top 10 books of all time


My blog buddy Ark and I have a deal that he’s wanting to forget. I write a post about my top 10 books, and he writes a post around the subject of ‘taking sex seriously’. I’ve upheld my end of the bargain (not strictly a bargain, but I’m using the persuasive tools at my disposal) and now await his fine work on sex, which will undoubtedly reveal his embarrassingly Victorian attitudes towards women.

Here are my top 10 books. I have a mind like a sieve and have forgotten what most of them are about, but have given my lingering impression and reason for love. I think it’s important to classify them by age, because I’ve discovered that ‘amazing’ books don’t actually last forever.

5 to 10 years old

1.  Enid Blyton – The Folk from the Faraway Tree. This is the book I most remember loving from my early childhood. A bunch of kids found a tree with magic people living all the way up it and insane lands at the top that changed every day. Trees and magic lands – life doesn’t get more exciting than this!

10 to 15 years old

2.  Elyne Michell – The Silver Brumby. I was obsessed with this series about wild white horses in Australia. Don’t remember anything about them except a feeling of delight.

15 to 20 years old

3.  David Eddings – Pawn of Prophecy. This was the start of delving deeply into fantasy epics, which was either a symptom or the cause of a desire to escape reality and go somewhere much more interesting. I obsessively read these books many times and felt lost and depressed when they ended and my real life surrounded me once more. Usual fantasy romp with young guy destined for great things on a journey with a wizard, finding true love with a princess and defeating evil.

20 to 25 years old

4.  Louis de Bernières – The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman. I cited this as my favourite book for years, but when I came across it several years ago and started reading it, I was kind of disappointed. It’s from a series set in a fictional Latin American country with jaguars roaming the streets.

25 to 30 years old

5.  Tom Robbins – Skinny Legs and All. This was my favourite author for quite a few years. A few of his books were utter genius and some were rubbish but worth reading for the few inspirationally hilarious and amazing lines when they turned up. Surreal and sarcastic with deep intuition are the lasting impressions. I can’t remember anything about this book, but I know I loved it!

30 to 35 years old

6. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry. Another book I can’t remember, this one set in India. I was deeply touched by the book and felt it changed me somehow.

7.  AL Kennedy – Paradise. I randomly picked this up in a charity shop for next to nothing and was blown away by it. I think it’s one of the most absorbing books I’ve ever read. It’s about an alcoholic. It’s depressing and impressively awful to feel like you’re there.

8.  David Mitchell – Cloud Atlas. This is my current favourite book of all time. I thankfully read it soon after it was published, knew nothing about it, and didn’t have it spoiled for me by the notion of a Tom Hanks film. The way the epic story moves, the different voices, the imagination, the whole thing is awe-inspiring perfection.

35 to 40 years old

9. Charlotte Bronte – Jayne Eyre. I was never much into fuddy duddy classics with pretty dresses and girls getting married, and this was what I had always assumed Jayne Eyre would be. I should have known to expect more from a Bronte.

10. George Orwell – Down and Out in Paris and London. Definitely my favourite author ever, I missed Orwell till late on in life because he was a school set text I’d managed to avoid, and tainted as dull reading in my head. I was really surprised how great 1984 was when I read it in my late 20s but it wasn’t until I came across an Orwell box set of odd-looking books that I realised what a total genius he was. Everything he writes is beautifully effortless, impeccably insightful and wonderfully fascinating. Love, love, love.