James Phelan's World Book Day Choice

James Phelan's World Book Day Choice

Posted by in Book News

And to round off the week, James Phelan, author of the thrilling Alone series, picks his top World Book Day books:

The Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling

My dad read this to me.  This book, closely followed by The Hobbit, Treasure Island, and The Little Prince, was the standout that started my love for reading. Kipling’s best (that’s Kim, up there with Huck Finn and Moby Dick), taught me that the magic is in the words, not in the man.  To me there will forever be something about Kipling’s writing that reveals an epiphany of parental love. I re-read it as a teen and loved it even more.

 Siddhartha, Hermann Hesse

This changed my life as a young man.  A story about identity, about finding one’s own meaning to life, about doing what you feel you have to do in order to find yourself.  Reading it the first time helped me find the courage to become a young novelist.  I reread it every year; with The Catcher in the Rye and The Great Gatsby, this is an enduring favourite.  I learned that you can go into the unknown and take a chance, that you can work hard to chase your dreams, that there's no guarantees.  But you know what?  The joy of it is chasing that dream and never giving up, all in the hope that enlightenment will come.

 Enders Game, Orson Scott Card

I read this feverishly.  It taught me human lessons, beyond any non-fiction I’ve read, about war and violence.  As a writer it taught me that you shouldn’t compromise when creating a novel with young characters… and the power of a good ending.  Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy's best novel, his most brutal, had a similar affect on me for my thrillers.  Cormac gets that books are made of books.  Every line is honest, a slap in the face, a mirror for us all.  Every teenage boy should read Enders Game.

 The Catcher in the Rye,  J. D. Salinger 

Holden Caulfield at 16 is as wise a teenage character I've read – he pretty much did it all – yet he embodied the boy-ish naivety needed to make him appealing as a narrator. The setting and voice in the novel was an influence on my for all of my 20's. Like Yann Martel's "Pi" Patel (Life of Pi), Holden has left an indelible mark in my mind; it felt as though he was, for a period, a friend of mine… And believe me, I'd much rather have him as a friend than Bukowski’s Henry Chinaski (Ham on Rye).

The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank

I read this in school and several times since.  It showed me that no matter how alone you feel, you are never really alone.  The ideas I interpreted as ‘speaking to friends in a time of crisis’, and ‘who’s to say that when people die every bit of them has to go’, sparked my storytelling bug.  ALONE: Chasers, my sixth novel, was a response to Diary and others mentioned here: a story of survival and a broader discussion about today’s lack of understanding and empathy.  I owe it all to that beautiful girl, Anne Frank

Those are some great recommends for the weekend!

If you'd like to get involved with helping to choose books for the 2012 World Book Night giveaway of ONE MILLION (!) books, just head to www.worldbooknight.org.

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