Books That Changed Me: Sophie Green

Sophie Green is a non-fiction publisher and author of The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club, her bestselling first novel. Her latest novel, The Shelley Bay Ladies Swimming Circle, is published by Hachette this week.

The Rainbow Serpent
Dick Roughsey
This picture book (and its companion, The Giant Devil Dingo) is the one I remember most strongly from childhood. I read it over and over, and was both fascinated by the story and scared of the Rainbow Serpent. But clearly the serpent’s power lingered, and its tale has been the foundation of the storytelling I’ve loved since. Still in print, it’s a classic that should be in every Australian household.

Sophie Green adores the work of James Baldwin.Credit:

The Thorn Birds
Colleen McCullough
Although I read this at an age well below that of ‘‘recommended reading’’ – thanks to parents who never censored my reading material – it held me in complete thrall. McCullough’s epic of landscape, family, loss and love claimed a spot it has held since: a grand Australian story, written for a broad audience and read all over the world. It has always inspired me as a writer, and thus it had to be the first book read by the Fairvale ladies in my previous novel.

Another Country
James Baldwin
Giovanni’s Room was my introduction to James Baldwin but it was Another Country that made me fall deeply in love with his writing. Although I’d loved many books before, reading this one made my heart crack wide open. Baldwin’s skill and fire are on consummate display in this magnificent novel, but no more so than in any of his books. He is a titan of 20th-century literature.

Weetzie Bat
Francesca Lia Block
The first of Francesca Lia Block’s many novels, Weetzie Bat is tiny and perfect. Block’s joy in language – her turns of phrase, her delight in adjectives, her way of describing things as no one else does – is impossible to resist. She throws out the rules while also obeying them, and for a reader, and writer, this is intoxicating.

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