What Writers Read: 35 Writers On Their Favourite Book edited by Pandora Sykes, published by Bloomsbury

IN this snappy collection of contributions, Pandora Sykes has called upon exciting and beloved writers to share their memories of a favourite book and the impact it has on their life and career.

While I devoured these recollections in one afternoon, I will certainly be coming back to it when looking for a new recommendation and it can certainly be savoured. It is one of those wonderful and often nonfiction types of books which can be opened to any page, left for weeks or months, and picked up again with the same interest.

The introduction by Sykes refers to the noble purpose behind the creation of this book as a fantastic resource to diversify your reading.

Proceeds and royalties from What Writers Read will go to the National Literacy Trust, an independent charity which works to give children and young people in disadvantaged communities better access to vital literacy skills.

As a reviewer of young adult and children’s literature and a passionate reader, this is a cause close to my heart, and I can’t imagine a better collection to go toward supporting it.

It’s clear to see that many of the novels referenced as favourites of these writers, including a piece by Tessa Hadley on a favourite of mine, Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce – were either children’s novels or discovered in childhood.

I believe this is a common theme that speaks to the way in which art affects us at a young age before we fully know how to critique or comprehend the techniques and are able to simply see a good story and love it.

It seems obvious that the great writers compiled here, from Nick Hornby to Jojo Moyes, are also great readers, able to find and pick out the aspects of books which make them linger in the heart and mind.

Aside from pure skill, these short but always satisfying essays are, of course, individual, in the way that explaining one’s interpretation of art, especially a favourite, always is.

All – despite their charmingly distinct styles of writing – leave the impression of being a conversation, whether the tone is a friend laughing on FaceTime or whispering earnestly into the night, they each appear deeply and courageously personal.

It’s funny now as I present to myself a similar challenge these writers were given. As to figuring out which of their contributions was my favourite, I struggle to do so.

I am reminded of the final essay by Fatima Bhutto, a witty rebellion from the brief that somehow brought it perfectly together, who presented the idea that readers are affected in little ways by all the great books they read and so often one favourite is near impossible.

It is with every one of my many favourite books in mind, that I recommend this, as you will and should, come out wanting to read the work of every writer featured and in turn, every book mentioned.