Spectacular Books that inspired Maddie Mortimer's 'Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies'

By Damian Barr's Bookshop

Spectacular Books that inspired Maddie Mortimer's 'Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies'

By Damian Barr's Bookshop

Autobiography of Red

Anne Carson

£15.00 £14.25

I would choose any or all of Anne Carson’s books, but this dazzling retelling of the myth of Geryon and the Tenth Labor of Herakles was my first introduction to her writing. It manages to be both deeply clever and moving and each line is a revelation.


Kay Thompson

£7.99 £7.59

An illustrated children’s book written in 1955 about a monstrous 6-year-old wreaking havoc in the hotel that she lives in. She’s spoilt and terrible and a singular comic creation – I read it a lot while developing the voice of the narrator in Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies. Hillary Knight’s illustrations are inspired.

Grief Is the Thing with Feathers

Max (Author) Porter

£9.99 £9.49

This beautiful book about a father and his two sons grieving the death of a mother is a masterclass in truthful, fearless writing. Max Porter’s emotional lucidity, his linguistic playfulness and blistering musicality has opened up a generation of readers, writers and publishers to new possibilities in contemporary literature.

To the Lighthouse

Virginia Woolf

£7.99 £7.59

A portrait of the Ramsay family through time, written in the most exquisite prose. There is not, in my opinion, a more vivid or rigorous study in the failures and triumphs of human nature, art and language.

A Clockwork Orange: Restored Edition

Anthony Burgess

£8.99 £8.54

Another monstrous narrator, and a reading experience unlike any other. Terrifying, original and packed full of everything from Christian allegory to urgent questions about free will and morality — the way Burgess butchers language and builds anew with its pieces has inspired many after him. A real feast for the brain and a cult classic for a reason.

Gilead: An Oprah's Book Club Pick

Marilynne Robinson

£9.99 £9.49

Nearing the end of his life, Reverend John Ames writes a letter to his six year old son about the history of their family. A epistolary novel saturated with grace, love and longing; sometimes simply reading Robinson’s immeasurably wise prose feels like an act of prayer —of kindness.

Dept. of Speculation

Jenny (Y) Offill


A small novel of huge scope, wit, precision and sadness about marriage and parenthood and so much more, told in fragments from the point of view of an unnamed American woman. Jenny Offill writes about the joys and calamities of domestic life with such freshness it’s like she invented the stuff.

Lincoln in the Bardo: WINNER OF THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2017

George Saunders

£9.99 £9.49

Another brilliant book about grief that challenges the form of the novel to kaleidoscopic effect. Based on the true story of ‘Willie’ Lincoln’s death and President Lincoln’s subsequent visits to his son’s crypt, it’s told through a mad and brilliant polyphony of voices, both dead and alive. I return to the Bardo often when writing, and it’s a place I know I will continue to visit, always.

The Wasteland, Prufrock, and Other Poems

T S Eliot


I had to include my first favourite poetry collection. T.S Eliot’s modernist masterpiece ‘The Wasteland’, gives me chills each time I open it. Profound, philosophical, musical and allusive, Eliot’s ability to pivot masterfully between the sublime and the mundane, the epic and the conversational is unmatched. Even when you’re not sure what’s going on, the magic is there, fizzing in the sounds of the words and the spaces between.

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous: ‘A masterpiece’ – Max Porter

Ocean Vuong

£9.99 £9.49

A letter to a mother who cannot read. I love the brutal physicality of Vuong’s writing, the way he spins a world of violence and tenderness on every word and draws frequent connections between the human and the textual body. Devastatingly good metaphoric writing.


Claire-Louise Bennett

£10.99 £10.44

A collection of short stories - sort of - centred around one woman living in solitude. Explaining Claire Louise Bennett’s writing always feels futile, so I will say this: very rarely does contemporary prose make me want to Stop And Clap like hers does. She’s one of the best stylists working today and I shall follow her anywhere.

Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies: Longlisted for the Booker Prize

Maddie Mortimer

£14.99 £14.24

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