1. Your 10 favourite books of all time.
Well this is hard. I’ve read a lot of good books recently but of all time? I’ve been reading as long as I can remember so that’s a lot of time we’re talking about but here goes.
1. Chocolat, Joanne Harris. It just makes me all warm inside; picking up this book is like meeting an old friend and having a big steaming mug of hot chocolate on a winter’s day. I love the characters, the setting, the way the story unfolds slowly and then, right at the end everything comes tumbling out all at once. Perfection.
2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, JK Rowling. My favourite of the series by a mile, PoA is the last book before things really get heavy and as such is a slightly lighter read and one I just keep coming back to. Plus I’m a little bit in love with Sirius Black.
3. The Seven Daughters of Eve, Bryan Sykes. You probably won’t have heard of this book but an Oxford University professor’s search for the seven women from whom everyone in Europe today is descended is one of the main reasons that I am where I am today. This book brought the field of genetics alive for me, it gave me greater understanding of how, by studying DNA, we can unravel the mysteries of life.
4. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell. This book practically defined my childhood, I don’t know how many times I read it but it didn’t stop me crying every time Ginger died or when Jerry got ill and I never stopped rooting for Beauty to get his happy ever after. I even had a number of model horses named after the cast.
5. The Stand, Stephen King. A colossal work of fiction which caused me to miss my stop more than once and had me gripped from the first page; The Stand is an epic tale of loss, love and the battle between good and evil.
6. Matilda, Roald Dahl. I had to seriously think about which of Dahl’s works should get a place on the list but since I had to choose I think the story of one girl’s love of reading tops the bill. (Although The BFG ran it very close.)
7. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell. I’m inherently cynical about the world and the direction in which it’s headed and Nineteen Eighty-Four captures the essence of that cynicism. Much as we might like to blind ourselves to it, there’s nothing so extreme in Orwell’s novel as to be completely unimaginable. I also like that he doesn’t shy away from an unhappy ending.
8. The Clan of the Cave Bear, Jean Auel. I was excited as soon as I picked up this book, the first in a series chronicling the life of Ayla, a Cro-Magnon woman raised by a group of Neanderthals. The richness of description Auel uses to paint Ayla’s world is breathtaking really brought it alive and allowed me to see through her eyes. Not to mention that it was all painstakingly researched.
9. To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee. When I first read it I don’t remember, but I subsequently studied Lee’s text at school and miraculously my love of the story emerged the other side unscathed. I’ve read it countless times and to this day I still find the adventures of Scout and her small town kin truly endearing.
10. I Am The Messenger, Markus Zusak. Simply for the beauty of his writing, Zusak had to be on this list and The Messenger trumps The Book Thief because in it Zusak really allows his powers of description run away with him. I have no words to describe the joy I felt reading this book despite its occasionally grim nature and that is a gift indeed.
So there we are, my 10 favourite books of all time and although there are some notable omissions (The Hunger Games, Jane Eyre, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time to name a few), I’d say it’s fairly representative of what I love to read. What’s more, 7 of them are on The List which suggests that its compilers really know what they’re talking about!
Come back tomorrow to find out which books I really DON’T like…