Playwright and artistic director David Greig tells Marianne Taylor about the books that shaped him.

Favourite book you read as child

I was a voracious reader as a kid. I grew up in Nigeria in the 1970s and so there was no telly, really. I read everything I could get my hands on. I remember loving everything from Misty of Chincoteague, a story about a horse by Marguerite Henry, to Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton. I can’t remember anything standing out as favourite but I do remember I read the entire The Adventurous Four series by Enid Blyton. Oddly, I had no time for The Famous Five, they were saps.

What was the first book to make an impact on you?

Mr Bump by Roger Hargreaves. The picture of him stranded on a beach, having fallen in a hole "that someone has dug", his hand reaching out helplessly into the starry night, struck a chord in my soul that I don’t think has ever stopped ringing. I also touted Zen and The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert S Pirsig to everyone I knew for years after I read it.

Which books have made you laugh or cry?

PG Wodehouse makes me laugh until I cry. I used to take his books on family holidays and read them to the kids at night. His writing is, to me, like smoking very good grass. It just makes the world funny. I also love Flann O'Brien writing as Myles Na gCopaleen. His mixture of puns and daftness is largely the inspiration for my twitter feed.

Read more: Denise Mina: My Life in Books

One book that made me cry is Stuart, A Life Backwards by Alexander Masters, which is about the life of a man who can’t keep it together. Another would be A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews. She writes beautifully about love and, in particular, a father who fails his daughter but loves her profoundly.

Favourite character

The whale in Moby Dick. You can’t catch him.

Least favourite genre

Probably the literary novel. I love essays, travel, biography, big fat historical tomes, political memoir, poetry, detective novels, romances and classic novels... but somehow the phrase "literary novel" kills my mood. Every year I feel rebuked by the Booker shortlist, though I do love some of the books.

Book you wish you’d written

Am I allowed poems? If I’m allowed poems then Memorial by Alice Oswald. It’s near on perfect. If I’m not allowed poems then Rachel Cusk's Outline overwhelmed me. Though, given it’s written almost as an autobiography, it would be weird if I’d written it. So maybe I just want to know what it might be like to possess her talent for observation. Oh, I know! Andrew Greig’s The Loch Of The Green Corrie. It’s a beautiful account of a life well lived and a landscape, Assynt, that I also love.

Book you think is overrated

I find it very hard to be bothered by Lord of The Rings.

E reader or print?

Print. I’ve never used an e-reader.

Where do you like to read?

On a chair, by a fire, in a cottage on Rannoch Moor.

Read moreJohn Niven: My Life in Books

Last book you didn’t finish and why

I didn’t finish Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe, which is an extraordinary book about the farming and land management practices of the Aboriginal people of Australia before they came into contact with colonialism. I started it whilst I was working in Australia on the stage show of Solaris. It’s a terrific book but I wanted to post it to my brother, who works in land management in South Australia, before we came home. So I’ll have to read the last two chapters another time.

Last book you read

Under Another Sky by Charlotte Higgins, an account of her journey in search of the Roman presence in Britain.

Favourite three novels

Moby Dick by Herman Melville. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Favourite three non-fiction books

Singing Saltwater Country, by John Bradley with Yanyuwa Families. A Guide to The Lakeland Fells by Alfred Wainwright and The World’s Ultimate Running Races, by Angela Mudge.

Favourite Scottish book

This is the hardest section for me. As a teenager I used to hang out in the Scottish Poetry Library as if it were Tower Records. I read guidebooks to Scotland and histories of Scotland, and I love the novels, novelists and poets of Scotland. In the end I’m going to choose Findings by Kathleen Jamie. Somehow she contains all of those things.

Guilty pleasure

I love reading political gossip, memoir and intrigue. I don’t know if I exactly feel guilty about it but reading Tim Shipman’s Fall Out about Theresa May’s disastrous election in 2017 makes me feel slightly soiled in a mildly addictive way. Project Fear by Joe Pike has a similar effect.

Most interesting or unusual use of a book

I don’t know if this counts but when I worked in the Middle East in the early 2000s I always used to carry about a book of Guardian Crossword puzzles in case I got kidnapped.

Solaris, a new play by David Greig adapted from the novel by Stanislaw Lem, is at The Lyceum in Edinburgh until October 5.