I mainly read narrative non-fiction. However it would be a crime never to read fiction so here are some of my choices that I hope are of interest or provide some inspiration.
The list is updated reasonably regularly.
Life is short. Choose your reading well and if you are not enjoying a book stop reading it. We are not at school any more and you have the right to stop and even the right to mark the pages and underline but never, never to turn over the corners of the pages :-)
I'm limiting myself to ten per category...
Alone in Berlin
Based on a true story. One ordinary mans determination to defy the Nazi's. So gripping and beautifully written too. Contains pictures of the original documents on which the store is based.
Kafka on the Shore
There is an activity that some have found known as 'Reading Murakami.' It's an international addiction. His books should come with a health warning. Read one and you end up reading them all. It was hard to know, a couple of years after reading the whole lot they have all merged in my memory into a weirdly wonderful Japanese surrealist dream.
Never Let Me Go
At the time of writing this I have not seen the film and must admit to being slightly afraid to do so. So often film makers do a wonderful job but somehow miss the most vital essence of a book. I hope they haven't missed it here. The central theme here for me is about love. About a kind of love that is about caring for someone else better even than we could care for ourselves. Incredibly subtle, hauting, brilliant writing.
One of his other books, 'The Unconsoled' - I didn't like at all.
Rushdie was awarded the best Booker of the last 25 Booker prizes for 'Midnight's Children'. I have mixed feelings about Rushdie. By the end of any book I both love and hate him. He writes with astounding beauty, sets up the lives of his characters and then destroys them. Ultimately he is teaching compassion, empathy, sensuality, everything that I believe in. It takes emotional stamina to read his books -but if you have it and you want a challenging, emotional and rewarding read... Rushdie is your author.
Things Fall Apart
The shortest book on this page. Almost like poetry. First published in 1958, Achebe is described as the 'The founding father of the African novel in English.' This is thebook that, I learned Mandela chose to give as a gift to Geldof. Describing the coming of the white people to an African community. Almost agonizing in the beauty of the writing.
Captain Corelli's Mandolin
Louis De Bernieres
Louis de Berniers - I fell in love with this book and with the author from the moment that the goat ate the Doctor's work at the end of the first section. The characters overtook my world and I went around thinking about them all. To say that the film didn't do it justice in an understatement. So don't see the film but, if you're looking for a good novel then do read this wonderful modern classic.
Italo Calvino is Italy's most popular postwar writer in translation and was a contender for the Nobel prize for literature. His stories seem simple and yet there is more too them than you at first realise and they linger in your mind for many years. Beatiful - for some reason I want to use the word 'translucent' writing. :-)
A Story Like the Wind
Laurens Van der Post
Van der Post was revered by many as wise man and a sage, for some he had almost guru like status in his lifetime. Then after his death they made him a figure of controversy by questioning many of the claims that he made about his life. Well you can decide for yourself what you think by reading these two wonderful stories that I first discovered when they were given to my daughter to read in the only year she spent in a Steiner School in New York. She loved them and so did I.
I Heard the Owl Call My Name
And amongst all these better known authors I want to mention a book that may be lost. Imagine all those wonderful stories - those dusty books that will be lost in the midsts of time. When I wrote 'New Habits' I asked Sister Rachel if she could recommed a book. She gave me her copy of this book. It is now out of print but I notice that it has exclusively 5* reviews on Amazon. I was first publised in 1967 then lost - then re-published in 1973 where it went to the top of the New York Times Bestseller list. It's simply a quite short and beautiful story.