Author Bradley Trevor Greive.
My Family and Other Animals - Gerald Durrell
Above my writing desk there hangs a photograph of Gerald Durrell nuzzling the snout of a South American tapir. There is simply no other author whose work and life has more directly inspired my own. Durrell taught me three invaluable lessons:
1. Laughter is adventure's best companion.
2. Literacy is sexy.
3. Never trust a monkey.
Moby-Dick - Herman Melville
I read this briny epic as an act of literary contrition while wearing hospital pyjamas and found it unexpectedly wondrous. Moby-Dick led me to Tahiti, where I competed in Heiva contests with injurious success. I also visited the Nantucket home of Captain George Pollard, whose whaler was churned into toothpicks by a sperm whale, and thus became the inspiration for the greatest American novel.
Journey without Maps - Graham Greene
It was after my 17th surgical repair and fifth treatment for rabies that John Cleese summarised my life as ''one long suicide attempt'', and for this cherished insult I blame Graham Greene. I am firmly in agreement with him that ''for a writer to spend much of his time in the company of authors is, you know, a form of masturbation'' - thus I eschew the festival soirees and stumble headlong into the wild.
Changing Places - David Lodge
Worried that my career was on an aimless journey, my literary agent Albert Zuckerman - who is equal parts Mother Teresa and Mob enforcer - foisted this brilliantly fractured comic gem upon my idle brain in the hope that it might inspire me. It did. Though nothing has yet come of this - my writerly ambition is stalled in a flummery of ineptitude. I later corresponded with Lodge, who was warm, witty and encouraging.
For Whom the Bell Tolls - Ernest Hemingway
This was my first Hemingway novel and the decapitated sentences shocked and excited me, as did the grim romance. Eighteen months after I read it, I joined the army. Years later, as a paratrooper platoon commander in 3RAR (Para), I revisited this novel and found it even more tragic, beautiful and true. Reading it now, I once again feel the pack straps bite into my aching shoulders.
Bradley Trevor Greive has sold more than 22 million books in 115 countries. A former Australian paratrooper, he left the army to seek creative misadventure. His latest book is Curses and Blessings for All Occasions, published by Allen & Unwin, $16.99.