Jimmy Coates: Revenge is included on a new list, being launched today, of all the best books that boys between 11 and 14 should be reading.
Have a look at the whole list and let me know what you think.
It looks like a great list to me - or is that just because I'm on it? Though I'm a little disappointed that my personal favourites aren't on there - Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake and anything by Dick King-Smith.
A list like this would have helped me a lot when I was 11. That's roughly when I stopped reading books and started reading film magazines and lists of cricket statistics instead. It was all good stuff (the film magazines taught me almost everything I know about writing, and I learned how to add up from the cricket stats) but if it hadn't been for the personal recommendations of my older sister, I would never have taken up reading novels again.
I knew I could trust my sister's judgement about what I would enjoy, but I also loved lists. This one wouldn't have been any different. I would have studied it (that's extra reading, for a start) and I would have crossed off the titles when I'd read them. I might even have given them marks out of ten. (Then worked out the averages for each genre, of course.)
It's great that today everyone has been banging on about the importance of books. It's all true, but don't forget also the importance of stories. Yes, it's great to read non-fiction, which I still love to do, but I think our stories are a measure of our society. If you don't read them - the good, the bad, the predictable, the inspiring - you're missing out on a great insight into the way people operate, and the way the world works.
Even though it's fiction, it is a reflection of the world. The great story-guru Robert McKee says that every time you sit down to write a story you should be saying, "This is how the world is."
That's what I try to do, and that's why I'll never stop reading fiction. I want to know how the world is.