10 Must-Read Books Recommended By Ruskin Bond That Inspired His Storytelling

From Charles Dickens to Agatha Christie and Somerset Maughum, here are 10 books that Ruskin Bond recommends and says shaped his own storytelling in one way or another.

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There’s a big chance that at least one of Ruskin Bond’s stories has shaped your life — whether as a child or as an adult. With over 500 books to his name and a career spanning 70 years, it’s no secret that the author is a household name. 

So it’s only fitting that a writer whose name is synonymous with storytelling must have some of the best advice when it comes to choosing books. 

Here, we have put together a list of books that Bond himself recommends you read. 

1. The Fall of Berlin – Antony Beevor

The Fall of Berlin - Antony Beevor
The Fall of Berlin, Picture credits: Amazon

At the time of an interview with New Indian Express, Ruskin Bond shared that this was the book he was reading. 

The Fall of Berlin is a historical account that chronicles the events of the Second World War and what led to its end. It is a gripping tale of how civilian and military life unfolded in Germany and the destruction brought about through the course of the battle. 

Buy the book here

2. Anti-Clock – V J James

Anti-Clock - V J James
Anti-Clock, Picture credits: Amazon

The novel revolves around Hendri, a coffin maker who will do anything to see his nemesis go six feet down. Hendri soon meets a watchmaker who is 112 years old and is building a way to turn back time. 

Will Hendri be successful in attaining the anti-clock? Or will his nemesis Loppo beat him to it? 

Buy the book here

3. The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham  – Selina Hastings

The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham  - Selina Hastings
The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham, Picture credits: Amazon

“I read Somerset Maugham’s new biography some weeks ago and quite enjoyed it,” Ruskin Bond told Parent Circle

The book follows the life of Somerset Maugham, said to be one of the finest writers in the world. Despite the aura of luxury and lavishness that he exuded, there was a darker story that was being concealed. The book explores how his early life was shaped by the trauma of losing his parents and how he went through life trying to regain a sense of love and confidence. 

It also offers a glimpse into the personal life events that compelled Maugham to write classics such as ‘The Razor’s Edge’. 

Buy the book here

4. Stranger Than Fiction: The Life of Edgar Wallace  – Neil Clark

Stranger Than Fiction: The Life of Edgar Wallace  - Neil Clark
Stranger Than Fiction: The Life of Edgar Wallace, Picture credits: Amazon

Edgar Wallace, an internationally acclaimed writer who had more than 173 books to his name, had a great story to tell himself. He was known for the thrillers with mysterious plots and twists, and his biography is as compelling a read as any. It speaks of how Wallace, as the illegitimate son of a travelling actress, made his way into the world of literature. 

Buy the book here

5. The Pickwick Papers  – Charles Dickens

The Pickwick Papers  - Charles Dickens
The Pickwick Papers, Picture credits: Amazon

In many of his interviews, Ruskin Bond can be quoted saying that he is an avid Charles Dickens fan and has read “all his works”. “After reading Pickwick Papers, I became a Dickens fan. I enjoyed it due to the humour in it.”

The book follows the story of four men from the Pickwick Club and the happenings of their daily lives, which take place against the backdrop of 19th-century England. 

Buy the book here

6. Hercule Poirot  – Agatha Christie

Hercule Poirot  - Agatha Christie
Hercule Poirot, Picture credits: Amazon

Bond has been very passionate about the works of Agatha Christie and said, “A book lasts a very long time if it has a very strong central character which is repeated again and again in subsequent books,” referring to Hercule Poirot. He also noted that the plot of Hercule Poirot was “eccentric, memorable and larger than life”. 

A collection of short stories, the book is one of Christie’s greatest works and tells the tale of a detective who thinks he can never be outdone. 

Buy the book here

7. Of Human Bondage – Somerset Maugham 

Of Human Bondage - Somerset Maugham 
Of Human Bondage, Picture credits: Amazon

Bond’s love for Somerset’s literary works are evident in his praise for the author’s writing style and plots. 

In the introduction to one of his masterpiece collections Friends In Small Places (2000), Bond writes, “Somerset Maugham liked writing about the people he met. So did Maupassant and Chekhov. That is why their stories are never dull. They wrote about real people.”

‘Of Human Bondage’ tells the story of Philip Carey, an orphan who wishes to experience the world for what it is and eventually falls in love with a waitress Mildred in London. It depicts the turns his life witnesses. 

Buy the book here.  

8. The Talented Mr Ripley  – Patricia Highsmith

The Talented Mr Ripley  - Patricia Highsmith
The Talented Mr Ripley, Picture credits: Amazon

In an interview with She The People, Bond recalled American novelist and short story writer Patricia Highsmith as his favourite woman crime writer.

Among the many works that Highsmith has given the world to cherish, a few of her bestselling ones are ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’, ‘The Price of Salt’, ‘Strangers on a Train’. 

In ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’, Mr Ripley is doing everything possible to stay ahead of the law, when an almost too-good-to-be opportunity presents itself to him — the chance to start anew. 

Buy the book here.

9. Pygmalion  – Bernard Shaw

Pygmalion  - Bernard Shaw
Pygmalion, Picture credits: Amazon

Growing up, Ruskin Bond recounts how the library was his greatest escape. “I used to frantically read everything, from Bernard Shaw to Charles Dickens.” 

Shaw’s most successful work Pygmalion went on to be adapted into the popular Broadway musical My Fair Lady. 

The story revolves around Professor Higgins and Eliza Doolittle, the former turning the latter into a beautiful and presentable young lady, thus making the experiment he undertook a success. 

Buy the book here

Typhoon And Other Stories  - Joseph Conrad
Typhoon And Other Stories, Picture credits: Amazon

Bond once said he loved the book by Joseph Conrad as it had a “great sense of adventure and a strong feeling for the sea”. 

The book is based on Conrad’s true experiences at sea as he sailed under Captain John MacWhir. As the ship is in the heart of a typhoon, will quick thinking save the crew? 

Buy the book here

Sources
Ruskin Bond interview: ‘I Wish to Explore a Work of History’, Published on 14 November 2021. 
An Interview With Much-Loved Children’s Author Ruskin Bond by Anusha Vincent.
Ruskin Bond is a fan of Agatha Christie, Published on 29 January 2019. 
In Conversation With Ruskin Bond: Going Back To The Foothills Of Himalayas by Chokita Paul, Published on 13 June 2022.
From Joseph Conrad To Charles Dickens: Ruskin Bond’s Favourite Reads by Radhika Dave, Published on 30 June 2019. 

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