Wednesday, 24 October 2012

list 46: books I feel everyone should read because I love them

I'm not a book snob. I should be, but I'm not. I have read The Hunger Games trilogy more times than is probably healthy for someone with a degree in Creative Writing. Just like I have guilty pleasure TV (I love The Hills, yes, I KNOW) I have guilty pleasure books. But in my heart of hearts, those aren't the books I love. Like fast food, they temporarily fill a hole, satisfy a craving, but I get no real enjoyment from them, no lasting impression. The books I really love are those that stick with me for months, even years, after reading them. The ones that make me pause every so often as I remember a particularly beautiful/emotional/challenging segment. It's these books I recommend to others, buying extra copies at car boot sales and in charity shops so I can give them away with abandon, pressing them on my friends and telling them 'read this and it will change the way you think.' I am a literary enabler. My aim is to have everyone I know read these books, and then they will pass their copy on to a friend, who will pass it on to their friend, and so on and so on until the world is changed. Idealistic? Perhaps. Realistic? Sure. The bible is the biggest-selling book of all time. A whole religion bases its teachings around this book, millions of people around the world live their lives according to the words writtten inside one book. What if that book wasn't The Bible? What if it was something by Orwell, or Vonnegut, or Murakami? Would the world be a better place for it?

Enough of my philosophising though - here are the books I love to recommend to people. My favourite books in the whole world. But this list grows and changes every year.

1. Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut

2. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

3. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (although his border trilogy is one of the most incredible things I have ever read)

4. Gabriel's Gift by Hanif Kureishi

5. Burmese Days by George Orwell

6. Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk (although it is almost impossible for me to pick just one of his novels to recommend - they are all that good)

7. Waterland by Graham Swift

8. The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan

9. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

10. The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger

11. Empire of the Sun by J G Ballard

12. After Dark by Haruki Murakami

This list could go on and on though. My love for reading is still as strong as it was when I was a child just learning to understand words and how they were put together to form sentences. I genuinely don't know who I would be if I didn't have books. Which sounds like a strange thing to say, but it's true. So much of who I am, what I think, what I understand about the world and about people, is based on things I learnt from reading.


  1. I read my first Palahniuk book last week (Damned), burnt through it in two days. His writing style is incredible! I'm going to have to invest in more, I just wish I had the cash to buy his full bibliography right now!

    Alli xx

  2. I would add The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - gorgeous book! You've given me a good few recommendations. Sound great! :)

  3. Totally with you on The Road, I force it on people too, brilliantly dark and life affirming.
    And I really enjoyed The Hunger Games too, no shame in that - it's trashy but well written, suspenseful trash!

  4. 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 - yes, yes, yes! Some of my absolute favorite writers. The BF keeps saying I should read a Palahniuk, I might actually get round to it now! I'm intrigued by Burmese Days as your fave Orwell - I've actually never read this one, but it has some many strong contenders (I don't think I could choose between Down and Out, 1984 and Animal Farm) that it must be pretty good.

    I did a review of books I read in 2011 (link below). There's so much overlap with your list that you might like some of the others on there. I'd say at least one Margaret Atwood would also have to be on my top ten list, and a Steinbeck too.

  5. I love it when I find some well thought out book recommendations, I thought I was pretty well read but out of your list I have only read 4!! So I now know the next time I am treating myself what to get:)

    Jess x


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