Culture Street

Books

Chris Muir selects Five Books of Influence

On February 25, 2014

Chris Muir has worked in the advertising industry for 36 years and has won many creative awards. He currently owns and runs the advertising agency, Smoke Signals.

He has travelled widely; trekked the Kokoda Track, been kidnapped by orang-utans in Borneo, driven herds of brumbies across the Australian Alps and lived in New York, London and Singapore. But it was Africa that stole his heart. Since his first trip in 1994 to experience his ‘Gorillas in the Mist' moment in Rwanda, he has gone back many times to continue the adventure and his love affair with this amazing continent and its even more amazing people.

Chris lives in Sydney and has two boys. He regularly competes in long distance endurance races (because he's slightly mad) and likes to cook for friends, but mostly you'll find him clanking away at a keyboard writing his next novelA Savage Garden has just been released.

 A Secret Scripture - Sebastian Barry

 

This is right up there with the most beautiful books that I have ever read. The two main characters, Roseanne and Dr Grene are brought to life with narrative that makes you feel like you’re standing in the room with them…no that’s too far away…you’re in their shoes and in their minds. But the real achievement of this book is that Barry manages to create enthralling, beautiful prose out of the wreckage of two lives. I found myself going back and reading sections of it over and over again. Unlike James Joyce’s Ulysses, it wasn’t because I didn’t understand it, but because it was such elegant writing. Highly recommended.   

 Sick Puppy - Carl Hiaasen

 

I loved this book because as a writer it taught me what could remain unsaid. Sometimes you just have to let the reader’s imagination takeover and they’ll do a fantastic job of completing the sentences for you.
I’d read Hiaasen before this, but this tongue-in-cheek look at anarchy in a Florida that rarely makes the press got my belly wobbling and my cheeks hurting. His lead character, ex-governor, Clinton Tyree, lives in the swamps and behaves like Grizzly Adams on PCP, but I loved this guy. He’s bigger than life and I found myself wanting to meet him…and that’s got to be the sign of a good character.

  The Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett

 

This book polarises people. Some think that it’s an improbably soap opera and others that it’s an historical epic. On balance I fall into the latter group because when it came out I devoured it like a hungry man. It had everything…mistaken identities, illicit marriages, illegitimate children, questionable parentage, love triangles, revenge, greed, power, murders, rapes, witches, politics and knights….what’s not to like. However, what surprised me most was the style…the historical grandeur that was so far away from anything that Follett had ever done. I was a Follett fan before this and a bigger fan afterwards but for a short while in between I was confused.

The White Tiger- Aravind Adiga

 

This was Adiga’s first novel and boy, what a debut. It’s so charming that you just want to hug him but this fine book is also imbued with such wonderful wit and extraordinary pathos that it was hard to put down. At first it seems like it’s a straight-forward ‘pulled-up-by-the-bootstraps’ tale, albeit with a terrific twist, but as the narrative draws you in, and then darkens it becomes clear that Adiga has so much more to say.

My Compass Points to Treasure – Lt. Harry E. Rieseberg

 

I won this book when I was 10 years old because came first in a ‘temperance’ exam…oh dear…if they only knew. I’ve included this book on my list because it was the first one that I ever treasured; that I held like there was something important inside it. If you asked me today to tell you what it was about I’d struggle to say that it was something about adventures on a ship in the Caribbean…but I remember the book and I remember the feeling of owning it.

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