Isabel Ashdown - Novels That Shaped Our World

Isabel Ashdown - Novels That Shaped Our World

As part of the BBC Novels That Shaped Our World campaign we held events throughout February with three bestselling authors, to talk to them about the books that have inspired and influenced them and the role that reading has played in their lives. Find out the books that Isabel Ashdown recommended here.

The audiobooks Isabel has been enjoying in lockdown:

Sally Rooney – Normal People

Gail Honeyman – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Titles by Elly Griffiths


The books and authors Isabel read as a child:

The Rainbow Reading Scheme – ‘romped through it’ to get to books of her own choice

E. Nesbit – The Enchanted Castle

Dr. Seuss books

Frances Hodgson Burnett – The Secret Garden

Edward Lear

Spike Milligan – A Book of Milliganimals

Andrew Lang – Fairy Books

Books and reading were always part of my backdrop.”


The books Isabel enjoyed as a teenager:

Virginia Andrews – Flowers in the Attic (the subsequent titles in the Dollanganger series)

Novels by Stephen King

Stephen King – On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

On Flowers in the Attic: “…the book that reignited me with reading.”


Recommended short story collections:

Pam Houston – Cowboys are my Weakness

Alice Munro – Open Secrets

Gothic horror titles by Shirley Jackson

“Short stories are like a photograph – a really rewarding photograph.”


Books that Isabel has been moved by:

Sebastian Faulks – Birdsong

Fred D’Aguiar – The Longest Memory

On Birdsong: “I felt like I was utterly immersed in this period…I wept.”


Books featuring female relationships:

Oyinkan Braithwaite – My Sister the Serial Killer

Dodie Smith – I Capture the Castle

Joan Lindsay – Picnic at Hanging Rock

On I Capture the Castle: “A comfort read.”


The books and authors that influenced Isabel:

Patrick Suskind – Perfume

Ian McEwan – The Cement Garden

Novels by Margaret Atwood

On Margaret Atwood: “I love the way that she presents other worlds.”


Extra books and authors that Isabel mentioned:

Staying Human – New Poems for Staying Alive edited by Neil Astley


Most of these titles (and all of Isabel’s novels) are available to order via our library catalogue.

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