saxton

Murder Must Advertise – Dorothy L. Sayers

Dying Inside – Robert Silverberg

Skin and Bones – Thorne Smith

Memento Mori – Muriel Spark

Tristram Shandy – Laurence Sterne

Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead – Tom Stoppard

Sophie’s Choice – William Styron

Waterland – Graham Swift

Warm Worlds and Otherwise – James Tiptree Jr.

The Ruby in her Navel – Barry Unsworth

Slaughterhouse 5 – Kurt Vonnegut Jr

The Time Machine – H.G. Wells

The History of Mr Polly – H.G. Wells

Sinai Tapestry – Edward Whittemore

Philosophical Investigations – Ludwig Wittgenstein

Uncle Fred in the Springtime – P.G. Wodehouse

The Book of the New Sun – Gene Wolfe