Through our 'Getting Sheffield Reading More' scheme we are publishing a series of features, stories and competitions throughout October and November aimed at increasing people’s love of literature.
As part of the campaign, we asked authors appearing at the city's Off The Shelf literary festival to tell us about the books which have been most influential to them and why.
Laurie Penny - author of Bitch Doctrine
A book that has influenced me is ‘The Dispossessed’ by Ursula Le Guin. It is just stunning science fiction. It is about language and anarchism and how communities work together.
Also ‘The Earth Seed’ series by Octavia E Butler ‘Parable of Sower’ and ‘Paradise of the Talents’. It was written in the late 1980s about America falling apart and covering race and gender issues and the president’s slogan was ‘make America great again’. Another author that had an effect on me on as a lonely 13-year-old was Germaine Greer
John O’Farrell - author of Things Can Only Get Worse
The book that influenced me early on at aged 13 was ‘Animal Farm’ – it is satirical, political and accessible and didn’t have a happy ending. I thought it was great and awakened in me an interest in the Russian Revolution and the first stirrings for political writing and satire. So consequently I read all the Orwell novels that I found revelatory.
Holly McNish - author of Plum
As a teenager the end of ‘The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe’ by C S Lewis blew my mind and opened up possibilities. I also remember crying for three nights after reading ‘Glue’ by Irvine Welsh.
Jaques Peretti - author of Done
Eric Hobsbawn’s ‘The Invention of Tradition’ – takes apart very single cherished British institution. It opened my eyes to the fact that there isn’t anything that can’t be questioned
Another book I really enjoyed recently was Keith Richard’s autobiography. One of the best parts is his recipe for shepherd’s pie!
Sara Kahn - author of The Battle for British Islam
A book that propelled me in to women’s rights was ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ by Thomas Hardy and I enjoyed ‘Girl on a Train’ by Erin Cressida Wilson recently.
Karl Byrne - author of The Science of Star Wars
I was influenced by the 1978 TV series Cosmos presented by Carl Sagan – one of its creators. It was aired in 1980 and there was a book that accompanied the series. I just use to look at the pictures but later I saw in it the love of knowledge and the pursuit of science.
Richard Osman - author of The World Cup of Everything
A very underrated book is ‘Towards the end of the Morning’ by Michael Frayn – it is a satirical comedy and charts the end of Fleet Street and early days of television.
Also I like ‘Strangers on a Train’ by Patricia Highsmith. I love debut novels and as I don't like long books.
Robert McCrum - author of Every Third Thought
The Bible - from ages 10 to 17 I heard bible every day and twice on Sundays so it must have had an influence. Also ‘The Tale of Samuel Whiskers’ by Beatrix Potter is one of the 20th century's most brilliant thrillers.
Stephen McGann - author of Flesh and Blood
I was influenced by the book ‘Roots’ by Alex Haley and the subsequent TV series – I started to research my family tree when I was 17.
‘Into the Silent Land’ by Paul Broks.