As an author, I have always been an incredibly vociferous reader and lover of the written word. I find that the written word in all its forms; whether through novels, non-fiction, poetry or journalism, is an important and integral part of my journey as a writer. Reading the works of great writers is important to me, both as an author and as a personal trainer. Consuming some of the finest works in the literary world has given me inspiration in every aspect of my life. The following list is a sample of six of my favourite authors, all of whom have written works that have inspired my own writings and had a significant impact upon my life.
Although Stephen Fry will be known to most people for his work as one half of the comedy duo Fry and Laurie and as the host of QI, he is also an incredibly talented writer and one of my personal favourites. Fry has written all kinds of books, ranging from autobiographies, novels and non-fiction works, all of which are laced with his trademark wit and remarkably rich vocabulary. My personal preference, however, has to be his autobiographies Moab Is My Washpot, The Fry Chronicles and the recently published More Fool Me. They give the reader a fascinating insight into the life of one of the UK’s most beloved public figures and are rich with Fry’s characteristic wit and wisdom.
Deepak Chopra’s numerous works are essential reading for anyone who is interested in the topic of mind-body communication. I have read many of the books that Chopra has published over the years and they have informed much of my own teachings and philosophies on spirituality, mind-body communication, alternative and holistic health. It is no wonder that millions of others have felt their lives changed by the teachings of Deepak Chopra. His books are simple and easily accessible, but at the same time credible. He is not afraid to delve deep into the more technical aspects of his teachings in a manner that is informative and avoids preaching.
I was incredibly saddened when Maya Angelou passed away earlier this year. Her death not only marked the passing of one of the 20th Century’s finest writers, but also one of its most influential and inspirational public figures. Maya was incredibly talented as a wordsmith; both her poems and autobiographies were imbued with her intense literary flair. From the sensational characterisation and her use of metaphor in her autobiographies (which often felt more like novels), to the rich wordplay and imagery of her poems. Maya Angelou experienced immense racism, sexism, poverty and numerous other tribulations during her lifetime. The fact that she managed to rise above all these obstacles with grace, determination and with her fierce talent still intact has always been an inspiration to me. It is one of the reasons she will always remain one of my favourite authors.
Like Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle is another non-fiction author whose works greatly reflect my own personal philosophy. I advocate these in my own books, Your Health Is Your Wealthand the upcoming Body Cycles. The main principle underlining Tolle’s first book The Power of Now, is that in order to live happy and fulfilling lives, we should not divest too much time and energy into dwelling over the past or antagonising over the future. Instead, we should focus on the present and how we can improve our lives while ‘living in the now’. This philosophy truly changed my own outlook on life, reading Tolle’s books proved to be an incredibly important moment in my own personal development.
Reading Shakespeare’s plays remains one of my fondest memories from studying literature in my school days. Although the language that we use has changed drastically since the days in which Shakespeare penned his many opuses, they still retain their popularity, both in the wider world and on my own personal bookshelf. Shakespeare was a master storyteller and his works display an innate understanding of human nature and human emotion. While society has changed drastically over the years, the very core of human nature has not. It is for this reason that so many of us can still identify with the themes of forbidden love in Romeo and Juliet, ambition in Macbeth and vengeance and grief in Hamlet, despite our living in a world so different to that in which these plays were written and set.
Reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, was probably when I first truly fell in love with literature and the written word, with Austen’s further novels Emma and Sense and Sensibility taking pride of place on my bookshelf. My favourite aspect of Jane Austen’s novels is her incredible use of dialogue, almost all her novels use dialogue as the chief vehicle to move the plot forward and so it is fortunate that Austen’s books contain some of the most incredibly rich and wickedly funny dialogue that I have ever read. However, one of the key reasons why Jane Austen’s works spoke to me so much on my initial reading was because it was one of the first times in which I had ever read a novel in which the female protagonists were so realistic and richly realised.