An Eleanor Catton reading list

Eleanor Catton.jpg (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

In October, Canadian-born, New Zealand-raised author Eleanor Catton won the Man Booker prize for her novel The Luminaries. At just over 800 pages, the novel is a murder mystery that takes place during the 19th-century gold rush in New Zealand. Catton said she drew inspiration from novels of the past.

She recently sat down with CBC Music to discuss her influences in more detail. Here is an Eleanor Catton reading list drawn from that interview.

HARRYPOTTER.jpgHer favourite books from childhood that inspired The Luminaries:

"I'm also of the generation that grew up alongside Harry Potter. The first book was published when I was the same age as Harry in the book. I was 12 and he was 12. So I got on that bandwagon and those were really important to me. I still see them as consummate mysteries. Even more amazing because over the course of the seven books there is this arch mystery that she had been planning for the whole time and nobody sees it coming."

TALENTEDMRRIPLEY.jpgBooks Catton read as research for The Luminaries:

In researching The Luminaries, I did read quite a lot of 20th-century crime. My favourites out of that were James M. Cain, Dassiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Graham Greene and Patricia Highsmith."

THEBROTHERSKARAMAZOV.jpgThe biggest influence on The Luminaries:

The most influential book on the writing of The Luminaries was The Brothers Karamazov, which is just a little longer. I'd say that was pretty important."


Other all-time favourite books:

"Middlemarch is an all-time favourite book of mine. Anna Karenina. Those books of the 19th century. Moby Dick was huge for me as well. And The Portrait of a Lady. I loved Hilary Mantel's Thomas Cromwell books and can't wait for the next one. Julian Barnes wrote a book called Arthur & George, which was about Arthur Conan Doyle, which I really enjoyed."


Her favourite Canadian books:

"Margaret Atwood was the author who took me out of children's literature and guided me towards adult literature. When I was 12 or 13 I first read Alias Grace and The Handsmaid's Tale. They were books that were difficult enough and they challenged me enough to make me feel proud to have read them. I remember steering the course of my reading away from the children's section of the library after encountering her. I met her in Dublin this year, of all places. We were having a whiskey in the bar."