Books of My Life by Chris Brookmyre

Chris Brookmyre (MA English and Theatre Studies 1989) is the international bestselling and multi-award-winning author of 22 novels. From his award-winning debut novel, 'Quite Ugly One Morning', to winning the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year for 'Black Widow', Chris (MA English and Theatre Studies 1989) has established himself as one of Britain’s leading crime authors. Here, he tells us about the books of his life.

The book I loved most as a child
I loved Roald Dahl as a kid, and had a particular affection for 'Danny, the Champion of the World'. It was probably the first heist novel I ever read. You could draw a line from it to 'The Sacred Art of Stealing': good guys pulling off an audacious crime to stick it to the evil bullies.

The book that makes me laugh the most
I drove my then girlfriend, now wife, crazy laughing at Joseph Heller’s 'Catch 22' the first time we went on holiday together, because I was shuddering away on a sun lounger and she had never seen anyone laugh so much while reading before.

The book I come back to again and again
'Swing Hammer Swing!' by Jeff Torrington. It is the essence of Glasgow distilled into a novel, like a sprawling Billy Connolly monologue. It is rich and inventive in its language, so there’s always something new to be noticed in revisiting it.

The book that got me through the hard times
As a teenager, whenever I got really low, I would re-read 'So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish' by Douglas Adams. There was something calming and optimistic about it, allied to a sense of melancholy. Ultimately, it’s about being able to make the best of things, no matter what has changed.

The book that changed my mind
Marcus Chown’s 'The Universe Next Door' flipped the effects of school and transformed my perspective from thinking physics was dull, boring and incomprehensible to considering it incomprehensible in a way that is mind-blowingly exciting.

The book that is my guilty pleasure
'Pretty in Pink: The Golden Age of Teen Movies' by Jonathan Bernstein. Nobody ought to have re-read this book as many times as I have, especially given that it’s about a genre of films that is itself a guilty pleasure.

The book that I am currently reading
'The Devil Aspect' by Craig Russell, a magnificently atmospheric story of psychologists and mass murder in 1930s Prague.

The book I am most proud of
'Pandaemonium'. With every book, you start with a platonic ideal of how it ought to be, and then move further and further away from that as you render it real. 'Pandaemonium' was the closest I have come to that original vision. 

Chris' latest novel, 'Fallen Angel', was released in April. Chris also co-writes with his wife, Marisa Haetzman, under the pseudonym Ambrose Parry. The second Parry historical crime novel, 'The Art of Dying', will be published in August.

This article was first published June 2019.