I’m forever being asked what my favourite books are and while the list is forever growing and changing, I’ve read enough books to make a fairly comprehensive decision regarding the ones I’ve loved the best. The following six books are the ones I recommend again, and again and again – often to those who haven’t asked my opinion; no doubt to many who will never go on to read them. They have moved, inspired and changed me. They may be of no use to you. If, however, you are in need of a recommendation, are unsure of what to read next, or simply fancy branching out from your bookshelf try sampling one of these delights. Suffice to say they have all stayed with me for many weeks, many months and many years after reading the final page and I can only hope that they might have a similar effect on you too.
My very favourite book is Hanya Yanigahara’s A Little Life. Brutal, beautiful and heartbreaking beyond words, it’s the tale of four friends in New York that will stay with you long after the last page. A true tour de force and unforgettable tale, I defy anyone to finish without weeping.
Joyce Maynard’s fantastic memoir of her late husband’s battle with pancreatic cancer, while sad from the very start, also boasts beautiful prose and an evocative sense of setting. Unputdownable and wonderfully written, its proof that sometimes fact makes a better book than fiction.
One of my very favourite books, Crime and Punishment is story-telling at its finest, and without question one of the best books I have ever, ever read. Nothing short of a masterpiece; reading books like this are the very reason I began my BBC Big Read challenge.
An epic, monstrous romance, Margaret Mitchell’s first and last published novel is a heart-breaking tale set during the American Civil War of love, loss, social divide and a people forever changed. At over a thousand pages it isn’t a quick read but oh, it’s a beautiful one, and undoubtedly one of my very favourite books.
The feeling of utter shell-shock and disbelief I encountered when I turned the final page of Robin Black’s Life Drawing has since stayed with me. A story of obsession and a masterclass in subtlety, it really is one of the closest things to a perfect book I have ever read.
I had been meaning to read Gregory Roberts semi-autobiographical novel for many a year before I finally got around to ticking it off my list. Another novel of epic proportions, it is largely set in the slums of Bombay and is easily one of the most memorable books I’ve ever read.
I first fell in love with Daphne Du Maurier when I read Rebecca, shortly after graduating. Indeed, my blog was borne thanks to Du Maurier’s best-loved novel – for it was having read this that inspired me to read the BBC Big Read. As much as I love Rebecca however, it’s her lesser-known novel, The Scapegoat, that I recommend to anyone who will listen. Captivating and wonderfully original, it is undeniable proof of Du Maurier’s skill as one of the world’s best story-tellers.
Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, in which she treks the Pacific Crest trail to heal her heartbreak following the death of her beloved mother, as as awe-inspiring as it is enthralling. An honest, gritty account of Strayed’s heroic journey, its author is brave, its plot compelling, its message a poignant one. A truly wonderful book, I defy anyone to read this without being moved.
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