There are so many good books, movies and websites out there and it would be impossible to list them all. Therefore here are my top recommendations.
If you would like to view a list of my favourite books please follow this link: Goodreads Favourites.
The Passage by Justin Cronin
A post apocalyptic world ruined by the sudden spread of vampires.
- This is a great book in learning how to juggle different characters and events in multiple locations.
Magician by Raymond E. Feist
Magician is the first of many fantasy novels featuring the characters and world of Midkemia.
- A great learning tool for world-building.
- Stuffed with imagination, multiple characters, Points of View (POV) and events.
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron
The story follows Vicki Myron as she documents the life of Dewey and his impact on her life and that of the small town of Spencer Iowa.
- A sweet mix of the life of Dewey, Vicki Myron and the small town.
- This book is a great example of working more than one storyline in a single space.
The Gates by John Connolly
The Gates is a fantastic horror comedy that almost feels like a children’s book but is definitely meant for older audiences.
- A great how to book on blending horror, comedy and childlike innocence into a novel.
The People Who Watched Her Pass By by Scott Bradfield
A young girl is kidnapped by the man who came to fix the water heater and is left to roam and view the world with a meaningful perspective.
- An interesting tale on the strangeness of human psychology and ego-centrism.
- This is a great book on twisting reality without actually twisting it.
Jealousy by Alain Robbe-Grillet
On a tropical banana plantation, a jealous husband watches his wife and neighbour with suspicion.
- This novel has no pronouns whatsoever! To this day I am astound by Robbe-Grillet ability to create such a work of literature.
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
A young boy by the name of Harry Potter discovers he is a wizard and that his life has more meaning than he could ever imagine.
- If you want to learn how to world-build, design a captivating story-line and create compelling characters who develop over time, this is the series you need to read.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
A young shepherd leaves his humble home in search of more in a spiritual journey of the heart.
- A gentle novel on spirituality, folklore and magical realism that have touched countless lives over many countries.
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
A detective novel written by a first time author, the story follows PI Phillip Marlowe as he tries to find the blackmailer who is threatening his client.
- The novel was actually a compilation of short stories that were weaved together. Can you spot the distinctions?
- If you write short stories but want to write a novel, writing each chapter as a short story might be for you.
Loitering With Intent by Muriel Spark
Loitering With Intent is a story about a writer and her struggles.
- If you want to know what writers stress about then this is the book for you.
The Age Of The Five Trilogy by Trudi Canavan
Trudi Canavan’s trilogy follows the life of Auraya as she is indoctrinated as a servant of the Gods.
- A great place to learn how to work politics and religion into a fantasy.
Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean
JM Barrie gave the copyright of Peter Pan to the Great Ormond Street Hospital. A few years ago the children’s hospital set up a competition to write the sequel of Peter Pan.
- After reading the original, I believe that Peter Pan in Scarlet was not only well written but beautifully flavoured in Barrie’s style.
- This book is a great example of copying another authors style to continue a story.
The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin
What would you give up to live in a utopia?
- A story with a single idea that will make the reader think deeply about their own morals.
The Cat Who Walked a Thousand Miles by Kij Johnson
A cat named Small Cat sets out in search of a new home when a fire destroys everything she knows.
- A sweet short story about the life of a cat in ancient Japan where cats were uncommon creatures.
- A lovely learning experience on blending history and fantasy together.
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore
Journey into a totalitarian world where butter is banned, freedom is forgotten and individualism is an illusion. A man in a porcelain mask steers up trouble for those in power while steering the hearts of the people.
- A classic among graphic novels that builds suspense, intrigue and mystery with a mysterious protagonist.
- This is a great example of creating a hero that says so much yet very little at the same time.
Watchmen by Alan Moore
In an alternate version of the USA, superheroes change the way the world works and a series of murders is unraveled by a group of outcast heroes.
- A classic among graphic novels that also builds intrigue and suspense through an alternate timeline.
- A movie was based on the graphic novel but the ending was changed. Compare the movie and the novel and decide which ending worked better.
Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall by Bill Willingham
Part of the Fables universe, this novel follows Snow White as she fights for her life by reciting stories to entertain her captor.
- Its easier to understand the significance of events and characters in this novel if you already know the Fables mythos.
- This is an excellent mix of novel and graphic novel where the stories connect with the larger world of the comic yet they can be read separately.
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
A tragicomedy in two acts where nothing really happens.
- A play to demonstrate a long, two act story where nothing really happens yet the audience is still entertained by the antics of the characters on stage.
The Phantom of The Opera
A phantom terrorists an opera house and two lovers
- A play with beautiful singing.
- A comparison between the play and the novel is a good exercise in adapting stories to theatre.
Wicked – The Musical
We have all seen Dorathy’s side of the story but no one has seen Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West’s side until now.
- Another great comparison between novel and play.
- A rich example on adapting a well known story by changing the view point and the truth of the events that followed.
Since I have not watched enough great TV series, I thought it best to borrow someone else’s list. The Writers Guild of American West, has listed its best written TV series here: 101 Best Written TV Series
Tor.com – An online contribution of science fiction and fantasy short stories.
Supersummary.com – An genre resource guide packed with podcasts, blogs and writing tips.
No Dead White Men – Kingston University MFA Blog
A. Suiter Clarke – By Amy Suiter, a full-time copywriter and novelist.
Deviantart.com – Free online community for traditional and digital artwork, photography and literature.
YouTube – Free online community for videos (Best way to experience exotic locations when your unable to travel).
Flickr – Free online community to showcase and sell photography (Some photos are free while others are not. Please look carefully at what licencing the photographer has displayed).
Wikipedia – Online encyclopaedia (Warning! Not all the information is accurate).
Post A Secret – An online contribution of anonymous secrets (Some adult content).