Continuing the international theme this week I am joined by Australian author C J Sutton. C J writes horror/psychological thrillers, so his take on ‘comfort’ reading could be very interesting!
Thanks for hosting me on your blog. When I think of comfort reads, I think of books that allow me to escape everyday life on such a level that they may inspire me to try something new, visit a different location or research an interesting topic.
Here are my top 5 comfort reads:
The Beach by Alex Garland
This book instilled my desire to travel. This desire has since waned as I’ve hit my thirties with more responsibility, but The Beach is written in a way that has one assessing their thirst for adventure. I first read The Beach when I was in my early twenties, and the narration style of the writer and the personality of the protagonist quickly drew me in. I pictured someone not too different from me, searching for something so far away from everyday life that one must physically look for it. The idea of finding a secluded haven untouched by technology and the eye of the public is a pipedream you can enjoy here, on your couch, without all the risks that befall poor Richard.
Low Men in Yellow Coats by Stephen King
I always enjoyed writing to some degree, but this book made me want to dedicate my life to becoming an author. This short story is found in Stephen King’s compilation book which has some of his lesser known works that became popular movies, such as Shawshank Redemption. But Low Men in Yellow Coats, more commonly referred to as Hearts in Atlantis starring Sir Anthony Hopkins, manages to balance a love of books with the wonder all children possess. There is a side of King’s horror in the background, but this story thrives with a young boy learning how to survive in a small town. My favourite King story, even if the film didn’t do it justice.
Fallow by Daniel Shand
Here is possibly the best representation of why exploring the relationships between family members can venture deeper than any other topic. Two brothers are hiding in the wilderness after one is released from jail, and while living out of a tent they regularly enter towns for a beer and socialisation. We are led by an unreliable narrator for a reason, and all is revealed in the book’s shocking conclusion. But the interplay between brothers is realistic, raw and emotional. Despite the Scottish backdrop, the road-trip style and the fun dialogue, it is their relationship that makes the book a remarkable read. I explore this theme in my own stories, and here is the benchmark.
Gone series by Michael Grant
Being able to enjoy a sci-fi series not intended for my age bracket is a guilty pleasure. Gone is the story of a suburb being shut off from the rest of the world, as children under the age of fifteen develop powers beneath a giant dome and everyone older than fifteen just disappears. Some would call it teenage X-Men, but the series is so much more than powers and battles. It’s Lord of the Flies with higher stakes. There were six books in the first series, and such was the impact on the author that we now have another series of three books set after the conclusion of the original story. But at its heart, this is a story about teenagers trying to find their place in the world, taking on the role of parents and trying to keep each other safe against the unnatural threats developing underground. I smashed this series and would do so again. To me it has a nostalgic feel I only really get when watching a movie from my childhood.
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
A big book with big ideas, Shantaram is a sprawling tale across India that was written in jail by a man who either has a great imagination or has led a truly interesting life. Gangs, war, drugs, love and philosophy are explored with a cast of unique characters and the swelter of an accurate Indian portrayal. Weeks can be lost in this giant tome of a book, the scenarios all-encompassing and shocking. Perhaps the reason I associate Shantaram with comfort reading is that I carried it with my during my trek through South East Asia and found a relaxing spot to read at every pause. But I am also inspired by this writer’s willingness to succeed, as he wrote this manuscript in full multiple times only for the guards to throw it away. He started again and again, and this is the result.
CJ Sutton is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia. He holds a Masters in journalism and creative
This Strange Hell by C. J. Sutton –
A suited man runs from a burning tower in Melbourne as bodies rain down upon him.
Before the city’s millions can compose, he boards a train into the countryside. Hiding his identity and changing his appearance, the man finds his way to Sulley Ridge, a lawless town in the heart of the harsh Victorian outback.
The following day, a burned man wakes up in a hospital bed. Surging with rage, he speaks a name. Within an hour, the suited man’s face is across every screen in the country. It’s the greatest manhunt Australia has ever seen.
But as he tries to camouflage in Sulley Ridge, he soon realises the town has its own problems. Under the iron fist of a violent leader, the locals are trapped within slow and torturous decay…
As we learn more about the night of the burning tower, the connection between the suited man and the burned man threatens to leave a trail of destruction across the state.
Here is the story of a man on the run from his past, as the line between sanity and evil is danced upon.
Here is the tale of This Strange Hell.
Thanks to CJ for taking part.