Lee Child signs books

BBC Maestro reading list

By BBC Maestro

Your hands are gripped to the pages; your eyes jolt from one word to the next – there are very few things more exciting than being lost in a great story.  

Whether you want to escape into a new story or find the inspiration to write your own, we’ve collated a reading list with recommendations from some of our Maestro writers. With reading lists from Alan Moore, Harlan Coben, Jojo Moyes and more, you can explore a little glimpse of why reading is so important to them.

Jojo Moyes

Jojo Moyes for her BBC Maestro course

I’m always looking for a wonderful story. Most of all, I want to read something that gives me a tingle at the back of my neck… It doesn’t happen every day, but when it does: magic begins

Jojo Moyes
  • Friday’s Tunnel – John Verney
  • Small Things Like These – Claire Keegan
  • Behind the Scenes at the Museum – Kate Atkinson
  • High Fidelity – Nick Hornby
  • Sorrow and Bliss ­­– Meg Mason

Alan Moore

Alan Moore for his BBC Maestro course

Read everything. Don’t differentiate between the highest pinnacles of literature and the lowest slums of pulp and genre. Everything is potentially powerful and will enrich you as a writer.

Alan Moore
  • The Screenwriter’s Workbook – Syd Field
  • Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy
  • The Jewel-Hinged Jaw – Samuel R. Delaney
  • The Elements of Eloquence – Mark Forsyth
  • The Call of Cthulhu – H.P. Lovecraft

Malorie Blackman

Malorie Blackman for her BBC Maestro course

If it wasn’t for my public library, I wouldn’t be sitting here today as a writer.

Malorie Blackman
  • One Of Us Is Lying – Karen M. McManus
  • The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
  • The Skylarks’ War – Hilary McKay
  • The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 – Sue Townsend

Carol Ann Duffy

Carol Ann Duffy 1

Poetry, to me, is often like a baton that’s passed on through the centuries. We not only learn the shapes and the experiments that others have done, but surely it must teach us that we too must be inventive.

Carol Ann Duffy
  • The Mersey Sound – Adrian Henri, Roger McGough, Brian Patten
  • Pomes Penyeach – James Joyce
  • Time’s Arrow – Martin Amis
  • The Complete Hans Christian Anderson Fairy Tales 
  • Metamorphoses – Ovid

Julia Donaldson

Julia Donaldson for her BBC Maestro course

Picture books can entertain, they can teach, they can bring families closer together.

Julia Donaldson
  • The Borrowers – Mary Norton
  • The Misadventure of Frederick – Ben Manley and Emma Chichester Clark
  • Ada Twist, Scientist – Andrea Beaty and David Roberts
  • The Snowman – Raymond Briggs
  • The Jabberwocky and Other Nonsense – Lewis Carroll

Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben for his BBC Maestro course

There is no better compliment for a writer than hearing a reader say they went to bed with your book at 11pm, and were still reading at 4 in the morning.

Harlan Coben
  • Double Indemnity: The Postman Always Rings Twice – James M. Cain
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
  • The Outsider – Stephen King
  • Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott

Ken Follett

Ken Follett for his BBC Maestro course

Reading teaches us to see the world from somebody else’s point of view.

Ken Follett
  • On Writing – Stephen King              
  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  • The Naïve and Sentimental Lover – John le Carré
  • Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
  • The Thirty-Nine Steps – John Buchan

Lee Child

Lee Child for his BBC Maestro course

Read widely, read randomly, read a lot. The more you read, the better you will write.

Lee Child
  • The Road to Wigan Pier – George Orwell
  • A Dark-Adapted Eye – Barbara Vine
  • Have His Carcase – Dorothy L. Sayers
  • The Winds of War – Herman Wouk
  • The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

If you’re ready to start your own writing journey, take a look at some of our online writing courses taught by bestselling authors. Happy reading!

From classic love stories and engaging children’s tales to unputdownable thrillers and practical writing advice, there’s plenty here to pique any reader’s interest. Keep track of your progress with this list by following the BBC Maestro reading list on Goodreads.

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