The best books about magic, heroes, and rock ‘n’ roll

Geoff Turner Author Of Archie's Mirror
By Geoff Turner

Who am I?

As a writer of children’s books, I’ve always been fascinated – not merely by the narrative, characters, and plot that form a story – but how ideas themselves spring to life and cross-pollinate to form some kind of creative endeavor, whether that’s a song, a poem, a book or anything else that provokes an emotional response. Rather than shying away from the question: "Where do you get your ideas?" I like to embrace it and search for answers myself. These books all set contexts through which the nature of imagination and ideas are explored alongside the tales they tell, and they remain an influence on the ideas I have, and the words I write.

I wrote...

Archie's Mirror

By Geoff Turner,

Book cover of Archie's Mirror

What is my book about?

Archie’s search for his missing magician father takes him to a land beyond a magical mirror. His is a tale of golf-playing giants, nonsensical two-faced monkeys, terrifying Fracture Knights, an eccentric Sorceress, a mysterious Lost Girl, Memory Storms, Forests of Smoke, and journeys by cloud. After carrying out a dangerous prison break – pausing to party with the legendary Moon Wolves (and brokering peace with their deadly enemies, the Night Cats) – Archie and his companions must confront the terrifying, lich-like, Gnik and uncover the secret that lies behind his father’s disappearance in a final battle to break the spell of Darkness that has riven the Land Beyond.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Weirdstone of Brisingamen

Why this book?

A formative book from my childhood, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen kick-started my love of all things magic, heroic, and fantastical. Not only that, but the setting was close to where I grew up – these were locations I knew but viewed through a mythic lens. Loosely based on the legend of the Wizard of Alderley Edge, Alan Garner creates a fantasy world that feels so real as two children are pulled into an adventure where the very future of the world of men is on the line. It remains so influential on my own writing that I still return to the old dwarf caves of Fundinvale as an adult and enjoy the tale every bit as much as I did when I was a ten-year-old reading by torchlight under the duvet.

The Weirdstone of Brisingamen

By Alan Garner,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Weirdstone of Brisingamen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Weirdstone of Brisingamen is one of the greatest fantasy novels of all time.

"Alan Garner's fiction is something special." - Neil Gaiman

When Colin and Susan are pursued by eerie creatures across Alderley Edge, they are saved by the Wizard. He takes them into the caves of Fundindelve, where he watches over the enchanted sleep of one hundred and forty knights.

But the heart of the magic that binds them - Firefrost, also known as the Weirdstone of Brisingamen - has been lost. The Wizard has been searching for the stone for more than 100 years, but the forces…

Book cover of The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the Band who Burned a Million Pounds

Why this book?

What on earth would possess you to burn a million quid? And if you’re going to, why travel to the small Scottish island of Jura to do it? Was this some ill-conceived publicity stunt, a cry for help, or a ceremony born of chaos and magic? John Higgs takes the reader on a deep dive into the fractured psyche of a couple of musicians that were briefly the most successful singles band in the world, and attempts to unravel the reasons behind what many people felt was either a self-absorbed, utterly insane, or obsessively destructive act. Along the way we dip into the philosophy of Discordianism, the influence of Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea’s Illuminatus! trilogy and the significance of darkly magical rabbits, as we’re provided with enough clues to draw our own conclusions. 

The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the Band who Burned a Million Pounds

By John Higgs,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The KLF as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The best non-fiction book I've ever read. It's magical. Stunning' Dan Schreiber, No Such Thing As a Fish

'A pop biography for people who don't read pop biographies' Dorian Lynskey, Guardian

'Brilliant, discursive and wise' Ben Goldacre

'Utterly irresistible and totally brilliant' The Quietus

'A thing of endlessly fascinating, utterly demented genius' Alexis Petridis


They were the bestselling singles band in the world. They had awards, credibility, commercial success and creative freedom. Then they deleted their records, erased themselves from musical history and burnt their last…

American Gods

By Neil Gaiman,

Book cover of American Gods

Why this book?

The old gods and new are on a collision course to a seemingly inevitable war and we’re taken along for the ride through the eyes of Shadow Moon, a recently widowed, small-time criminal, just released from jail. He hooks up with the mysterious Mr. Wednesday, working as a driver-cum-bodyguard-cum-odd job man, who guides him through the margins of a little-seen United States. Neil Gaiman’s novel of magical realism brilliantly sets up a world that we almost recognise as our own, but is somehow two clicks south of reality, weaving in the oddities of roadside attractions, with folklore and ancient stories to create a narrative that’s both a familiar hero’s journey and a wildly original campfire tale.

American Gods

By Neil Gaiman,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked American Gods as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now a STARZ® Original Series – Season 3 premiere in January 2021

“Pointed, occasionally comic, often scary, consistently moving and provocative….American Gods is strewn with secrets and magical visions.”—USA Today

Newly updated and expanded with the author’s preferred text. A modern masterpiece from the multiple-award-winning master of innovative fiction, Neil Gaiman.

First published in 2001, American Gods became an instant classic, lauded for its brilliant synthesis of “mystery, satire, sex, horror, and poetic prose” (Washington Post) and as a modern phantasmagoria that “distills the essence of America” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). It is the story of Shadow—released from prison just days after…

Book cover of England's Dreaming: Anarchy, Sex Pistols, Punk Rock, and Beyond

Why this book?

The birth of punk rock was never really about the music – or at least not just about the music – and England’s Dreaming sets the context for probably the most volatile genre to assault the senses. Jon Savage’s book explores the historical and social setting that led to this – albeit brief – explosion in youth culture. He links together the birth of anarchism with the Situationist art movement alongside the eventual do-it-yourself attitude of punk fashion and music to create a narrative that’s both fascinating and incredibly relevant to the world today. As the legendary contemporaneous fanzine, Sniffing Glue once put it: Here’s a guitar chord, here’s another, here’s another…now go form a band!

England's Dreaming: Anarchy, Sex Pistols, Punk Rock, and Beyond

By Jon Savage,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked England's Dreaming as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The influence of The Sex Pistols has stretched way beyond their short, violent and notorious career - not only did they define punk, through the vision of their manager Malcolm McLaren and lead singer Johnny Rotten, but by the time of the Jubilee in 1977, they had initiated an explosion of angry music, graphics, fashion and media. This book is full of research, interviews plus a discography of The Sex Pistols that provides a historical perspective of the group. It follows the group's development over the course of a decade that began with a small shop in the King's Road…

Where the Wild Things Are

By Maurice Sendak,

Book cover of Where the Wild Things Are

Why this book?

A children’s book that’s so much more than the linear tale of a naughty child who crosses the sea to become king of an island of monsters (for being the wildest thing of them all). The simple narrative explores anger, frustration, rebellion, and – perhaps most importantly – the power of a child’s imagination. Through couplets, Maurice Sendak conjures up a powerful story with incredible imagery – who can forget Max’s paper boat sailing back ‘over a year; and in and out of weeks; and through a day; and into the night of his very own room’? – and a, somehow, anti-moralistic ending. There are lessons to be learned here, but the reader is free to make up their own mind as to what they are. Plus, the artwork’s pretty cool.

Where the Wild Things Are

By Maurice Sendak,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Where the Wild Things Are as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Read-along with the story in this book and CD edition!

One night Max puts on his wolf suit and makes mischief of one kind and another, so his mother calls him 'Wild Thing' and sends him to bed without his supper.

That night a forest begins to grow in Max's room and an ocean rushes by with a boat to take Max to the place where the wild things are. Max tames the wild things and crowns himself as their king, and then the wild rumpus begins.

But when Max has sent the monsters to bed, and everything is quiet,…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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