THE HOBBIT by J.R.R. Tolkien HarperCollins, £7.99 The first book that made me realise books can open up new worlds. Middle Earth is a plausible universe I desperately wanted to live in. I read fantasy for years afterwards.
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE THUNDERBOLT KID by Bill Bryson Black Swan, £8.99 I like the clarity of his writing and this is his funniest book. It’s a kindred spirit to Diary Of A Wimpy Kid. It covers his early years growing up and the overriding message is life was better in the old days. It inspired me to open a bookstore in my town of Plainville, Massachusetts.
INSIDE THE BOX by Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg Profile Books, £9.99 A road map on how to come up with new ideas and solve problems. One of the techniques is subtraction, the idea of taking away an element that seems to be central to a problem. I wanted to be a newspaper cartoonist and when I took newspapers out of the equation, that led me to becoming a cartoonist in books.
OUTLIERS: THE STORY OF SUCCESS by Malcolm Gladwell Penguin, £9.99 This looks at successful people and organisations and postulates that to become an expert at anything, you need about ten years. I wasn’t ready to show Diary Of A Wimpy Kid until about eight years after I’d started it.
We are used to getting instant validation with the “like” button but anything worth having takes time to develop.
A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness Walker, £7.99 This is a fable in a way. It deals with the grief and anger a boy feels when his mother is sick. A tree monster forces the boy to be honest about his grief. The book is emotionally powerful and it’s a movie now as well.
THE ARRIVAL by Shaun Tan Hodder, £10.99 A wordless graphic novel about being an immigrant. A man arrives in a place where he can’t understand the language or the culture but he ultimately masters that world. The book takes a while to decode but it is a masterpiece.