Great Books that Inspired Other Greats

We all have that one person you look up to. But who's the role model's role model? Check out what books inspired these literary experts.

Some from:
Kurt Cobain is one of those musicians who went ahead of his time. Patrick Suskind's Perfume was the inspiration for "Scentless Apprentice", and Cobain had been so obsessed with this book, seeing as how he related to the character so much.

"I've read Perfume by Patrick Suskind about 10 times in my life. I can't stop reading it. It's something that is just stationary in my pocket all the time. Believe me, every time when I'm bored, when I'm on an airplane or something, I'll read it over and over again. I'm a hypochondriac and it just affects me and I just wanna cut my nose off."
J.K. Rowling wrote one of the most compelling and popular pieces of work in this century. And yet there are greats she feels she'll never really measure up to. As far as great writing goes, Jane Austen has it down pat.

"Emma... is the most skilfully managed mystery I've ever read and has the merit of having a heroine who annoys me because she is in some ways so like me. I must have read it at least 20 times, always wondering how I could have missed the glaringly obvious fact that Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax were engaged all along. But I did miss it, and I've yet to meet a person who didn't, and I have never set up a surprise ending in a Harry Potter book without knowing I can never, and will never, do it anywhere near as well as Austen did in Emma."
Emma, Jane Austen
Jane Austen
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Will Smith is one of Hollywood's most hardworking actors. He is in charge of his own destiny, his own future, and his own creations. And he credits this to perhaps one of the most popular books out there:

"One of my favourite books is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I just believe that I can create whatever I want to create if I put my head on it right, study it, learn the patterns. It's real hard to put into words this metaphysical, esoteric nonsense, but I feel very strongly that we are who we choose to be.
British Nigerian historian David Olusoga is a multi-hypenate. Apart from being an author, he's also a TV and radio producer for BBC, churning out programs that investigate the ideas behind colonisation and slavery. When it comes to history, race and colonisation, he says Conrad's Heart of Darkness is that one book which you'll spend years on:

"You can read this in a day but you can then spend years reading the many books written about it – few novels in history have generated so much speculation and debate. That’s because as well as being one of the most compelling and shocking novels, it is also a brilliant exercise in ambiguity. Whose voice do we hear, the unnamed narrator or the witness to events, Marlow? Where is the book set? Conrad never mentions Africa or the Congo but talks of a great river in a great continent. The biggest mystery of all is who – if anyone – was the central character, Kurtz, based upon? A whole array of possible contenders, men whom Conrad may have met during his time in the Congo, have been assembled by historians. To me it is impossible to get a rounded sense of the age of empire – the audacity and the horror – without reading Conrad."
Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
Joseph Conrad
Heart of Darkness
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If you're a hardcore music fan and are obsessed with its history, then you may know Paul Morley. The music writer has some forty years of experience under his belt, and says "as a rock critic you’re writing about much more than music". But as far as books which impacted him goes, here's what he had to say:

"Cohn wrote this book aged 22 in seven committed weeks to the loud sound of Beethoven’s string quartet No 15 in A Minor, rather than the Little Richard, Dylan, James Brown, Beatles, Who and Stones he was vividly mythologising. Cohn helped me understand how exciting writing about pop could be. The old saying that writing about music is like dancing about architecture is wrong because, as Cohn made brilliantly clear, as a rock critic you are writing about much more than music – personality, appearance, illusion, myth, emotion, desire – and ultimately about yourself. Your response should be illuminating, exaggerated, inspired, serious, mischievous and put the reader somewhere new and special, like the music."
When comes to nature writing, Richard Mabey is our go-to guy. Despite a career spanning forty years and countless books, he has Kathleen Jamie to thank.

"... to see how “nature” prose should be done I turn repeatedly to Kathleen Jamie’s essays. Writing of the moon and the night sky, or the skeletons of embryos in a medical museum, she has a clarity, an attentiveness that rinses your mind. She is quite without ego and has no need of extravagant metaphorical frameworks. “The outer world flew open like a door,” she writes, “and I wondered, what is it that we’re just not seeing?”"
When it comes to writing memoirs and life-diaries, Olivia Laing credits Virgina Woolf as one of the most influential pieces of work.

"Everything starts for me with Woolf. I read Orlando first, but my abiding love is for the five pastel-jacketed volumes of her diaries. She began on 1 January 1915, writing after tea and using the notebooks as a laboratory for ideas, a place to catch stray thoughts and observations: weather reports from the teeming days. It’s this rough quality that appeals to me, the sense of someone thinking at full pelt, worrying their way into new concepts, new forms of language. As for that last, steadfast entry: “L. is doing the rhododendrons…”"
Mark Kermode is chief film critic for the Observer, and has written several books on the medium. When it comes to being a good writer for film and movies, he has this book to thank:

"Along with the horror/fantasy film critics Nigel Floyd and Alan Jones, Kim Newman was a guiding light when I started out in film journalism, and I remain in awe of his work. First published in the 1980s, since when it has been massively expanded and updated, Nightmare Movies is matchless stuff – a textbook which turns Newman’s encyclopaedic knowledge into a readable romp through the hidden byways of horror cinema. Like Mark Cousins’s The Story of Film, it’s as book that never ceases to amaze and delight me."
Alain de Botton, philosopher, thinker and all-round clever guy says Seneca should be the author of the hour.

"Given the times we live in, Seneca should be the author of the hour. In a time of continuous political upheaval (Nero was on the imperial throne), Seneca interpreted philosophy as a discipline to keep us calm against a backdrop of perpetual danger. He tried to calm the sense of injustice in his readers by reminding them – in AD62 – that natural and manmade disasters will always be a feature of our lives, however sophisticated and safe we think we have become. We must, argued Seneca, hold the possibility of the most obscene events in mind at all times. No one should undertake a journey by car, or walk down the stairs or say goodbye to a friend without an awareness – neither gruesome nor unnecessarily dramatic – of fatal possibilities."
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