Sydney surfer Glenn Orgias was seriously injured when he was attacked by a great white shark in 2009 at Bondi Beach. His memoir, Man in a Grey Suit (Viking, $29.95), is about his ordeal and recovery.
The Bourne Identity - Robert Ludlum
A spy thriller. A man with amnesia is dragged aboard a fishing boat in heavy seas. He figures out he's actually a spy/ kick-ass assassin and beats the hell out of various people who are trying to kill him. Dad brought this home in the '80s and read it in one sitting. ''Son,'' he said, ''when a book's this good, just keep turning the pages.'' I was 10. It was the book that got me interested in reading.
Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
Yossarian is a bombardier in World War II. Someone is trying to kill him. Actually, everyone is. Poor bastard. He's caught between a rock and a hard place. This book is wildly creative. Heller makes the absurd feasible and the war contemptible. Under the comedy and cleverness of the writing, there is heart. I think Heller might have really loved Yossarian. I did.
Dirt Music - Tim Winton
I'd been subconsciously waiting my whole life to hear the voice that came out of this book. So evocative. So Australian. ''Earthy'' is quite a hippie word for a book with a lot of rednecks in it, but it was earthy and grounded. It has a great, escalating plot about love and redemption, but it was the writing I loved, the style, the grace and the harshness. I wanted to write after I read this.
The Brain That Changes Itself - Norman Doidge
After my shark attack and subsequent hand amputation, I was in quite some pain. Phantom-limb pain, they call it, which is the result of severe nerve damage. This book gave me hope that I would find a way out of the pain. It taught me that I could retrain my brain to accept the loss of my hand. The stories of recovery and determination were an inspiration.
The Road - Cormac McCarthy
A story of a man and his son, plus love, despair and the apocalypse. This book really got to me. A poetic and brutal exploration of fatherhood. It was terrifying. It gutted me when I read it. I teared up at the end. In fact, I'm still upset. It has stayed with me, and when I'm in the bath I find myself constantly on edge and listening for the three low concussions that signal the start of Judgment Day.