My 10 Favourite Books

I was recently challenged on Facebook to share my 10 favourite books.  I had a great time putting the list together, so I thought I would post it here for posterity.


I saw the movie first and bawled my eyes out. And then when I came to the play I was amazed. (You can definitely see the influence of this play in my own, Saul, First King of Israel.)
This is my favourite novel of all time. Funny, moving, intriguing, complex, mathematical, and thought-provoking. (And because I arbitrarily imposed a “only one book per author” rule, that meant Snow Crash didn’t make the list. But that one should be here!)
Hilarious and moving, insightful and wise, and beautifully written. This is definitely Hornby’s best work. (And the movie wasn’t bad, either: the casting was excellent, particularly the two shop assistants!)
This novel is practically poetry. The writing is sublime, and the story is heart-breaking. The ending certainly made me cry, and that doesn’t happen often (just ask my children!)
This is my favourite Terry Pratchett, although all of the Guards sequence are excellent, and the rest are pretty darn good too. But this one stands out in my mind for its humour and insight into human nature, particularly our penchant for war. One of the best books about the clash of Western and Muslim cultures without referring to those labels at all!
This has to be one of the best autobiographies I have ever read; and its sequels are up there, too. The characters are hilariously written; and the situation comedy is unparalleled. This book nearly made me take up zoology!
It was a toss-up between this one and Stardust, but this one won out because I just loved the way Gaiman overlays London Below over the top of regular London. Plus, the two antagonists Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar are spine-chilling!
This is the only Australian book to make the list, but it’s a good one (and I’m including the two sequels The Dragon Stone and The Peony Lantern which I ended up tracking down in New Zealand and buying for more money than I care to admit to!) The characters are well-drawn, the narrative zips along – no wasted pages here. And the appropriation of Japanese history and culture is (I think) sensitively done. I loved this as a child and love it still as an adult.
Joan Aiken is a wonderful author – her Wolves series is one of the best alternate histories ever written. But this novel is definitely the best as far as I’m concerned. I admit, I had a serious crush on Arabis, but there are several other beautifully quirky characters in here. However, it’s the language that makes this novel, particularly the thieves’ cant.
This book has some of the funniest passages ever committed to ink; it also has quite a few fairly dull touristy descriptions of various points of interest along the Thames. That said, the funny bits far outweigh the boring bits!


I should say here that it was extremely difficult getting this list down to only 10. Limiting myself to only one book per author helped. But I still had to leave some good books behind. Honourable mentions therefore go to Laurie R King’s The Game (actually the whole of the Mary Russell series), Hilary Mantel’s Bringing Up The Bodies, book 2 in an (as yet) incomplete trilogy about Thomas Cromwell, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce.