Your favourite books are the best you can hope for on a prospective lover’s shelves: it means you have much in common, in terms of both interests and emotions. Obviously, along with the books you recognise you also hope there will be many you don’t – the books I’ve read and enjoyed over the years have always been personally recommended rather than purchased on the back of a good review. Meeting a fellow booklover is always exciting because it means an opportunity to expand your own library (amongst other less elevated pursuits!). It’s a wonderful bonding moment when you discover a mutual enthusiasm for a book.”
1. Chronicle Of A Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
My favourite book by one of the world’s greatest authors. The sense of foreboding that builds through this simply written but incredibly powerful story confirms you’re in the hands of a master.
2. Under The Volcano by Malcolm Lowry
Another beautifully written, incisive and to my mind classic piece of literature.
3. Cloudstreet by Tim Winton
A beautiful tragicomic tale of two dysfunctional families sharing a dilapidated house in a Melbourne suburb. Winton writes with a highly individual voice and the story is laced with love and hope and all the things that make life worth living.
4. Four Letters Of Love by Niall Williams
A romantic, windswept, glorious piece of magic realism set on the west coast of Ireland.
5. Anyone Here Been Raped And Speak English by Edward Behr
One of the funniest and most fascinating examples of the foreign correspondent genre. Sadly frequently out of print which is a tragedy.
6. Into The Heart Of Borneo by Redmond O’Hanlon
Redmond O’Hanlon is one of my favourite travel writers and this book was my introduction to his work. His self-effacing tales of an unlikely, unfit adventurer are always unusual, illuminating and hilarious. Billy Bunter meets Wilfred Thesiger.
7. Naples ’44 by Norman Lewis
Set in my favourite European city, Norman Lewis’s experiences there during the second world war provide a unique and illuminating portrait of the extraordinary Neopolitans. To this day it remains a seething metropolis full of rogues, ruffians and humanity at its best and worst! Norman Lewis captures it magnificently.
8. Tourist Season by Carl Hiaasen
A columnist and environmental campaigner for the Miami Herald, this is Hiaasen’s first novel in what has evolved into a series of blackly comic and utterly readable satires set in his native Florida. Those who saw the dreadful screen adaptation of his novel Striptease shouldn’t be put off the author himself. Essential holiday/aeroplane reading.
9. The Moor’s Last Sigh by Salman Rushdie
In my opinion Rushdie is the only author in Britain today who can compete on the world stage with writers like Marquez and Don DeLillo. He’s a master storyteller and this novel sees him at the height of his powers with its multi-layered, captivating and frequently comic story.
10. The Complete Cookery Course by Delia Smith
There are few sexier things than a man cooking you dinner. This book is the perfect instruction manual for novices and experts alike. A top scorer on any prospective date’s shelves!