Three Wishes and Free-Falling
Liane Moriarty, Nicola Moriarty
Two of my sisters are also writers and the publication of their first novels (Liane's Three Wishes and Nicola's Free-Falling) has led to many pleasures: talking to my sisters about publishing, hearing my parents deservedly praised, having people mention the Brontes. There's also the issue of seeing family anecdotes appear in sisters' books.
Letters from the Inside
Letters from the Inside is an epistolary novel about teenage girls. I read it after writing the first draft of a book about teenage girls. Marsden amazed me: I couldn't figure out how he knew exactly how teenage girls think. Then I remembered I'd once been a teenager myself. I rewrote my draft, this time imagining myself into every character. That became my first novel, Feeling Sorry for Celia, and it changed the way I write.
I read Case Histories by Kate Atkinson right after a miscarriage. It's vibrant, intelligent and captivating. It made me cry often, but Atkinson had the courage to tie her threads together with a happy ending. That was a beautiful gift. Readers can spend weeks sewing the fabric of a novel into their hearts and writers who don't reward that, with at least a glimmer of hope, are just being cruel.
Gingerbread by Rachel Cohn is bright, hilarious and deeply moving. I stayed up until 4am reading it. Years later, I sent a fan email to the author in New York. She replied and we started corresponding. Since then we've exchanged boxes of chocolates, flown across the world to visit each other and eaten cupcakes together. A book that leads to unexpected and delicious friendship has got to be included on this list.
Mary Poppins Comes Back
I was going to choose books by my favourite authors - E. Nesbit, Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, Dylan Thomas, Lorrie Moore - but decided instead to list those that have changed the shape of my life. Mary Poppins Comes Back by P.L. Travers, for instance, transformed the stars for me, and gave me a strangely unshakeable belief in magic.
Jaclyn Moriarty's latest book is A Corner of White (Pan Macmillan, $27.99)