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  • Barbara Copperthwaite

DAY 8 GIVEAWAY Books that have changed my life #amreading #writerslife

When I look back on my life, scattered through it are books that have been there at key turning points. They’ve changed my thinking, ignited lifelong passions, and even influenced my career. So here are some of the many books that have changed my life…



The Children of Cherry Tree Farm, Enid Blyton

This is the book that made me enjoy reading. I’ve no idea how old I was when I read it, but I do know that prior to this I wasn’t fussed. The children’s adventures ignited not just a lifelong love of reading, but also of nature.

little white horse

The Little White Horse, Elizabeth Goudge

The first moment I really realised I had fallen in love with words, as well as reading, came thanks to this children’s book. I read out the description of Wiggins to my mum and we laughed at it. I had to share it with someone because it was so wonderfully descriptive of not just his appearance but also his personality. Wonderful! This book is even mentioned in one of my own stories, The Darkest Lies.


The Lord of The Rings, JRR Tolkien

My first ‘proper’ book, marking the change from children’s books to something heavier and more adult. It’s iconic, unique, and a rite of passage in the world of reading – and it lit up my reading brighter than fairy lights and tinsel. I must have read this book a dozen times over the years, and am always impressed by its depth, characters, and epic scale.



Disc world series, Terry Pratchett

When I was 12 I was bought my first Terry Pratchett Discworld novel, The Colour of MAgic. I became officially hooked. He truly held a mirror up to the world so that the reflection was back to front, and then manipulated it even further, using fiction to show the farce in fact. It made me see things differently, too; as well as making me laugh out loud. As an author, the ability to see things from a new, unique perspective is hugely helpful, and I started learning that skill thanks to Terry Pratchett all those years ago.


Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

I was supposed to study this for my GCSE English Literature exam, but spent two years avoiding it because it ‘sounded dull’. I’m really not sure how I managed to pass the exam, but by a miracle I did – and with a good grade! I took English Lit at A-level, and was gutted to discover that, by a strange quirk of exam board curriculum, I was going to spend ANOTHER two years avoiding Great Expectations. I caved, and read it. Suddenly I understood what all the fuss was about. The immense character arc of Pip is stunning; from childhood to snobbish adulthood, to finally coming to his senses through the most tragic of circumstances. It’s a book I often re-read. Which is ironic, really, given how much I avoided it…



Cold Granite, Stuart MacBride

I didn’t read crime fiction until I came across Detective Sergeant Logan McRae, Stuart MacBride’s creation. The crimes he investigates are gritty and gory, but the banter between him and his colleagues is so deliciously dark and realistic that it always makes me laugh. Thanks to him, I started to read other detective series and crime authors, then psychological thrillers…and look at me now, writing my own! So DS Logan McRae will always have a special place in my heart.


Engelby, Sebastian Faulks

I’d had the idea for my first novel, Invisible, for a long time, but after reading Engelby something seemed to click, and suddenly I knew I was going to try to write it. It inspired me because it was a first person story that was so utterly different from anything else I’d read. The character Sebastian Faulks creates is totally absorbing, and never once did I think ‘he wouldn’t do that.’ I lost myself in Engleby’s weird world.


Meadowland: The Private Life of an English Field, John Lewis-Stempel

Some writing is so beautiful that I am gripped with an urge to read sections out loud, just so that I can hear the jewel-like words as well as see them, somehow maximizing the pleasure and sharing the joy with others. This is one such book. Vividly described, and wonderfully written, Meadowland gives a unique and intimate account of an English meadow’s life from January to December. This is a book to fall in love with and read again and again and again.


The Talented Mr Ripley, Patricia Highsmith

An urbane sociopath who ‘only’ kills when he has to. Patricia Highsmith was an author way ahead of her time, and this was never more obvious than when she created Tom Ripley. Patricia Highsmith managed to create a killer who somehow became a sort of anti-hero that readers loved so much that she wrote five books featuring him. She was an author way ahead of her time.


The Kind Worth Killing, Peter Swanson

Twisted, brilliantly-plotted, and a must-read; this book is one I still recommend to anyone who’ll listen, two years after reading it. It’s the sort of book I would love to write myself, and its benchmark drives me on.

So there you have it! These are the books that have changed my life in some way or another. Has a book ever changed your life?


GIVEAWAY! How to enter

From 19 November until 30 November inclusive, my posts on this blog will contain a festive reference. Find it, and then either comment on the post or email Every person who answers correctly will be entered into a prize draw. The competition closes on Thursday 7 December. The winners will be chosen at random and announced on Friday 8 December.

So, can you find today’s Christmas reference in this post? Let me know!

What am I giving away?

ONE lucky winner will receive a SIGNED COPY of Her Last Secret and some chocolate to indulge in while reading.

THREE lucky winners will receive a SIGNED COPY of The Darkest Lies and some chocolate to indulge in while reading.

ONE lucky winner will receive a SIGNED COPY of Flowers For The Dead and some chocolate to indulge in while reading.

TWO lucky winners will receive an audio book of Her Last Secret and some chocolate to indulge in while listening.

ONE very lucky winner will have a CHARACTER NAMED AFTER THEM in my next book. *


As well as this competition, check out Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and my website for more ways to enter over the next 12 days. You can enter as many times as you want!

* Please note that the character will have your name but will not be based in any way upon you or any person living or dead. They may be a good person or a bad person – they could even be a killer. So be prepared! The part they play may be large or small. Entry into the competition is taken as agreement to these conditions. Thank you.

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