Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: expect this maybe on a few reader's top books, but if you haven't read this novel for sometime then do endulge yourself. I re-read in 2012 and the modern structure really surprised me, as the novel is large chunks of dialogue and little narrative description. Jane's wit never fails to make me smile.
P&P also contains my favourite literary quote of all time. Here Jane has summed up the meaning of life...
Mr Bennett to daughter Elizabeth: "For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?"
The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams: I discovered Douglas Adams during my teen years (radio show first then the books) and this book got me through some tough times at uni and later in life. It is the original laugh-out-loud comedy novel and I never tire of reading it (or the subsequent books in the series).
Favourite quote: "The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that ships don't."
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell: I thought again of this wonderful children's novel after reading Michael Murpogo's War Horse. Mainly because I cried constantly throughout both. The scene where Black Beauty finds his beloved friend Ginger in the cart breaks my heart every time I read it. You don't have to be a horse lover, but Sewell captured the pitifully sad and tragic lives of horses at that period so poignantly. Would like to re-read this again but don't think I have the emotional stamina nor the stockpile of hankies...
My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell: I had to read this for English Lit O'level and must have read it 5 times or more for revision. Thankfully I'd already read it 5 times before that as it was one of my favourite early teen reads. Borrowed anything by Durrell from local library as I loved his wonderful descriptions of animals, landscapes and people. Again full of laugh-out-loud prose as he describes moving to the idyllic Greek island of Corfu with his eccentric family. Another comfort read and got me through some difficult, dark days.
Then it got tough. Trawling the bookshelves I struggled to pick the final favourite. I have many favourite authors and collections of their works. Such as: Lindsey Davis, Terry Pratchett, Peter James, Bernard Cornwell, Kate Atkinson, Hilary Mantel and too many to list. But it was hard to pick out just ONE book from a particular author. I considered recent books which had lingered long after reading - those which made me sit up and go WOW this is good!!! And decided David Mitchell had to be on my list. Both Ghostwritten and Cloud Atlas had awoken my literary taste buds, prompting me to seek out all of his other books. But I had to choose one...
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell: Like Ghostwritten this is more a collection of interconnected short stories and yet it is so much more. I didn't want any of the stories to end and devoured this book in a couple of days. His imagination is inspiring and his narration sublime. (You can tell I'm a devotee can't you.) A film of the novel was released a few months ago, but I've not heard a good enough review to tempt me to see it - and worried I will be woefully disappointed. Anyone out there seen the film?
Phew. Glad I've got those books off my chest, now I can sunbathe in peace.
What would go on your list of five favourite books?