This is little more than an exercise in list making. The rules were simple: fiction, no more than one book per author, and in the case of short stories it had to be a specific collection that had marked me in some way, or imprinted tself on my consciousness.

In a couple of instances I stretched the definition to include novellas and manga. (In the case of Junji Ito, please take it as written that the manga selected here has been selected to represent all his work.)

I tried to find the exact cover artwork with which I associated the various books, which brought home to me the sad reality that one barely glances at the cover artwork while reading a novel on an ereader, much less comes to associate it with a specific cover image.

I reserve the right to tinker with this list in years to come.

Joe Abercrombie – The Heroes

Robert Aickman – Dark Entries

Kingsley Amis – The Green Man

Martin Amis – Dead Babies

Michael Arlen – The Green Hat

J.G. Ballard – Crash

Honoré de Balzac – A Harlot High and Low

Lynne Reid Banks – The L-Shaped Room

John Franklin Bardin – Devil Take the Blue-tail Fly

Marc Behm – The Ice Maiden

John Bunyan – The Pilgrim’s Progress

Ramsey Campbell – Incarnate

Jonathan Carroll – From the Teeth of Angels

Lewis Carroll – Through the Looking Glass

Michael Chabon – The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

Robert W. Chambers – The King in Yellow

Raymond Chandler – Farewell My Lovely

G.K. Chesterton – The Man Who Was Thursday

Agatha Christie – And Then There Were None

Colette – La vagabonde

John Collier – Fancies and Goodnights

Wilkie Collins – Armadale

Joseph Conrad – Chance

Philip K. Dick – Ubik

Charles Dickens – Bleak House

Alexandre Dumas – The Three Musketeers

Edward Eager – Knight’s Castle

Guy Endore – The Werewolf of Paris

J.G. Farrell – The Singapore Grip

Scott Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby

Ian Fleming – The Spy Who Loved Me

Ford Madox Ford – The Good Soldier

Christopher Fowler – Sharper Knives

Stephen Gallagher – Valley of Lights

Alan Garner – Elidor

André Gide – The Counterfeiters

Nikolai Gogol – Dead Souls

William Golding – Lord of the Flies

Joseph Heller – Catch-22

Carl Hiaasen – Native Tongue


Patricia Highsmith – The Talented Mr. Ripley

Victor Hugo – The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

J-K Huysmans – Against Nature

Junji Ito – The Enigma of Amigara Fault (Gyo 2)

Henry James – The Turn of the Screw

M.R. James – Ghost Stories of an Antiquary

Norton Juster – The Phantom Tollbooth

Stephen King – Salem’s Lot

Alfred Kubin – The Other Side

Pierre Choderlos de Laclos – Les liaisons dangereuses

Fritz Leiber – Conjure Wife

Gaston Leroux – La poupée sanglante

Ira Levin – A Kiss Before Dying

C.S. Lewis – The Magician’s Nephew

Audrey Erskine Lindop – I Start Counting

John Ajvide Lindqvist – Let the Right One In

George MacDonald – The Princess and the Goblin

Jean-Patrick Manchette – Le petit bleu de la côte ouest

Rosemary Manning – The Dragon’s Quest

J.P. Martin – Uncle and His Detective

Herman Melville – Moby-Dick

Gustav Meyrink – The Angel of the West Window

Octave Mirbeau – Le jardin des supplices

Shikibu Murasaki – The Tale of Genji

Vladimir Nabokov – Lolita

E. Nesbit – The Magic City

Kim Newman – Anno Dracula

Beverly Nichols – The Tree That Sat Down

Peter O’Donnell – Modesty Blaise

Oliver Onions – The Beckoning Fair One

Thomas Perry – Pursuit

Edgar Allan Poe – Tales of Mystery and Imagination

Jan Potocki – The Manuscript Found in Saragossa

Marcel Proust – In Search of Lost Time

Raymond Queneau – Les fleurs bleues

Raymond Radiguet – Le bal du Comte Orgel

Anne Rice – Interview with the Vampire

H.F. Saint – Memoirs of an Invisible Man

Saki – Best of Saki

Walter Scott – Ivanhoe

Barbara Sleigh The Kingdom of Carbonel

Muriel Spark – Memento Mori

Stendhal – The Charterhouse of Parma

Robert Louis Stevenson – Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Bram Stoker – Dracula

Koushun Takami – Battle Royale

Junichiro Tanizaki – The Makioka Sisters

Jim Thompson – The Killer Inside Me

John Kennedy Toole – A Confederency of Dunces

Trevanian – Shibumi

Kazuo Umezu – The Drifting Classroom

Boris Vian – Froth on the Daydream

Stephen Volk – Leytonstone

Edith Wharton – The House of Mirth

T.H. White – The Once and Future King

Oscar Wilde – The Picture of Dorian Gray

Charles Willeford – Miami Blues

Cornell Woolrich – Night Has a Thousand Eyes

John Wyndham – The Chrysalids

Emile Zola – The Debacle



17 thoughts on “100 NOVELS THAT SHAPED MY WORLD

  1. Interesting list Anne.
    I have the Marc behm anthology pictured but had only ever read ” The eye of the beholder ” which is brilliant.
    On your recommendation I am now reading “The ice maiden ” which I am really enjoying- thanks.

  2. Memoirs of an Invisible Man is a brilliant book, I hope the ho-hum film hasn’t put people off giving it a try. The only one Saint ever wrote, I think. Imagine writing something that good and saying, yeah, that’ll do, no reason to write any more!

    Read a lot of Carl Hiaasen, but never Native Tongue. I’ll have to give it a try now.

    It is a shame that book covers, like good film posters, seem to be a dying art. One of the nice things about Grady Hendrix’s Paperbacks from Hell reprints is he uses the original art.

    • Native Tongue is definitely my favourite Hiaasen. I enjoyed his books very much, but there was a point where they started to get a bit samey. He nailed the formula, but after a while it needed shaking up a bit, I think.

      I felt so awful for him when his brother was killed by a deranged Trump fan (is there any other kind?) who was inspired by POTUS’s demonisation of the press to shoot up a newsroom.

      • Yeah, I know what you mean about Hiaasen’s formula, that’s why I tailed off too. But those early ones are terrific, Striptease was so much better than the film even though the film is pretty faithful – they just could not get the tone right.

        I did not know that about Hiaasen’s brother, how dreadful. Just when you think the world can’t jump into a handbasket to Hell one more time, it contrives to disappoint you. Or horrify you, which is worse.

        Anyway, I got a 2nd hand copy of Native Tongue, will give it a go next. Thanks for the recommendation!

        • Enjoy Native Tongue! I like the liposuction book too, Skin Tight, I think. Which is the one with the goon who ends up with a pitbull’s severed head attached to his arm, and as it slowly goes septic he imagines it’s speaking to him? Or am I getting Hiaasen confused with another crime writer?

          • Just looked it up, it’s Double Whammy. All those early ones are gold, but I might look up some of the latterday ones I’ve missed – I could do with some feelgood comfort reading.

  3. It’s amazing that Huysmans’ Against Nature is here, along with Ballard’s Crash. Against Nature is one of my favourite and life-defining novels, while Cronenberg’s Crash is one of my favourite films. Haven’t read the book yet, can’t wait to read it!

    • I always found Against Nature very funny, though I’m not sure how much of that was intentional. But the episode where he gets all set to go to London but then cries off because he can’t see the real thing living up to his expectations of it… And the poor bejewelled tortoise! Apparently that was taken from a real life incident in the life of Robert de Montesquiou, a model for both des Esseintes and Proust’s Baron de Charlus – when I found out about this, it’s what started me reading Proust! (also a lot funnier than he’s usually given credit for being) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_de_Montesquiou

        • … with des Esseintes. I found his relationship to Catholicism rather similar to mine, and admired his scholarly attitude toward it. Huysmans is the first author, as far as I know, who was concerned with the concept of lifestyle, even in his Catholic novel En Route. This oddity des Esseintes exhibits can be seen as a slightly comic revolt against the increasingly liberal nature of his times (commerce, profit, cheap earthly pleasures etc.). By the very fact that he exists like that, he is an individual which cannot be surmised under the prevailing order of things. He is the remnant of an aristocracy which tries to preserve the bygone times, and of course that he is comic because of that! It is an endeavor bound to fail and end up in incurable neurosis due to loneliness. As Lynch once said: If I ever alone too much time, I would become funny, but not in a humorous way. This happens to des Esseintes, he becomes an oddball simply because he refuses to conform. And that is heroic to an extent, but in his attempt he becomes some kind of an idiotic and comic hero.

            • I found it fun and funny at the same time. This passage is in line with your statement that he is funny, even ludicrous.
              “Having long held a fascination for Holland, Des Esseintes once visited the land of Rembrandt. There, he expected to find “patriarchal simplicity and riotous joviality,” and, to be frank, he would have settled for “wild revelry or domestic drunkenness,” but the trip proved a bitter disappointment. Begrudgingly, he “had to admit that the paintings of the Dutch School exhibited in the Louvre had led him astray.” Someone inspired with Against Nature in this way as the Australian in the essay (although I think it as an elaborate joke) is the same as des Esseintes only in one point. Disillusionment. When I was living in self-isolation for a half a year, only a bit inspired by Against Nature, I opted out for decorating my apartment in line with my own personality. Simple and spartan. Although I did buy a lot of books (about 40-50), but was content with IKEA bookshelf, dark-brown and simple. Even if I had an unilimited amount of money, it would be the same, I would spend it all on books, and maybe one luxurious rug (this I had planned) but the re-decorating the kitchen and doubts about it were easily solved by an earthquake which destroyed everything. But yes, I always dressed nicely, to the point that some questioned my sexuality (Croatian petty-bourgeoise stereotypes), but not extravagantly. Although my teeth were regularly ruined by too much smoking, so at least that falls in line with a regular dandy lifestyle. And the renunciation of pleasures in favor of imagination. So yes, I agreed with the book 100 percent, but did not copy it, adapted it to myself.

  4. What an amazing, electic range of books! “Dr Jeckyl and Mr Hyde” with the beautifully appropriate cover by John A Grimshaw – the most atmospheric of Victorian nocturne painters! I got into “Against Nature” via “The Picture of Dorian Grey” and then got further insights from Phillipe Julian. “Monento Mori” is pretty good, but personally I’d go for “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” (the ultimate Edinburgh novel) and “The Girls of Slender Means” (love in the blitz). Thanks so much for including one of the Fontana anthologies of ghost stories. One of my few happy memories of schooldays involves reading those gloriously spooky collections. The first volume contained “Seaton’s Aunt” by Walter de la Mare, a subtle little classsic of the supernatural.

    • I read The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie after seeing the film – the first X-Film I went to, I think (though there’s not a lot in it that now seems X-worthy. Maybe the Pamela Franklin schoolgirl nudity…) I must read some more Spark.

  5. The movie got very good reviews in the UK. I’m not sure why; it was an absolute travesty of the novel. The subtlery of the storyline is ignored. Pamela Franklin was wonderful in it though, but her character raised some eyebrows in America, probably because no-one realised that Sandy Stranger would have been eighteen years old when she embarked on her liason with Mr Lloyd. Mrs Spark didn’t criticise the film, as she appreciated the royalties it was bringing in for her. She did however, say that the visualistion of 1930s Edinburgh was too colourful. She remembered it as very drab and grey!
    In the late 1970s, Scottish Television produced a comedy-drama series based on characters from the novel, with Geraldine McKuen as the feisty schoolmarm. It was excellent, but the darker elements were understandably sideswerved,
    As an enthusiast for the dark and Gothic, I’m sure you’d enjoy Mrs Spark’s 1960 novel, “The Ballad of Peckham Rye” – about demonic intervention in a supposedly “respectable” working class neighbourhood!

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