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In this edition of What's On My Bookshelf, we spoke to previous winners of the Kindle Storyteller Award to find out which books are on their shelves and what has inspired their award-winning writing.

David Leadbeater

David Leadbeater
Hannah Lynn

Hannah Lynn
Ian Sainsbury

Ian W. Sainsbury
Anna McNuff

Anna McNuff

From classic crime to children's books - There's a varied selection from these authors which spans eras and genres. We hope that you enjoy reading about their choices as much as we did and they inspire you to read, or perhaps re-read, the books they have highlighted!

You can see previous editions of What's On My Bookshelf for more author recommendations:

David Leadbeater

Visit David Leadbeater's Author Page and discover his work including the 2017 Kindle Storyteller Winner, The Relic Hunters

David Leadbeater

My newest bookshelf now displays some of my oldest books. Sitting reading some of these in my teens helped infuse me with the writing bug. I am a multi-genre reader but started with horror novels. Two authors, Stephen King and Graham Masterton, kept me entertained with a torch under the bed covers for hours. Salem’s Lot still reverberates strongly with me today. The story of a small town, its secrets laid bare, its inhabitants slowly succumbing to an unspeakable evil. This novel really showcases Kings writing style – his complex characters and riveting storylines. A far scarier story, however, was Charnel House, by Graham Masterton, a story of possession that gave me nightmares and taught me always to beware of door knockers!

More in the way of ‘comfort’ reading are the Robert Crais, Elvis Cole, novels, the best of which for me is the outstanding L.A Requiem. By turns funny, gritty and exciting, it really captures and combines the ever-changing moods of its main characters and the city of Los Angeles, offering everything from glittering loneliness to the eternal promise of unrestrained hope.

One of my favourite fictional characters, Agent Pendergast, appears in a long series of novels by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. There are many good ones, but The Cabinet of Curiosities is a good showcase – creepy, disturbing and entertaining, the enigmatic and endearing character of Pendergast really shines through in his one.

Being an action/adventure writer I enjoy all aspects of the genre but, for out and out escapism, I love a good Clive Cussler like Inca Gold. Always reliable, diverting and engaging, Cussler writes fast-paced thrillers where technology meets wit and overcooked heroism but usually manages to be entertaining. His history as a writer and enjoyable stories remind me not to listen to the critics – try it out for yourself.

Hannah Lynn

Visit Hannah Lyn's author page to learn more about her work including the 2018 Kindle Storyteller Winner, The Afterlife of Walter Augustus

Hannah Lynn

If I had my way my house would be filled floor to ceiling with books. Unfortunately, having moved countries several times over the last 15 years, I often have to leave my books behind. However, wherever I am in the world there are certain books that always come with me. The books that follow me from one place to the next are ones that inspire me as a writer as well as a reader. I find that I am drawn to worlds that are not necessarily fantasy, but extensions of our world. Books where boundaries are blurred and common situations twisted. The worlds that the authors have built are so compelling I find myself coming back to them again and again.

The first novel is Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. The copy I currently own was gifted to me by a class I taught back when I was a teacher and is filled with messages from them. The class was full of book lovers and often our morning registrations would end up as an impromptu book club. I credit them with introducing me to some fantastic reads but this one, their final gift to me, summed up how well they knew me. To me, this book is perfect. The concept is simply ingenious and heart wrenching and the writing blows me away.

Another book that I can’t be without is Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, which I ended up buying twice in three days. I started reading it the day before I went on holiday and when I got on the plane I was devastated to discover I’d forgotten it. Obviously, the first thing I did on that holiday was find a bookshop and purchase another copy. London Below is full of these incredibly outrageous characters that despite their bizarreness are entirely believable. Maddaddam and Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood are my next picks. My husband first introduced me to Margaret Atwood when he wooed me with books, many years ago, and never have I been so excited about the release of a book as I was for Maddaddam #3. The wittiness of her prose and ability to draw on the darkest of human faults are truly addictive reading.

The last fiction book currently on my shelf is the Book of Dust – Part 2, by Philip Pullman, which is my current read. His writing is so enthralling that I find myself utterly lost in a world of daemons. To be honest I have probably spent far too much of my adult life contemplating what animal form my own daemon would take!

My non-fiction pick is The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba although my copy is currently with a friend, because it is a book I constantly loan to people, insisting they must read it. It is a tale of human strength and willpower and shows what an individual is capable of when they are truly determined. Also as a physics teacher, I found it very handy when teaching students how a transformer works.

Ian W. Sainsbury

Visit Ian W. Sainsbury's author page and learn about his books including The 2019 Kindle Storyteller Winner, The Picture On the Fridge

Ian W. Sainsbury

Every writer is a reader first. My mum is still rarely without a book in her hand, and she started me on my own endless journey. I’m one of those people who—if they find themselves with no book—will sit on the loo reading the back of shampoo bottles. I’ve owned A Wizard Of Earthsea in various editions since first reading it in my early teens. A deceptively simple story about a young wizard warns of the dangers that come with power. LeGuin’s lifelong interest in Taoism informs her fresh take on magic. This Gollancz illustrated edition of the collected Earthsea stories is beautiful.

The The Glass Bead Game is one of those books that’s worth re-reading every decade as it offers something new every time. It’s a book of contradictions - a sci-fi story that reads as if set in the Middle Ages, a central character who uneasily bridges spirituality and secularism, a book embracing what it means to be human with hardly any female characters. It’s probably the contradictions that keep drawing me back.

Iain Banks is one of my favourite novelists, with or without the ‘M’. I met him once. I wish I could remember the occasion better, but the truth is we both got quite drunk. Raw Spirit is a non-fiction account of a tour of Scotland’s whisky distilleries, but it’s so much more than that. From his opposition to the Iraq War to his quest to find GWRs (Great Wee Roads) for his collection of vehicles, this is a book of tangents. A one-star Amazon review complains it’s not a book about whisky, but a book about Banks. That’s why I love it.

Stephen King’s On Writing is the book I recommend to anyone thinking of becoming an author. Every King’s novel has the same effect on me: when I finish reading it, I want to go and write. When I’m immersed in a Stephen King book, I often forget I’m reading; I’m there, in the story, lost in his world. King’s effortless prose is, of course, anything but, and this memoir pulls back the curtain on his process. The actual advice on writing is only a small part of this book, but every sentence, every paragraph, is a reminder of how a master of the craft can hook you, and make sure you stay hooked.

Anna McNuff

Visit Anna McNuff's author page and discover her work including the 2020 Kindle Storyteller winner, Llama Drama

Anna McNuff

My bookshelf is filled with all sorts but the theme that connects them all are books that inspire me to think differently, about my life but also the lives of others. I mostly read non-fiction because I love getting my teeth into a good true story. That said, I have a very battered copy of Brian Jaques' Martin the Warrior – because I adored his books as a kid. Mostly because Martin the Warrior, who is a mouse and the hero of the series, always sits down for a feast of blueberry pie and elderberry cordial after every battle. Writing about delicious food after doing battle with the elements is something I do a lot in my own books.

I’ve included Lindsey Cole’s children’s book – The Mermaid and the Cow - because a) everyone needs a friend who will put on a mermaid tail and swim the length of the river Thames and then b) publish a picture book about it. It aims to inspire kids to think about plastic pollution in a fun way, and I’m all for that. Sometimes, if a kid that lives near her buys the book, she will turn up, in her mermaid tale and sing to the kid with her ukulele – now that’s a special touch from an author!

Travel and adventure is a big theme on my shelf too – Nan Shepherd’s The Living Mountain is my go to inspiration for beautiful descriptions of landscapes and I always enjoy flicking through Wayward Women, which reminds me that women have been doing kick ass things in the travel world since the year dot… we’ve just not always know about them.

I’ve also included Adventureman: Anyone Can be a Superhero, not just because it’s about an impressive record breaking 5,000 mile run across Canada or because it’s written by my husband :) but because he’s dyslexic and I watched him battle through dyslexia to write the book.

Lastly, when I only have five minutes (which with a young baby is often!), I love to dip in to A Poem for Every Day of The Year. I often read them out to my little girl and it starts the day off in a positive and reflective mood.

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