Ten Favourite Books


I’m busy getting ready for a weekend away (Blake’s 7 Convention – Cygnus Alpha 4 – in London this weekend) so time is short and I thought I would do a post on ten favourite books that are on my bookshelf right now. This is far from being my ten favourite books of all time, or anything like that. It’s just ten favourites from a cast of dozens.

John Fowles – The Collector

Was this the first Fowles novel I read? Been a favourite since my teenage years. One of the two lead characters is called Miranda. My daughter is called Miranda. Yep, the book is that good!

Stan Barstow – A Kind of Loving

Together with the sequels The Watchers on the Shore, and The Right True End, this forms a very true-to-life trip through the life and romances of a gritty Northern draughtsman from the 1950s to the 1970s. After reading it, I found my life on a track that led me to work with a fair number of draughtsmen. Draughtsmen are like aliens – you can’t really understand them, but they are intriguing!

Lindsey Davis – The Course of Honour

Davis wrote the long series of Roman historical detective novels about Didius Marcus Falco. This novel sits at a bit of a tangent, being a love story of the Emperor Vespasian and his mistress. I really loved this one, very strong female character.

Haruki Murakami – 1Q84

Another 3-book series that needs to be treated as one entity. I enjoy Murakami’s works enormously and this is the most recent I have read. It is big. It is heavy. Like all his books it is surreal. I mean, read it, get to the bit that explains about the goat and the Little People and tell me you saw that coming. The novel hooks you, and it pulls you in, and you surface at the end with a satisfied smile on your face.

Poul Anderson – Tau Zero

Classic sci-fi at its best. Even if you don’t generally read sci-fi, this is a should-read as it covers a lot of ground in a very readable way.

Enid Blyton – The Famous Five – Five Go To Smugglers’ Top

What can I say? The Famous Five plus smugglers. Best read in the original version if possible – there have been updates through the years to make these books more relevant to modern readership, but the originals are the best. Don’t forget to pack some hard-boiled eggs, potted meat sandwiches, and lashings of ginger beer!

Spirits in Stone – Architectural watercolours by Gerard Stamp

This slim volume of Stamp’s gorgeous watercolours is a real treat to leaf through when a calming influence is needed. I bought it at an exhibition of some of his watercolours at Norwich Castle Museum – if I had money I would buy one of his watercolours like a shot.

W C Sellar & R J Yeatman – 1066 And All That

The entire history of Britain from Julius Ceaser’s invasion in 55 B.C. through to the end of the First World War in 1918. It is 115 pages long, and contains, according to the authors, “All the History you can remember”. This is, of course, an enjoyable laugh, not an accurate history, although if you read it young enough you will probably remember some key historical facts by linking them to their comic equivalents from this book. It includes handy tests at the end of each era to make sure you have taken it all in. An example question from early in the book is “What is a Plantagenet? Do you agree?” Again, something to dip into when your spirits need lifting.

Louis MacNeice – Selected Poems

“Time was away and somewhere else.
The waiter did not come, the clock
Forgot them and the radio waltz
Came out like water from a rock:
Time was away and somewhere else.”

If you like poetry, try MacNeice, he’s good.

My Mum’s Recipe Book

There is no link to this. This is the book where my mum wrote her recipes for all the family favourites, plus a few random things I am not sure she ever cooked. Precious for her recipes, precious for her handwriting. I still cook these things.

I hope you have some lovely books on your bookshelves. Sometimes it’s nice to catch up with an old friend of a book, something from childhood, or something you are so familiar with that you won’t believe you don’t know every word by heart.


2 thoughts on “Ten Favourite Books

  1. It must say something about how poorly read I am that the only one of these I have read is Five go to Smugglers Top! Also one of my favourite ever books – I wonder what makes that particular one such a great example of the Famous Five series, the marshes, the catacombs? So much more memorable than a hundred picnics on Kirrin Island!

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