Books expand our vocabulary and critical thinking skills. They develop thought processes and help us learn. Reading them puts us in other people’s shoes, which in turn makes us wiser and more empathetic. By exploring different perspectives in life, we are also likely to get to know ourselves better.
This World Book Day, we’ve been thinking about the books that have had an impact on our lives. Here’s our top picks from some of the team:
Lindsay Gurr, Development Support:
“A book I love is The Enchanted by Rene Debfeld. It was just wonderful, and had gorgeous use of pacing, metaphor, and descriptions. A haunting depiction of the way having nothing to do but wait can drive you a very special kind of mad. It’s a novel about one particular basement of Death Row cells along the fault line in America.
Lord Of The Rings is a classic I read when I was ten, and every year or so would read it again. I would find something new each time as my understanding of our own world deepened with age.
The Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson is fantastic world building. The way he weaves his plot through it is incredible. It’s a completely fictional world that feels real, with all the systems feeding into each other in a way that comes across as extremely authentic.”
Gabor Soos, Animation Director:
“Jules Verne novels: insert any title (I’ve probably read them all!) If there is any evidence of time travel, this person is it! How can you write so consistently about emerging technology in the next 100 years? The attraction for me however, was his patriarchal characters and stories. Having grown up without a real father, values of virtue, integrity and respect were an important supplement for me as a boy growing up, and helped me want to become a decent person.
Walt Disney: An American Original by Bob Thomas also had an impact on the way I think. The ambition, the hardship, the perfection, it’s all in there – everything!”
Louise Chamberlain, Producer:
“Even the Dogs by Jon McGregor is a book I love. It’s an emotionally powerful book and that power is matched by beautiful prose.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a lovely mix of humour and philosophy that kept me going through dark teenage times.
A recent example of a book that had an impact on the way I think is David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. It’s a brilliant exploration of language and consciousness.
And lastly Boy Parts by Eliza Clark. It’s a feminist modern horror story, and I loved every minute of it.”
Victoria Caballero, Gameplay Designer:
“The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin. This is the first book I read by her and it blew my mind! Incredible writing and world building, with a very interesting take on gender. One of the best sci-fi novels I’ve ever read.
So many books shaped my childhood. It’s not just one book, but when I was younger my brother and I used to have reading sessions with my dad, where we read classics such as Treasure Island, The Invisible Man, The Three Musketeers, etc. I remember all of them fondly. It was what made me love reading.
Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson had an impact on the way I think. It made me consider gender stereotypes and how our minds are shaped by society to put people in a box, when in reality anyone can choose to be whoever they want. Fascinating read.
Lastly The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss. It’s been a while since I’ve read them (still waiting for the third one), but it’s amazing writing and world building. If you’re a fantasy nerd, you need to read both books! I loved everything about it. It’s one of my favourite series ever.”
Tara Saunders, Co-Studio Head:
“I loved Perfume: The Story of a Murdererby Patrick Süskind. The book was like nothing I’d read before and it was the most visceral writing I’d ever encountered in a book. It just felt unusual and fresh, so much so that it still sticks in my mind many, many years later.”
Bee Oshomuvwe, HR Business Partner:
“The Year I Met You by Cecelia Ahern is a book that’s had a huge impact on me. It’s truly an inspiring and uplifting message wrapped in to a fictional narrative. It’s about a woman who get’s fired and put on gardening leave, and you just watch how her life unfolds and her relationships are strengthened. It reminded me everything happens for a reason and to get proactive and comfortable with change. This book saw my positivity and excitement for life grow! Thank you Cecelia.”
Callum Langstroth, Senior Narrative Designer
“Battle Royale by Koushun Takami (translated by Yuji Oniki). I watched the film adaptation at the perfect age of 16 and then found the book a week later in a shop. Yuji Oniki’s translation keeps the blistering pace of the story intact and never makes you feel alienated by the more culturally specific content peppered throughout the blood spatter. I hold this up as the best YA book out there, maintaining its relevance for over twenty years after its first publication. There is a reason all others steal from this modern pulp classic. It also has many great song recommendations included in the story that makes a very cool playlist.
A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (and the rest of the John Carter of Mars series). If you enjoy any sci-fi adventures like Star Wars or massive genres like superheroes, A Princess of Mars is required reading. Originally written when ideas like space travel were just as fanciful as heroic knights fighting dragons. With each turn of the page, you can see why it was the spark of imagination for so many creators. It is a playful, fun and very entertaining read. One that transports you with John Carter to a version of Mars so far removed from reality it is believable.
Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons. Many comic books have tried to match Watchmen in terms of subject matter, maturity and density of ideas. None have matched it, not even Alan Moore’s other works (although League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comes close). I re-read Watchmen every year and with each reading, I find some new wrinkle or layer of understanding. There is way more to this book than just “What if superheroes were sad, broken individuals?” It uses silly concepts to explore serious ideas and the result is pure creative magic.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelly. I studied Frankenstein for A-Level English Literature and it changed my life. I’m dyslexic so reading, in general, can be an active struggle for me most of the time. When we first started studying it, I found Frankenstein impossible to read and resigned myself to getting a failing grade for my exams. However, by looking at it in exhaustive detail. The barriers of the language and prose gradually disappeared. Replaced by a passion for uncovering the deeper meaning behind stories and formulating my interpretations of them. It also helps that Frankenstein is a truly gripping read once it gets going.”