Reading lists

Jane Fallon on the books that influenced her writing

'I've always loved a strong heroine. I try to make mine interesting, feisty women. Because if I don't find them entertaining, why would anyone else?'

Tim and Charlotte

Edward Ardizzone 

This is the book that kickstarted my love of reading. Apparently, when I was 2 or 3 and before I could read myself, I used to follow my mother around (not caring that she had 4 other children to look after and a very taxing job) waving the already battered hardback and saying ‘Read, read, read’ over and over again, like an angry duck. When she gave in I would wait until she’d finished, then start again. Quack, quack, quack. I can still remember the vivid illustrations and my connection to the boy and the girl in the story. Later, as a shy, socially awkward child who found it hard to make friends (no change there, then) reading was my saviour. That and the fact that I was, by some miracle, good at sports and could sprint faster than all the boys, so I always got picked first for teams regardless of my lack of social skills.


Fay Weldon

When I was about 16 I found this on one of my older sister’s bookshelves. Up to that point, since I’d outgrown Noel Streatfield and Enid Blyton, I’d been mainly reading the classics and looking around for a genre of modern literature that really connected with me. I was blown away. I don't think I'd ever realised books could be so conversational, so contemporary.  I’d always written, but my writing then was uncomfortably stiff and didn’t sound like me at all. Reading Weldon’s books freed me up to just write as if I was telling a friend a story. They allowed me to think I might be able to fulfil my dream of becoming a novelist.

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more