Event report

Conference 2012 - Books we can’t live without

Report published 21 July 2012

Jan Jones and Roger Sanderson lead the conference extra session on those Books You Can’t Live Without. 

I was amazed at the variety suggested – everything from the Oxford English Dictionary (all 20 volumes in electronic format with first usage noted to stop historical writers using anachronistic terms), to inspiration provided by the Church Mouse series of children’s books by Graham Oakley (back in print!). 

Books nominated fell roughly into two categories: useful reference books and inspiring/comfort reads.

In the first category were suggestions such as Roget’s Thesaurus, The Guinness Book of Names (Leslie Dunkling), the AA Road Atlas (both for how to get your characters from one place to another, and to christen them with believable surnames), and practical writing books like Douglas Wynn’s 65 Ways to Kill your Victim, Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat and Joss Whedon’s Serenity: The Official Visual Companion (an excellent help for story, plot and character development and inspiration). 

Providing comfort when we’re down or inspiration to encourage us to write better were suggestions ranging from Anya Seton’s Katherine, E.M. Hull’s The Sheik (given by one broad-minded mother to her ill 13 year old daughter to raise her temperature!), P.G. Wodehouse’s The Clicking of Cuthbert, the Chalet School series and Hexwood by Diana Wynne-Jones.  While no two suggestions were the same, almost every ‘comfort’ book nominated gained cries of agreement from others in the audience.

We then discussed any books we thought had been a bad influence on us.  There were (I’m delighted to say) far fewer books that fell into this category, although you may wish to steer clear of: M.M. Kaye’s Trade Wind (with a rapist for a hero), Mr Midshipman Whaler (savagery and inventive racism), Tess of the D’Urbervilles (for its feeble heroine), and Lorna Doone (for misleading his audience).

The session was terrific fun and I’ve come back with lots of ideas for books to add to my must-read list.  If anyone would like a full list of the books mentioned, please ask Kate via thomsonkate@live.co.uk

Written by Kate Thomson 

 

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