Over the past few years, Isamaya Ffrench has determined herself as one of London's most prolific young creatives. A polymath whose career spans the worlds of make-up artistry, creative direction, clothing design and illustration, she has some of the greatest references around and thus makes the ideal candidate for The Books That Made Me. Here she explains her five favourites, spanning the realms of post-apocalyptic man-eating flowers and the familiarity of dysfunctional families...
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
"My favourite Steinbeck novel, East of Eden is quite a scary book in some ways; witnessing someone elses evil and following their journey is a real experience because you can't help getting emotionally involved in the story. It's more natural to experience this 'evil' in men, but the fact that the nemesis here is a woman makes it even more harrowing, as it presents the anti-woman and anti-nature. The protagonist tries to carry out her own self abortion and is therefore the ultimate rejection of life. It's a highly thought-provoking and symbolic book, addressing the perpetual contest between good and evil as the one recurring narrative in human history. It's especially relevant as it addresses the individual's ego and, the internal conflict that arises when one recognises only they have the ability to make choices."
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
"My dad was a funny one. In the same year that he gave me a digital multimeter for my 11th birthday, he also told me to read this book. Even though the narrative isn't that amazing, as a little girl, it completely overwhelmed my imagination and for ages I had fantasies about killer plants... It geared me up for a good few years of sci-fi overindulgence, The Bridge by Iain Banks and The Time Machine by H. G. Wells being my other favourites. The Day of the Triffids is a standard post-apocalyptic novel about a plague of blindness that befalls the entire world, allowing the rise of an aggressive, killer species of plant."
The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
"Reminds me of when I wanted to be a little boy."
The Peculiar Memories of Thomas Penman by Bruce Robinson
"Definitively my favourite book ever. It is the debut novel from Bruce Robinson (of Withnail and I), a darkly hilarious coming of age story about a young boy who can't help shitting in weird places. It reminds me of my own childhood. Growing up with a dysfuntional family, he finds sanctity in his dying grandfather who communicates with him through morse code whilst he tries to find his old hidden stash of vintage pornography."
The Symbolic Quest by Edward Whitmont
"This book made me love being alive, and ultimately enforced my willingness to find meaning in the journey."