Books that changed my life: Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben is a New York Times bestselling thriller and mystery novel writer. His new book, Run Away, is out now, published by Century

The Marathon Man by William Goldman

My father gave me this book when I was 15 or 16. It was the first time I read an adult thriller where I said to myself, “I can’t put this down—someone could put a gun to my head and I wouldn’t put this down! How lucky is this Goldman guy to do this for a living?” Subconsciously, I think, that started me on this career path. Bill Goldman later became a valued friend and mentor. He died last year and I miss him greatly.


Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Once a year or so, I re-read this writing manual (though it’s really much more than that). This is a series of hilarious and helpful essays on writing and the creative process. It also gives the reader great insight on why we writers are a tad insecure and just plain nuts. I use it like a coach’s halftime speech to get me fired up to write. Give this book to anyone who wants to understand (or become) an artist. It will teach you, yes, but it’s also funny and poignant.


Are You My Mother? by P D Eastman

My earliest reading memory is this illustrated children’s book. A baby bird searches for his missing mother, asking the title question to a kitten, a cow and even a diesel truck. It’s a dark picture book. You’ll be gripped! I got the reading bug at a very young age. I also loved The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis—my favourite childhood series. I love the way the history folded back on itself. We can all imagine the magic of being in a house and opening a door on a boring day to a whole new world. Pure escapism.


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