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Ben Miller: Books That Changed My Life

Ben Miller: Books That Changed My Life

British actor Ben Miller is one half of the comedic duo Armstrong and Miller, as well as a prolific writer for children. Here, he shares his favourite books

King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green

King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table

I loved reading when I was little. I think that’s the reason I love writing for children. My parents were both English teachers, and our home was full of books. Dickens was a family favourite. But the book that really fired my imagination was King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green, which my father read to me at bedtime when I was around twelve.

"Ogres, damsels, and enchantment. What more could you want?"

Ogres, damsels, and enchantment. What more could you want? I know: a mysterious Green Knight who challenges Arthur’s court to cut off his head. Well, you’re in luck—it’s got that too. 

Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith

Diary of a Nobody

I’m a fool for a classic, and I’m so glad I finally stumbled across Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith. It began life as a serial in Punch, with text by George and illustrations by Weedon.

"I ripped it off mercilessly—ahem, it greatly inspired—my own comedic opus, Secrets of a Christmas Elf"

Put simply, it’s the funniest book I’ve ever read, and the template for so many other brilliant first-person narratives like Adrian Mole and Bridget Jones. The short pitch is that it follows the social climbing of a London clerk, Charles Pooter, but of course it’s so much more than that, poking fun at all things middle class.

I ripped it off mercilessly—ahem, it greatly inspired—my own comedic opus, Secrets of a Christmas Elf

Exhalation by Ted Chiang

Exhalation Ted Chiang

It's never too late to have your life changed by a book, and it happened to me again recently when I read Ted Chiang’s collection Exhalation.

"It's never too late to have your life changed by a book"

Ted Chiang wrote Story of Your Life, which inspired the sci-fi alien visitation classic Arrival. I love that too, but each and every piece in Exhalation is its match in imagination and execution. If there are super-intelligent aliens in the galaxy, seeking to communicate important truths, Ted Chiang may well be one of them. 

Secrets of a Christmas Elf

Ben Miller's new books Secrets of a Christmas Elf and The Night We Got Stuck in a Story are available now

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