by Ashley Lister
There has only ever been one important book in my life: certainly only one that I’d risk my life to save from the flames.
That comment reminds me of something I once watched a TV priest say. He was discussing material wealth, and its genuine lack of worth. Talking directly to the host he said, ‘If your house was on fire, can you give me the exact financial worth of the first three things you would save?’
Of course the host hesitated and admitted that there was no way of putting a financial worth on his wife, children or pets: apposite proof of the priest’s point. Personally, I'd reached a value £4.73, but that's just me.
And I’m digressing and in danger of sounding serious. As I say, there is only one book I consider important enough to save from the flames. However, reflecting on the subject for this blog, I appreciate there are some other titles that I would have to consider and I’ve included them here, simply because I can.
Good Omens by Terry Pratchet & Neil Gaiman.
This hilarious novel is probably my all time favourite title. Pratchet is renowned for his sense of humour. Gaiman has a dark mirth to his writing. Together they have created a brilliant novel that simply sparkles with wit.
IT by Stephen King.
Stephen King was the first ‘grown-up writer’ I read and his name was certain to appear in this short list. Admittedly, I didn’t know which title to pick. I spent four years at college with a copy of The Stand in my back pocket (I had big back pockets in those days), and I can relate anecdotes about the nerve-wrenching agony of waiting for the individual monthly release of The Green Mile when it came out in chapbook form. However, for its breadth of imagination, and for the richness of the characters involved, I think IT ranks as my number one favourite King title.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.
I grew up reading this title. I’ve probably owned a dozen copies of the book having ‘leant’ them to friends who then went on to lose/eat/steal them (please delete as applicable). Adams (now, sadly passed on) couldn’t structure a sentence. However, the wit inside his words showed a perfect blend of humour and imagination.
The Art of War by Sun Tzu.
Chinese military philosophy that’s as relevant today (in every walk of life) as it was when it was originally written 2,500 years ago.
Any title by Ashley Lister or one of his pseudonyms.
I’ve written maybe thirty novels under pseudonyms, two non-fiction titles under my own name, and many articles and short stories under a variety of different names. If it came to saving something from the flames my ego would not be satisfied unless I made some token gesture at saving my own creations.
Which is where my answer finally comes into play. The one book I would have to save – the one book that would probably be saved ahead of family and most pets, is the current work in progress.
There are plenty of books that have been written. I’ve written several of them myself. But there is no book more important than the one I’m currently working on, even though that title differs from month to month.