I really enjoyed the ten part series on BBC2 where celebrity guests choose their favourite 5 books, split between 5 categories. I’ve been pondering my choices since and decided on these:
Favourite early childhood book
A Dog So Small by Phillipa Pearce (1962). I remember having to write my first book review at junior school and choosing this book after being completely captivated by the imaginative story.
The Razor’s Edge by W Somerset Maugham (1944). Mum enjoyed his novels and her matinee idol Tyrone Power was in the original film adaptation so that was why I picked it up! At 15 I wouldn’t have got far through it unless the story had pulled me in though. I’ve realised this is first book set in the 1920’s I read, since then I’ve become increasingly drawn to that era in both choice of books and loving the Art Deco style. A central theme is Larry’s spiritual journey which impressed upon me deeply.
Modern work of fiction
Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (1874). I studied this book twice at school and it has stayed with me. Reminds me of a long hot summer holiday when I first read it, probably 1983. The language is beautiful and the story the most tragic I’d come across at the time – I was most upset about the sheep back then! But it is also an enduring love story and one where you really care about the characters.
Tender: Volume 1, A cook and his vegetable patch by Nigel Slater (2009). It’s got to be cookery books, I can’t get enough of them – I don’t even cook that much although always intend to! I love his enthusiasm and he writes so eloquently that I don’t know whether I’m more inspired to write about food, or to cook it. Another guilty pleasure is time travel books, the best I’ve read so far being Replay by Ken Grimwood (1987) and an incredibly touching children’s story Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer (1969).
Books that have influenced your career
I’d rather title this “Books that have influenced your life” seeing as I don’t have a career! Some of my favourite books are those about women who either are, or learn to be, strong and single minded. Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler (1995) impressed me so much I then read nearly all her other books and another favourite author is Anita Shreve.
What do my choices say about me… Probably that I like escapism and the search for meaning in life away from material things.
What is on your list?